"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.
"Gestalt is a psychology term which means 'unified whole'. It refers to theories of visual perception developed by German psychologists in the 1920s. These theories attempt to describe how people tend to organize visual elements into groups or unified wholes when certain principles are applied."
(Spokane Falls Community College)
"GIFs are one of the oldest image formats used on the web. Throughout their history, they have served a huge variety of purposes, from functional to entertainment. Now, 25 years after the first GIF was created, they are experiencing an explosion of interest and innovation that is pushing them into the terrain of art. In this episode of Off Book, we chart their history, explore the hotbed of GIF creativity on Tumblr, and talk to two teams of GIF artists who are evolving the form into powerful new visual experiences."
(PBS Arts: Off Book, 7th Mar 2012)
"To celebrate the Red Bull Academy World Tour, the Academy produced a music film that encompasses musical styles from around the world.
Berlin: The soundtrack for this clip is inspired by one of Hansa’s iconic album’s Iggy Pop’s Lust for Life. Like the creation of the music in the studio, the cityscape is built from the many organic, analogue musical artifacts used in the recording studio. Tape creatures climb across the concrete city jungle towards the Berlin Wall – a nod to the studio’s physical location.
Paris: The visual inspiration for the Parisian leg of the tour is an collision between the flesh and blood textures of the African soul and funk that comprised the concert, and the architectural backdrop of Paris – the home of the Afrobeat Picks event. Musically, the rhythm builds and the acoustics echo and bounce off the city walls as we travel across the avenues.
Detroit: Inspired by the Detroit automotive industry, from the start the viewer is immersed inside the iconic TR 909 drummachine – a nod to the intersection of man and machine central to the city’s musical innovation. As we travel through a CG circuit board city, the cyclical nature of the assembly line process is increasingly apparent transitioning us from the hey days of Motown R&B to the minimal stylings of techno. The theme of repetition was also carried through to the construction of the musical score.
Toronto: The animation style here is directly referenced from the iconic soundclash album Scientists meets the Space Invaders. The four superhero characters battle it out across the streets of Toronto – each one representative of one of the four soundclash crews competing in this event, Afrika Bambaataa’s Zulu Nation, Mad Decent, LuckyMe and Toronto All Star. The beginning of the battle is marked by the sound of the airhorn, a nod to the dancehall musical score underpinning this piece.
Melbourne: The bright, visually rich palette of this section is inspired by the coastal location of Melbourne city. Like the experimental nature of the event itself, the narrative of this film explores the relationship between sound and space. The audio of the Melbourne tram chimes set off a wave of fluid illustrated animations that bounce around the screen, visually inspired by traditional aboriginal paintings.
New York: When hip-hop first emerged in the 70s it was the ghetto blaster that amplified the sound of New York streets to the world. To pay hommage, the setting of this film was built from the original tape deck devices. We see a Hudson River constructed of unwound mixtapes. The trains all disappear to one of the five boroughs, a nod to the albums and boroughs celebrated in this event.
Rome: Italy and the Cinecitta studios are credited for producing some of the most influential cinematic masterpieces ever. To celebrate this we created a film that paid tribute to the different genres, from comedy to spaghetti western, 70s cop films & blood-filled horror flicks to psychedelic animations, in one narrative mash-up. A Spaghetti Western inspired track provides the aural backdrop as we pan across the scene culminating in a classic Sergio Leone shot. Along the way we reveal a chaotic assortment of villains, ghouls and policeman all participating in one comedic battle conducted to the tunes of a dead Mexican mariachi band.
London: Inspired by the event theme, Revolutions in Sound, we wanted to create a dominating creature that visually embodies the innovative qualities of the event itself. As the camera cuts around the robot’s CG body we see it is inspired by components of modern London architecture. His head is a pulsating subwoofer, an iconic musical artifact central to London’s influential bass music scenes and inside his chest we see the magnificent London Eye, the heart of the event itself."
Fig.1 'Red Bull Academy World Tour' (2011). Passion Pictures
"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