This introductory chapter provides a background of Maya Deren's cinema. In her writings and films, Deren prompts reflection on interaction between and among sets of binaries: life/death, conscious/unconscious, visible/invisible, and so forth. Rather than resolving the tensions between opposites to discover truth, or synthesizing or creating a collision between them to generate a third term, Deren fixates on the space between them, and strives to maintain a “tension plateau” that will extend the life of binary pairs for as long as possible, without resolution or closure. Through this strategy, she articulates a vision of how cinema specifically relates to the realities it encounters, records, and transforms—so that her films consciously connect and rejoin locations to create effects of proximity and relationship for her subjects. Eschewing permanent conclusions and fixed relations, Deren's work embraces incompletion as a way to keep things open to possibilities.
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