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28 DECEMBER 2012

Influential American experimental cinema: Meshes of the Afternoon

"Meshes of the Afternoon is one of the most influential works in American experimental cinema. A non–narrative work, it has been identified as a key example of the 'trance film,' in which a protagonist appears in a dreamlike state, and where the camera conveys his or her subjective focus. The central figure in Meshes of the Afternoon, played by Deren, is attuned to her unconscious mind and caught in a web of dream events that spill over into reality. Symbolic objects, such as a key and a knife, recur throughout the film; events are open–ended and interrupted. Deren explained that she wanted 'to put on film the feeling which a human being experiences about an incident, rather than to record the incident accurately.'

Made by Deren with her husband, cinematographer Alexander Hammid, Meshes of the Afternoon established the independent avant–garde movement in film in the United States, which is known as the New American Cinema. It directly inspired early works by Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, and other major experimental filmmakers. Beautifully shot by Hammid, a leading documentary filmmaker and cameraman in Europe (where he used the surname Hackenschmied) before he moved to New York, the film makes new and startling use of such standard cinematic devices as montage editing and matte shots. Through her extensive writings, lectures, and films, Deren became the preeminent voice of avant–garde cinema in the 1940s and the early 1950s."

(MoMA, 2004)

The Museum of Modern Art, MoMA Highlights, New York: The Museum of Modern Art, revised 2004, originally published 1999.

Maya Deren (1943). "Meshes of the Afternoon", 16mm film, black and white, silent, 14 min. Acquired from the Artist.



16mm1943 • Alexander Hackenschmied • Alexander Hammid • American cinemaavant-garde cinemablack and whiteBolexcinemacinematic devicescloakdeathdream • dream world • dreamlike qualityeditingexperimental cinemaexperimental film • experimental filmmaker • filmfilm pioneerfilmmakerflowerFreudianindependent cinemainfluential directorinfluential worksKenneth Angerkeyknife • matte • Maya Deren • Meshes of the Afternoon • mirrorMoMA • New American Cinema • non-narrativeopen-endedpersonal filmrecurring ideasrepetitionrhythmscreen-mediated virtual spaceseminalsilent filmstaircaseStan Brakhagesurrealist cinemasymbolic meaningsymbolism • Teiji Ito • tranceunconscious desires • unconscious meaning • women in filmwomen in historywordless


Simon Perkins
15 MARCH 2011

ListAssist: peer-reviewed reading list service for Emerald subscribers

"Emerald will soon be offering a unique peer–reviewed reading list service to all subscribers – Emerald Reading ListAssist, which will help users to make the very most of their subscription. This service will raise awareness of Emerald's cross–disciplinary content, coherently combining new research with more seminal papers, in a format which breaks down a subject by sessions, making it easily applicable to under–graduate or post–graduate courses or modules.

Created for students and lecturers by students and lecturers, Emerald Reading ListAssist aims to improve and support faculty workflow. The service also provides students with a high–quality research tool, helping to build information literacy and research skills. The rigorous academic construction of Reading ListAssist assures a high level of quality for the user; each list is peer–reviewed by subject experts as well as in–house reviewers to make sure it meets the highest quality standards."

(Emerald Group Publishing Limited)

[Note that this is a subscription–only service.]



academic construction • breakdownconceptualisationcoursescross-disciplinary • Emerald Group Publishing • Emerald Reading ListAssist • enquiryinformation literacyintegrationlecturers • ListAssist • modules • new research • pedagogypeer-reviewedpostgraduatereading listresearchresearch practiceresearch skillsresearch toolreviewrigourseminalservicestudent • subject experts • subject specialistsundergraduate


Simon Perkins
09 OCTOBER 2010

Equivalences for written language in visual language?

"The failure of the early surrealist films to communicate the mystery and beauty of life that they sought to express was largely due to an attempt to translate or find equivalences for written language in images or visual language. Artaud alone had an original vision of what cinema should be, but lacked the means to implement it.

––lt is futile to look for an equivalent of written language in visual language –such a translation from one idiom to another is foredoomed to failure. The essence of the visual language should be so presented, and the action should he such that any translation would be out of the question: the visual action should operate on the mind as an immediate intuition'. Antonin Artaud, Preface to 'The Seashell and the Clergyman'."

(Elisabeth H. Lyon)

Elisabeth H. Lyon. "Luis Bunuel: The Process of Dissociation in Three Films," Cinema Journal, Vol. 13, No. 1. (Autumn, 1973), p. 47

Fig.1 Germaine Dulac (1926). 'La Coquille et le Clergyman'



1929An Andalusian Dog (1929) • Antonin Artaud • cinema • equivalence • filmintuitionLuis BunuelPierre BatcheffSalvador Daliseminalsilent filmSimone MareuilSpainspectaclesurrealism • The Seashell and the Clergyman • translationUn Chien Andalou (1929) • visual action • visual communicationvisual depictionvisual languagevisual literacywritten language


Simon Perkins
14 JANUARY 2009

The Project Xanadu: Returning to The Original View

"The earliest published design for computer hypertext was a 1965 ACM article (peer–reviewed) which canonically defined our work [0]. One of the authors (Nelson) presented a sweeping view of hypertext as visibly cross–connected by two–way links and transclusions* (illustration from that article reprinted).

* I define 'transclusion' as 'the same content knowably in more than one place'; therefore, any presentation which indicates the identity or origins of media content. There are other meanings of 'transclusion' which are special cases. For instance, 'transdelivery' means bringing content from elsewhere, 'transquotation' means explicit quotation which remains connnected to its origins. Vannevar Bush's famous 'trails,' described in 1945 [1], were transclusions, not links."
(Theodor Holm Nelson and Robert Adamson Smith)

0). Theodor H. Nelson, "A File Structure for the Complex, the Changing and the Indeterminate." Proceedings of the ACM 20th National Conference (1965), pp. 84–100.

1). Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think." Atlantic Monthly, July 1945; on line at elsewhere.



1965ACM • As We May Think • hyperlinkhypertext systeminfluential workspioneeringProject Xanaduquotation • Robert Adamson Smith • seminaltechnologyTed NelsonTheodor Holm Nelson • transclusion • transdelivery • transquotation • Vannevar Bush


Simon Perkins
15 DECEMBER 2004

Berlin: Sinfonie einer Großstadt / Symphony of a Great City

"Dabei versucht Ruttmann, die seiner Generation eigene Großstadterfahrung mit spezifisch filmischen Mitteln adäquat auszudrücken. Zu diesem Zweck hat er die Filmaufnahmen als Ausgangspunkt für eine Montage genommen, deren Rhythmus hypnotisiert, dem Zuschauer ein Geschwindigkeitserlebnis vermittelt und die einen neuen Sinn erzeugt, der über die Gegenständlichkeit der Filmaufnahmen hinausgeht.

'Während der langen Jahre meiner Bewegungsgestaltung aus abstrakten Mitteln ließ mich die Sehnsucht nicht los, aus lebendigem Material zu bauen, aus den milionenfachen, tatsächlich vorhandenen Bewegungsenergien des Großstadtorganismus eine Film–Sinfonie zu schaffen', schreibt Ruttmann."

(Katrin Lemke)





1927avant-garde cinemaBerlin • Berlin Symphony of a Great City • cinemacity symphonyDeutschlandfilmGermanGerman cinemaGermanyinfluential worksmechanical rhythmmotifmotionmovementpatternrepetitionrhythmseminalsequence • Sinfonie einer Großstadt • Symphony • Symphony of a Great City • Walter Ruttmann

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