Paul Willemen’s “Epstein and Photogénie”

September’s Reading: “Epstein and Photogénie” by Paul Willemen
Thursday September 29 2011
VIVO Media Arts (1965 Main Street), Vancouver BC
7pm Salon Free
Facilitated by Alex Muir

No Reading returns in September with materials on early French avant-garde film. Paul Willemen’s article “Photogénie and Epstein,” surveys the texts of Jean Epstein and his contemporaries (Louis Delluc, Riciotto Canudo). Willemen characterizes their efforts as some of the earliest attempts to theorize film. As a result, or in addition, Willemen relates their development of the term, Photogénie, to the concept of cinephilia. The discussion of medium and theory–and particularly Willemen’s distinction between how Epstein situates himself with respect to his concepts as opposed to how Bréton and the surrealists do–is of interest; however the bare concept of Photogénie is also resonant for us, in and of itself. Hot on the heels of two different video projects shot/presented in town by French artists Nicolas Boone and Neil Beloufa, which take in the interrelation of civic space and photogenic vision, we will supplement this salon with a sampling of Epstein’s own writings, and film works.

Please note that the date of this event is different than that which is posted in our seasonal pamphlet.

Paul Willemen is a British film critic and cultural theorist, who has written extensively on cinephilia, the concept of third cinema and national form in film journals such as Afterimage and Framework. The text we are looking at was republished in his book Looks and Frictions. Jean Epstein was a Polish emigré, who was a key member of the Parisian film avant-garde of the 1920s and 30s. Working alongside the likes of Germaine Dulac, Man Ray, Fernand Léger and Abel Gance, Epstein wrote extensively on film, and shot more than 30 works from the 1920s thru to the end of the 1940s.

No Reading After the Internet is a monthly opportunity to gather and read a text aloud in hopes that it might provoke theoretical illumination on particular art works, or the broader scape within which such work exists. This program departs from Cineworks’ Thought on Film series, conceived by Cheyanne Turions. Whilst still very interested in cinema, the focus of this incarnation is softened to accommodate the more broad (and ever expanding) scope of media art.

The idea of a reading group isn’t new. No Reading nonetheless poses itself as an experimental learning and discussion space. Simply put, we are suspicious of our own reading abilities, and the extent to which our readings are conversant with one another. No Reading means to offer a slow space within which to retrace oursteps in the hopes of discovering individual and collective ways through the realms of language and interpretation. The strategieswe have at our disposal are twofold: through the yoking of our discussion to a text; and inducing conversation, where possible, between text and specific, local, contemporaneous art discussions and happenings.

Participation in No Reading After the Internet is free and open to everyone, regardless of his or her familiarity with a text or its author. Texts will be handed out at the gathering. No pre-reading or research is required. Those who wish to access the text in advance can contact traffic@videoout.ca


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