Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen

film still Embassy-scene (with Nam June Paik, Annette Michelson, Yoko Orimoto, Bob Cowan, Helene Cowan, Ping Chong – microphone, Steve Anker – lighting, Babette Mangolte – camera)
Courtesy the artist

Michael Snow’s version of Denis Diderot’s philosophical masterpiece highlights the problem of translation in the context of technologically reproduced media. Diderot’s novel itself, which consists of a dialog between a he and an I, is manifestly a translation from the oral into the written. Snow is particularly interested in the gap that every transfer of media inevitably opens up. There are suggestions of several languages in the title of the film: the French Denis has become Dennis and the German-sounding Wilma Schoen hides an anagram of Michael Snow. Rameau’s Nephew builds upon the smallest units of film (the frame) and language (the syllable) and, in encyclopedic manner, explores the possible relationships between images and sounds.


  • original Title: Rameau’s Nephew by Diderot (thanx to Dennis Young) by Wilma Schoen
  • Date: 1972 – 1974
  • Genre: Film

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