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Which clippings match 'Film Essay' keyword pg.1 of 2
02 SEPTEMBER 2013

The artistic image: 'between the sayable and the visible'

"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.

TAGS

Andre Bazinart history • artistic image • border crossings • border/boundaryborderline • Carlo Emilio Gadda • Chris MarkerChristian Boltanski • cinematic genre • classificationcontemporary artcontemporary visual artcuratorial practice • digression • digressive approach • distribution of the sensible • essayistic discourse • experimental cinemaFederico Fellinifilm essayfilm theory • genre classification • genre differentiation • Georges Perec • integrity of the text • interventionist artJacques RanciereJean-Luc GodardjuxtapositionMichelangelo AntonioniMnemosyne Atlasmulti-media collagistmultiplicitiesmultiplicity • new ways of seeing • Night and Fog (1955) • Okwui Enwezor • Phillip Lopate • problem centric approach • redistribution • redistribution of the sensible • sayable • sensible • set of operations • set of relations • Six Memos of the next Millenium (1993) • Species of Spaces and Other Pieces (1997) • text and image • unified perspective • Vertigo (magazine) • video artist

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 DECEMBER 2012

Material Synthesis: Negotiating experience with digital media

"Given the accessibility of media devices available to us today and utilising van Leeuwen's concept of inscription and synthesis as a guide, this thesis explores the practice of re–presenting a domestic material object, the Croxley Recipe Book, into digital media. Driven by a creative practice research method, but also utilising materiality, digital storytelling practices and modality as important conceptual frames, this project was fundamentally experimental in nature. A materiality–framed content analysis, interpreted through cultural analysis, initially unraveled some of the cookbook's significance and contextualised it within a particular time of New Zealand's cultural history. Through the expressive and anecdotal practice of digital storytelling the cookbook's significance was further negotiated, especially as the material book was engaged with through the affective and experiential digital medium of moving–image. A total of six digital film works were created on an accompanying DVD, each of which represents some of the cookbook's significance but approached through different representational strategies. The Croxley Recipe Book Archive Film and Pav. Bakin' with Mark are archival documentaries, while Pav is more expressive and aligned with the digital storytelling form. Spinning Yarns and Tall Tales, a film essay, engages and reflects with the multiple processes and trajectories of the project, while Extras and The Creative Process Journal demonstrate the emergent nature of the research. The written thesis discusses the emergent nature of the research process and justifies the conceptual underpinning of the research."

(Sasha McLaren, 2008)

McLaren, Sasha (2008). "Material Synthesis: Negotiating experience with digital media", MA thesis, The University of Waikato, Aotearoa New Zealand.

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TAGS

2008 • affective digital medium • anecdotal practice • Aotearoa New Zealand • archival documentaries • conceptual frame • cookbook • creative practice research method • creative process journal • Croxley Recipe Book • Croxley Recipe Book Archive Film • cultural analysis • cultural historycultural significance of objects • digital film works • digital mediadigital mediumdigital storytelling • digital storytelling form • digital storytelling practices • domesticdomestic material objectDVD • emergent nature • emergent nature of the research • experience • experiential digital medium • expressive practice • film essay • inscription and synthesis • MA • material book • material synthesis • materiality • materiality-framed content analysis • media devicesmoving imageobject • Pav Bakin with Mark • reflective journalrepresentational strategiesresearchresearch processsocial construction of knowledge • spinning yarns • tall tales • Theo Van Leeuwen • thesis • University of Waikato • useful significanceWaikato • written thesis

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 OCTOBER 2012

Alain Resnais and Chris Marker's: Les Statues meurent aussi

"Les Statues meurent aussi, co–directed with Alain Resnais. This 30 minute short film has a chequered history of censorship that at one time elevated it to a somewhat mythical status (2), and which prevented it from being brought into the wider public eye until some 16 years after it was completed. After its first screening at the Cannes Film Festival in 1953, and in spite of winning the Prix Jean Vigo in 1954, Les Statues meurent aussi was banned in France by the Centre National de la Cinématographie between 1953 and 1963 owing to its controversial anti–colonialist stance (3). While a truncated version was made available in 1963, the unabridged film only became available in 1968.

