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Cinema, documentary, and the visual arts

Regarding the real: cinema, documentary, and the visual arts develops an approach to the study of documentary film focussing on its aesthetic and cultural relations to the modern visual arts, especially: animation, assemblage, photography, painting, and architecture. In particular, it examines how documentary practices have often incorporated methods and expressive techniques derived from these art forms. Combining close analysis with cultural history, the book re-assesses the influence of the modern visual arts in subverting the structures of realism typically associated with documentary film, and considers the work of figures whose preferred film language is associative, and fragmentary, and for whom the documentary remains an open form, an unstable expressive phenomenon that at its best interrogates its own narratives, and intentions. In the course of its discussion, the book charts a path that leads from Len Lye to Hiroshi Teshigahara, and includes along the way figures such as Joseph Cornell, Johan van der Keuken, William Klein, Jean-Luc Godard, Jonas Mekas, Raymond Depardon.

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Soviet montage and the American cinematic avant-garde

principles of the ‘cine eye’ and montage also derived from Constructivism, as types of a filmic ‘faktura’ that combined shots into the dialectical sequences of a Sovietized syntax that would, like theatre productions, posters, and utilitarian objects, catalyse a new citizenry for the new society. Montage was the clarion of an experimental cinema movement that espoused the spiritual machine discourse discussed in the two previous chapters, but around the turn of the 1930s radicalized in response to the emergent Depression. In Experimental Cinema, a shortlived magazine that

in Watching the red dawn
Carter’s ambivalent cinematic fiction and the problem of proximity

This chapter provides a reconsideration of Angela Carter’s relationship to cinema, arguing that she was much more ambivalent about the medium than has usually been acknowledged by scholars. This ambivalence can be observed in Carter’s starkly contrasting remarks about cinema, from her oft-stated love of both classic and experimental cinema to her more critical remarks about Hollywood’s colonization of the world’s imagination and its portrayal of femininity. Drawing on this conceptualization, the chapter locates and explores this ambivalence about images in two of Carter’s texts – The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman and The Passion of New Eve – arguing that the protagonists of both texts are simultaneously fascinated and horrified by cinematic-inspired images of femininity. Drawing also on Todd McGowan’s argument that classic Hollywood cinema holds spectators at a safe imaginary distance from the potentially threatening images on the screen, the chapter argues that rather than creating a critical distance from the illusory images of cinema, Carter actually increases the sense of proximity between her spectator-protagonists and the cinematic-inspired images of femininity. In this way, the chapter argues, her texts arrive at a more robust critique, not only of cinema but of the desires of the spectators.

in The arts of Angela Carter
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The worker photography movement and the New Vision in America

photographs, especially where the subject was industrial or urban. In this regard, American and Russian leftist modernists were variants of the ‘New Vision’, a term associated with the Bauhaus photographer László Moholy-Nagy that addressed the avant-garde preoccupation with the ‘camera eye’, which identified photographic experimentation with new rational supra-human optics. A cluster of paradigmatic New Vision photographers appeared in the February 1930 issue of Experimental Cinema, discussed in the previous chapter, in a list that included ‘Edward Weston, Brett Weston

in Watching the red dawn
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trace of their consequences, nor is there any sense that he preferred or sought a cinema that was social, nationalist or political. He confined himself to discussions about the mechanisms and forms of film: colour, editing, performance, lighting, sound, music, structures of narration. And though, like his colleagues, particularly on Cinema, he called for a new and experimental cinema, it was form and structure, not subject and ideology, that interested him. If anything, there is in his writings on film a distaste for the kind of cinema that would be called neorealist

in Film modernism
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, that is, it was like what the cinema would become when these young men began to interest themselves in film, precisely at the moment when the classical system and the studios that underpinned them began to crumble and would eventually disappear. Their cinema was a new and experimental cinema, and especially that of Welles, Losey and Ray. This is the beginning of a review in 1957 by Jean-Luc Godard in Cahiers du cinéma of Nicholas Ray’s Hot Blood (1956): Si le cinéma n’existait plus, Nicholas Ray, lui seul, donne l’impression de pouvoir le réinventer, et qui plus est

in Film modernism

, something different than the two Spains, the classical dichotomy.’ 9 Like Cercas, Trueba is somewhat elusive in his response and, although both the novel and its adaptation suggest the possibility of an essential history, a history that would close down possible interpretations of the past, by problematising the search for the past Soldados de Salamina, both the novel and its cinematic adaptation, work to open up the past to a multitude of interpretations, a feature that is reflected in their distinct formal qualities. Experimental cinema As I outlined in the

in The war that won't die
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recording synchronous sound. His early films range from black and white to Eastman colour, and the qualities and material effects of filming in 16mm or 35mm stock are valued through the decades, with a more recent preference for video. His adoption of Super 8mm film, popular in experimental cinema in the 1970s, is used to striking effect in L’Ambassade (1973). This was the decade in which he spent as much time enabling other

in Chris Marker

Godard, the view that the filmic image should not function as a logical link within a diegetic chain, but rather as a poetic sign that can generate a whole spectrum of meanings. Thus, although Duras cannot be easily accommodated within any of the available categories that define contemporary French cinema, it may be concluded that her strongest affinities are with avant-garde and experimental cinema as well as with the production of a

in Marguerite Duras
Futurist cinema as metamedium

Aldo Palazzeschi or Berlino by Vasari. The Futurist poetic system can also be considered from a visual perspective since the word was not only a linguistic sign but also an iconic and dynamic element. In 1919 the journalist Piero Gobetti (1919: 39) wrote that cinematography ‘had everything that Marinetti wanted for poetry’. The main mistake Marinetti made was to use cinematography to revitalise literature instead of exploring experimental cinema in depth. Conclusion: the Futurist legacy The aim of the Futurists was not only to renovate old media but also to

in Back to the Futurists