Photographs and film recordings have not been commonly used as source material in sports history research. However, every moment and every movement captured in photographs tell us things that researchers could have seen if they had been on the spot when the picture was taken. I suggest that photos and films can be read in the same way as any sign systems, such as writing or maps. The points of departure for my analysis of movement in photographs and film recordings are kinesthetic empathy and the idea that the meanings of most body movements are established to the extent that they are part of our cultural heritage and contain signs and symbols we can relate to. Furthermore, observations made from these documents can be analyzed with the help of theories from other research fields. Using the methods of dance research, such as Rudolf Laban’s movement analysis, Janet Adshead’s dance performance analysis, Marcel Mauss’s habitus concept, and John Martin’s dance analysis, styles, movement languages, and conventions of exercise and sport in photos and films can be identified. In addition, in accordance with photographic research by Roland Barthes, I will reflect on the fringe conditions of the use of photographs as research material, the kind of opportunities they offer, and the kind of limitations they set for the researcher.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.