Les Statues meurent aussi was commissioned by the literary review and publishing house, Présence Africaine, which was set up in 1947 in Paris as a quarterly literary review for emerging and important African writers. Founded by the Senegalese thinker Alioune Diop, it housed the writings of some of the most important francophone thinkers in the latter half of the 20th century, such as Aimé Césaire, Ousmane Sembene, Léopold Sédar Senghor, in addition to French metropolitan writers such as Jean–Paul Sartre and Albert Camus. The journal also translated groundbreaking works by Chinua Achebe and Wole Soyinka into French for the first time. Having emerged so soon after the new French Constitution of 1946 had declared a 'French Union', Présence Africaine's publications signalled a new, post–colonial status for French and francophone thought, embracing what was then a key notion: that of négritude (4). It is this notion that the second half of Les Statues meurent aussi engages with most deeply, and perhaps most controversially, especially as it strives to connect the death of the statue with the rise in the commercialisation of African art for the pleasure of the colonial classes. Indeed, it is against the backdrop of a France that had so recently lost its colonial power, but which still retained many of the quasi–Manichean distinctions between white, Western culture and black, African culture, that (and in spite of their claims to the contrary) Resnais and Marker's film projected its passionately anti–colonial, anti–racist, even anti–capitalist audio–visual collage. It is little wonder then that such a film should have been censored until the late 1960s, by which time it might have lost some of its topicality, but none of its political vigour."

(Jenny Chamarette, 14 September 2009, Senses of Cinema)

[1] Sarah Cooper, Chris Marker, Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York, 2008. As Cooper points out, Les Statues meurent aussi is available as an extra on the French DVD release of Resnais' Hiroshima mon amour, Arte France and Argos Films, 2004.

[2] See Roy Armes' entry on Les Statues meurent aussi in his The Cinema of Alain Resnais, A. Zwemmer/A.S. Barnes, London and New York, 1968, p. 34.

[3] This is heavily documented in scholarship on Marker and Resnais. In particular, see Cooper, p. 12; Emma Wilson, Alain Resnais, Manchester University Press, Manchester and New York, 2006, pp. 22–4; Nora M. Alter, Chris Marker, University of Illinois Press, Urbana, Chicago, 2006, pp. 58–9.

[4] For further details see V.Y. Mudimbe (ed.), The Surreptitious Speech: 'Présence Africaine' and the Politics of Otherness, 1947–87, Chicago University Press, Chicago, 1992, pp. 3–4.

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TAGS

1953 • African art • African cultureAlain Resnaisanti-capitalism • anti-colonial • anti-colonialist • anti-racist • audiovisual • audiovisual collage • censorship • Centre National de la Cinematographie • Chris Marker • colonial classes • colonial powercommercialisationcritique • death of the statue • European imperialismfilmfilm essayFranceintercultural • Les Statues meurent aussi • negritude • post-colonial • post-colonialismpostcolonial • Presence Africaine • Senses of Cinema (journal)statue • Statues Also Die • Western culture

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
26 APRIL 2011

Heavy Water: a film for Chernobyl

"On April 26th, 1986, reactor four at Chernobyl nuclear power station explodes, sending an enormous radioactive cloud over Northern Ukraine and neighbouring Belarus. The danger is kept a secret from the rest of the world and the nearby population who go about their business as usual. May Day celebrations begin, children play and the residents of Pripyat marvel at the spectacular fire raging at the reactor. After three days, an area the size of England becomes contaminated with radioactive dust, creating a 'zone' of poisoned land.

Produced by Seventh Art Productions and based on Mario Petrucci's award–winning book–length poem, Heavy Water: a film for Chernobyl tells the story of the people who dealt with the disaster at ground–level: the fire–fighters, the soldiers, the 'liquidators', and their families."

(Seventh Art Productions)

'Heavy Water: a film for Chernobyl' (2007). Directed by David Bickerstaff and Phil Grabsky, Poetry by Mario Petrucci, 52 minutes

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TAGS

1986 • 25th anniversary • BelarusChernobylconsequencescontaminationdisasterdocumentaryenvironment • explosion • familyfilmfilm essayfirefirefighter • heavy water • Heavy Water (film) • legacy • liquidator • Mario Petrucci • May Day celebrations • mortalitynuclear disasternuclear power stationnuclear reactorpersonal storypoempoisonPripyatradiationradioactiveradioactive contaminationradioactive dustsecret • Seventh Art Productions • soldierUkrainezone

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
15 APRIL 2011

A personal story of the materiality of contamination

Yelena Popova's reflections on the materiality of contamination and the Kyshtym nuclear disaster of the 9th September 1957.

Fig.1 Yelena Popova (2010). still from 'Unnamed', short artist documentary telling a personal story of a secret town in Russia, 10 minutes.

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TAGS

19451957 • artist documentary • atom bomb • Chernobylcitizenshipcold warconsequencescontamination • density • disasterenvironmentfilm essayglass • glass blowing • invisibleKazakhstan • Kyshtym disaster • Lake Kyzyltash • mapmaterials • Mayak plant • metaphor • molten • nationalityNevadanuclear disaster • Ozyorsk • paper weight • personal storyradiationradioactive contaminationRussiasandsecretsecret townshort filmsouvenirtranslucenceunderstandingYelena Popova

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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