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Dialogic Materialism

Bakhtin, Embodiment and Moving Image Art


Miriam Jordan-Haladyn

Dialogic Materialism: Bakhtin, Embodiment and Moving Image Art argues for the relevance of Mikhail Bakhtin’s theories of dialogism as a means of examining the interdisciplinary nature of contemporary moving image art forms. The volume comprises six chapters divided into two sections. The first section, Part I, illustrates the key concepts in Bakhtin’s multifaceted dialogism and develops these ideas in relation to moving image art. The main focus of this first part is the proposal of what the author terms dialogic materialism, which builds upon the Marxism inherent in Bakhtin, examining the material processes of cultural exchange with a particular emphasis on multi-perspective subjective relations. Part II consists of case studies that apply dialogic materialism to the moving image artwork of three artists: Stan Douglas, Jamelie Hassan and Chris Marker. Applying Bakhtinian theory to the field of the visual arts provides a means of examining the fundamentally dialogic nature of moving image art making and viewing, a perspective that is not fully developed within the existing literature.
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Chapter 5: Polyphonic Screens: Chris Marker and Embodied Memory


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Chapter 5:

Polyphonic Screens: Chris Marker and Embodied Memory

Always preserved in a genre are undying elements of the archaic. True, these archaic elements are preserved in it only thanks to their constant renewal, which is to say, their contemporization. A genre is always the same and yet not the same, always old and new simultaneously… A genre lives in the present, but always remembers its past, its beginning. – Mikhail Bakhtin191

Of course, this work in no way constitutes an autobiography, and I’ve permitted myself to drift in all directions. Nonetheless, if you’re going to work on memory, you might as well use the one you’ve always got on you. – Chris Marker192

Although primarily known as a French filmmaker and essayist, Chris Marker’s practice consists of an ever-expanding multitude of media and disciplinary fields. He has worked as a writer, poet, filmmaker, activist, artist and photographer. His work has been constructed through collective-productions, as solitary ventures under cover of a pseudonym, on the Internet and in the museum. Like the wide range of topics that he explores, Marker is at heart a traveler who crisscrosses media, exploring the movements of history and memory as it is constructed through cultural dialogue. This interdisciplinarity is fundamental to the experience of his working process. Marker in his typical fashion – with his many masks and alter egos – presents, as Nietzsche hypothesizes, the “subject as multiplicity,” which like time never stops moving.193 As I...

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