Re: Brakhage, Paik, Whitney, Lye on YouTube

From: Freya (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Jul 13 2006 - 02:52:47 PDT

--- Mark Toscano <email suppressed> wrote:

> Being a huge fan of the David Rimmer film 'Surfacing
> on the Thames', I was very curious to check out the
> downloadable video of it at, and found it to
> be one of the poorest quality video "transfers" of a
> film I've ever seen. I imagine the extreme crap
> quality would be all the more amusing/disturbing to
> someone who had read the accompanying effusive texts
> describing how "beautiful" and "brilliant" the film
> is.

Yay! I downloaded this too and was as you say
completely shocked by the "quality" of the recording
complete with extreme hotspot and everything! I have
no idea how this was transferred. I suspect it was
projected onto a bit of wall paper with a torch
(flashlight) and then filmed with an old 1 chip VHS
video camera. Truly did I gasp, and I was as you say
much amused by the accompanying texts.

> So whaddaya think? The huge disparity in quality
> that
> one might hope for versus what one gets in this case
> might be sufficient for some to encourage them to
> see
> or organize a proper screening of the film
> somehow...?

Okay, you asked what I thought and I hope this won't
upset people, but actually I really liked it. At first
I was just OMG this is unwatchable I can't make out
anything in the film at all, but then after a short
time I decided that I quite liked the strange quality
and textures of the bizzare transfer. I'm not sure if
any of this texture came from the original film but I
started to wonder what I could do to replicate it! I
thought it was facinating, although in the context of
a film that hardly changes and you can't make out the
images, it did go on a bit. ;) Thank goodness for fast

I have to say I may be a bit odd in this regard
however, as I watched Warhols Empire and became very
excited by the tape splices at the time. Actually I
still am excited by the tape splices... anyways...

Also I did kind of like it in the way of a kind of
sick joke.

> or maybe that's just totally naive? Because how
> many
> people out there have the
> money/facilities/knowledge/passion/etc. to figure
> out
> how to rent and screen a 16mm print of this film?

I don't know but it's possible that it will encourage
the people who do have that power to do so. Certainly
it made me really interested in the film. Is this the
same guy with the celophane wrapper? If so that video
didn't excite me the way this one did, however if I
ever see the real film I might just be bored. :)

One thing I can say about the download, is that it's
got us talking about the film hasn't it? So in a way
it's generated interest already.

> Huge applause to all the folks who do, including the
> curators out there. Most people simply want to be
> able to get the movies from Netflix and watch 'em at
> home with little or no inconvenience to their lives.

As you say tho, most people have no choice in the
matter. I'd say it's great that people are interested
enough to be doing this dodgy stuff.

> The "experimental film community" that truly cares
> maybe DOES give a damn, and maybe DOESN'T
> necessarily
> fall into this gross characterization, but also is
> and
> always has been (and always will be?) a very small
> minority.

It's a tiny minority perhaps but it is members of this
tiny minority who are making these recordings and
downloading them. The people outside of this minority
generally don't know these films exist. I had never
even heard of this film till I downloaded that file.

> If Michael Snow doesn't want Wavelength ever
> released
> on any kind of video, then he won't. And people
> will
> continue to see bootleg videos (you can rent one at
> Cinefile in West L.A.), and continue to catch the
> screenings when they happen, if they're interested.

Maybe they will continue or maybe it will just die
away over time, although I'm sure that sooner or later
long after Mr Snow is dead that someone will find a
way to justify in their own minds, transfering it to
whatever super video format exists then against his

> P.S. I encourage everyone who has the time to
> download
> this video of Surfacing on the Thames to see what
> I'm
> talking about. It really is of amazingly
> unwatchable

Me too! Go check it out! If only for comedy value.

> quality, and I feel that absolutely NOTHING of the
> film survives. Double points if you then organize a

Exactly. I think it is almost a completely different
and facinating work that is largely unrelated to the
original. It needs a new name! ;)

It does go on a bit tho.

> screening somewhere which includes a 16mm
> presentation
> of this film, which by the way really is "beautiful"
> and "brilliant".
I take your word on it! ;) I am really interested in
it however. Can I ask is the original in colour or
black and white?



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