Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Hollywood, without the songs

By Peter Conrad @ The Guardian
In trying to praise revolutionary communism, Alexander Rodchenko captures the contradictions of the Soviet system

Mechanically augmented by the hyperfocal lens of his Kodak camera, his eyes were able, like those of a far-seeing prophet, to look into the future. The stepped balconies of his apartment house climb into the sky, and a fire escape on the side of the building - forgetting that its function is to help evacuees get down to the ground - speeds impatiently upwards, bound for the secularised heaven promised by socialism. A thin, shaved, pine tree, seen from a low angle, looks like a prototype of the pylons that wired the sky and distributed energy to dynamise Russia. Rodchenko admired the agitated reconstruction of reality in Dziga Vertov's film Cine-Eye; he too made the eye a kinetic agent, not just a passive receptor of impressions. The still image is mobilised in the jittery chaos of the photomontages he designed for Mayakovsky's poems, and a visual art strives to make a verbal noise in his poster for a campaign to democratise literacy: Lili Brik widens her mouth to proclaim the good news about the availability of books, and a silent photograph turns into a loud-hailer.


SEE ALSO: Making strange by Craig Raine @ The Guardian

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