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Le Retour  la Raison (Ray, Man), 1923

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also integrating temporal structures into intellectual processes and the sphere of art. In his essay «Malerei mit Zeit[7] written around 1919, which already in the title links the various elements of expression with one another, he writes: «The gaze that in intellectual matters is increasingly driven towards a focus on a temporal occurrence can no longer find the rigid, reduced timeless forms of painting relevant.» As a solution, Ruttman suggests «bringing an entirely new kind of life-feeling into artistic form, ‹painting with time.› An art for the eye that distinguishes itself from painting in that is takes place temporally (like music) and the artistic emphasis does not (as in the image) consist in the reduction of a (real or formal) process to a single moment, but precisely in the temporal development of formal aspects. That this art develops temporally is one of its most important elements of the temporal rhythm of optic events. It will therefore produce an entirely new type of artist, up until now only latently present, positioned somewhere halfway between painting and music.»[8]

In Berlin of the 1920s, the first public showings of abstract films accessible to a broader audience take


place, and immediately attract great attention. On May 3 and May 10, 1925, the now legendary film matinee «Der absolute Film»[9] is presented, including contributions by Hans Richter, Viking Eggeling, and Walter Ruttmann. Other than commenting on technical deficiencies, the critics receive these experiments in animated film quite positively, since they attribute to them a great potential of innovation. Here, the artists are less interested in developing narrative possibilities than in extending their aesthetic and usually abstract studies to the new medium of film.[10] For «Le Retour à la Raison,» already made in 1923 on the occasion of the «Soirée Dada du Coeur à Barbe,» Man Ray strew spices, needles, thumb-tacks onto the negative, exposed it and set his «Rayograms» in motion.[11] This process of transformation, transferring real objects through their direct exposure without using a camera into moving film images, changes the composition of cinematic modes of representation, which up until then had primarily been reproductive. Film becomes a direct bearer of visual information, and thus no longer serves as a medium for reproducing an external reality.

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