…your proposal of any given film as a “fragment”, which I suspect you ran intuitively head-on into in the heat of discourse…well, it was suggestive to the point of vertigo, seen from the tangent of a meta-history of film such as I tickle myself with…

  – Hollis Frampton in a letter to P. Adams Sitney, April 4, 19711

 Jean-Luc Godard’s indebtedness to the work of filmmaker and theorist, Hollis Frampton (1936-1984), and in particular his 1971 essay “For a Metahistory of Film: Commonplace Notes and Hypotheses,” is made explicit in the final episode of Histoire(s) du Cinema (1998).2 Four minutes and twenty seconds before the ending of episode 4b, entitled Les signes parmi nous [The Signs Among Us], the words ‘Hollis Frampton’ appear in a yellow, sans-serif text on a black background (fig. 1). A few minutes earlier, the auteur had returned to a persistent image in the montage mix, the cover of Charles Pegúy’s Clio (1931). A woman’s voice reads over the image of Clio: ‘I need a day to tell the history of a second, a year to tell the history of a minute, a lifetime to tell the history of an hour, an eternity to tell the history of a day’. Over iconic images of Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara (1928-1967), the voice-over leads into an epilogue for the Histoire(s) as a whole. Soon after, Frampton’s name appears just as the voice reads directly from a section from Frampton’s “Metahistory” essay: 

As one era slowly dissolves into the next, some individuals metabolize the former means of physical survival into new means for psychic survival. These latter we call art.3

Godard’s citation of Frampton here suggests his concern in nominating film as the art-form appropriate to the era of the passing long 20th century. As we shall see, the figure of Clio, the muse of History, was also a focus for Frampton’s writing of the Metahistory essay. But for Godard’s Histoire(s), made on video—a new aesthetic continent, and a mark of an epochal audiovisual shift—the series eulogises the first century of cinematic time as it can be addressed to history, and by surpassing the established forms of montage. 

The Signs Among Us”, Episode 4(b), Histoires du cinema

Frampton’s essay is just one of several conceptual touchstones of the Histoire(s), and it is likely that Godard only came to it while working on the last episode of his multi-year project.4 Originally appearing in the September 1971 issue of Artforum, Frampton’s Metahistory essay was translated into French by Cécile Wajsbrot and published in the March 1997 edition of the French cinema revue Trafic.5 After reading this translation, Godard arranged to have the essay re-printed and distributed as a special pamphlet for the press, along with Jonathan Rosenbaum’s essay on the Histoire(s) that had appeared in the same edition of Trafic, in advance of its screening in the Un Certain Regard section of the 50th Cannes festival in May of the same year (fig. 2).6 Despite his prior disinterest in the artist-filmmaker avant-garde, Godard’s sudden regard for Frampton, more than a decade after his death, must be seen as an important point for his own work of film theory. Noted by Michael Witt in his celebrated book on Godard’s Histoire(s), this proximity between Godard and Frampton’s thinking on film has not yet been thoroughly examined, and its apocryphal retellings are often misleading. For example, Christa Blümlinger has written that “Frampton does not appear in Godard’s Histoire(s), any more than Peter Kubelka, Ernie Gehr or Michael Snow does.”7 Even if we are to understand this statement figuratively, Godard’s citation of Frampton points to a productive encounter between two artist-filmmakers aligned with cinematic milieus that have typically been kept apart: European art-house cinema and so-called Structural film. More than just asking us to revise the contours of these two categories, Godard’s belated dialogue with Frampton reveals some of the important similarities and differences between their ideas concerning cinema, history and cultural memory. This essay charts some of these intersections, examining Godard’s Histoire(s) with Frampton’s Metahistory essay as well as his unfinished film-cycle, Magellan.

