Video Published 17 September 2012

Maya Deren – A Study in Choreography for Camera (1945)

Daniel B. Yates

In the 1940s the avant garde filmmaker Maya Deren wrote of creating a truly “filmic film” using depth-of-field, fast-forwards, macro and micro lenses. Her pioneering work, such as the canonical Meshes of the Afternoon, ushered in a new modernist language of mood, light and techniques of manipulation; effect was foregrounded, as Ute Holl wrote “the task of cinema or any other art form is not to translate hidden messages of the unconscious soul into art but to experiment with the effects contemporary technical devices have on nerves, minds, or souls.” For Deren film was both “space art and a time art”, and two years after Meshes… she produced one of the earliest works of film dance in collobaration with Talley Beatty, A Study in Choreography…. Fascinated by bodily movement she nevertheless asserted the presence of the apparatus in the process, Beatty’s dance becoming “so related to camera and cutting that it cannot be ‘performed’ as a unit anywhere but in this particular film.”

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Daniel B. Yates

Educated by the state, at LSE and Goldsmiths, Daniel co-founded Exeunt in late 2010. The Guardian has characterised his work as “breaking with critical tradition” while his writing on live culture &c has appeared in TimeOut London, i-D Magazine, Vice Magazine, and elsewhere. He lives and works in London E8, and is pleasant.

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