V-v-Vertov R-r-Re-Made

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The seminal work of pioneering avant-garde filmmaker Dziga Vertov, The Man with the Movie Camera (Chevolek s kino-apparatom, 1929) has given rise to a number of discussions about the documentary film genre and new digital media. By way of comparison with American artist Perry Bard’s online movie project entitled Man With a Movie Camera: The Global Remake (2007), this article investigates the historical perspective of this visionary depiction of reality and its impact on the heralded participatory culture of contemporary digital media, which can be traced back to Russian Constructivism. Through critical analysis of the relation between Vertov’s manifest declarations about the film medium and his resulting cinematic vision, Bard’s project and the work of her chief theoretical inspiration Lev Manovich are examined in the perspective of ‘remake culture,’ participatory authorship and the development a documentary film language. In addition to this, possible trajectories from Vertov and his contemporary Constructivists to recent theories of ‘new materialism’ and the notion of Man/Machine-co-operation is discussed in length.

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