Cover of Trafic 21 (Spring 1997)

Frampton’s own work shares with Godard’s an unusually long gestation period. As Witt has argued, Godard’s idea for a “videographic elegy to cinema” can be traced back as far as the late 1960s, and was enabled by his work with some of Sony’s first commercially available video cameras.8 Frampton’s idea for a metahistory on film had a similarly long incubation period. Coming to New York in the late 1950s to stay with his high-school friend, the artist Carl Andre, Frampton’s artistic output began with photography, and while he worked as a dye-transfer technician at Technicolor Inc. he began to make 16mm films. The experimental work that Frampton developed throughout the 1960s, however, aimed at a larger project: Magellan. Frampton had begun describing this ambitious project in letters to his friend Reno Odlin as early as 1964.9 By 1978 the idea had expanded to become an epic cycle of work which aimed at nothing less than the “resynthesis of the film tradition: ‘making film over as it should have been.’”10 Magellan was the realisation of Frampton’s idea for a metahistory of film. It would eventually feature a computerised, daily schedule of hundreds of short experimental films on 16mm film, anchored by long-form meditations to be screened on the equinoxes and solstices of the calendar year. Magellan was programmed to be 36 hours long, yet it remained unfinished at the time of Frampton’s death from cancer in 1984.

Whereas Frampton remained faithful to the 16mm medium and Bolex camera for Magellan, Godard’s purchase of a video camera, as well as his writing of a number of short essays at the time, reflected a desire to think through his own work in terms of cinema history, and to do this by utilising the possibilities presented by video.11 Godard was given an initial opportunity to experiment with this project in a quite different form in 1978, when he was invited to deliver a series of lectures on film history at Concordia University in Montreal at the invitation of the head of the University’s Conservatory of Cinematographic Art, Serge Losique. Godard took over the lecture series after the passing of Henri Langlois in 1977, who was initially slated to conduct them.12 Losique’s choice of Godard as a replacement made sense, given the filmmaker’s debt to the Cinémathèque Française’s co-founder in his own formation as a filmmaker and critic, but also in terms of their shared philosophies of film and history. In his work as a museum curator and film programmer, Langlois’ work favoured the epiphanies of visual associations It refused chronology and traditional, scholarly rigour in favour of film’s “strange accumulation of objects and archives.”13 This surrealist inflection, and particularly the modalities of montage that it implied, was something that Godard had always appreciated in Langlois’ work, and his Concordia lectures were an attempt to carry forward what Paula Amad has described as Langlois’ “working against the rationalist regime of the catalogue.14 Reels from Godard’s own films would be played alongside reels from others in film history, which would precede a talk by Godard attempting to tie them together conceptually or thematically. 

But, per Godard, the Concordia lectures were more or less doomed to failure because it was not feasible to project the two reels of films side-by-side in the theatre. For Godard, a true history of cinema would be, on the one hand, one that was projected: this is what distinguished cinema from other forms of art, and particularly from other forms of history, which “reduced” history to the space of the page.15  On the other hand, this history would have to be recounted through montage, a property central to the medium, and which other forms of history have tried but often failed to achieve. By montage, Godard doesn’t simply mean patterns of editing, but rather a more broad-reaching revelation of the newly apparent connections between historical matter. For Godard, speaking just before starting work on Histoire(s), this was at the centre of his conception of the cinema as a historical phenomenon: 

​​When it was invented, cinema fostered, or impressed, a different way of seeing called editing, which is to put something in relation to someone in a different way than novels or paintings. This is why it was successful, enormously successful, because it opened people’s eyes in a certain way. With painting there was a single relationship to the painting, with literature there was a single relationship to the novel, but when people saw a film there was something that was at least double—and when someone watched it became triple. There was something different which in its technical form gradually came to be called editing, meaning there was a connection. It was something that filmed not so much things, but the connection between things.16

Here, Godard is remarkably close to Frampton in the “Metahistory” essay, in which the latter writes: 

In the 1830s, George Büchner wrote Woyzeck. Évarist Galois died, a victim of political murder, leaving to a friend a last letter, which contains the foundations of group theory, or the metahistory of mathematics. Talbot and Niépce invented photography. The Belgian physicist Plateau invented the phenakistoscope, the first true cinema. In the history of cinema these four facts are probably unrelated. In the metahistory of cinema, these four events may ultimately be related.17

This is where Frampton’s idea for a metahistory of film provided Godard with the revelation that video then allowed him: though it couldn’t be “projected” in the same way as the film, video could achieve the kind of montage effects Godard imagined, a montage based on simultaneity in motion – hence the palimpsest approach formalising the Histoire(s). This notion of revelation and visual rapprochement runs through a whole chain of post-war French art history as well, from Eli Faure through to André Malraux. But where Faure and Malraux’s organisation of photographic reproductions on the space of the page in their art books was designed to demonstrate a revelation of new lineages of art historical forms, Godard – and Frampton – conceived of the moment of visual assembly as a means of squaring cinematic images with the epochal shifts from which they emerged. 

