Re: the word is out: experimental film is available for use on dvd by educators

From: Madison Brookshire (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Mar 02 2006 - 09:59:04 PST

Mitsu wrote:

>"But setting aside the debate over whether video presentation is adequate
>not, I should note that to my mind, there is not a little bit of nerdy
>technicality in this debate, similar to the sorts of arguments that
>audiophiles get into about how superior an analog LP sounds compared to a
>One can make great art and present great art in any medium, from
>low-resolution to high-resolution, low-fidelity to high-fidelity.
>there is a difference between seeing a painting and seeing a print
>reproduction of a painting --- but to become religiously devoted to a
>specific medium or form simply because it has certain technical
>characteristics strikes me as rather missing the point. Some work
>perfectly well to video when presented properly (and I think a lot of the
>hostility to video projectors comes from seeing terrible examples of video
>presentation --- most places do an awful job of choosing equipment and
>setting up their presentation space) ... and many experimental films are
>either shot on video or suffer very little from the transfer."

Personally, I'm thrilled to be able to view (and review in detail) works of
both narrative and experimental film on DVD. I am also perhaps one of the
few people who likes VHS, and, although I realize it doesn't hold a candle
to _actual_ 16mm, I even like the way film looks on VHS. There will never be
ANY medium that can replace that. To be clear: I think it is a totally
inadequate facsimile, but that its failings can be quite beautiful in their
own right.

The only thing that scares me is this: I do think there are many films
(especially from the experimental tradition) which cannot be represented on
video. Someone told me he once saw a video copy of Tony Conrad's THE
FLICKER... I don't see how this is possible. The patterns Conrad creates are
so VERY film specific, relying upon the division of a second into 24ths, I
don't think this can ever be translated to 29.97 fps. The person who saw
this video copy believed he 'got it' by seeing it on video (his
interpretation being that it was some kind of aggressive prank. Of course,
seeing THE FLICKER on film, you actually begin to hallucinate in very
beautiful and subtle (and subtly contrasting) ways. It feels neither
aggressive nor prankish.)

That's a pretty extreme example and, as Mitsu says, there are many works
which can be adequately (if not accurately) represented by digital media.
But what I fear is the fact that, for me, some of the greatest artists of
the twentieth century worked in film in a film-specific way and it may just
disappear as a medium before anyone ever finds out.

It's not that I want video to go away or that I'm slavishly devoted to film,
but I dislike seeing what gets sacrificed by our headlong plunge into
planned obsolescence. At least my interpretation of the tone of the article
that started the conversation is that it is slightly "good riddance" to
film... and that saddens me. I don't think Warhol will ever survive on a
video monitor (let alone a remote control!).

Val Verde, CA

PS- I agree with you. I am nerd. And, yes, I DO think vinyl sounds better
than CDs. I also think I can prove it if you come over some time. I also
think Bach sounds better in Werkmeister 3 than 12-tone equal temperament and
that this, too, is empirically demonstrable, although it is another

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.