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The Text of Light

The Text of Light
Directed byStan Brakhage
CinematographyStan Brakhage
Distributed byNew York Filmmakers Cooperative
Canyon Cinema
Release date
  • October 26, 1974 (1974-10-26)
Running time
67 minutes
CountryUnited States

The Text of Light is a 1974 American experimental film directed by Stan Brakhage.


Time-lapse photography of books, paintings, reflections, and light falling on textures,[1] shot entirely through a glass ashtray.[2]


The film is considered an "epistemological meditation": "This uncommon lens [that is the glass ashtray] generates an equally uncommon image of the world. The density and shape of the glass subtracts linear perspective from the visual field. In this respect, the ash-tray takes up part of the function of rapid camera movements and zooms in other Brakhage films insofar as the ash-tray demolishes perspective. As well, in Text of Light objects lose their individuation, their outlines blurred in masses of light and color."[3] A presentation by Jonathan P. Watts for the Tate underlines the influence of Turner on this film: "In The Text of Light Turner’s influence is felt in the experimental use of colour, and is similarly visionary in the way it collapses naturalistic pictorial space."[4]


  1. ^ Martha Schwendenerost (2015-10-15). "Aldo Tambellini's 'Atlantic in Brooklyn' Chronicles a Grittier Time". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2018-01-04. Retrieved 2018-01-04. Car headlights and taillights become abstract orbs, similar to Stan Brakhage's experimental film "The Text of Light" (1974)
  2. ^ "Stan Brakhage: The Text of Light". Museum of Modern Art. Archived from the original on 2018-01-04. Retrieved 2018-01-04.
  3. ^ Carroll, Noel, ed. (1998), "Text of Light", Interpreting the Moving Image, Cambridge Studies in Film, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 225–227, ISBN 978-0-521-58970-3, retrieved 2023-06-10
  4. ^ Watts, Jonathan P. "Into the light with JMW Turner – Tate Etc". Tate. Retrieved 2023-06-10.

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The Text of Light
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