However, despite these conceptual similarities, scholars have traditionally kept Frampton and Godard’s respective projects to distinct cinematic traditions. Peter Wollen’s 1975 essay “The Two Avant-Gardes” is perhaps at the genesis of this scholarly doxa.18 By 1975, Frampton’s work was reaching a mainstream audience in Europe, through reviews in the Parisian daily newspaper, Le Monde, for example.19 Yet Wollen’s text distinguishes different approaches to advanced forms of filmmaking by arguing for the existence of two, parallel avant-gardes: one closer to painting and responding to what he called the “break” between the signifier and signified in modern semiotics, the other as closer to a dialectical montage practice engaged with investigating the narrative character of early cinema.20 Wollen suggested that this latter tendency within the avant-garde was more apparent in Europe because of its association with art cinema – represented in Wollen’s essay by Godard – and was kept at arms-length by the artist-filmmaker communities who belonged to the former avant-garde and who were apparently more interested in producing their work independently, and experimenting with film’s radical potential.21 This first “avant-garde” comprised the independent co-ops movement. These collaborations were posed through the exploitation of formal concerns that cohered around the contemporary discourse on medium specificity and artistic modernism. As such this avant-garde was supposed to be more closely related to the New York milieu, as a part of which Frampton had played an increasingly crucial role during the years prior to the publication of Wollen’s essay. In this way the convergence at Cannes of Frampton’s and Godard’s work two decades later, makes Frampton’s name-check all the more remarkable towards the end of Godard’s Histoire(s), and seems to problematise Wollen’s earlier arguments. If nothing else, Godard’s screening at the 50st Cannes Film Festival in 1997 suggests some kind of suturing of the supposed bifurcation of avant-garde filmmaking practices proposed by Wollen had now occurred, just over two decades later.22

So what does Frampton’s reappearance in 1997 really mean for us seeking to understand these works today? At base here is a certain mythological and even archaeological attitude towards the history of the medium and how this history could subsequently be navigated. This vision of film history is attested to in some of Frampton’s other writing from the early 1970s. Alongside the Metahistory essay, Frampton published a review of two exhibitions of early photography, again for Artforum. Titled “Digressions on the Photographic Agony,” Frampton imagines the utopian potential of an archive of photographic images he conflates with the Atlantis myth.23 Rediscovered, the archive is described as a “continent bounded in time,” and Frampton concludes the essay by asserting the fundamental didacticism of art in its function.24 The history of images is combined here with a technology – photography – and aimed at an artistic concept: metahistory. The outcome is the metaphor of Magellan, the first documented circumnavigation of the globe, which places it within a category of metaphorical work that has been determined as a kind of “atlas” of film. An ersatz terrain frames the endeavor as divergent from the literary forms that precede it. The tour of this unknown territory, therefore, is another iteration of the atlas metaphor. The figure of Clio, importantly, provides Frampton with the opening metaphor of the Metahistory essay, just as she concludes the Histoire(s):

Once upon a time, according to reliable sources, history had its own Muse, and her name was Clio.

It is this epic model for what Frampton terms the “rational fictions” of metahistory as concerned with the events both real and imaginary, dispensing with what we know today as facts.25 Not only does Frampton’s notion of metahistory have a negative understanding of the fact, it also dispenses with temporal chronology and therefore operates closer to what we would today call memory, not unlike the position Godard inherits from Langlois at the Concordia lectures.26 At Concordia, Godard’s pronouncements once more closely echo Frampton’s metaphor of visual history as a lost archipelago of memory: “In fact, if we were to do the history of cinema, it’d be like a completely unknown territory that is buried somewhere we can’t find.”27

