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The Calisthenics of Vision: Open Instructions on the Films of George Landow

STAN BREAKAGE, BY THE MAGNITUDE of his effort and the articulation of a hypostatic universe, could well be posited as the Atlas of New American Cinema. George Landow might have been its Charles Atlas, a figure taken up wth the analytic assumption of heroic postures, were it not for his rejection of “bulk” for “definition” (the former endemic to body builders, the latter to athletes). Instead, engendering a kind of popular hermeneutics, Landow emerges as an esthetic Jack La Lanne, that is, a guide for the retraining of the perceptual organs.

Though he shares certain phenomenological concerns with Jacobs, Snow, Sharits, and Frampton, the clearest analogues to his work are suggested by the programmed text, the military field manual, and certain medical teaching films. The notion of “exercise,” with its concomitant “instruction,” formally and pictorially operative throughout the films, is

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