From: Dana Anderson (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Apr 25 2006 - 07:12:53 PDT
For me experimental is also a state of mind with regard to the practice. I
work on both experimental and mainstream projects, experimental in my film
and photography work but classical narrative in comics and fiction, and I
like the labels because they so clearly fit my mindset in the various
media. When I work on film, I'm actively thinking about new ways of seeing
and how to play with color and form to create new and beautiful visions:
this leads to problems of projection and reception because most of my work
in is in 3D and thus outside the usual modes: and all this happens because
I'm playfully engaged with the boundaries of what I remember Ken Jacobs
calling paracinema. But then when I'm at work on my novel, I'm in love
with the possibilities of genre and of letting people be happy in
exploring a familiar landscape in some unexpected ways, hoping to instill
a depth and richness of philosophy through dialogue and encounter: sure
I'm still playing with the boundaries, but with a happy sense of never
wanting them to break. There's joy on both sides of the experimental/
One thing that irritates me is when I hear people imply (or state
outright) that one mode is somehow better than the other, and I saw a lot
of that in grad school. People would call writing genre fiction or making
an action movie "selling out" and define it as lesser, whereas Brakhage or
Godard (on the "narrative" side of experimental) were always defined as
better. This to me is silly. There's as much amazing creativity possible
when one works within formal boundaries as when one breaks them open. To
deny this is like saying Just because a poem is a sonnet it must be
worthless, and I still find Shakespeare unbelieveably beautiful and a
Bergman narrative film as philosophically and aesthetically rich as
anything in the experimental canon. For me, this is important, since I am
as deeply interested in the possibilities of classical narrative as I am
in the wonders of pushing the edge of vision.
> Certainly, experimental can be an adjective, but it is definitely a
> genre as well. The most inarguably purely experimental films are the
> totally abstract ones, as they have no narrative content whatsoever,
> and aren't documentaries. Some films use experimental techniques, and
> are telling a story (fiction, narrative, drama) or imparting facts
> (documentary.) Some will do BOTH, and maybe have some animation too!
> Some use recognizable images, but don't seem to have any narrative
> content. I consider those to be experimental, as a genre.
> And, what are "experimental techniques?" Many have been around since
> the beginning of film, and truly new ones are rare. Lots have been co
> opted by mainstream film makers, and advertisers. There are no hard and
> fast boundaries, just general terms, to help us discuss the films in
> their proper context. Comparing "Dogstar Man" to "Titanic" would be
> Quoting john porter <email suppressed>:
>> I think "experimental" is an adjective, not a genre.
>> So there can be experimental fiction, experimental
>> narrative, experimental drama, experimental
>> documentary, experimental animation, etc.
>> But what is "experimental film"? Any serious artist is
>> always experimenting to some degree. A dichotomy
>> arises when a medium is popular and consequently
>> dominated by "commercial", "industry" or "mainstream"
>> artists who DON'T experiment.
>> Let's act as if WE are dominant (which we ARE,
>> creatively) and refer to ourselves as simply
>> "filmmakers", "videomakers" or "artists" as opposed to
>> "commercial artists".
>> --- Freya <email suppressed> wrote:
>>> I've noticed a few places lately people making a
>>> distinction between experimental film and narrative
>>> However surely many experimental films are quite
>>> narrative too. Maya Deren and Kenneth Anger spring
>>> mind. Possibly even Stan Brakhage!
>>> Strangely this very subject came up at the Rose
>>> screening yesterday too which I was glad to see. "So
>>> it isn't just me who is finding this odd!" I
>>> I've noticed it happening more and more tho.
>>> Rose even went as far as to suggest it would be
>>> possible to have experimental fiction films. I
>>> thought of it in quite that way before, just that
>>> films were very narrative.
>>> But do any of you really think there is a clear
>>> seperation between the two or is it just something
>>> people say.
>>> Do You Yahoo!?
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>> John Porter, Toronto, Canada
>> email suppressed
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> "Those who would give up essential liberty
> to purchase a little temporary safety
> deserve neither liberty, nor safety."
> Benjamin Franklin 1775
> "I know that the hypnotized never lie... Do ya?"
> Pete Townshend 1971
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
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Dr. Dana Anderson
Assistant Professor of Humanities and Communications
Maine Maritime Academy
Castine ME 04420
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