In the Histoire(s), Godard’s penultimate voice (he gives himself the last word) is a short recording of Ezra Pound (1885-1972) reciting the first lines from his epic poem Cantos, words which had been in turn adapted from book eleven of the Odyssey, and in particular a section known as the Nekyia. The episode recalls the necromantic, spectral model for historical time, conversing with ghosts in a way also suggested by the Mnemoysne Atlas project of art historian Aby Warburg (1866-1929), dedicated as it was to memory, some seven decades earlier: a ‘ghost story for truly adult people’.28 Unburied, the figure Elpenor is identified by Pound from the Odyssey and subsequently echoed by Godard – who often quite literally has an echo effect applied to the recording of his voice throughout the final episode of the Historie(s). A figure in limbo, Elpenor inhabits neither the underworld, nor the world of the living, a “pitiful spirit” returning to haunt different media across thousands of years.29 Corin Depper has written of this return, where “past and present become conflated in this process of translation, effectively creating new forms out of a dead language.”30 In this way Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas, which he began in 1924, could also be used to symbolise this undead figure. Warburg’s art historical work on the transmissibility of gestures, what he called Pathosformel, has been identified as a Problemgeschichte by comparative literature professor Christopher D. Johnson, which he defines as “a form of intellectual history focusing on a single ‘problem’, or small constellation of ‘problems’, rather than trying to sketch a broad history of a period’s ‘spirit’.”31 This is also the method common to both Frampton and Godard, where the problem is the invention of film.

Despite Godard’s apparently accidental linking of Pound and Frampton, this idea of the Problemgeschichte also neatly describes Frampton’s interest in and understanding of film as a problem for historiography. Furthermore, given his youthful association with Pound at St Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington D.C., this also helps us to distinguish Frampton’s Magellan from Pound’s Cantos. Frampton’s early encounter and studies with Pound in late 1950s Washington suggests Frampton’s interest also lay in the syncretic, or conflated, figures of cultural memory which Pound playfully resurrected with polysemous glee, as opposed to any historical synthesis in the sense already elaborated by G.W.F Hegel. Reading the metahistory essay it becomes clear that for Frampton the problem, if there is one, in fact lies with the invention of cinema as a transformative media which, like Elpenor, was not able to effect a clean transition from one world to the next. Put simply, history is not linear, but cyclical and unspools  itself like a film reel.

In conclusion, Frampton appears as but one brief point in Godard’s massive work of cinematic montage. In presenting Frampton’s Metahistory essay together with the final section of Histoire(s) at Cannes Film Festival in 1997, Godard configured it as a kind of borrowed statement of intention for the conclusion for the video series, as it begins with a question echoed visually in the Historie(s):”Who first centred his thumbs on Clio’s windpipe is anyone’s guess,” Frampton writes, “but I am inclined to blame Gotthold Lessing.”32 If his essay began with history’s muse it ends with Frampton’s own nomination for the muse most suitable to film: insomnia, now reminding us of Godard’s own sense of needing a day to tell the history of a second. In the decades which followed his attempt to address this ‘problem’ of film for history, Frampton’s idea of metahistory found its way into Godard’s own reflective project on the cinema. As a “cinema historian”, Godard saw in Frampton’s own working methods and theory a model for the way the history of cinema could be represented as such, reflexively using its own cinematographic conditions for conducting the analyses.

During an interview with Bill Simon for the Millennium Film Journal in 1980, Frampton made himself clear concerning metahistory: “That article, which is nine years old, was, in my mind, quite openly a manifesto for a work that I was at that moment thinking quite seriously about undertaking, namely the Magellan project.”33 In this way, as Witt and others have surmised, Frampton’s work is fundamental for the thinking-through required by Godard’s Histoire(s), given his fidelity to film and Godard’s transition to video.34 Furthermore, as Fielke has demonstrated, Frampton had been thinking of Magellan, albeit in a slowly evolving form, for nearly a decade prior to the publication of the Metahistory essay.35 It is important, therefore, that we continue to consider this reciprocal relationship, as his arrival at the concept – metahistory – had to the gestation of the Magellan project, and further to how the celestial/terrestrial model of the atlas helps us to formalise it as an overarching idea of both Frampton’s filmmaking and Godard’s Histoire(s), and for the idea of montage as such.

