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DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect

By R. Bruce Elder
Subjects Film & Media, Art
Series Film and Media Studies Hide Details
Hardcover : 9781554586257, 776 pages, August 2013
Paperback : 9781771121996, 776 pages, October 2015
Ebook (EPUB) : 9781554583805, 776 pages, August 2013

Table of contents

Table of Contents for
DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect by R. Bruce Elder


1 The Fate of Reason in Modernity

The Modern Paradigm: Privileging Reason

Geometry and Geometries

Foundationalism Collapses

Logic and Paradox

Continuity and the Foundations of Physics

Cantor and the Strangeness of Infinity

Formalist Mathematics and the Limits of Reason

Consequences of Reason's Retreat

“Primitivism” as a Response to the Collapse of Reason


2 Dadism and the Disasters of War

The Zürich Coterie and Their Antics

The Dada Conspirators: Tristan Tzara

The Dada Conspirators: Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings

The Dada Conspirators: Francis Picabia

The Künstlerkneipe Cabaret Voltaire and the Galerie Dada

DADA: War and Politics

DADA against Burgeoning of Nationalism: What DADA Might Have Prevented

A Precursor of DADA: The Comic Grotesque

The Diffusion of DADA

The Conditions That Produced the State of Mind Known as DADA

Elementalism's Menacing Lure

DADA: Art and Anti-Art

DADA and the Life Principle

Constructive DADA

Hans Richter on the Six Forms of Use in Returning Art to Its Elementary Condition

Dada Forms: Collage

Further on Collage's New Notion of Form

DADA and Language

Parallels with the Russian Trans-Rationalists and Andrei Bely

Zaum and the Higher Consciousness of Trans-Sense

Picabia, Man Ray and the Dadaist Art of the Machine

Duchamp and DADA's Art of the Machine

Entr'acte (1924): Commentary

Man Ray's DADA Cinema

Emak Bakia: Introduction

Emak Bakia: Commentary

DADA: In conclusion


3 Surrealism and the Cinema


Psychoanalysis and the Occult: The Intrusion of Alien Forms into Consciousness and the Poetics of the Surrealist Literary Image

DADA and Surrealism

Hippolyte Taine, Hasard Objectif, the Poetic Image and the Cinema

The Cinema, Photography and “the Marvellous”

Photography, the Surrealist Object, and the Unheimlich

Ernst's Frottage as a Handmade Trace and Automatist Form

Surrealism, Apollinaire, and Reconciliatio

Surrealism and the Hegelian Dialectic

Surrealism and the Freudian Dialectic

Dalí, the Double Image, and Paranoiac-Critical Methods

Dalí Against Idealism

Dalí, Paranoia and Lacan: A New Phase of Surrealism Begins

Lacan's Theories and Surrealists' Conception of the Poetic Image

Un chien andalou: Commentary

An Anti-art Film

The Verbal Image

Surrealism's Fissures and Luis Buñuel's Las Hurdes: Tierra sin pan

Las Hurdes and the Documentary

Dialectical Structure in Las Hurdes

Las Hurdes and Bataille's Heterology

Las Hurdes and the Sacred

Las Hurdes as an Ethnographic Film

The Hurdanos in History

How Surrealism Has Been Passed Down into the Twenty-First Century: The Marvellous Correspondence between Max Ernst's Collage Novels and Lawrence Jordan's Films

Collage as a Pneumatic Device: Through Ernst to Jordan

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Dimanche” (Calcination)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Lundi” (Dissolution)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Mardi” (Separation)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Mercredi” (Conjunction)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Jeudi” (Putrefaction/Fermentation)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Vendredi” (Distillation)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Samedi” (Coagulation)

The Surrealist Collage Novel: Une semaine de bonté—“Samedi” (Coagulation)

Lawrence Jordan between Surrealism and Alchemy

Lawrence Jordan's Duo Concertantes: Commentary

Part One: The Centennial Exposition

Part Two: Patricia Gives Birth to a Dream by the Doorway


In Lieu of a Conclusion

Appendix 1: How Reason Lost its Purchase on Reality


Appendix 2: Infinity Confounds Reason


Appendix 3: An Account of Gödel's Proof for Poets, Painters and Art Historians


Appendix 4: Emak Bakia: A Shot Analysis and Commentary


Appendix 5: Un chien andalou: A Shot Analysis and Commentary


Appendix 6: Land without Bread: An Shot Analysis and Commentary


Appendix 7: Analysis of Larry Jordan's Duo Concertantes

Part One: The Centennial Exposition

Part Two: Patricia Gives Birth to a Dream by the Doorway

Duo Concertantes Musical Form: Tables

Duo Concertantes Part 1: The Centennial Exposition

Duo Concertantes Part 2: Patricia Gives Birth to a Dream by the Doorway



This book deals with the early intellectual reception of the cinema and the manner in which art theorists, philosophers, cultural theorists, and especially artists of the first decades of the twentieth century responded to its advent. While the idea persists that early writers on film were troubled by the cinema’s lowly form, this work proposes that there was another, largely unrecognized, strain in the reception of it. Far from anxious about film’s provenance in popular entertainment, some writers and artists proclaimed that the cinema was the most important art for the moderns, as it exemplified the vibrancy of contemporary life.

This view of the cinema was especially common among those whose commitments were to advanced artistic practices. Their notions about how to recast the art media (or the forms forged from those media’s materials) and the urgency of doing so formed the principal part of the conceptual core of the artistic programs advanced by the vanguard art movements of the first half of the twentieth century. This book, a companion to the author’s previous, Harmony & Dissent, examines the Dada and Surrealist movements as responses to the advent of the cinema.



``Rigorously researched, the book rarely leans on established studes of DADA/surrealism, but it combines study of films of these movements with the movement's noncinematic work. Its length notwithstanding, this is a readable, informative book. Summing Up: Recommended. ''

- R.P. Kinsman, Choice, January 2014

``DADA, Surrealism, and the Cinematic Effect, Bruce Elder's superb companion volume to his earlier Harmony and Dissent, convincingly demonstrates that for the early twentieth-century avant-garde movements, cinema was the model, the preeminent form that prompted a recasting of the other arts. This wide-ranging study shows that Dada artists created cinematic collages and transformative machines, whereas Surrealists developed the film script as a new literary genre. His brilliant analyses of Duchamp's Anémic cinema, Man Ray's Retour à la raison and Emak Bakia, and Buñuel's Un chien andalou and Las Hurdes are only surpassed by his intricate explication of Ernst's cinematic collage novels, which he relates as models for Lawrence Jordan's surrealist films. This is that rare book that casts the early twentieth-century avant-garde in a very new light. ''

- Rudolf Kuenzli, director, International Dada Archive, University of Iowa