One of the most important units within Dziga Vertov's conceptual system is the lexeme that means BOND. It recurs throughout his writings, most often appearing as the noun sviaz' although sometimes it also surfaces as the verb sviazat' (“to link”). Occasionally it is alloyed with a second lexeme to forge strange and unprecedented compounds, as in Vertov's definition of “kino-eye” as a “film-bond [kino-sviaz'] between the peoples of the USSR and those of the entire world.” Such insistence on film's status as a visual link, or copula, explains why Vertov, in contrast to contemporaries like Lev Kuleshov, looked askance at proposals to establish a formal ontology for the medium: Itself neither matter nor substance, cinema was instead a constructive means for connecting and binding substances, a means for catalyzing interactions between diverse and seemingly incommensurate objects. Thus, for Vertov, cinema was less an art form with clearly defined generic contours than “a kind of central telephonic exchange,” a means of communication, a coefficient of political activity, or even, in its greatest compass, a “social movement” itself (“Metod kino-glaza,” Iz naslediia, 2:142).

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