In her work on Godard’s project, Céline Scemama has suggested that by “returning to what has been forgotten, Histoire(s) du cinéma’s story of a century does not raise the dead.”36 However Godard’s strategy of radical montage, whereby he narrates the series of exhaustively researched themes through an intuitive weaving of images, text, and sound together as quotations and references, means the work maintains its necromantic prescience by elaborating the historical conditions for the memory of cinema. In many ways Histoire(s) points to the fact of the supposition of death in the cinema, proposing instead that an expansion of the narrative tradition can take place through the new media of video, a moment where the “undead” nature of the technology is revealed. While this is evocative of Frampton’s metahistory, his approach was ultimately very different. Rather than intuition, Frampton preferred to plan his “tour” around a schedule of themes, gesturing to the cyclical renewal, or survival, of images. Not the least of these was the solar calendar upon which the cycle of films was based, where sections of Magellan were to be played on specific days of the year. Another was the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri, whose gates and dreams set out an alternative landscape and temporality.

Though Godard’s gesture to Frampton could only have been intended as a way to better contextualise the Histoire(s) project, it is nevertheless an important example of how one of Frampton’s first published texts travelled beyond its initial audience. Writing on the Histoire(s) Daniel Morgan, for example, has even argued that the “metahistory of cinema” was realised by Godard’s later work.37 And yet Frampton’s work, and Magellan in particular, remains distinct from Godard’s repeated borrowing from it. The role Frampton’s work has played in the growing conception of a history of the cinematic medium apart from its literary and artistic forebears has seen Magellan positioned as a sui generis event for experimental film, given that it is a calendar film analogous in its intent but different in form to other attempts at establishing novel artistic works for the twentieth century. Frampton’s Magellan, however, remains to be understood for its relation to the Metahistory of Film essay. And yet, Godard’s recognition of the significance of Frampton’s work, is just one of the histories of cinema that have now become part of its mythology.


