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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:56 am 
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Still making my way through this set, and I just came across Scenes from Under Childhood, Section One. Sadly, sections two through four are not included - are they readily available anywhere?


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:00 pm 
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Not that I'm aware of.


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PostPosted: Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:45 pm 
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In terms of Brakhage on DVD, the Criterion sets are basically it, apart from one film on the American Film Archives' Avant Garde set and the early works on Kino's. Some additional films were previously released on video in France (perhaps most notably Anticipation of the Night, a landmark film whose absence from Criterion's collections makes me foolishly hope that they wanted to keep some big-name titles up their sleeve for a future volume three!), but to the best of my knowledge the large series extracted on Criterion's second volume have never been issued in their entirety on home video in any format.


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 10:00 am 
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But you can still rent them on 16mm!

http://canyoncinema.com/catalog/filmmaker/?i=47


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PostPosted: Fri Nov 23, 2012 11:33 am 
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Quote:
Autobiography and Portraiture II: Complete Scenes From Under Childhood, Parts 1-4 (1967-1970):
2 hours, 20 minutes -- $375.00


Hmmm...wonder if I know 37 people who'd be willing to pay ~$10 a pop to see this? Any New Yorkers with a good screen and projector, anyone?


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PostPosted: Tue Dec 06, 2016 9:53 am 
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Can anybody say which of the special features on the Blu-ray (if any) discuss Dog Star Man in detail, besides the 7-minute audio introduction to the film?


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 29, 2017 7:06 pm 
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I wish I had posted this earlier, but they screened the complete Scenes from Under Childhood at Quad Cinema today, and I didn't realize how rare these screenings were - this was the first time the complete work was screened in NYC since 2008. (And this was an excellent film print, not a video transfer, as you can see the tails fly by when they let the reels run out.)

What a remarkable work, sort of a hybrid of seeing things from the child's POV and also Brakhage himself studying his own children through his own art. With the former, not only did he evoke the vivid but random and fragmentary nature of childhood memories, but he even caught the subjective nature of them. (I always thought childhood memories were prone to "inaccuracy," for lack of a better term, simply because they came out of a mind that was still unfamiliar with the world - in other words, they were often colored by false impressions and imaginations. I encountered this myself when I revisited films I saw as a very young child. My memories of certain scenes were very vivid, but they often differed from what was on-screen, having been colored by my emotional reaction to those scenes.) The confetti/fairy dust superimpositions were particularly effective. Sometimes using something resembling dust, other times gold glitter, they gave the feeling that you were looking at things as if they were encased in a snow globe. That may sound a bit cheesy on paper, but the idea was at best subtly hinted at from what was playing out on screen.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:31 am 
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Wish I could have been there....

Have you read Brakhage's writings on the "untutored eye"? They're pretty dubious as any kind of child psychology (for one thing, children having a truly "untutored eye" in the sense Brakhage means would put humans at an incredible evolutionary disadvantage), but they help explain what he was setting out to do, especially in the first decades of his career.

As for memory, it's not just childhood memories that are inaccurate or fallible. The more research that is done on human memory, the less it seems that memory is like a compilation of data that can be added to, obscured, or erased, but rather like a narrative that is continually rewritten, and is incredibly subject to suggestion and manipulation. Elizabeth Loftus's work on so-called "recovered memory" is some of the most revelatory of this research. This is getting a bit off-topic, perhaps....


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 12:36 pm 
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I've only read a few excerpts from his writings on the "untutored eye," usually in the context of an essay or article on his work, but they did allude to them in the introductory remarks. (They were actually selling a new printing of Metaphors on Vision after the screening, which is also available to order online. Apparently it had been unavailable for 40 years.)

Those are interesting remarks on memory though, especially the idea that they can be rewritten with time. Does the "raw material" of memory stay constant and the interpretation changed, or is that actual memory indeed changed as well?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 1:10 pm 
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whaleallright wrote:
Have you read Brakhage's writings on the "untutored eye"? They're pretty dubious as any kind of child psychology (for one thing, children having a truly "untutored eye" in the sense Brakhage means would put humans at an incredible evolutionary disadvantage), but they help explain what he was setting out to do, especially in the first decades of his career.

I don't think that Brakhage's ideas presented in Metaphors on Vision were meant to say anything about child psychology per se. In terms of early childhood development, humans do face incredible evolutionary disadvantages in some ways, mainly the length of time it takes us to become acclimated to the world and self-sufficient. While some mammals can walk immediately after birth, human babies are helpless for an extended period of time, they take significant time to reach many milestones in their neurological development, and have to undergo a lengthy process of transitioning from being in the womb to experiencing and being aware of how to navigate the outside world.

It seems almost too obvious to point out that babies can see colors before they have the concept of color and, generally speaking, not yet having the developed sensory experiences and language/logical concepts that older children and adults have. Newborns have fuzzy vision and can see colors and objects but only if they're a certain number of inches away. Scenes from under Childhood of course begins with flashes of pure color, chiefly red, that transition to flickering and blurred visions, not replicating what a newborn sees but rather envisioning something of the sensory acclimation that occurs in the first several weeks of life. And arguably more interesting but hard to grapple with is Brakhage's idea that there is something like a "loss of innocence" once we reach the point that we filter our experiences through methods of ordering, labeling, conceptualizing, and imposing logic on them. That loss is arguably what leads many adults to reject abstract art, unless it can be explained, interpreted, assessed, categorized...

