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Man Ray «Return to Reason»
Man Ray, «Return to Reason», 1923

Man Ray «Return to Reason»Man Ray «Return to Reason» | play video
France | 3' | Experimentalfilm, s/w, stumm | Participants: Kiki of Montparnasse | Archive / Collection: ZKM Videosammlung, Karlsruhe | 16mm-film

 Man Ray
«Return to Reason»

More a work in experimental Dadaism than a film, «Le Retour à la raison» was the first film to be made by the celebrated surrealist artist, Man Ray. The American-born artist made the film soon after he moved to Paris in the early 1920s to found the Dada movement.
The film is very short (three minutes in length) but includes some astonishing and evocative images. The early segments of the film iillustrates a technique which Man Ray pioneered in static photography, the rayograph (or photogramme). Here, an object is placed between a light source and photo-sensitive film, in contrast to traditional photography where photographic film captures light reflected off an object. For Le Retour à la raison , Man Ray sought to extend the rayograph technique to a moving image. He sprinkled salt and pepper on one piece of film, pins on another, illuminated the film for a few seconds, then developed the film. The resulting images resemble a seriously weird drugs trip.
Man Ray added additional sequences to make the film of sufficient length to have an impact. These include night shots of lights at a fairground and a section in which a paper mobile appears to dance with its shadow. For the final few seconds of the film, Man Ray shot some hallucinatory images of the nude torso of his model, Kiki of Montparnasse, illuminated in striped light.
The film was first shown shown at the "Cœur à Barbe" evening at the Theater Michel in July 6th [1923]. The film was ill-received by the audience, partly because the film broke twice during its projection.