A Battleship Potemkin
Filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein is an acknowledged pioneer in the theory and practice of film montage. Through his many writings and films he proposed that montage could create ideas or have an impact beyond the individual images. Two or more images and sequences edited together create a "third term" by their juxtaposition, that makes the whole greater than the sum of its individual parts.
A Battleship Potemkin is a generative algorithm-based film that appropriates Eisenstein's 1925 masterpiece, and delegates all editing decisions to the pseudo-random generator algorithm in web browser softwares. The original shots and their duration are preserved, but their sequential arrangement in montage is dictated by the algorithm, which produces a unique and endless film on each viewing.
The work aims to celebrate the original film, while at the same time proposes to inquiry into the supposed linearity of time – in this case, especially historical timelines – and the malleability of these timelines experienced in contemporary media. It is also relevant that Eisenstein's film is already a mythologised version of the historical 1905 uprising.
This digital work is actually optimised to function as a desktop app (offline). The online (beta) version works best in Safari and Firefox browsers, but the film will take quite a while to load (please be patient!), as it needs to be completely stream-loaded to work nicely. On some browsers you can enter fullscreen by pressing 'F'. Click on the image to pause and resume.
1925 Battleship Potemkin digital film file courtesy of the Internet Archive.