From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Feb 08 2006 - 14:00:04 PST
My point is that it is useless to make universal prescriptive assertions
of what any art work is 'about'. brakhage may feel that brakhage films are
about the light. however, if i develop a love for some piece of his work
for some completely different reason, that is my right as a human being. a
midwife can think window water is all about explicit visual content, or
john can think it all depends on the sound of the projector clicking and
putting the projector in a booth ruins it or, or an ascetic can think it
absolutely demands the painful seats at international house and would be
ruined by being made too easy if screened at a 'living room' cinema with
couches and pizza. people get to have their own point of view, and this
has consequences for any artwork that exists in reproducible form. people
are not as stupid as they are assumed to be on Framworks. they know the
difference between copies and originals in the museum arts (or those in a
pre-duchamp mode where that difference can be considered straightforward).
they know the difference between home video mode and theater projection.
and mostly they simply do not care. for _what they are interested in_ a
print of the Mona Lisa is as good as the real thing (maybe better, since
you can get closer to it and look at it whenver you want), or a dub of
Casablanca in ep mode on a worn VHS tape is a good as a crisp print on a
big screen. this drives me mad, btw. i am constanly shocked (shocked!)
that people do not share the same modes of aesthetic discrimination that I
do, that they typically don't care about image quality at all, much less
the fine point of the difference in perceptual rhythym between 24 fps full
frame and 60 field interlaced. hell, I don't know how anyone can stand to
watch anything in PAL which looks like flicker city to me, but several
continents full of people seem to be OK with it.
none of this is to say that we should be doing anything different than we
do now in our own attempts to present work. we should try to keep as many
aesthetic axes open as we can, especially the ones that matter to us. we
should share our love of light or sound or whatever quality we find
essential with other people and explain why we think these things are
important. but we have to be prepared that people will reject our passions
in favor of their own. so i always explain that seeing a video projection
from dvd is not 'seeing the movie.' i blather about the importance of
resolution or color fidelity or black blacks or contrast range.... and
maybe one listener out of 100 goes 'oh yeah! i agree! never thought about
that way but you're right, videos suck!' the rest go 'yeah, so what', and
stop off at Blockbuster on the way home.
Do we have to condemn them for being philistines just because their agenda
is different from ours? Can't we respect what _they_ DO care about?
Of course, changing the medium in a certain way might destroy the
experience of almost everyone. i'm not saying anything goes, but that its
not a simple matter of right and wrong that can always be resolved by what
the artist wanted.
and how in the name of the muses did the whole issue of artistic intent
get reduced to one fairly trivial format issue. artists want a lot of
things, their intent is a lot broader than just the physical context of
how a work gets presented. bunuel and dali wanted un chien andalou to be
'a call to murder' how exactly to we respect that bit of intent. or
Vertov's intent for his work to both reflect and foment communist
revolution? again, looking at the big picture (whether you place the focus
on the artist's thoughts or on the inherent qualities of the work
regardles of what the maker was thinking) what does more violence to a
Jack Smith work, or Dog Star Man, for that matter, showing it in perfect
film projection in a sterile museum theater for an audeince of polite
patrons, or projecting NTSC video in some bohemian dive for an audience of
so back to the whole tired format issue, it's fine for programmers who
have the time, energy, grantsmanship, bureaucratic and administrative
skill to arrange all-film screening series if that's what they think is
important. but it's, well, arrogant to expect everyone else to adhere to
the same set of priorities, especialy when massive amounts of time, skill
and money are attached. and it's a bit disingenuous to displace the
justifications of our own passions back onto the conincidence of their
being shared by the maker.
can anyone in the respect-the-artist posse give examples of making major
labors to preserve the author's intent in cases where you didn't share the
author's perception of what was important in the work, in cases where some
aspect of an author's wishes struck you as irelvant or even wrong-headed?
and haven't we all fought for some things in terms of presenting others'
work that the artists might not have cared about at all, because they
mattered to us?
anyway, if we're going to have a big campaign about observing artists'
intent, why are we starting with moving image works (always a fairly
flexible form anyway). I say we raid the museums, break all of the Cornell
boxes out of their display cases and put them in libraries where people
can check them out and hold them... (or maybe to be really true to
Cornell, we'd have to return them to the specific people he made them
for??? .... to hell with that!!)
note: sorry for the lack of capitalization and occassional shorthand. it's
not a cari machet impression or any other sort of creative device. i'm
stuck in bed with a bad injury, unable even to sit up for long, typing
lying on my side with one finger as I hold the laptop with the other hand,
making it hard to hit the 'shift' key, so i'm just not bothering to most
of the time...
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.