Montage, Realism and the Act of Vision

by Victor A. Grauer

This book, now available in its entirely online, is a study of the relation of film theory to some of the most radical developments in modernist art and music. Drawing on aspects of semiotics and post-structuralism, it covers a wide range of relevant art forms and styles, from the Cubism of Picasso and Braque to the abstractions of Mondrian; from the serialism of Anton Webern, to the intricate structures of Boulez and Stockhausen; from the cinematic experiments of Kuleshov, Eisenstein and Vertov, to the radically unsettling montage of Stan Brakhage, whose "deconstruction" of film language is a major focus of the book. The theory of "negative syntax" developed here is the basis for several subsequent publications of mine (all available via my home page).

Written between 1979 and 1982, Montage, Realism and the Act of Vision was accepted for publication by Thomas Sebeok, for his series Approaches to Semiotics, but was ultimately turned down because the publisher decided it wasn't sufficiently marketable. At one point Brakhage himself became an enthusiastic promoter, trying to help me find a publisher, but this too never worked out. Meanwhile my friend David Feldman scanned the whole thing and formatted it using a "markup" system called Latex. Then another friend, Henk Baerendregt, figured out how to translate this file from Latex to HTML. Many thanks to both of them.

All sections of the book can be accessed via the Table of Contents.

For more information on Stan Brakhage, whose remarkable films inspired these theoretical cogitations, see the very thorough page of links maintained by Fred Camper.