Worldwide montage


Now here’s an extraordinary thing. Video artist Perry Bard is planning a remake of Dziga Vertov’s classic avant garde documentary Man with a Movie Camera, and is inviting the world to join in.

Her plan is to use the web to archive, sequence and deliver submissions for a remake of the 1929 film, which will then be exhibited on the Big Screen Manchester (a BBC initiative to bring big screen pictures to city squares) UK on 11 October 2007, with more public venues visited throughout the UK through 2008.

The project website,, has a scene index with every shot of Vertov’s film recorded in thumbnails and logged in seconds and number of frames. Would-be Vertov’s of today can upload their footage (or still images, or even text), which does not have to match the original shot but should come close to it in length – it’s the rhythmic patterning that counts. Presumably it’s meant to be one shot contributed per person.

Goodness what the results will be like (or how she will select what’s sent, or even how many different potential versions might emerge), but it’s an amazing idea, and certainly has something of the spirit of Vertov’s radical work about it. Here’s the artist’s explanation of how her work connects with that of Vertov:

Vertov’s 1929 film Man With A Movie Camera records the progression of one full day synthesizing footage shot in Moscow, Riga, and Kiev. The film begins with titles that declare it “an experiment in the cinematic communication of visible events without the aid of intertitles, without the aid of a scenario, without the aid of theater.” It is often described as an urban documentary yet the subject of the film is also the film itself – from the role of the cameraman to that of the editor to its projection in a theatre and the response of the audience. It is a film within a film made with a range of inventive effects – dissolves, split screen, slow motion, freeze frame – all of which are now embedded in digital editing software … When the work streams your contribution becomes part of a worldwide montage, in Vertov’s terms the “decoding of life as it is”.

The project site also has the the entire film to view (via Google Video). Uploading starts in August.

Whatever next?