Fast Forward: The Aesthetics and Ideology of Speed in Russian Avant-Garde Culture, 1910-1930

Fast Forward: The Aesthetics and Ideology of Speed in Russian Avant-Garde Culture, 1910-1930

by Tim Harte

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Overview

Life in the modernist era not only moved, it sped. As automobiles, airplanes, and high-speed industrial machinery proliferated at the turn of the twentieth century, a fascination with speed influenced artists—from Moscow to Manhattan—working in a variety of media. Russian avant-garde literary, visual, and cinematic artists were among those striving to elevate the ordinary physical concept of speed into a source of inspiration and generate new possibilities for everyday existence.
    Although modernism arrived somewhat late in Russia, the increased tempo of life at the start of the twentieth century provided Russia’s avant-garde artists with an infusion of creative dynamism and crucial momentum for revolutionary experimentation. In Fast Forward Tim Harte presents a detailed examination of the images and concepts of speed that permeated Russian modernist poetry, visual arts, and cinema. His study illustrates how a wide variety of experimental artistic tendencies of the day—such as “rayism” in poetry and painting, the effort to create a “transrational” language (zaum’) in verse, and movements seemingly as divergent as neo-primitivism and constructivism—all relied on notions of speed or dynamism to create at least part of their effects.     
    Fast Forward reveals how the Russian avant-garde’s race to establish a new artistic and social reality over a twenty-year span reflected an ambitious metaphysical vision that corresponded closely to the nation’s rapidly changing social parameters. The embrace of speed after the 1917 Revolution, however, paradoxically hastened the movement’s demise. By the late 1920s, under a variety of historical pressures, avant-garde artistic forms morphed into those more compatible with the political agenda of the Russian state. Experimentation became politically suspect and abstractionism gave way to orthodox realism, ultimately ushering in the socialist realism and aesthetic conformism of the Stalin years.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780299233235
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press
Publication date: 11/24/2009
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 318
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Tim Harte is assistant professor of Russian language and literature at Bryn Mawr College.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations   
Acknowledgments   

Introduction: The Zeitgeist of Speed   

Part 1: Avant-Garde Poetry in Motion
1 Urban Poets on the Move   
2 The Accelerating Word   

Part 2: Visual Arts of Acceleration
3 Light Speed: Rayism in Russia   
4 "Hurry! For tomorrow you will not recognize us": Suprematism and Beyond   

Part 3: Fast Motion Pictures on the Soviet Screen
5 Early Soviet Cinema: Tricks and Kinesthetics   
6 Soviet Cinema's Great Leap Forward   

Conclusion: The Speed of Coercion   

Notes   
Bibliography   
Index  

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