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Which clippings match 'Maya Deren' keyword pg.1 of 1
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.

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TAGS

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

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
23 JANUARY 2011

Choreocinema: The Very Eye Of Night

"A Study in Choreography for the Camera is the film in which [Maya] Deren achieved an epistemological break from dance films that only 'recorded' movement. The new form was called 'choreocinema'. This form was a unique contribution to the advancement of experimental and ethnographic film. In fact, Deren called Ritual and Transfigured Time and The Very Eye of Night 'choreographies for camera'."

(Moira Sullivan, 2007, Danscamdanse: Dancefilm International Festival Belgium)

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
17 DECEMBER 2008

Ensemble for Somnambulists: theory building through practice

"Der erst später entdeckte und restaurierte 'Ensemble for Somnambulists' ist eine Fingerübung der Meisterin, mit der sie den acht Jahre später entstandenen 'The Very Eye of Night' vorschattieren ließ. Wie auch in ihrem berühmten Tanzfilm photographiert sie Tänzer, deren schwerelose Bewegungen sie in der Postproduktion durch das Invertieren des Filmbildes zu einer galaktischen Revue ohne Rücksicht auf physikalische Logik und Gravitation. Fast noch rätselhafter und anziehender als 'The Very Eye of Night' ist dieses Frühwerg aufgrund ihres vermehrten Einsatzes von Nahaufnahmen, die die Tänzer in schwebender, sehnsüchtiger Starre zeigen, so als würden sie in der Umlaufbahn unserer Welt kreisen, zu einer ewigen Tanzfigur verdammt.

'Ensemble for Somnambulists' ist voller rhythmischer Schnittentscheide. Obwohl Deren diesen Film nur als Beispielwerk für ihre Schüler in einem Toronto–Film–Society–workshop diente, mutet der Film wie visuelle Musik an. Wie, als hätte man die Töne des Walzers, zu dem die Sternentänzer sich bewegen, in Montage übersetzt und als eine unvollendete Symphonie endlich der Öffentlichkeit preisgegeben."

(Björn Last)

[Pioneer film director Maya Deren created this short experiment as a precursor to her arguably more accomplished film 'The Very Eye of Night'. In this way the film represents evidence of Deren's approach to building theory through practice.]

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CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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