• film

Subversive Elements

Dog Star Man

Stan Brakhage, US, 1964, 16mm, 78 min., silent

Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception.

So begins Stan Brakhage’s classic Metaphors on Vision. First published in 1963 as a special issue of Film Culture, it stands as the major theoretical statement by one of avant-garde cinema’s most influential figures, a treatise on mythopoeia and the nature of visual experience written in a style as idiosyncratic as his art. By turns lyrical, technical, and philosophical, this is a collection to be shelved alongside the commentaries of Robert Bresson and Maya Deren, Sergei Eisenstein and Nagisa Oshima. Yet despite its historical importance and undeniable influence, the complete Metaphors has remained out of print in the US for over forty years.

Now, Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry are proud to present the republication of Metaphors on Vision in a new, definitive edition, featuring a full facsimile of the publication’s original George Maciunas design as well as a corrected version of the text, overseen by scholar P. Adams Sitney. To celebrate its release, Lightbox presents a screening of Brakhage's complete Dog Star Man, one of the major works in the history of avant-garde cinema.

"Stan Brakhage began to write his great polemical and theoretical treatise, Metaphors on Vision, in the late 1950s when he envisioned possibilities for cinema that had never been attempted or explored. As he was writing the book, he began to make his most ambitious film until then, Dog Star Man. In fact, the title first came to Brakhage in 1954 for a scenario he abandoned and published in the book (along with Dog Star Night) as a 'liter-realized' fantasy.

The completed Dog Star Man is a cosmological epic, consisting of a Prelude and four Parts, corresponding to the seasons in the sequence of Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall. He finished it soon after the book was published.  It is both a demonstration of his theoretical insights into the nature and potential scope of cinema, and a work that supersedes all his theoretical speculations.” - P. Adams Sitney

Introduced by Thomas Beard