Filmstrips from Stan Brakhage’s Mothlight, 1963, 16 mm, color, silent, 3 minutes 13 seconds.

NOT THE CAMERA BUT THE PROJECTOR; not a representation but the thing itself, a ribbon of once-living stuff preserved in celluloid coursing along, flashing before our eyes: It was neither Muybridge’s 1879 motion studies nor the Lumière brothers’ 1895 actualités nor even Peter Kubelka’s imageless flicker film Arnulf Rainer (1960) that truly manifested the very essence of cinema but the film-object Mothlight, a three-minute-thirteen-second motion-picture collage assembled and printed by Stan Brakhage at more or less the moment this magazine came into being.

Something like the Stone Age epitome of machine art, Mothlight proposes an alternative form of cinematic production. A projection piece predicated on the fixed rhythm developed from the Lumières’ cinématographe, Brakhage’s film is almost ridiculously primitive, not to mention crazily labor-intensive in its artisanal means. Produced

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