SERGEI M. EISENSTEIN:
MONTAGE AND ARCHITECTURE (CA. 1938)
IN: ASSEMBLAGE 10, DEZEMBER 1989, S. 111-131
[When talking about cinema], the word
not used by chance. Nowadays it is the
imaginary path followed by the eye and the varying perceptions of an object that
depend on how it appears to the eye. Nowadays it may also be the path followed by
the mind across a multiplicity of phenomena, far apart in time and space, gathered in
a certain sequence into a single meaningful concept; and these diverse impressions
pass in front of an immobile spectator.
In the past, however, the opposite was the case: the spectator moved between [a
series of] carefully disposed phenomena that he absorbed sequentially with his visual
This tradition has been preserved in any child’s drawing. Not only has the
movement of the eye been given back to the action of the child himself moving in
space, but the picture itself appears as the path along which a number of aspects of
the subject are revealed sequentially.
This is a typical child’s drawing.
As a representation of a pond with trees along its
bank it appears meaningless until we understand its internal dynamics. The trees are
not depicted from one viewpoint, as adults are accustomed to show them in a picture
or in a single frame of film. Here the drawing depicts a series of trees as they are
revealed along the path that the observer follows between them. If the line
represents the path taken by the observer, then at any given point in the sequence
one through nine each separate tree is disposed entirely »reasonably«: it represents a
frontal view of the tree in question at each corresponding point on the path.
Exactly similar are the surviving drawings of old Russian buildings, such as, for
instance, the fifteenth-century (?) palace of Kolomenskoye, in which there is an
identical combination of »plan« and »elevation«.
For here the path is a movement
while the frontal views of the buildings are shown in
from specific points on the plan.
This drawing has not been traced, but a similar argument, leading to a work by David Burliuk that was clearly marked
by his fondness for children’s drawings, can be found in S. M. Eisenstein,
, trans. Herbert Marshall
(Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987), 247-48.
Kolomenskoye, now in the southeastern suburbs of Moscow, became the summer residence of the Grand Princes of
Muscovy in 1532. The wooden palace referred to here was begun in 1667 but has not survived.