Vision-Producing Machines. Critical Theory as Archive, Album, and Atlas

November 11th, 2016 - 13.30 – 18.00
eikones Forum

1980 in Rome, a small cooperative around filmcritics Michele Mancini (1947–2005) and Giuseppe Perrella (*1947) produced a mysterious, at the same time elaborate- and effortless-looking 600-page black and white picture-book with the title «Pier Paolo Pasolini: Corpi e Luoghi» (Theorema 1981). In the culturally and politically lively environment in Italy at the time, the book was celebrated «as an indispensable tool for future research» on the filmmaker. If long out of print it still is today, as one review put it in 1982, «the most Pasolinian book to date.» 

In 1986, Mancini and Perrella published a subsequent project, another heavyweight volume again built up from hundreds of still frames: «Michelangelo Antonioni: Architecture in Vision/Architettura della Visione» (Coneditor 1986). Self-reflexive in all registers, both publications not only express a critical reflection of the printed page and its restrictions, but also of the “regression” from film to the still frame. The two authors’ ambition, in their own words, «was to set up a filing system which approaches printed visibility and demonstrates the multiple productive potential of the system. Thus, we also have attempted to create an image capturing device, (which also captures sense), a vision-producing machine in the form of a book.» 

Both the extraordinary arrangement of images and the accompanying commentary – critical theory between cultural studies, aesthetics, and psychoanalysis – never found a wider audience, not even in Italy. In Spring 2017 Edition Patrick Frey will publish a quasi-facsimile re-edition in English of «Corpi e Luoghi» edited by Benedikt Reichenbach, «Pasolini’s Bodies and Places.» The project is a first step towards a discussion of this work and its relationships to other publications by Michele Mancini and Giuseppe Perrella, and to farther-reaching ties possibly beyond the awareness of the two authors.

The «vision-producing machine» in form of the two books is expressed as a more obsessive than academic version of critical theory. Stubbornly precise and playful at once, each admires and adheres to its respective object, the work of Pier Paolo Pasolini and Michelangelo Antonioni. In the context of discussions around «montage» and «(media-)archeology,» around «archive,» «album,» and «atlas,» the workshop will test the idea of this «vision-producing machine» as a possible anchor for visual studies today. What is the nature of this device? What is the horizon of its vision here?


13.30 – 14.00 Benedikt Reichenbach:
Welcome, Introduction
14.00 – 15.00Antonio Somaini:
Archive, Album, Atlas, and the Idea
of a «Vision-Producing Machine»

Elena Vogman:
«Ein Fächer zyklischer Miniaturen»:
Eisenstein’s «Kapital»-Projekt as a model
for a book
15.00 – 16.00Benedikt Reichenbach:
Order, Interruption, and Exuberance;
«Pier Paolo Pasolini: Corpi e Luoghi» (1981)
and «Michelangelo Antonioni: Architecture
in Vision» (1986). Presentation of the Project
«Pasolini's Bodies and Places»

Toni Hildebrandt/Simon Vagts:
Image-Text-Constructions in Michele Mancini’s
«Godard» (1969) and Alessandro Cappabianca’s,
Michele Mancini’s, Umberto Silva’s
«Costruzione del Labirinto» (1974)
16.30 – 17.00Till Gathmann:
Free Association, Projection,
«Vision-Producing Machines»
17.00 – 18.00Roundtable:
«Vision-Producing Machines,» perspectives

For a high resolution file of the reader, please contact Benedikt

Reichenbach <reichenbach.benedikt(at)>

Concept: Toni Hildebrandt, Simon Vagts, Benedikt Reichenbach

Speakers: Toni Hildebrandt, Simon Vagts, Benedikt Reichenbach, Till Gathmann, Antonio Somaini, Elena Vogman

Downloads: Poster, Reader

eikones NFS Bildkritik, Rheinsprung 11, CH - 4051 Basel