Saturday, February 24, 2007

Well, it took a couple of months, but I finally managed to finish the Unseen Cinema set. The last disc concerned itself with dance images although, happily, they stretched the point. I was a little worried about being forced to undergo a bunch of neo-classical/avantist pieces, mishmashes of Expressionist and Greek classic scenes, and there was a bit of that, women wandering around seaside draped in flowing white fabric, making gesticulations so as to indicate forlorness, etc. There seems to be some latent need, once a new technique is discovered, to go back and redo art history from its (Western) beginnings. So you have "Neptune's Daughters", "Diana and the Nymphs", "Oramunde", etc. here. But things took an excellent turn with some fantastic "Mexican footage" by Eisenstein, depicting Day of the Dead dances and rituals (exceedingly bizarre in their own right); beautiful, striking images. There's another good Steiner work involving gear mechanisms and ratchet devices that recall Sheeler's paintings. Much of the last half of the disc is given over to animations, many of them abstract in nature. Oscar Fischinger's "An Optical Poem", from which the above image was taken, was the winner, an amazing piece consisting of paper cutouts shot frame by frame. "Joie de Vivre" by Anthony Gross and and Hector Hoppin was a lovely deco animation, two sylphs cavorting around city and woods, chased by an infatuated bicyclist--light but delightful to the eye.

Overall, I could probably winnow this 7-disc set down to two of essential material. But so could anyone else and their choices would likely differ from mine. I'm very glad to have pulled the trigger on it, though, as there's no way I would've gotten around to several of these things otherwise.


Terry Eagleton - Literary Theory
John Berger - Photocopies

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