Monday, April 14, 2014

Shattering Barriers with Photodynamism

Anton Bragaglia’s essay on “Futurist Photodynamism” reverberates with the same energetic potential that he locates within the emerging cinematic technology of the early twentieth century. Written in first person plural with a defiant, antagonistic tone, Bragaglia’s passionate manifesto laments the shortcomings of specific cinematic devices while at the same time celebrating the conceptual potentiality of their future constellations.

In emblematic (and Bergsonian) fashion, Bragaglia denigrates the stale reflection of reality he sees as inherent to cinematography: “We despise the precise, mechanical, glacial reproduction of reality, and take the utmost care to avoid it” (25). He continues to cite other problems with cinematography, describing it as “absolutely idiotic,” noting how its cold dissection of movement destroys “any kind of aesthetic concern for rhythm.”

Bragaglia uses the negativity of these denunciations as the basis for his concept of photodynamism. Contrary to cinematography’s neglect of “trajectory” in its “mechanical” reproduction of reality, Bragaglia cites this as photodynamism’s “essential value.” Likewise, in contrast to the representational depiction of motion, photodynamism aims at a more synaesthetic approach to movement that, once experienced, “still palpitates” in the viewer’s memory.

Here, Bragaglia’s method of media analysis may be of use to our search for an electrate metaphysics in the way that he employs the use of contrast in formulating his theory of photodynamism. In a previous lecture, Ulmer characterized our second project as looking for a way to “get at what is not get-at-able.” Perhaps one such way of beginning this search would be to combine this axiom with Bragaglia’s approach to media and locate the ways in which technology itself is trying to “get at what is not get-at-able,” in other words, locate the desire of the other (which is also our desire) in your media. In formulating a technology’s desire, isolate the physical, emotional, perceptual, psychical limitations it claims to overcome and use this as a contrast to formulate your electrate poetics for a particular device. Then, once you isolate the limitations that a technology claims to overcome but fails to do so, use this failure as the basis for an electrate poetics that (although not yet existent) would transcend this border.

Similar to the way Bragaglia’s essay formally enacts the spirit of photodynamism, it also might be useful to experiment with the genre or style of your writing by drawing upon the same energy of the conceptual theme and/or technology you are exploring.

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