Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video

Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video

Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video

Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video

Synopsis

What does it mean for film and video to be experimental? In this collection of essays framed by the concept "ex-"--meaning from, outside, and no longer --Akira Mizuta Lippit explores the aesthetic, technical, and theoretical reverberations of avant-garde film and video. Ex-Cinema is a sustained reflection on the ways in which experimental media artists move outside the conventions of mainstream cinema and initiate a dialogue on the meaning of cinema itself.

Excerpt

An exergue, from the Greek ex (outside) and ergon (work), refers to a space outside the work, outside the essential body of the work, and yet part of it, even essentially—a part and apart. An exergue locates an outside space that is included in the work as its outside. What kind of work, and what kind of outside? The Oxford English Dictionary defines the exergue as “a small space usually on the reverse side of a coin or medal, below the principal device, for any minor inscription, the date, engraver’s initials, etc. Also, the inscription there inserted.” A small space for “minor” inscriptions as well as the inscription itself. Inscription and the space of inscription (they appear to bear the same significance in an exergue) located on the body of a work or object (ergon), but on the other side, away. But not far away from the work, neither within nor without it, a minor space of inscription and a minor inscription. In a literary or artistic work, a place that forms an interstice between the frame or framework, parergon, and the proper body of the work, ergon. It belongs neither to the inside nor the outside, is proper to neither, but also exists before and beyond the work, a work that comes apart, exergue.

Jacques Derrida locates such an exergue in Friedrich Nietzsche’s quasiautobiography, Ecce Homo: How One Becomes What One Is (1888). Suspended between the book’s foreword and its first chapter, “Why I Am So Wise,” the untitled exergue opens onto an anniversary, Nietzsche’s forty-forth birthday from which he looks “behind” and “before”: “How . . .

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