Harmony and Dissent: Film and Avant-garde Art Movements in the Early Twentieth Century (Google eBook)

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Wilfrid Laurier Univ. Press, Oct 2, 2008 - Art - 480 pages
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R. Bruce Elder argues that the authors of many of the manifestoes that announced in such lively ways the appearance of yet another artistic movement shared a common aspiration: they proposed to reformulate the visual, literary, and performing arts so that they might take on attributes of the cinema. The cinema, Elder argues, became, in the early decades of the twentieth century, a pivotal artistic force around which a remarkable variety and number of aesthetic forms took shape.

To demonstrate this, Elder begins with a wide-ranging discussion that opens up some broad topics concerning modernity’s cognitive (and perceptual) regime, with a view to establishing that a crisis within that regime engendered some peculiar, and highly questionable, epistemological beliefs and enthusiasms. Through this discussion, Elder advances the startling claim that a crisis of cognition precipitated by modernity engendered, by way of response, a peculiar sort of “pneumatic (spiritual) epistemology.” Elder then shows that early ideas of the cinema were strongly influenced by this pneumatic epistemology and uses this conception of the cinema to explain its pivotal role in shaping two key moments in early-twentieth-century art: the quest to bring forth a pure, “objectless” (non-representational) art and Russian Suprematism, Constructivism, and Productivism.


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About the author (2008)

Filmmaker, author, and critic, R. Bruce Elder inspires and enjoys debate. His books include Image and Identity: Reflections on Canadian Film and Culture (WLUP, 1989), A Body of Vision (WLUP, 1998), and The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, and Charles Olson (WLUP, 1999). His films have been exhibited internationally and his polemical piece, “The Cinema We Need,” remains one of the most discussed pieces of writing on Canadian film. In 2007, R. Bruce Elder received the Governor General’s Award in Media Arts. Elder is the program director at Ryerson for the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture.

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