Apparatus as Content: The Performativity of Technology and Yugoslav Experimental Film
Keywords:Jean Comolli, Jean-Louis Narboni, Malcolm Le Grice, Nicole Brenez, Nikola Đurić, Svetolik Novaković, Mihovil Pansini, Scusa Signorina, Yugoslav experimental film, Yugoslav aesthetics, left-wing theory, apparatus theory, performance, film technology.
In 1982, the Yugoslav film magazine Filmske Sveske published a themed issue titled The Left-Wing Theory, including the texts of French Marxist film theorists, focused on the interrelationship of film and technology – the body of work known as “apparatus theory” (Jean-Louis Baudry, Jean Comolli, Jean-Louis Narboni). This paper considers Yugoslav experimental cinema as politically engaged art and examines the extent to which it is theoretically grounded in the Western theory of experimental cinema. I propose a performative model of the concept of “engaged art” advanced by Yugoslav aestheticians Sreten Petrović and Danko Grlić. Moreover, following the typological classifications of experimental film and the understanding of cinema as a political practice (Malcolm Le Grice, Nicole Brenez, Jean Comolli, and Jean-Louis Narboni) and focusing on the works of Mihovil Pansini, Nikola Đurić, and Svetolik Novaković, this paper seeks to revise the categorisation of Yugoslav experimental cinema practices recognising technology as the key factor of the filmmaking process. The central objective of this article is to juxtapose the experimental film theories and practices of the democratic, capitalist West and those of socialist Yugoslavia, hoping that the results of this parallel reading might open up further research prospects.
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