What would happen if the abandoned technique were summoned from the depths of the archive? 


Might this trigger the star wipe apocalypse, destroy the archive altogether or perhaps no one would even notice?

An archive is a protocol, a set of rules governing the exchange or transmission of data between storage and a subject looking for a specific collection of data. Archiving functions according to categorization, hierarchization, and conversation: although everything cannot be saved. What happens when we try to find an audiovisual detail that the current archive protocols are not set to search for? Do we simply have to end our search in a landfill of the unused and nearly forgotten?


Join me on an expedition in which we will attempt to excavate a star wipe.

A star wipe is an uncommon but unique editing technique that connects two moving frames or two sequences through a wipe in the shape of a star. Unlike conventional editing, the star wipe is a startling effect used to disrupt, emphasize, or ridicule the scene’s tone, and is therefore rarely utilized more than once throughout a production. 


The star wipe is:

                             a trick, 

                             a wonder,

                             a gimmick:

                                                 the gimmick utilizes the technological possibilities of the medium; it is not merely a tool that performs a given                                                       task (Ngai, 2020)– in this case, the connection of two film frames – it elevates editing into a spectacle that                                                             could: 

                                                             purely aestheticize editing                                          

                                                             mock our learned patterns of perception                                                

                                                             degrade the audiovisual convention                                                  

                                                             SPECTACLE – FUN – MOCKERY – DESTRUCTION 

                                                             (at once, in the star-shape wipe)


The star shaped transition looks somewhat “futuristic”. Still, it simultaneously seems like evidence of an outdated editing method, which instead of silent adoration, provokes laughter due to clumsy performance compared to the invisible editing style (Dancyger, 2007: 361–372). The star wipe seems excessive in comparison to the editing norm. Therefore, it could be described as a gimmick object par excellence: it is a technically advanced detail that is always outside the rules, always out of place, constantly exposing the technological base, and always noticeable (Ngai, 2020). Despite its visibility, it is almost impossible to see it in the archive; it has disappeared from contemporary audiovisual and editing programs.

What happens when the abandoned technique – star wipe – would be summoned from the depths of the archive? Will it transform our understanding of the limitations of archiving? By discovering the almost forgotten, will we bring to light an audiovisual monster that will destroy the set conventions of producing the illusion of moving images? The journey to reform archival practice and re-engage suppressed technique will begin in an audiovisual essay. The videographic approach allows to transform archival practice into a fluid state, as well as to grasp the star wipe in such a way that it does not become an artifact preserved in alcohol, but a technique that can be worked with again. 



Dancyger K (2007) The Technique of Film and Video Editing. Oxford: Focal Press.

Ngai S (2020) Theory of the Gimmick: Aesthetic Judgment and Capitalist Form. Cambridge-London: Harvard University Press.