"The writer Ken Hollings examines how an artistic device called the 'cut-up' has been employed by artists and satirists to create new meanings from pre-existing recorded words.
Today's digital age has allowed multi-media satirists like Cassetteboy to mock politicians and TV celebrities online by re-editing - or cutting up - their broadcast words. But the roots of this technique go back to the early days of the avant-garde. The intention has always been to amuse, to surprise, and to question.
The founder of the Dadaist movement, the poet Tristan Tzara, proposed in 1920 that a poem could be created simply by pulling random words cut from a newspaper out of a hat. And it was this idea of the random juxtaposition of text, of creating new meanings from pre-existing material, that so appealed to the painter Brion Gysin in the late 1950s when he and his friend, the American writer William S Burroughs, began applying the technique not just to text but to other media too - including words recorded on tape."
"British artist David Hockney talks of his photographic work and its relationship to painting. Beside the pool at his Los Angeles home, he demonstrates the visual and mental processes behind the construction of a 'joiner' photograph, a compilation of colour photographs collaged together to reconstruct as one image, a sequence of simple events. Also shown are images of the paintings Los Angeles has inspired, interlaced with Hockney's commentary on the city's character."
"David Hockney Joiner Photography" London Weekend Television [production company], 1983.
"Montage––juxtaposing images by editing––is unique to film (and now video). During the 1920s, the pioneering Russian film directors and theorists Sergei Eisenstein and Dziga Vertov demonstrated the technical, aesthetic, and ideological potentials of montage. The 'new media' theorist Lev Manovich has pointed out how much these experiments of the 1920s underlie the aesthetics of contemporary video.
Eisenstein believed that film montage could create ideas or have an impact beyond the individual images. Two or more images edited together create a 'tertium quid' (third thing) that makes the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts.
Eisenstein's greatest demonstration of the power of montage comes in the 'Odessa Steps' sequence of his 1925 film Battleship Potemkin. On the simplest level, montage allows Eisenstein to manipulate the audience's perception of time by stretching out the crowd's flight down the steps for seven minutes, several times longer than it would take in real time"
"Becky Cooper, a 24–year–old cartographer and writer... asked New Yorkers–and visitors–to map their own versions of Manhattan. She took to the streets, distributing 3,000 copies of a hand–printed outline of the island and encouraged participants to "map who you are or where you are; the invisible or the obvious". All copies were self–addressed and stamped so they could be mailed back to her.
Cooper says around 10% of the maps were mailed back and Mapping Manhattan features 75 of the best contributions. Some are heartbreaking (one person mapped key places in his life, from the first apartment he shared with his wife to where she later died); many invoke humour (a map of lost gloves, pictured above); some are confessions (a student who shows how she funded her studies with work at various strip joints). Some are handscrawled in biro, others are collages, and a few use watercolours."
(Vicky Baker, 15 May 2013, The Guardian)
"The sworn enemy of this logic of combination or juxtaposition are the border police of genre classification (typical of art history and its curatorial leanings which seem to contaminate film theory too) who struggle with any notion of redistribution of the sensible. It is in The Future of The Image that Jacques Rancière defines the artistic image as a set of operations or relations 'between the sayable and the visible' and calls this the regime of the 'distribution of the sensible', a status quo which can be altered, through a redistribution, which creates new ways of seeing (Rancière, 2007: 6). In the work of Marker and Godard, such a redistribution of the sensible has been generally understood, categorised as–and duly named–'film–essays', ever since André Bazin coined the phrase, referring specifically to Marker's work as a political and historical type of writing mediated by poetry (Bazin, 1985: 179–181). Fine. But what does the catch–phrase cover? What practice does it immunise? Is there a risk of seriously limiting the scope and aesthetic dimension of such films by segregating them?
Phillip Lopate considers the film–essay a 'cinematic genre that barely exists' in Can Movies Think? In Search of The Centaur: The Essay–Film (Lopate, 1998: 280). It must have words, whether spoken, subtitled, or intertitled. These must represent a single voice and exclude any collage of quoted texts that do not reflect a 'unified perspective'. The film must be an argument, an attempt at working out a problem; it must put across a personal view, and be well–written (Lopate, 1998: 283). However, his classification is quite prescriptive: no interviews are allowed and no documentaries (Lopate, 1998: 305). Yet, Lopate's examples include Resnais's documentary Night and Fog (1955) and his dictate of 'reasoned, essayistic discourse' seems too narrow from the perspective of visual art, and certainly contradicts his celebration of Marker, whose digressive approach to text and image is deliberate in a spiralling multiplicity that brings to mind, for example, Carlo Emilio Gadda's novels which are equally and intentionally digressive and always on the edge of subverting the integrity of the text, or, perhaps closer to home in a French milieu, Georges Perec's roving pen in Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1997) that picks up from the smallest detail of everyday life a point of departure for a long intellectual journey. In this regard, Italo Calvino's 1985 Harvard lecture on multiplicity, later collected in Six Memos of the next Millenium (1993), provides an excellent cultural context for exploring the method and the creative potential of experimenting beyond the limitations of genre from inside, showing how genre can become a nonsense when its border lines are crossed, because you are invited to look at the real differently; true of these filmmakers, true of Calvino himself, true of the films of Michelangelo Antonioni or of Federico Fellini's too."
(David Brancaleone, 2012, Vertigo Magazine)
Brancaleone, D. (2012). "The Interventions of Jean–Luc Godard and Chris Marker into Contemporary Visual Art". Vertigo Magazine. Spring 2012.