Light-Play and the Aesthetics of Avant-Garde Film

In: Avant-Garde Film
William C. Wees
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Light has attracted the interest of philosophers, theologians and artists for centuries, and since the 1920s has played an important role in the aesthetics of avant-garde film. Following in the tradition of ‘color organs’ and other instruments designed to ‘play’ compositions of light and color, some avant-garde filmmakers have expanded the treatment of light in film beyond modernist concerns with the specificity of the medium. At the same time, as illustrated in films by Jim Davis, Stan Brakhage and Jordan Belson, cinema offers a unique means of creative light-play that cannot be duplicated in digital media, leaving open the question of whether – or how – the philosophical-theological-aesthetic significance of light can survive in avant-garde digital art.

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