19 Uhr
Lichthaus-Kino Weimar

Unframing and Reframing the Medium of Color IKKM Film Talk von Antonio Somaini

The talk will start with a presentation of the interpretation of color as Medium in Benjamin’s early writings such as The Rainbow: A Conversation About Imagination (1915), in order to introduce the research project I will be working on during my 6-month fellowship at the IKKM: a study of the different meanings of the concept of Medium in Benjamin’s writings and a reconstruction of the genealogy that lies behind the idea of a historicity of the “medium of perception” [Medium der Wahrnehmung] that we find in the different versions of the essay The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility (1935-36). After having discussed Benjamin’s ideas on color not only in his early writings but also in his later texts on children literature and on hashish –such as the Crock Notes (1932), in which colors are presented as “intermediaries or go-betweens in the realms of matter” – we will move on to Eisenstein’s writings on chromatic montage, which can be found in the last chapters of his book Montage (1937), in the essay Vertical Montage (1940), in several passages of Nonindifferent Nature (1941–45), and in a series of shorter texts culminating with the letter on color that Eisenstein was writing to his fellow film director and theorist Lev Kuleshov when he died of a heart attack during the night of February 11, 1948. While the texts by Benjamin will allow us to discuss the status of color as a spatially extended, “atmospheric” Medium (a “homeland of clouds” [ein Wolkenheimat], as Benjamin writes in The Soaked Magic Wand [Der eingetunkte Zauberstab], 1934), the texts by Eisenstein – who theorises chromatic montage as a way of dismantling and reorganizing the “natural”, given relations between colors and things – will allow us to discuss the filmic process of montage in relation to the IKKM 2014-15 annual topic: “How to do things by framing and sewing”. The talk will be followed by the screening of the film Ivan the Terrible (part 2, 1942-46, 88’), which contains a 16-minute long color sequence which was realised by Eisenstein using some 35mm color Agfa film that had been brought back to the Soviet Union by the Red Army returning from Germany. Entirely based on a symbolic, non-mimetic use of the four colors black, gold, red and blue, the sequence will be analysed as a way of “unframing and reframing the Medium of color” and as an exemple of the total, “synthetic” work of art Eisenstein was pursuing through cinema in his late years. Before the screening, a brief introduction to Ivan the Terrible will provide some important information on the film, on its relation with Eisenstein’s montage theories, and on the historical and political context in which it was realised.