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The Intelligence of a Machine

2014
The Intelligence of a Machine

A groundbreaking early philosophy of cinema and the cinematographic apparatus

Pioneering avant-garde filmmaker Jean Epstein uses the universes created by the cinematograph to deconstruct our understanding of how time and space, reality and unreality, continuity and discontinuity, determinism and randomness function both inside and outside the cinema. The Intelligence of a Machine, his first major title to be published in English, is one of the earliest philosophies of cinema.

The advent of the cinema radically altered our comprehension of time, space, and reality. With his experience as a pioneering avant-garde filmmaker, Jean Epstein uses the universes created by the cinematograph to deconstruct our understanding of how time and space, reality and unreality, continuity and discontinuity, determinism and randomness function both inside and outside the cinema. Time, he says, should be regarded as the first, not the fourth, dimension—and the cinematograph allows us, for the first time, to manipulate it in directions and speeds of our choosing.

The theoretical work of Jean Epstein greatly influenced later generations of cinema philosophers, notably Gilles Deleuze and Jacques Rancière, but the bulk of his work remains unpublished. The Intelligence of a Machine, his first major title published in English, is one of the earliest philosophies of cinema.

The Intelligence of a Machine

Jean Epstein (1897–1953) was a noted French avant-garde filmmaker, poet, fiction writer, and one of the earliest philosophers of cinema.

Christophe Wall-Romana is associate professor in the Department of French and Italian and an affiliated faculty member in moving image studies at the University of Minnesota.

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