Out of print for over 40 years, Stan Brakhage’s landmark Metaphors on Vision has been republished by Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry.

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Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws of perspective, an eye unprejudiced by compositional logic, an eye which does not respond to the name of everything but which must know each object encountered in life through an adventure of perception. How many colors are there in a field of grass to the crawling baby unaware of "Green"? How many rainbows can light create for the untutored eye? How aware of variations in heat waves can that eye be? Imagine a world alive with incomprehensible objects and shimmering with an endless variety of movement and innumerable gradations of color. Imagine a world before the "beginning was the word."

So begins Stan Brakhage’s classic Metaphors on Vision. First published in 1963 as a special issue of Film Culture, it stands as the major theoretical statement by one of avant-garde cinema’s most influential figures, a treatise on mythopoeia and the nature of visual experience written in a style as idiosyncratic as his art. By turns lyrical, technical, and philosophical, this is a collection to be shelved alongside the commentaries of Robert Bresson and Maya Deren, Sergei Eisenstein and Nagisa Oshima. Yet despite its historical importance and undeniable influence, the complete Metaphors has remained out of print in the US for over forty years.

Now, Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry are proud to present the republication of Metaphors on Vision in a new, definitive edition, featuring a full facsimile of the publication’s original George Maciunas design as well as a corrected version of the text, overseen by P. Adams Sitney. These materials are complemented by Sitney’s introduction to the 1998 French translation of Metaphors on Vision, copious annotations, and an apparatus that meticulously tracks variations in the text across its many iterations.

"One of the great documents of American cinema." - J. Hoberman

"The impact and importance of Stan Brakhage's Metaphors on Vision, his youthful personal theory of cinema, can be compared only with the impact and importance of the equally youthful personal film theories of Eisenstein. Brakhage outlines the poetics of cinema with the same excitement as Eisenstein did the dramatics of cinema." - Jonas Mekas

"He was the strongest and central force within a movement that was continuously required to explicate, theorize, and even justify its work, to make it plain. Metaphors on Vision takes its place with that small group of fundamental theoretical texts by filmmakers, those of Eisenstein, Epstein, Deren, Frampton, and Godard. Brakhage's critique of the cinematic apparatus is extended, in Metaphors, to the optics and chemistry of its manufacture..." - Annette Michelson, October

"Like a fire carrier, this newly published edition of Metaphors on Vision rekindles the very necessity of our filmmaking instincts. All that our youth so cherished is now once again ignited. Stan, the great cheerleader of the sublime, is again burning deep in our hearts and all that cinema might be has been set aflame by this stunning publication." - Nathaniel Dorsky

"...Brakhage’s legacy has endured—and with good reason. He hardly needs rehabilitation; no figure of experimental film has been more maligned, yet none has been more lionized. What he does need, for the benefit of both his detractors and his acolytes, is complication—and here the republication of Metaphors on Vision provides its most valuable assistance. If its opening texts read as works of film theory in the vein of Jean Epstein or Maya Deren, offering an interrogation of cinema as a technology of vision with implications far beyond Brakhage’s own practice, later pieces delve into other modes of writing: There are descriptions of the filmmaker’s working method and home life, reflections on film history and modernist poetry, snippets from correspondence, and fragments of film scripts. Brakhage touches on topics that remain of great interest today, including the relationship between computer-generated imagery and lens-based capture and the possibility of nonanthropocentric forms of vision. With Sitney’s vital help, what emerges in this volume is an essential portrait of a filmmaker, his convictions, and his context. This cumulative picture is far more complex than the hardened caricatures of him—whether positive or negative—that too often circulate. Even heroes are fallible, and even romantic egotists make momentous contributions. Metaphors on Vision allows us to see both more clearly." - Erika Balsom, Artforum

"Stan Brakhage’s Metaphors on Vision—first published in 1963 by Jonas Mekas as a fabulously special issue of Film Culture, designed by Fluxus forefather George Maciunas, bound in beautifully corrugated cardboard pierced with an eyehole, beyond whose vellum retina lurked Brakhage’s own eye (in negative) returning your gaze—is back. Back the way vinyl records are back, bright and beautiful: classic old sights and sounds of the ’60s reified and refreshed with a sturdy new binding and state-of-the-art typesetting. The new edition—essentially an expansion of Metaphors on Vision’s second edition, where the corrugations were replaced by what felt like heavy-duty, brown-to-grayish construction paper and Brakhage’s famously smush-faced visage wedged up against the book’s title—includes a faithfully reproduced facsimile of the entire typewritten-on-acid-blotter-stock original volume (interviews, photographs, and all), followed by a cleanly set and painstakingly corrected and annotated version of same by editor P. Adams Sitney, all from the venerable Anthology Film Archives and Brooklyn’s thriving film collective Light Industry. Do you need to own it? Undeniably, especially if your back-in-the-day copy is as spine-damaged as mine is. Do you need to read it? Well, naturally, even if its opening strains are already ingrained in our film-cultural memories: 'Imagine an eye unruled by man-made laws…', etc., etc. Need I continue? In these confines, those words ought to complete themselves. It’s the very Pledge of Allegiance of the experimental film world, that edifying, cinema-defying opening Stan-za—our emulsion-hugging Leaves of Grass." - Chuck Stephens, Cinema Scope

