From: Fred Camper (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Apr 16 2007 - 17:25:02 PDT
Josh Mabe forwarded to me the link to his post in the FrameWorks
archive. I couldn't find it a while ago but it's there now.
First, apologies; I had assumed someone was criticizing me for raising
the old "video is not film" question; apparently not.
About the Frampton question, I think here the context is important. When
I lived in New York, 1971-76, I often went to the one person shows at
Millennium. I went for some years after, too, on trips there. I
sometimes went when the filmmaker was someone I had never heard of.
Most, but not all of the time, the work of these unknowns was either not
very interesting, or awful. Millennium also ran filmmaking workshops. So
far so good. But there was often a kind of "hobbyist" tone in the shows
of these lesser-knowns, who were often students in the workshops just as
the audience was often composed of their friends from the workshops. So
one week you might hear Brakhage discussing how one of his films was an
attempt to recapitulate the history of Western landscape painting, and
the next week you might hear someone talking about how he had spent the
last few years looking into the viewfinder and now had eye trouble, or
about what kind of film cement he used, or what kind of camera, and all
the questions would be similar, and *only* that. This may be unfair to
the filmmakers, who perhaps just weren't articulate about aesthetic
matters, but I often got a sense that I was in the presence of people
who loved to shoot and show and edit film but who weren't really
thinking about larger issues, or holding their work to very high
standards. The "what kind of camera did you use" question reminded me of
how photography hobbyist magazines would list things like the f/stop
used. It's not that there's anything wrong with asking these questions
so much as how they related to a tone at some Millennium shows that some
of us didn't appreciate, a "tone" in which a whole q&a might be devoid
of intellectual or aesthetic content. I think it's fine for filmmakers
to spend an evening discussing cameras and film stock; it's just that if
I'm not very interested in their films that discussion doesn't interest
me a lot either.
There's a pretty big tradition in the arts of artists not wanting to
reveal their "secrets." This wasn't the case with Frampton, but it
should be remembered that it's not that unusual.
As I said before, my point was that my initial reaction notwithstanding,
it was a really good thing that the question was asked and that Frampton
Another related memory, I think also from Millennium. Someone asked
Frampton, "Was there some kind of hot spot on the screen in 'Summer
Solstice'"? (That's the film with the cows...) I hadn't seen this
supposed hot spot (I'm embarrassed to say) and thought that once again
we were foundering on the shoals of minutiae. Frampton paused, smiling
rather than wincing, and said, quite pleased and grateful, "Somebody saw
my hot spot." He then explained that he had superimposed a very faint
image of the sun over his imagery. And when I saw the film again, it's
pretty easy to see this faint disk if you're looking for it. The larger
point, of course, is that Frampton very much cared about such details.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.