Monday, July 19, 2010

Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy

The experimental Ballet Mécanique (1924), by artists Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy with some cinematography by Man Ray, is a machine-dream of abstraction. People and objects repetitively spin and swing, intercut with kinetic kaleidoscope imagery. Film historian Erik Barnouw describes one repeated sequence, of a woman climbing stairs (top still), as representing "the degradation of manual labor." The overall weirdness of the film reminds me of the hand-cranked-film camerawork and compulsive spinning that provide the background to the Nine Inch Nails music video, "Closer" (1994, by Mark Romanek).
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Documentary Starts Here by Nancy Kalow is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.