Re: The Politics of the Bootleg

From: Rick Prelinger (email suppressed)
Date: Tue Jun 10 2008 - 16:48:55 PDT

It's unlikely that anything anyone contributes to this thread is going to change any minds, but anyway...

Experimental work is much too hard to see. In many places it's a once-a-year, twice-a-year experience. Outside of a few major centers, it's really difficult to see work that doesn't have well-known names attached.

The chasm between experimental work and its existing audiences is deep. The chasm between work and new audiences is even deeper. Here and there artificial scarcity creates value, but most often it results in marginalizing important work that could transform more sensibilities if only it could be seen.

Some may vehemently disagree, but experimental work needs fans. It needs to reach receptive people who would never know to rent a print from the venerable distributors that have worked so hard to keep this culture alive. There isn't a single way to help moving image works get to potential viewers. All are part of an ecosystem of strategies, and most are valid for one reason or another.

Today there are more images and sounds in the culture than ever before. Art books helped keep painting in the cultural foreground. You know the drill. We need a host of ways to keep good work from disappearing in the noise.

I defend Tony's right to know where his work is going and steer it in a direction he feels appropriate. But the times may not favor his or any artist's exclusive control. For Tony, I suspect there is value in maintaining a measure of control and scarcity. I'd only say that the more people that get to see his work and appreciate his career, the value of the billable events that happen around his work will increase. This has been our story.


Rick Prelinger
Prelinger Library & Archives, San Francisco
Board President, Internet Archive

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