"Brakhage questioned 'the "absolute realism" of the motion picture image' while celebrating a first-person cinema that could capture both the rare phenomena of the visible world and the 'mythopoetic' dimensions of everyday existence. Sitney’s endnotes elucidate Brakhage’s dense allusion- and wordplay-heavy language. Especially helpful are filmographies and explanations of the filmmaker’s alliances with, and departures from, artistic contemporaries such as Maya Deren and Parker Tyler. The volume is a flawless reproduction of the cardboard-like paper and magazine-sized photos and film stills (as designed by Fluxus artist George Maciunas) that comprised the ’76 reprint—and it even clarifies Brakhage’s puns (e.g., 'move meant'). Such microscopic attention to detail complements Brakhage’s exceptional attempt at an all-encompassing theory of cinema." - Film Comment

In conjunction with the republication of Metaphors on Vision, an ongoing series of Brakhage screenings will take place at cinemas, festivals, and museums across the globe from September, 2017 to March, 2018.

Recent and upcoming events:

September 26 at Light Industry: Filmmaker as Film Theorist: Brakhage, Deren, Frampton
October 3-12 at Anthology Film Archives: Metaphors on Vision Book Launch
October 9 at CU Boulder: P. Adams Sitney on Metaphors on Vision
October 13-November 11 at Harvard Film Archive: Stan Brakhage's Metaphors on Vision
October 27 at Bard College: Conversation with Robert Kelly and P. Adams Sitney
October 29 at the Quad: Scenes from Under Childhood
November 19 at the Whitney Museum of American Art: Stan Brakhage's Metaphors on Vision
December 1-3 at HOME: Filmmaker Focus, Stan Brakhage (Program One and Program Two)
December 8 at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts: San Francisco Cinematheque presents Stan Brakhage: Metaphors on Vision
January 11 at the Western Front: Scrivener's Monthly
January 25 at Lightbox Film Center: Dog Star Man
January 25 at the Walker Art Center: Metaphors on Vision by Brakhage
January 27 at Metrograph: Stan Brakhage's Daybreak and Whiteye + Isidore Isou's Venom and Eternity
February 1 at the Austrian Film Museum: Buchpräsentation, Diskussion und Film: Stan Brakhage
February 10-11 at the National Gallery of Art: Stan Brakhage: Metaphors on Vision
February 11-13 at Austin Film Society et al: Experimental Responce Cinema presents Early Stan Brakhage, The Pittsburgh Trilogy, Brakhage + Marie Menken
February 15 at the George Eastman Museum: Metaphors on Vision
February 16 at Visual Studies Workshop: Metaphors on Vision: 8mm Films by Stan Brakhage
February 25 at the Museum of the Moving Image: The Art of Vision
March 5-10 at Punto de Vista: Metaphors on Vision
March 15-29 at the Cinemateca Portuguesa: Stan Brakhage: A Arte da Visão
March 18 at TIFF Cinematheque: Dog Star Man

Metaphors on Vision
Stan Brakhage
Edited by P. Adams Sitney
Designed by Joseph Logan and Katy Nelson
Published by Anthology Film Archives and Light Industry
In stores September 26, 2017
212 pages
8.25 x 10.875"
ISBN: 978-0-9979102-0-9
Edition of 2,000

For press inquiries, please contact Michael Lieberman.

For all other questions: information@lightindustry.org.

Metaphors on Vision is distributed internationally by D.A.P.
To place a wholesale order: orders@dapinc.com.

P. Adams Sitney, Professor Emeritus from Princeton University, is a preeminent historian of avant-garde cinema. He is the author of Visionary Film, Modernist Montage, Vital Crises in Italian Cinema, Eyes Upside Down, and The Cinema of Poetry.

Anthology Film Archives is an international center for the preservation, study, and exhibition of film and video, with a particular focus on independent, experimental, and avant-garde cinema. Opened in 1970 by Jonas Mekas, Jerome Hill, P. Adams Sitney, Peter Kubelka, and Stan Brakhage, Anthology in its original conception was a showcase for the Essential Cinema Repertory collection. In the decades since its founding, Anthology has grown far beyond its original concept to encompass film and video preservation; the formation of a reference library containing the world’s largest collection of books, periodicals, stills, and other paper materials related to avant-garde cinema; and a remarkably innovative and eclectic film exhibition program. Anthology screens more than 1,000 programs annually, preserves an average of 25 films per year (with over 1,000 works preserved to date), publishes books and DVDs, and hosts numerous scholars and researchers.

Light Industry is a venue for film and electronic art in Brooklyn, New York, founded in 2008. Developed and overseen by Thomas Beard and Ed Halter, the project centers upon a series of weekly events, which are frequently organized in collaboration with an invited artist, critic, or curator. Through a regular program of screenings, performances, and lectures, its goal is to explore new models for the presentation of cinema. Bringing together the worlds of contemporary art, experimental film, and documentary (to name only a few), Light Industry looks to foster an ongoing dialogue among a wide range of artists and audiences.