By Kaira M. Cabañas
Probably the most vital avant-garde activities of postwar Paris was once Lettrism, which crucially equipped an curiosity within the dating among writing and picture into initiatives in poetry, portray, and particularly cinema. hugely influential, the Lettrists served as a bridge of varieties among the sooner works of the Dadaists and Surrealists and the later Conceptual artists.
Off-Screen Cinema is the 1st monograph in English of the Lettrists. delivering an entire portrait of the avant-garde scene of Fifties Paris, it makes a speciality of the movie works of key Lettrist figures like Gil J Wolman, Maurice Lemaître, François Dufrêne, and particularly the movement's founder, Isidore Isou, a Romanian immigrant whose “discrepant editing” intentionally uncoupled snapshot and sound. via Cabañas's background, we see not just the total scope of the Lettrist venture, but additionally its transparent effect on Situationism, the French New Wave, the hot Realists, in addition to American filmmakers corresponding to Stan Brakhage.
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Additional info for Off-Screen Cinema: Isidore Isou and the Lettist Avant-Garde
Photographer unknown. 23 His sound track implicates sound recording as a signifying practice and complicates a realist semiotics of listening in which the recording (sign) is taken to be equivalent to its referent (acoustic event). ”24 Here Isou’s emphasis on the materiality of recording finds a parallel in his investigation into the material basis of speech. Each contributes to the specificity of his heterodox modernism: he uses Lettrist poetry together with the sound’s second-rate transfer to critique the notion of the semiotic transparency of speech-on-film.
If the former criticism frames the film as an outrage to leftist politics and the plight of the proletariat, the latter contends that it constitutes an insult to French aesthetic discretion. Religion, too, is apparently susceptible to the film’s threat. ”2 French Cinema Dies of Suffocation 51 While the reviews suggest the variegated contours of the political context in which Lemaître screened his film, what is notable here is how the press response is mysteriously coterminous with and included as part of the screening, ostensibly the film’s premiere.
As if taking Daniel’s words to their logical conclusion, for the screening at Cannes, Isou projected two-thirds of Traité’s without images, thereby failing to provide viewers with the purportedly most basic and constitutive element of a film: the image track. Only chapter 1 of the image track was completed at the time of the film’s premiere; for chapters 2 and 3, the Vox was plunged into darkness, as the sound track voices were emitted from loudspeakers and acoustically filled the room. ”6 To be sure, what the initial screening at Cannes put in relief was Isou’s deprivileging of the image track in his pursuit of montage discrépant.