  1. Hollis Frampton letter to P. Adams Sitney, marked “The Wilderness, April 4, 1971”, Hollis Frampton Collection, Anthology Film Archives, Box 1, Folder 1A, “Sitney Letters”.
  2. Hollis Frampton, “For a Metahistory of Film: Commonplace Notes and Hypotheses,” Artforum 10, no. 1 (September 1971): 32-5. The essay was reprinted in Circles of Confusion: Film, Photography, Video, Texts 1968-1980, foreword by Annette Michelson (Rochester, NY: Visual Studies Workshop Press, 1983), pp. 107-116; and in On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters: The Writings of Hollis Frampton, ed. Bruce Jenkins, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), 131-9. It is this latter edition to which we’ll refer from hereon.
  3. Frampton, “For a Metahistory of Film”, p. 135.
  4. It is worth noting that Frampton’s work had some presence in the Paris art scene around this time as well.  Correspondences between Frampton and fellow American poet and writer, Reno Odlin, had been included in a May 1996 exhibition at the Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, entitled Erik Satie, Hollis Frampton, Reno Odlin.
  5. Hollis Frampton, “Pour une métahistoire du film. Notes et hypothèses à partir d’un lieu commun”, trans. Cécile Wajsbrot, Trafic, 21 (March 1997), pp. 130-138.
  6. Jonathan Rosenbaum, “Bande-annonce pour les Histoire(s) du cinema de Godard”, Trafic 21 (March, 1997): 5-18. On Godard’s planned pamphlet see Nicole Brenez, “Recycling, Visual Study, Expanded Theory—Ken Jacobs, Theorist, or the Long Song of the Sons,” trans. Adrien Martin, Optic Antics: The Cinema of Ken Jacobs, eds. Michele Pierson, David E. James, and Paul Arthur (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), p. 160; p. 173 n12. That Godard discovered the French translation of Frampton’s text can at least in part be attributed to the work of Annette Michelson. From the mid-1950s Michelson had fostered strong connections with the artist and film communities in Paris and ensured Frampton’s reception there by the 1990s, eventually editing the French edition of Frampton’s Circles of Confusion. Hollis Frampton, L’écliptique du savoir, éd. A. Michelson, J.-M. Bouhours (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1999).
  7. Christa Blümlinger, “The history of cinema, as experience,” translated by Alyn Hardyck, Radical Philosophy, 192 (July/August 2015), https://www.radicalphilosophy.com/article/the-history-of-cinema-as-experience accessed 14 January 2022.
  8. Michael Witt, Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2013), pp. 10, 51. Witt dates Godard’s first work in video to 1968, where he – along with Chris Marker – filmed rough video sketches for a video magazine run out of François Maspero’s Paris bookshop. Godard first purchased his own video camera in the Spring of 1970.
  9. Hollis Frampton, letter dated March 19, 1964, “Letters from Framp”, ed. Reno Odlin, October 32 (Spring 1985): 45. The letters were republished in expanded form as “A Young Man’s Book”: Letters From Framp 1958-1968, 8 vols., ed. Reno Odlin (Samizdat, 1996); and again as Hollis Frampton: Letters, ed. Reno Odlin (Paris: Galerie Arnaud Lefebvre, 2002).
  10. Hollis Frampton, “Statement of Plans for Magellan”, On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters: The Writings of Hollis Frampton, ed. Bruce Jenkins, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2009), p. 226.
  11. Frampton also experimented with video in the 1970s, but it was the possibility of digital arts that had provided him with a way to organise Magellan using computer technology in the late 1970s. See Andy Uhrich, “Pressed into the Service of Cinema: Issue in preserving the Software of Hollis Frampton and the Digital Arts Lab,” The Moving Image, 12, no. 1 (Spring 2012): 18-43.
  12. A glimpse of what these lectures might have looked like remains in Harry Fischbach’s 1976 TV Ontario series Parlons cinéma: Les anti-cours d’Henri Langlois.
  13. Laurent Mannoni, L’Histoire de la Cinémathèque française (Paris: Gallimard, 2006), 194. See also Bernard Eisenschitz, “Le film de papier (Images du cinéma français de Nicole Védrès, 1945),” Trafic 100 (Winter 2016): 35-36.
  14. Paula Amad, “Film as the “Skin of History”: André Bazin and the Specter of the Archive and Death in Nicole Védrès’s Paris 1900 (1947)”, Representations 130 (Spring 2015): 95.
  15. Godard describes this theory in a conversation with Serge Daney about the Histoire(s) project filmed in 1988. Footage of the conversation was recently restored and made accessible by the Cinémathèque française: https://www.cinematheque.fr/henri/film/125365-entretien-entre-serge-daney-et-jean-luc-godard-jean-luc-godard-1988/
  16. Jean-Luc Godard, Introduction à une véritable histoire du cinéma (Paris: Albatros, 1980), p. 175. Our translation.
  17. Frampton, “For a Metahistory of Film”, p. 133. Witt also draws out the Godardian resonances of this statement in Michael Witt, Jean-Luc Godard, Cinema Historian, pp. 110-11.
