Man Ray's "Emak Bakia"
POSTED ON 10/04/2005 | PERMALINK |0 Comments | BOOKMARK
In Emak Bakia, the mischievous dadaist and surrealist Man Ray pioneered the technique of cameraless filmmaking, exposing lengths of film to light after sprinkling them with pins, grains of salt and other common objects. In its playful use of disparate materials – animation, non-objective shapes, rayograms, unfocused and optically fragmented images – Emak Bakia remains fresh and inspiring nearly 80 years after it was made.

Man Ray said he made this one in strict conformity with Surrealist principles. It opens with a series of apparently unrelated shots: grain on film; flowers moving; drawing pins in negative: points of light - out of focus -which order themselves into lines; a signwriter spelling out incomplete sentences; a prism. reflecting bars of light, rotating at different speeds; car headlights, with a huge single eye superimposed over the radiator between them; it blinks; and so on. As the film progresses the car theme becomes dominant: the driver wearing goggles (which mimic the car's headlights). There follow a series of conventional shots of the car driving down an avenue, intercut with close-ups of sheep (in complete tonal contrast). The car stops -a woman's legs are seen getting out -the shot is repeated three times, the fourth time it fades and is replaced by a stepped superimposition of all four shots, one following closely on the other. Individual images are striking for their humour and originality, but Ray still apparently felt it necessary to impose a conventionally readable theme -the car ride -to hold the film together.

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