Re: film ecology

From: Steven Budden (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Mar 03 2006 - 13:21:50 PST


"The throwaway nature of digital tools may be evil, but the actual
production of digital work vs. film is far more environmentally benign."
 
In some sense yes, but think about the factory labor required to produce an army of new technology every year or so. The countries where these items are manufactured are almost unbearably polluted. And after taking the toll themselves these items are promptly shipped to civilized countries where we use them for as long as we can before they are rendered completely obsolete by the new army. In the wake of this cycle, people are of course exploited, air and water soiled, landfills filled. To see digital technology as a benign entity is also naive because it is of course wrapped up in consumerism. It goes a little deeper than just "dead electronics." The idea that digital is a free, bodiless medium is a myth that cannot sustain itself forever.
 
Though, as you've stated, a projector may require work, many don't. And the work is usually simple enough. I've owned many Bolexes and they are designed to last a lifetime. They do. I guess that is part of the beauty of that era and that technology. And yes, we can find a film 50 or even 100 years old and figure out a way to watch it. Even if, god forbid, it is worn out! So, though parts for some obsolete technologies are difficult to come by, these film machines will be around for a while. That is what they were designed for. And if they do all end up dead in a hundred years, we can shine a light bulb through a piece of glass and roll the film in front of it. In 100 years, most of what has been "digitally archived" will probably be trapped in little mysterious plastic boxes. Is it na´ve to think that finally this digital beast has come to save us, to render permanent all that was not, and make possible (or feasible) all that was not?

"The question is: how do we preserve the magic, the soul, of the existing
body of film work, and make it available to the people who NEED it, once
it's body (16mm technology) dies?"
 
Who NEEDs it? It is nice when we are fortunate enough to have a photograph of a Munch or a Malevich painting destroyed by fire, but the painting is still gone. It reached the end of its limited life. Is it tragic? Yes and no. To all things an end.
 
That is the question for curators. I think the question for artists is more alive and in flux. Perhaps it has always been the same: How to bear the burden of art-making in an ever changing world?
 
Steven

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