  18. Peter Wollen, “The Two Avant-Gardes,” Studio International 190:978 (November/December, 1975): 171-175. The essay was then re-published in 1976 for a magazine edition published for the Edinburgh Film Festival, at which Frampton was in attendance to screen parts of Magellan as a work-in-progress. Edited by Phil Hardy, Claire Johnston and Paul Willemen, the Edinburgh ’76 Magazine, Issue 1: Psycho-analysis, Cinema, and the Avant-garde, was published especially for the Edinburgh Film Festival and featuring writing by Christian Metz, Julia Kristeva, and others, reprinting Wollen’s essay on pages 77-86.
  19. Louis Marcorelles, “Avant-garde”, Le Monde, January 2, 1975, p. 7.
  20. The festival ran from August 22-September 4 1976. During the festival two “special events” were scheduled. The program “Psychoanalysis and Cinema” ran against the “International Forum on Avant-Garde Film”, perhaps this split reinforced Wollen’s point about the existence of “two avant-gardes.”
  21. In a recent interview, the late Annette Michelson expresses the distinction between the two film avant-gardes in the following way: “I considered writing an essay called ‘The Work of Two Stanleys’, in which I would regard Kubrick and Brakhage side by side. You could not have two more disparate modes of production than those of the two Stanleys, both of them insistent on independence, though of sharply distinct economies.” Annette Michelson, “Expanded Cinema: Annette Michelson talks with Rachel Churner about On the Eve of the Future,” Artforum 55:7 (March 2017): 81.
  22. ​​See Witt, Cinema Historian, p. 108. Witt also links Godard’s project, albeit superficially, to Warburg’s Mnemosyne Atlas (on page 3). A French translation of Circles of Confusion was published in 1999: Hollis Frampton, L’écliptique du savoir, éd. A. Michelson, J.-M. Bouhours (Paris: Centre Georges Pompidou, 1999).
  23. Hollis Frampton, “Digressions on the Photographic Agony,” Artforum 11:3 (November 1972): 43-51. The essay is in fact a review of two exhibitions on early photography to which Frampton had been sent on assignment to review. The first was Masterpiece: Treasures from the Collection of the Royal Photographic Society (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1971) and the other at the Victoria & Albert Museum called “From today painting is dead”: The Beginnings of Photography (London: Arts Council of Great Britain, 1972). Reprinted in Frampton, Circles of Confusion, 1983, 177-91; On the Camera Arts and Consecutive Matters, 2009, pp. 9-21.
  24. Frampton, “Digressions on the Photographic Agony”, 2009, p. 12.
  25. Frampton, “For a Metahistory of Film”, p. 131.
  26. It is also worth distinguishing Frampton’s use of the term metahistory from the description of a project like Arnold J. Toynbee’s A Study of History, 12 vols. (London: Oxford University Press, 1934-1961), on the one hand, and prior to its use by literary theorist Hayden White in 1973. Hayden White, Metahistory: The Historical Imagination in Nineteenth-Century Europe (Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1973).
  27. Jean-Luc Godard, Introduction à une véritable histoire du cinéma, p. 24. Our translation.
  28. Giorgio Agamben, “Aby Warburg and the Nameless Science”, Potentialities: Collected Essays in Philosophy, trans. Daniel Heller-Roazen (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), 95.
  29. See Corin Depper, “‘Elpenor Unburied’: Ezra Pound, Jean-Luc Godard and the Descent of Dwelling”, Vertigo 30 (Spring 2012), https://www.closeupfilmcentre.com/vertigo_magazine/issue-30-spring-2012-godard-is/elpenor-unburied1/.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Christopher D. Johnson, Memory, Metaphor, and Aby Warburg’s Atlas of Images (Cornell University Press, 2012), p. 13 n30.
  32. Frampton, “Towards a Metahistory of Film,” p. 132.
  33. Hollis Frampton cited in Bill Simon, ‘Talking About Magellan: An Interview,’ Millenium Film Journal 7/8/9 (Fall/Winter, 1980-1): 15.
  34. Witt, Cinema Historian, pp. 108-11.
  35. See Giles Fielke, “Rational fictions: Hollis Frampton’s Magellan and the atlas of film”, PhD Thesis, Melbourne: University of Melbourne, 2019,  https://minerva-access.unimelb.edu.au/handle/11343/227678.
  36. Céline Scemama, Histoire(s) du cinéma de Jean-Luc Godard: La force faible d’un art (Paris: L’Harmattan, 2006), p. 221. Our translation. See the same author’s synoptic explication of Godard’s series “La ‘partition’ des Histories du cinéma de Jean-luc Godard”, Centre de Recherche sur l’Image, from http://cri-image.univ-paris1.fr/celine/celinegodard.html accessed January 5 2017.
  37. Daniel Morgan, Late Godard and the Possibilities of Cinema (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2013), p. 198. To be fair, Frampton does use the terms cinema and film, somewhat interchangeably in the essay, and the phrase “metahistory of cinema” does appear in the “Metahistory of Film” essay.

About The Author

Giles Fielke is a writer and researcher of film and media art histories. He is an editor of Index Journal and Memo Review. Ivan Cerecina is a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sydney, and has been a Fellow of the City of Paris’ International Artists and Writers Residency Program.

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