JUMP CUT
A REVIEW OF CONTEMPORARY MEDIA

Jerusalem: the ramparts, Palestine/Israel,1925. Film still. Cameramen: Camille Sauvageot [©Albert-Kahn museum].

Urban space is delimited and circumscribed by a methodical look that shares much in common with Tom Gunning’s “view aesthetic.” Moreover, the editing accomplishes truly “cartographic” visibility. Films first circumscribe the city as if isolated, and then describe it in terms of possible itineraries.   

Jerusalem: the ramparts, Palestine/Israel,1925. Film still. Cameramen: Camille Sauvageot [©Albert-Kahn museum].

This methodical look ultimately achieves a city portrait, close to some (strictly) cartographic enterprises. Maps equally address strategic points and are preoccupied with circulation routes. Thus they illustrate a functional rationalization of space many ways akin to that in the ADLP's urban films.    

Jerusalem, Wailing Wall, Palestine/Israel, 1925. Film still. Cameramen: Camille Sauvageot [©Albert-Kahn museum].

If cartography constitutes a technology and visual method for figuring space, maps illustrate a particular mode of representation characterized not so much by what it represents (different types of spaces) but by the way it represents. A “mapping impulse” would then be traceable from 17th century Dutch painting to today's hypermedia projects.

Street scene in Marrakech, Morocco, 1912. Autochrome 12x9 cm. Photographer: Stéphane Passet [©Albert-Kahn museum].

The serial effect, mentioned before, as well as the descriptive mode of the films in question, and the “cumulative and analytic” logic overseeing their organization — all these contribute to the idea that cartography can be used as a theoretical model for the understanding images other than maps.

Complex of Dar-el-Makhsen. Fez, Morocco, 1913. Autochrome 12x9 cm. Photographer: Stéphane Passet [©Albert-Kahn museum].

More than an intellectual exercise, cartographic questioning uncovers some figurative and ideological issues regarding cinema in general and the ADLP in particular. Because they aim to represent the globe as an ensemble, to consider the ADLP as a form of cinematographic atlas (and to consider atlases as visual apparatuses) allows us to reassess their instrumental base and the discursive problems they entail. 

 

Notes

Research for this article has been made possible by the Fundação de Ciência e Tecnologia, Portugal.

1. " L’atlas est un dispositif qui permet de concilier le tout et le détail "; "(…) régi par une logique cumulative et analytique"; " L’atlas se prête à une forme différente de maîtrise du monde, plus intellectuelle et encyclopédique" in Christian Jacob, L’empire des cartes. Approche théorique de la cartographie à travers l’histoire (Paris: Albin Michel, 1992), p. 97 [English translation: The Sovereign Map. Theoretical Approaches in Cartography throughout History, University of Chicago Press, forthcoming 2006].

2. Trésor de la Langue Française. Dictionnaire de la langue du XIXe et du XXe siècle (1789-1960) (Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1974).

3. I’m referring to Eric Hobsbawm’s well-known periodization: “the Age of Revolution: Europe (1789-1848)," “the Age of Capital (1848-1875) and “the Age of Empire (1875-1914)."

4. Shohat, Ella, Stam, Robert, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (London: Routledge, 1994, p. 106).

5. Among many possible examples, the Mnemosyne project of the German art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929) is perhaps one of the most interesting and enlightening. Warburg’s “image atlas” (Bilderatlas), left unfinished at the time of his death in 1929, has been somewhat rediscovered in recent decades. It consists of a large collection of images, ranging from reproductions of all sorts of artworks to stamps, magazine snapshots and maps, assembled in more than forty large exhibition screens. Over the years, Warburg constantly rearranged these images on a series of wooden boards covered in black cloth. He was interested in the persistence of classical motifs in European art and by reshuffling the collected pictures on large black screens, he was attempting to map out what he called the “migration of images” (Bilderwanderung). He described his atlas as an exercise in the “iconography of the interval”; such a method was not aimed at the deeper meaning of artworks in themselves but at the set of relations that can be established between different images. Warburg’s approach proceeds by discontinuous sequences (the spaces between the images being a significant element), allowing its "jumps" and "cuts" to reveal the differences and repetitions where, he believes, cultural memory operates. He isn’t simply juxtaposing images, but attempting a kaleidoscopic visual simultaneity that leaps to the eye. See, among others, Philippe-Alain Michaud, Aby Warburg and the Image in Motion (New York: Zone Books, 2004).

