Sunday, November 2, 2014

Experimental films vol.5

As we have already made the connections with the beginnings of experimental film and surrealism,dada and even cubism, we can further discuss how those associations were made possible through manipulations of form itself. Surrealist, dadaist and cubist artists conceived film as an art whose specific nature is visual, which led them to have various positions when it comes to the narrative component of it.

If we look into the work of surrealists, we can see the reasons why their work became seriously associated with experimental films. Luis Buñuel said, "The film seems to be the involuntary imitation of the dream", and that goes to show how surrealists were the first to take seriously the similarity between film's images and those of dreams and the unconscious. Surrealists were able to provide convincing illusions through experimental films, and to portray ridiculous as rational.Through liberating power of nonlinear, non-narrative aesthetic experiences that experimental films provided, surrealists were able to adapt this kind of film making to their goals and requirements, which strive to revolutionize the human experience.

But there is one problem that emerges with this. These experimental films are considered to be too eclectic, and they cannot be defined by style or form, but rather as results of the practice of surrealism. To quote Michael Richardson : "Within popular conceptions, surrealism is misunderstood in many different ways, some of which contradict others, but all of these misunderstandings are founded in the fact that they seek to reduce surrealism to a style or a thing in itself rather than being prepared to see it as an activity with broadening horizons." There is a problem when it comes to recognizing the distinctive qualities that make up the surrealist point of view. Trying to find a common theme, particular type of imagery, certain concepts that can identify as 'surrealist' in order to provide a distinctive criteria of judgement by which a film can be appraised is practically impossible.

If we look into the dada roots of experimental film making, the association between these two is made through artistic creativity which relies on randomness and imagination.Researching into the unconscious , using psychoanalysis with the automatic process of dada art, made the dadaist approach cinema as ready made objects. If we look into the work of Marcel Duschamp, especially his first experimental film Anemic Cinema, which consists of images of spiraling circles which are cut with nine verbal puns in french, we can see that it only problematizes the abstract character of  the film image. The is a co-relation between this and dadaist rejection of formal language of abstraction by creation of readymades and optical and kinetic experiments. To quote Duschamp : ' For me there is something else in addition to yes,no and indifferent- that is for instance , the absence of investigations of that type .' There is a critique of the visual experience and an indifference to aesthetics in experimental films, just like readymades are not merely an art object on display, but ones which display the constitution of the object as value and meaning.

If we take a look into cubism ,especially the works of Picasso and Braque, we can see the association with experimental films when it comes to the usage of position of objects which are fading into each other or the neutral ground of the image. İn conventional films, this approach is used to represent the discontinuity of space, but in experimental films and cubist paintings it is an attempt to obtain an integration of discordant orders.İn both cubism and experimental films there is an invention of a new form of space and the way it is presented, where the reality is viewed from multiple angles at once.

To conclude, we can quote a passage from Metaphors on Vision, by one of the most prolific experimental film makers, Stan Brakhage's : "Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception." This passage not only explains the aesthetic dogma which Brakhage created , but it also perfectly summarizes how the previous associations with all the art movements are made. The recurring theme which we can see that though the very manipulation of form, these artists are presenting a distorted version of reality, experimenting with the fundamental rules of perception and exploring and re-evaluating the field of human experience of reality and rationality. 

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