STAN BRAKHAGE :: CAT’S CRADLE, 1959, 6.5 min.

Stan Brakhage created Cat’s Cradle in 1959. The 19th film by Brakhage is a montage of two couples, a cat, and the inside of a house.  The four people that were documented in Cat’s Cradle are Brakhage’s friends James Tenney, Carolee Schneemann, his ex-wife Jane, and Brakhage himself. 


below, from: Before the Beginning Was the Word: Stan Brakhage’s  

by Paul Arthur,

There are (at least) two important consequences of this approach to photographic imaging. First is the creation of a visual experience in which language does not hold sovereign power: “Imagine a world ‘before the beginning was the word.’” Film theorists in the 1970s, taking their lead from linguistic theory and the psychoanalytic discourse of Jacques Lacan, posited that as we watch movies we sub-vocalize appropriate words to fit what we see and that, further, the syntax and grammar of conventional film is organized into strict, coded patterns of articulation. Such language-based theories were controversial and, significantly, had to bypass the workings of avant-garde and other marginal movements in order to appear coherent. A Brakhage film like Cat’s Cradle (1959) does not entirely suppress our recourse to naming but rather floods our typical eye-brain loop with stimuli for which attached language cues are either less than automatic or, in cases of purely sensory appeal, non-existent. Implicitly refusing the longstanding separation of mind and body, reason and affect, proposed by philosophers since Descartes as the basis of the self-conscious ego, Brakhage’s films and writings celebrate an aesthetics grounded in finely-calibrated subjective feelings. At the heart of his system is the concept of “moving visual thinking,” the expression of ideas in forms that are inseparable from emotive responses. That is, our ability to think is an integral function of so-called bodily realms of emotion.

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