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Cubism and Futurism

Spiritual Machines and the Cinematic Effect

By R. Bruce Elder
Subjects Film & Media, Art
Series Film and Media Studies Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781771122450, 591 pages, June 2018
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781771122726, 591 pages, June 2018
Ebook (PDF) : 9781771122719, 591 pages, June 2018


Cubism and futurism were related movements that vied with each other in the economy of renown. Perception, dynamism, and the dynamism of perception—these issues passed back and forth between the two. Cubism and Futurism shows how movement became, in the traditional visual arts, a central factor with the advent of the cinema: gone were the days when an artwork strived merely to lift experience out the realm of change and flow.
The cinema at this time was understood as an electric art, akin to X-rays, coloured light, and sonic energy. In this book, celebrated filmmaker and author Bruce Elder connects the dynamism that the cinema made an essential feature of the new artwork to the new science of electromagnetism. Cubism is a movement on the cusp of the transition from the world of standardized Cartesian coordinates and interchangeable machine parts to a Galvanic world of continuities and flows. In contrast, futurism embraced completely the emerging electromagnetic view of reality.
Cubism and Futurism shows that the notion of energy made central to the new artwork by the cinema assumed a spiritual dimension, as the cinema itself came to be seen as a pneumatic machine.


This volume establishes R. Bruce Elder’s writing as belonging among works of rare analytical depth, and probably unique within the panorama of film theorists. I know of no cineaste more attentive to esthetical and philosophical issues. The tissues of his thought processes manifest constantly in the deluge of original commentary, opening innovative avenues of meaning. Reading this volume is like entering into a fascinating territory of futurist and cubist poetics, with the view of a boundless horizon. Elder, in a systematic way, gathers the boundaries of various theoretical matrixes and melts them to enrich the architecture of cinematographic thinking.”

- Antonio Bisaccia, Director, “Mario Sironi” Academy of Fine Arts; Sassari, Italy, Antonio Bisaccia