Back to Scenes from under Childhood, I'd argue that it's a form of autobiography, with a concept of not just the development of vision and awareness (and not strictly trying to show a child's POV) but rather the ways in which Brakhage working with the footage he shot of his young children could evoke memories of his own childhood.

And here I think it's interesting to note that Brakhage had impaired depth perception from infancy and wore heavy-duty corrective lenses during his youth. Without them, he saw the world as flat, and when he stopped wearing them he later recalled he had to "relearn how to see" in a sense.

hearthesilence wrote:
I've only read a few excerpts from his writings on the "untutored eye," usually in the context of an essay or article on his work, but they did allude to them in the introductory remarks. (They were actually selling a new printing of Metaphors on Vision after the screening, which is also available to order online. Apparently it had been unavailable for 40 years.)
Yes, though portions of it are included in the Essential Brakhage book.

I liked your write-up, hearthesilence, and I too wish I could've been there.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 3:09 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2015 6:14 am
Has anyone gotten the new Metaphors on Vision, and can elaborate how much of it is included in Essential Brakhage? I'm interested in getting one of them. If you found Brakhage's theory on baby's vision, you might enjoy an idea Godard put forth; that is giving a small child a camera before he fully understands the world around him to see the results.
I'm not sure any parent will try that on his baby, but it is an interesting hypothesis what sort of pictures a small child could take when he doesn't yet know to distinguish colors or the material world around him


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:20 pm 
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Most of Brakhage's writings from Metaphors on Vision are included in Essential Brakhage. The latter collection includes the title piece and "The Camera Eye," "My Eye," "His Story," "Notes of Anticipation," and "Margin Alien." The original Metaphors on Vision can be seen as a pdf here for comparison (apparently this was David Shepard's personal copy). The new edition is a "corrected version of the text" but otherwise a facsimile of the original (I think, haven't received it yet).


Last edited by Gregory on Wed Nov 01, 2017 12:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:23 pm 

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Does Essential include most of Metaphors, and then more from the rest of his writings if I am to understand?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:31 pm 
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Yes, and most of the rest of Essential Brakhage was taken from Brakhage Scrapbook, another long out of print collection.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:52 pm 

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So, is there need to double dip or not really?


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 4:57 pm 
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Quick note to say that BluRay of Anticipation of the Night is now up for sale on Re:Voir's site.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:01 pm 
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But not yet on the Bokanowskis, it appears.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:22 pm 
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That seems to be the only new title up there (hilariously / bewilderingly, not even Robert Breer), but I also bought a few discs that I hadn't noticed before (e.g. three volumes of Jim Davis, French sixties experimental films from Etienne O'Leary), but I think they're not Re:Voir titles. The shipping was reasonable enough (plus they remove tax) that I didn't feel the need to wait however long for the other forthcoming titles.


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 31, 2017 5:25 pm 
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I had planned on picking up those Davis discs with my next order, after being exposed to his work through Flicker Alley. Do report back on the O'Leary.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 1:03 am 
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Quote:
Without them, he saw the world as flat, and when he stopped wearing them he later recalled he had to "relearn how to see" in a sense.


It's notable how many film directors seem to have impaired vision! It's probably too easy to suggest that if they have some difficulties with depth perception they might be more inclined to appreciate the graphic possibilities of projecting (or collapsing) three dimensions onto a two-dimensional plane.

I do think that Brakhage is making truth claims about childhood perception (hence psychology)—it's the theoretical foundation for much of his film practice, after all. A problem I have with his arguments is the idea that infants see the world as pure imagery, devoid of concepts and narrativized understanding (I hope that's a broadly OK gloss of Brakhage's arguments). While it's true they haven't developed all the cognitive resources (including language) that adults have, in the face of much research on the subject, the idea of infant cognition as a kind of tabula rasa isn't really tenable. And I'm even more dubious abou the supposed "loss of innocence" that results from being ushered into the world of language and conceptual thinking. (It's a very capital-R Romantic concept, but I wonder if Brakhage also picked up some fragments of Lacanian thinking that were floating around midcentury.)

In any case, it doesn't really matter, since I think his ideas are most interesting in light of his own practice, rather than as testable claims about child psychology...

Quote:
that is giving a small child a camera before he fully understands the world around him to see the results.


You'd probably end up with a broken camera.

And you always have stuff like this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zQzKdtqNt6g


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 2:43 am 

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I meant stills photography. I guess this is a theory we'll never really know, unless some parents willfully accept trying it with their newborn


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:18 am 
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My daughter took some cool pics by accident on my phone once. She was like 3 at the time.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 10:20 am 
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You actually get some stuff like what he is talking about with children trained with an AAC from an early age. I'd had a few students who have ignored the talking component completely and instead used it to make photographs.


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PostPosted: Wed Nov 01, 2017 4:14 pm 
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I don't have any problem with Brakhage being wrong about the science of early childhood perception. I just see his understanding of it as a basis for his aesthetics, and if it works on those grounds - i.e. if it makes for interesting art - it's worthwhile.


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PostPosted: Thu Nov 02, 2017 3:07 am 
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Right, I'd agree! I was just engaging w/ Gregory who wrote "I don't think that Brakhage's ideas presented in Metaphors on Vision were meant to say anything about child psychology per se." I think they were—at least, I think Brakhage really believed in what he was staying about childhood perception— I just don't think we have to read them primarily for that purpose....


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