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Peter Gidal
At the end of Conditions of Illusion (1975, 30mins) a quote from Louis Althusser's 'On the Materialist Dialectic' scrolls slowly from the bottom of the screen.

It is meant to be read, not made impossible to read like the flying quotations he uses in 'Assumption' (1997, 1min). The quotation is also found in his 1975 seminal text 'The Theory and Definition of Structural/Materialist Film', neither necessarily coming before or after the other - that is the text not describing the films but being of the films. In part it reads:

A 'theory' which does not question the end whose by-product it is remains a prisoner of this end and of the 'realities' which have imposed it as an end.

If "'theory'" is the (/one?) "by-product" of an end, by implication it must question this end rather than effect its summation, be equally of process or it will let the "real" in by the back door, the "real" of course which is unknowable.

Peter Gidal was a pivotal member of the London Filmmakers' Co-op and taught at the Royal College of Art from 1971 to 1983.

Ian White
Ian White is a writer, curator and artist.
Still from Condition of Illusion by Peter Gidal, 1975
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