"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."
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.
"Italian film maker Paolo Gioli creates a haunting short movie by animating photographs taken by Bert Stern of Marilyn Monroe shortly before she died at the age of 36, fifty years ago today.
Filmarilyn is both beautiful and foreboding. As the film's jazzy rhythms start to disintegrate and the images slow to a crawl, 'X' marks on the contact sheets appear like magical curses and a fresh scar on Marilyn's flesh transforms into a stigmata while her face, half-hidden by shrouds of white, eyes closed, turns impossibly pale and lifeless. In the final moments, close-ups of her hands in death-like repose seem almost saintly and as the film's last frames unspool we are left with the sense of having seen an apparition, a ghost... a soul X-rayed.
It's amazing how much power and sadness Gioli creates from so few elements - a testimony to his artistry, Marilyn's radiance and Stern's skill in capturing it."
(Marc Campbell, 05 August 2012, Dangerous Minds)
Fig.1 Paolo Gioli (1992) "Filmarilyn", uploaded to Vimeo by Volodymyr Bilyk.
"The project 'Virtual Circuit' contains a crowing collection of important avant-garde cinema, audio, lecture and science related to human creativity. Please notice it's a strictly noncommercial project with the goal to show old and new innovations in visuals, sound and new media."
Fig.1 Cuban Telephone Company (1950) "Historia de la telefonía en Cuba".
Fig.2 Yoshinao Satoh (1991). "Papers", A brilliant structuralistic animation made with japanese newspapers.
Fig.3 Andrew Huang (2005). "Doll Face", A machine with a doll face mimics images on television screen in search of a satisfactory visage. Doll Face presents a visual account of desires misplaced and identities fractured by our technological extension into the future.
"This film, the first declared 'sans scenario' in its text introduction, is a collage. The swinging chrome balls, the gears of machines, the dancing bottles, the rotating disks juxtaposed with femine lips and eyes are all awaiting the female form trudging endlessly up and down the stairs with her burden. The symbols seem obvious to us in an age of technology and sexual advertisement/liberation."
(Ben Howell Davis, 1988)
Ben Howell Davis (1988). "Ballet Mécanique", from Man Ray multimedia application as referenced in Multimedia Computing, Case Studies from Project Athena, Mathew Hodges and Russell Sassnet, eds, Chapter 9, pg 117.
Fig. 1-2 Fernand Léger "La Ballet Mécanique".
Fig.3 Fernand Léger, production still from "La Ballet Mécanique 1923-24, / 35mm, black and white and colour, mono, 14 minutes, France, French Intertitles (English Subtitles) / Directors: Fernand Léger, Dudley Murphy / Image courtesy: Institut Français
"Richter and Eggeling were among the first creators of abstract film. Although the films themselves were produced in Berlin, the works were grounded in Zurich Dada’s experiments with abstraction. The artists originally experimented with painting on scrolls before turning to animated film. Eggeling directly transposed his scroll drawings to film to create "cinematic drawings"; Richter more fully exploited the new medium, abandoning his drawings altogether and filming paper rectangles, squares, and lines of various sizes and shades suggestive of movement and depth."
(The Museum of Modern Art)
Fig. 1 Germany, 1921. 3 min. Film in the permanent collection of The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © 2010 Hans Richter