Aesthetic Use of Deterministic Jitter 90 Years Ago

American Girl

Daniel Albright on the Cocteau-Picasso-Satie-Diaghilev collaborative ballet Parade:

Cocteau's most remarkable instruction to [the "American Girl," played by Marie] Chabelska, was this: "The little girl...vibrates like the imagery of films." Elsewhere Cocteau wrote: "One day they won't believe what the press said about Parade. A newspaper even accused me of 'erotic hysteria.' In general they took the shipwreck scene and the cinematographic trembling of the American dance for spasms of delirium tremens." If I read these sentences correctly, Cocteau asked Chabelska to shake in the way a film image shakes when the projector wobbles--that is, she was asked to imitate the technical errors associated with the film medium... That a newspaper would mistake her trembling as "erotic hysteria" is a delightful proof of the tenacity of systems of intepretation based on feeling-expression, even in the excitingly apathetic and technical world of Parade, where the medium is the message...

From Albright's book Untwisting the Serpent: Modernism in Music, Literature, and Other Arts, 2000. The shaky GIF was made from an image in the book, fair use, etc.