San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Excential Texts 4

Dziga Vertov, "We. A Version of a Manifesto"
[Original Source: D. Vertov, 'My. Variant manifesta', Kino-Fot, no. 1, 25-31 August 1922.]

WE call ourselves Cine-Eyes as distinct from 'cinematographers' -- that flock of junk-dealers who do rather well peddling their rags.

We see no link between the cunning and calculation of the profiteers and the genuine Cine-Eye.

We think the psychological Russo-German film-drama, weighted down with the apparitions and memories of childhood, is absurd.

The Cine-Eye thanks the American adventure film with its ostentatious dynamism, the dramatisations of American Pinkertonism, for their rapid shot changes and close-ups. They are good, but disorderly: not based on a precise study of movement. A cut above the psychological drama but nonetheless insubstantial. A cliché. A copy of a copy.

WE declare the old films, the romantic, the theatricalised etc., to be leprous.
-- Don't come near!
-- Don't look!
-- Mortally dangerous!
-- Contagious.
WE affirm the future of cinema art by rejecting its present.

The death of 'cinematography' is necessary so that the art of cinema may live. WE call for the acceleration of its death.

We protest against the mixing of the arts that many call synthesis. The mixing of bad paints, even those ideally matched to the colours of the spectrum, produces not white but dirt.

We are for a synthesis at the zenith of achievement of every art from -- but not before.

WE are purging the Cine-Eye of its hangers-on, of music, literature and theatre, we are seeking our own rhythm, one that has not been stolen from elsewhere, and we are finding it in the movement of objects.

WE invite you:
-- away
from the sweet embraces of the romance,
from the poison of the psychological novel,
from the clutches of the theatre of adultery,
with your backsides to music,
-- away --
into the open, into four dimensional space (3 + time), in search of our own material, metre and rhythm.

WE openly acknowledge the rhythm of the machine, the rapture of mechanical labour, the perception fo the beauty of chemical processes, we hymn earthquakes, compose cine-poems to the flame and to power stations, revel in the movements of the comets and meteors and the gestures of the searchlights dazzling the stars.

Everyone who loves his art [sic ad inf.] seeks the essence of his own technique.

The unstrung nerves of cinematography need a strict system of precise movements.

Metre, tempo, type of movement, its exact disposition in relation to the axes of the shot's coordinates, and possibly also to the axes of global coordinates (three dimensions + the fourth -- time) must be studied and learned by every creative worker in the field of the cinema.

Necessity, precision and speed -- three requirements for movement that is worth filming and projecting.

A geometric extract of movement through an exciting succession of images is a requirement for montage.

The Cine-Eye is the art of organising the necessary movements of objects in space and time into a rhythmic artistic whole, in accordance with the characteristics of the whole and the internal rhythm of each object.

The material -- the elements of the art of movement -- is composed of the intervals (the transitions from one movement to another) and by no means of the movements themselves. It is they (the intervals) that draw the action to a kinetic resolution. The organisation of movement is the organisation of its elements, i.e. of the intervals, into phrases.

In every phrase there is a rise, a peak and a falling off of movement (manifested in varying degrees). THE WORK

A work is constructed from phrases just as a phrase is constructed from intervals of movement.

A Cine-Eye who has conceived a film poem or a fragment, must know exactly how to make a note of it in order to give it life on the screen if favourable technical conditions arise.

The most complete script will not of course replace this kind of note just as a libretto does not replace a pantomime or literary accounts of Scriabin's works do not give us any idea of his music.

We must have graphic signs for movement so that we can represent a dynamic exercise on a sheet of paper.

WE are searching for cine-scales.

WE fall and rise with the rhythm of movements that have been slowed down and speeded up,
rushing from us, past us, towards us,
in circles, straight lines, ellipses,
to the right and the left, with plus and minus signs;
movements curve, straighten out, divide, split, multiply again and again, soundlessly shooting through space.
The cinema is also the art of inventing the movement of objects in space responding to the demands of science, the incarnation of the inventor's dream, whether he is a scientist, an artist, an engineer or a carpenter, the realisation by the Cine-Eye of what cannot be realised in life.

Drawings in motion. Blueprints in motion. Projects for the future. The theory of relativity on the screen.

WE welcome the ordered fantasy of movement.

Our eyes, turning like propellors, take off into the future on the wings of hypotheses.

We believe that the moment is at hand when we shall be able to toss into space hurricanes of movement reined in by the lassos of our tactic.

Long live dynamic geometry, the race of points, lines, planes, volumes.

Long live the poetry of the propelling and propelled machine, the poetry of levers, wheels and steel wings, the iron screech of movements, the dazzling grimaces of red-hot jets.

[excerpted from The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents 1896-1939, eds. Richard Taylor and Ian Christie, NY: Routledge, 1988.]


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