Zorn's Lemma  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hollis Frampton's most significant work is arguably "Zorn's Lemma" (1970), a film which drastically altered perceptions towards experimental film at the time. He was seen as a structural filmmaker, a style that focused on the nature of film itself. In an interview with Robert Gardner he stated a discomfort with that term because it was too broad and didn't accurately reflect the nature of his work.

Zorn's Lemma remains the most widely know of this films. It is formed in three different sections. The first is a reading of the Bay State Primer, a puritan work for children to learn the alphabet. The sentences used had foreboding themes such as "In Adams fall, we sinned all." The second section is based on a text based work by Carl Andre, which started out with an alphabetical list of words for each letter in the alphabet. Each subsequent list is replaced with a letter until it is just letters. In Zorn's Lemma, the concept is reversed. It starts off with a twenty four letter alphabet (I/J and U/V are considered one letter), each letter shown for one second of screentime and then looping. The second cycle replaces each letter with a word that starts with each letter. Gradually the word stills are replaced by an active film shot, such as washing hands or peeling a tangerine until there are only moving images. It is an amazing 45 minutes of film. The third section contains a seemingly single shot of a couple walking across a snowy meadow. The sound is of six women reading one word at a time from Theory of Light.

One interpretation of Zorn's Lemma was that it was a comment on life's stages, the morality of the Bay State Primer being childhood, the sets of numbers representing maturing and interaction with the world, and the third part representing old age and death.




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Zorn's Lemma" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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