From: willie be (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jun 11 2008 - 18:14:06 PDT
On 6/11/08, Jack Sargeant <email suppressed> wrote:
> There's several issues here.
> There is an audience for underground and experimental work on DVD, clearly
> the ongoing popularity of people such as Kenneth Anger - on video then on
> DVD - is evidence for that. Likewise the transgressive filmmakers Richard
> Kern and Nick Zedd have made their work available on DVD. I worked with the
> British Film Institute on a Cinema of Transgression compilation video
> (featuring Zedd, Kern, Beth B and many others) and this title did sell out
> and the filmmakers were paid royalties. When the video sold out the BFI
> decided not to re-issue the tape, and within a short amount of time many of
> the films were available on Ubuweb, although to my knowledge nobody asked
> the filmmakers if this would be OK.
> While it is good that the films are 'out there' (wherever that is) on the
> Internet, the fact that (to my knowledge) nobody asked permission is a
> little disheartening, especially as several of these filmmakers have their
> own DVDs out anyway. It would, I think, have been better if Ubuweb had asked
> permission and then put 30 second clips with links to the filmmakers www
> sites, that way people can purchase the work if they want to.
> Ubuweb (and, to a lesser extent and thanks to the vagaries of some posters,
> Youtube) help raise an awareness of otherwise marginalized culture and are a
> valuable resource, but there is a wider issue at stake: that of 'value'. By
> making everything available and downloadable then everything seems to become
> equal. But while an equality of access appears to be a good thing, in
> reality they are simply perceived as equally disposable.
> When teaching I regularly experience students who see no problem in watching
> work online, when there is a clear difference both aesthetically but also in
> terms of worth.
> There is, for example, a difference in watching somebody learning pole
> dancing and falling off the pole (am I the only person who gets sent endless
> links to bad Youtube gags?) and watching Harry Smith's Early Abstractions,
> yet both are there on Youtube. Am I being a snob? Sure, and I am aware of
> the paradox of my position as a fan of 'trash' culture. And yet this
> position of fan is perhaps that which gave me a sense of value.
> As a fan of 'trash' and b-movies (we're talking horror movies and grindhouse
> shlock here), and growing up in conservative England in the 80s, I had to
> search out films. You couldn't just download them, you had to really dig,
> and dig deep, and that search was a crucial part of the process, not least
> because wrong turns could be the source to unknown treasures, with fans
> turning each other on to various b-movie delights. Often the videos we got
> to see were 3rd generation bootlegs - you couldn't find a legitimate copy
> of, say, Texas Chain Saw Massacre on video in 1981 in the UK as it was
> banned - but the bootleg wasn't ideal, and as soon as films were released on
> DVD many people went and brought them because they were fans. As I said you
> also got to discover other 'treasures' (I remember somebody saying to me "if
> you like weird horror movies watch this" and turning me on to Mondo Movies)
> and meet people with similar tastes and ideas, in a short time there was a
> sense of community.
> But it's not just filmmakers who lose out to online streaming whether on
> Ubuweb or Youtube, it's also micro-cinemas and screening spaces. Not the
> state funded videotechs and boutiques which keep going, but those
> underground spaces that happen in small self financed venues, or as a
> regular night in a room above a local bar, or people who 4-wall a cinema to
> screen oddball movies and need a regular audience. Working as a curate and
> film programmer I have toured underground movies across three continents,
> and at every stop people turned up and watched them, and I have made many
> friends through these tours. However, often when I go to a micro-cinema now
> the audiences are aging, quite simply less young people appear to attend
> screenings. Indeed I have had numerous students (in film and in media) who
> quite simply do not go to the cinema - not just independent film but even
> brain-in-neutral-candy-floss mainstream film - when questioned the cinema is
> not a priority because they can watch works online (or they just don't
> bother to see something 'weird') and in their understanding online viewing
> is ok because it is "the same thing".
> This notion of watching online streaming, dvd watching, and going to the
> cinema as being the same has emerged because of our cultural emphasis on
> cinema as simply another form of story telling, the visual and aural nature
> of the experience is believed so often to be secondary to the narrative.
> Another issue is in the relationship between so called technological
> innovation and the experience of pleasure. With the introduction of the MP3
> player music became simply a 'personal soundtrack to daily life' (is this an
> advertising slogan?), endlessly streamed through headphones. But the
> pleasures of music are not just aural but also physical, you need to feel
> the sound in your body, not simply hear it in your ears, even on an
> individual level many people now seem unaware that they are not really
> experiencing music fully, but you cannot explain that to people who think
> the ipod has enabled them to become interesting because the sound delivery
> device has a number of different colour matt-plastic covers! The
> technological medium of delivery is now valued by some more highly than the
> actually music. The notion of personal pleasure also removes the collective
> experience of music; seeing a loud band, dancing at a rave, hearing an
> opera, whatever your interest there is a collective experience which the
> technology negates when it becomes simply personal.
> Likewise with film, no doubt people here on frameworks get annoyed with the
> burned smell of crisco on popcorn and the loud whispers of the audience in a
> cinema, but the collective experience of watching a film is one of the
> pleasures the cinema, the shared experience of wonder, or excitement, of
> emotion, is what defines cinema. Quite simply you can't have that much fun
> watching a computer screen.
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.
For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.