Statement of plans for Magellan Cycle by Hollis Frampton (no date)

A brief recounting of the concerns of my earlier work may help to clarify the goals of the project I am about to outline. They have been:
1] Rationalization of the history of the art. Resynthesis of the film tradition: "Making film over as it should have been."
2] The malleability of the sense and notion of time in film.
3] Establishment of a priori schemes to generate the various parameters of film-making. These schemes have derived, in every case, from long contemplation of a body of camera footage, and a resultant intuition of the formal necessities implied thereby... with a view to the elimination of subjective, "thumbprint" composition.
4] The function of the written and spoken word in film.
I am applying for aid in making a film that will continue these interests, and explore four others;
5] The dialectical relationship between graphic and plastic elements in a cinematic closed field that includes both.
6] The general synaesthetic "problem of sound" in film.
7] Rhetorical options available to film art through such image-forming and -manipulating tools as optical and video synthesizers, and the high-speed digital computer.
8] The notion of an hypothetical, totally inclusive work of film art as epistemological model for human consciousness.
I began concrete work upon this project more than two years ago. It is subsumed under the synoptic explication of a single metaphor. When it is completed, it will constitute a "serial," or long work in installments, using the elements of peripeteia and discovery customary to the serial form. The central conceit of the work derives from the voyage of Ferdinand Magellan, the first circumnavigator of the world, as detailed in the diary of his 'passenger,' Antonio Pigafetta, and in the surviving logbooks of the five ships that undertook the voyage; but the protagonist of the work must be a first-person consciousness that bears resemblances to myself (if only as H.C.Earwicker resembles James Joyce), and, even, to Flash Gordon and Judex of the filmic vulgate.
As I envision it, this work, which I provisionally call CLOUDS OF MAGELLAN, will be made up of six complementary but independent and complete films. They are, I: THE BIRTH OF MAGELLAN; II: A DREAM OF MAGELLAN; III: THE SMALL CLOUD OF MAGELLAN; IV: STRAITS OF MAGELLAN; V: THE LARGE CLOUD OF MAGELLAN; VI: THE DEATH OF MAGELLAN. The first and second parts will be generated through optical and video synthesis respectively. Parts III and V will be made entirely by cinematic means derived from my understanding of the canons of montage, as enunciated by Kuleshov, Eisenstein and Vertov, and expanded and castigated by film artists during the past 30 years. Part VI will be generated from a fixed body of film material through the agency of a digital computer.
Overall, my hope is to retrieve, for film art, the rigor and subtlety that have already been attained by certain of the other arts, notably music and literature, during the twentieth century.
The present project is, admittedly, massive and ambitious; in support of my ability to complete such intricate megastructures in film, I will cite previous works: ZORNS LEMMA, 1966, 60 minutes; and HAPAX LEGOMENA, 1971-72, 3 hours 21 minutes,(in seven independ-end parts).
I do not anticipate that any single grant or fellowship could suffice to the completion of the entirety of CLOUDS OF MAGELLAN, to which I have committed my personal resources for an indeterminate period of years. But I do believe that I can finish, during a period of one year, a single entire segment, that is, Part IV: STRAITS OF MAGELLAN; and it is that part of the whole which is the specific subject of this proposal.
STRAITS OF MAGELLAN will consist of 240 sub-sections, each precisely one minute in length, and composing a resonant work among themselves. The film is to be, first of all, an hommage to the proto-cinema of the brothers Lumiere, and then an encyclopedia...deliberate, as the Lumieres' probably was not...of modalities of perception. Of the entire proposed work,(STRAITS OF MAGELLAN is at once the most straightforward and the most delicate part.) There is to be no 'editing,' in the sense usually understood. Each one-minute piece (36 feet in length) of film is to be partitioned from a slightly longer camera run, about fifty feet in length; so that, whatever 'editing’ is done, must be done within the sensibility at the instant of filming; only two 'cuts,' separated from each other by an absolutely fixed and predetermined distance, ore to be relegated to the operation of editing at the bench. Images are to be entirely unmanipulated, outside the camera. I am investigating, so to speak, a montage of pretext, rather than of structure.
The latter possibility has attracted the energies of the larger number of film artists thus far; but it is my growing conviction that it is upon the mimetic force of illusion itself that film art largely rests; and it is from that force that it draws much of its energy.
So that I return, in this work, to the very beginnings of film.
The Lumieres, and Edison, worked in monochrome, and in a medium that was still mute. I propose to work in color, with synchronous sound. I am testing an hypothesis that, had such options been available to them, the inventors of cinema would have done likewise.
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