27 May 2010

The Immersive City

Montage and Sensory Intermodality in Moholy-Nagy’s Films of the early 1930s
By Robin Curtis
While montage is generally considered to pertain first and foremost to rhetorical strategies of production and persuasion, in her research Roben Curtis seeks to investigate the degree to which montage, understood here as the aspects of combination and association called up by the viewer’s processes of imagination, may be understood as a significant part of the process of aesthetic reception.

Current notions of what immersion entails suggest that both illusory spatial effects and oftentimes a particularly “interactive” apparatus-based experience are necessary for the creation of such a state of deep involvement with an aesthetic object. She argues instead that immersion is a product of the effort to combine and synthesize (oftentimes even) contradictory aspects of that experience and moreover that such synthetic participation is dependant on the particular aesthetic characteristics provided by the “text” or object of aesthetic attention in question, rather than a product of the medium per se. The spatial cues are offered by a given work function in conjunction with the particular manner in which such cues are integrated by the reader, user or viewer, into his or her own imaginary conceptualization of that “possible world.”

Within her present research Robin Curtis seeks to examine the extent to which, instead of being understood as an a priori of the apparatus, immersion might be better conceptualized as the result of a complex set of ramifications of the process of reception, as set out by a given aesthetic object. Thus immersion – and this is her  working hypothesis – is understood to be the result the processes of combination and synthesis which are part and parcel of the confrontation between inter- and multimodal perception and an aesthetic object.

The Bauhaus artist and pedagogue, László Moholy-Nagy, began experimenting with film in the early 1920s and sporadically to make short films sporadically until his premature death in 1946. By considering the relationship between his Light Space Modulator (1930) and the (often neglected) big city films that he made between 1930 and 1932 (Marseille Vieux Port 1929, Berliner Stilleben 1931, and Großstadtzigeuner 1932), it will be argued that Moholy-Nagy’s filmic practice adumbrates an immersive experience based on a perceptual montage, one that contributes substantially to his programme of “Sinneserweiterung.”


ICI Berlin
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In English

First published on: https://www.ici-berlin.org/events/robin-curtis/
Rights: © ICI Berlin
Cite as: Robin Curtis, The Immersive City: Montage and Sensory Intermodality in Moholy-Nagy’s Films of the early 1930s, lecture, ICI Berlin, 27 May 2010 <https://doi.org/10.25620/e100527>