Hollis Frampton: Navigating the Infinite Cinema
Columbia University Press, Film & Culture series, NY, NY, 2023
328 pp. Paper, $30; eBook, $42
“I’m a spectator of mathematics like others are spectators of soccer or pornography”––Leggett, Leonardo, July 2009
There is much to be gained by the contemporary researcher from this new analysis of an artist who, working with 16mm film 50 years ago, set about redefining the epistemology of cinema and its myriad axioms in the contemporary context, expanded now into the digital cultures of uncertain authorship and purpose. Frampton's research was precipitated by interventions made into creative cultures of the early 20th century.
Based in New York state, Frampton's erudition exemplified the informal creativity characterising the zeitgeist of the mid 20th century. "The infinite cinema was Frampton's own phrase, an expansive concept in which cinema includes all images as well as all image technologies and their infrastructures.''
The author focusses on the major film cycle Magellan completed in the last decade of Frampton's life, a 'metahistory' of film, also serving as a model for human consciousness, which the author argues 'navigated a wide sea of cultural history' the creative discourse emerging through his work being exhibited alongside other experimental (modernist) material and analogue modes of expression. Frampton stretched his research to employing synthesizers and later, designing software and hardware to speed up often repetitive filmmaking tasks. With colleagues at the university he set up the Digital Arts Lab where as a first step, students and staff alike developed software; 'control mechanisms' becoming, algorithmic aesthetics.
The author of this volume mirrors his subject's all-embracing approach to the art-making task in hand, rigorously tracking the twists and turns in this remarkable artist's creations and the reverberations he had on the discourses of the day, with the encyclopaedic ideas continuing to echo down the years towards infinite cinema, 'the universe and everything.' Appropriately this volume is substantial in describing this artist scholar, his milieu and those following, complete with notes and an extensive bibliography.