Alphaville: Journal of Film and Screen Media. Issue 23: Screening the Artist: Between Presence/Absence, Immediacy/Mediation

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    The Image Book: or Penser avec les mains
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Beugnet, Martine; Ravetto-Biagioli, Kriss; Walton, Saige; Crispino, Lucio
    Drawing inspiration from Denis de Rougemont’s 1936 text Penser avec les mains, Jean-Luc Godard’s most recent film brings together what the Swiss philosopher calls “penser engagé” with his own unique kind of “cinéma engagé.” The Image Book (Le Livre d’image, 2018) starts with three image-gestures that punctuate the film: the cropped close-up of the right hand of Leonardo da Vinci’s St. John The Baptist, French illustrator Joseph Pinchon’s drawing of Bécassine with her upwards pointing left hand, and the hands of the filmmaker joining together spools of film at a Steenbeck editing table. Like many other “late” Godard films, The Image Book is a multilayered assemblage of quotations, sounds, music, art and cinematic references. Yet, unlike some of its predecessors, this film questions the monolithic (Occidental) way of seeing the world, including Godard’s younger self. Combining citations from films, works of art and philosophical texts from the Maghreb and the Middle East, the film offers itself as an exercise in “thinking with one’s hands” that results in the unflinching critique of Orientalism in the twenty-first century as well as an imaginative attempt to reach out to, if not join alongside with, the other.
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    Hands in the machine: Maya Deren and Marie Menken’s manual gestures
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Walton, Saige; Walton, Saige; Crispino, Lucio
    In this article, I examine how Maya Deren and Marie Menken’s mid-1940s filmmaking enacts a gestural aesthetic. Drawing on Vilém Flusser’s thinking on gesture (his discussion of “moving tools” and the thoughtfulness of hands), I draw attention to the importance of hands in Deren and Menken’s work. In Visual Variations on Noguchi (1945), Menken employs a handheld Bolex camera to explore the different material properties of art objects. Through her sweeping camerawork, film editing and sound, she transforms Noguchi’s art into new, cinematically stuttering, borderline abstract compositions. In At Land (1944), Deren’s unnamed protagonist (played by Deren herself) is filmed reaching, touching, clasping and grasping her way through a highly mutable world. In Deren’s re-working of the mythic quest narrative, hands function as a gestural, thoughtful means of adaptation. Hands also provide Deren with a manual means of manipulating “film form”, of manually piecing together different surfaces, shots and scenes. In Visual Variations on Noguchi and in At Land, both artist-filmmakers use their “moving tools” to transform human gesture. Through their foregrounding of the hands (onscreen and offscreen), Deren and Menken enact a desubjectified, gestural cinema.
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    Advertising and the Transformation of Screen Cultures, by Bo Florin, Patrick Vonderau and Yvonne Zimmerman
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Stephanie, Rains; Murphy, Jill
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    On fire: Cézanne, Straub and Huillet
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Lübecker, Nikolaj; Walton, Saige; Crispino, Lucio
    This article considers Jean-Marie Straub and Danièle Huillet’s essay film about Paul Cézanne: A Visit to the Louvre (Une visite au Louvre, 2003). Remarkably, this film features no artworks by Cézanne, nor any photographs of the painter—instead, it combines three elements: a female voiceover reads Cézanne’s reflections on fifteen famous artworks in the Louvre; as we listen, Straub and Huillet show the artworks in static shots; finally, the directors add three further shots: first we see the Louvre from the outside; halfway through the film, we see the Seine from the Louvre; the film then ends with a circular shot of a forest clearing, lifted from the directors’ previous film Workers, Peasants (Operai, contadini, 2000). The article argues that Straub and Huillet teach us to see the world with the eyes of Cézanne. We understand that he searches for a fire-force beneath the level of figuration, and that he relies on colour to render this force. Next, the article examines how the directors communicate Cézanne’s fire-force through the singular diction of the voiceover and with their mainly static images. Finally, the article suggests that Straub and Huillet also aim to retrieve the fire-force for political purposes, boldly positioning Workers, Peasants as a continuation of Cézanne’s art.
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    Expanded Visions: A New Anthropology of the Moving Image, by Arnd Schneider
    (Film and Screen Media, University College Cork, 2022) Ramey, Kathryn; Murphy, Jill