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 modernityâ??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 â??pneumatic (spiritual) epistemology.â? 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, â??objectlessâ? (non-representational) art and Russian Suprematism, Constructivism, and Productivism.
About the author
R. Bruce Elder is a filmmaker, critic, and teacher (and former Program Director) in the Graduate Program in Communication and Culture at Ryerson University. His film work has been screened at New York’s Museum of Modern Art and Millennium Film Workshop, Berlin’s Kino Arsenal, Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the San Francisco Cinematheque, Atlanta’s High Museum, Los Angeles’ Film Forum, Stadtfilmmuseum München, and Hamburg’s Kino Metropolis. Retrospectives of his work have been presented by Anthology Film Archives (NY), the Art Gallery of Ontario, Cinématheque Québecoise, Il Festival Senzatitolo (Trento), Images Film and Video Festival (Toronto). Cinematheque Ontario has said this about him: “R. Bruce Elder is not only one of Canada’s foremost experimental filmmakers, he’s one of our greatest artists, thinkers, critics, and filmmakers, period.” Harmony & Dissent, his previous book on film and avant-garde art movements, was awarded the Robert Motherwell Book Prize, shortlisted for the Raymond Kilbansky Prize, and named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 2010. His next book entitled DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect is forthcoming from WLU Press.
Other titles by R. Bruce Elder
Cubism and Futurism
Spiritual Machines and the Cinematic Effect
DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect
The Films of Stan Brakhage in the American Tradition of Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein and Charles Olson
Body in Film, The
A Body of Vision
Representations of the Body in Recent Film and Poetry
Image and Identity
Reflections on Canadian Film and Culture