6. Jacob 1992: 106-109.

7. For more information on Albert Kahn and the different aspects of his project see the catalogue Albert Kahn (1860-1940). Réalités d’une utopie (Boulogne: Musée Albert Kahn, 1995).

8. Albert Kahn quoted by Emmanuel de Margerie, letter to Jean Brunhes, January 26 1912 (reproduced in Jeanne Beausoleil et Mariel Jean-Brunhes Delamarre, "Deux témoins de leur temps: Albert Kahn et Jean Brunhes," in Jean Brunhes: Autour du monde, regards d’un géographe/ regards de la géographie (Boulogne: Musée Albert Kahn, 1993, p. 92).

9. Amad, Paula, "'Cinema’s sanctuary’: From pre-documentary to documentary film in Albert Kahn’s Archives de la Planète (1908-1931)," in Film History, vol. 13, no. 2, 2001, p. 146.

10. Tom Gunning, "Before documentary: early nonfiction films and the 'view aesthetic,'" in Daan Hertogs et Nico de Klerk (dir.), Uncharted Territory: Essays on Early Nonfiction Films (Amsterdam: Nederlands Filmmuseum, 1997), p. 22.

11. Amad 2001: 149. Amad’s article remains one of the finest introductions to the films of the Archives de la Planète

12. Both Jean-Paul Gandolfo’s article "1880-1930: la photographie au service de la géographie, méthodes et moyens," in Jean Brunhes: Autour du monde, regards d’un géographe/ regards de la géographie (Boulogne: Musée Albert Kahn, 1993, pp. 66-89) and Marie-Claire Robic’s "Jean-Brunhes, un 'géo-photo-graphe' expert aux Archives de la Planète," in Jean Brunhes: Autour du monde, regards d’un géographe/ regards de la géographie (Boulogne: Musée Albert Kahn, 1993, pp. 109-137) develop this point. 

13. Jean Brunhes, La géographie de l’histoire. Introduction à la seconde année du cours de Géographie Humaine  (College de France, 1913-1914), in Revue de Geographie annuelle, VIII, fasc. 1, Paris: Delagrave, 1914, p. 7).

14. Jean Brunhes in Marie Bonhomme et Mariel Jean-Brunhes Delamarre, "La méthode des missions des Archives de la Planète," in Jean Brunhes: Autour du monde, regards d’un géographe/ regards de la géographie (Boulogne: Musée Albert Kahn, 1993, pp. 202-203).

15. Albert Kahn quoted by Emmanuel de Margerie, letter to Jean Brunhes, January 26 1912 (reproduced in Beausoleil et Delamarre 1993: 92).

16. A point further developed by Sam Rohdie in “Geography, Photography, The Cinema," in
http://www.haussite.net/haus.0/
SCRIPT/txt2000/01/geoall.HTML

17. Incidentally, the only written work left by Albert Kahn – an opuscule entitled Des droits et des devoirs des gouvernements (1918) – is a reflection on pacifism as a political option. 

18. Shohat and Stam 1994: 100-136.

19. Shohat and Stam 1994: 106. The expression “mapping impulse” comes from Svetlana Alpers, The Art of Describing: Dutch Art in the Seventeeth Century, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1983. 

20. Shohat and Stam 1994: 100.

21. Jacob 1992: 97.

22. For a definition of “monument," see Françoise Choay, L’allégorie du patrimoine (Paris: Seuil, 1992), pp. 14-15.


To topPrint versionJC 48 Jump Cut home