"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.
"Senses of Cinema is an online journal devoted to the serious and eclectic discussion of cinema. We believe cinema is an art that can take many forms, from the industrially-produced blockbuster to the hand-crafted experimental work; we also aim to encourage awareness of the histories of such diverse forms. As an Australian-based journal, we have a special commitment to the regular, wide-ranging analysis and critique of Australian cinema, past and present.
Senses of Cinema is primarily concerned with ideas about particular films or bodies of work, but also with the regimes (ideological, economic and so forth) under which films are produced and viewed, and with the more abstract theoretical and philosophical issues raised by film study. As well, we believe that a cinephilic understanding of the moving image provides the necessary basis for a radical critique of other media and of the global 'image culture'."
(Nicola White, Senses of Cinema Inc)
"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
"Light Cone is a [French] non-profit making organisation created by Yann Beauvais and Miles McKane in 1982 with the aim of promoting, distributing and preserving experimental cinema. Its remit covers the different historical forms, as well as contemporary research, both in France and abroad.
Its primary mission is the diffusion of the works in its collection, as far as possible in their original format, to cultural structures such as non-profit making organisations, cinemas, museums, universities, galleries and festivals. To fulfil this mission, Light Cone's structure is that of a filmmakers' co-operative, assuring authors (or the rights-holders) the ownership of both the physical support and the moral rights of the works.
In addition, to further understanding and distribution of the works in the collection, a Documentation Centre offers researchers and programmers an exceptionally comprehensive collection of documents and works, available for consultation. With the addition in 1999 of the Experimental Film Archive of Avignon (Afea), this collection contains nearly 2600 paper and 4600 audio-visual documents."