School of Culture and Communication - Theses

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    Rational fictions: Hollis Frampton's Magellan and the atlas of film
    Fielke, Giles Simon ( 2019)
    This thesis analyses three films by Hollis Frampton (1936-1984): Magellan (1964–1984), Palindrome, (1969), and Zorns Lemma (1970). I argue that Frampton sought to organise knowledge on film by recuperating the atlas—a highly selective tableau of images arranged spatially—as a model to promote film as a form of cultural memory in contrast to history. It begins with an examination of these themes in Frampton’s writing, following his conceptualisation of what he called ‘the infinite film’ and ‘the infinite cinema’ in his 1971 essay “For a Metahistory of Film: Commonplace Notes and Hypotheses” and the subsequent essay “Digressions on the Photographic Agony,” from 1972. After an analysis of how his unfinished, 36-hour-long film-cycle titled Magellan developed from this model, I argue that Zorns Lemma (1970) can be re-framed as an experiment in “filmnemonics”. This latter film left Frampton unsatisfied, however, due to the way in which it emphasised photography’s subordination to traditional systems of inscription, both alphabetical and numerical, in the highly determined matrix of the film frame. Finally, I argue that Frampton recognised that his earlier film, Palindrome (1969), was the experiment most appropriate for realising the model of the atlas of film. Frampton’s decision to include Palindrome within the Magellan cycle is proof not only of the importance of that film and its significance for understanding the complexity of the long, calendrical film cycle as a whole, but also of his shift to a topological model of film. Central to the thesis is the idea of conflation as a means to link memory with formal attempts at thinking in images, as demonstrated by Frampton’s work, addressing how he strove to accommodate film in its complexity while also providing a path through its infinity.