ubu and what u can du

From: BRUCE MCPHERSON (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jun 11 2008 - 22:14:53 PDT

I've found the ubuweb controversy quite interesting these past few days, and
I'd like to begin by saying that I can appreciate both sides of the argument
and may therefore disappoint some by declining to side one way or the other.
"In the interest of full disclosure," as many list members know, I publish
books, and Deren and Brakhage and Schneemann are among my authors and, have
been in two cases very close friends. Some may even know that I
promote/distribute a few a-g dvds as well. On the other hand, I publish lots
of poets, fiction writers, etc

There are surely serious matters of copyrights and courtesies and control
that need further disputation, but I would rather make an urgent appeal to
the filmmakers who read these posts.

First, however, it seems to me it should be understood that the ubuweb site
is fostered and furthered by a bunch of iconoclastic poets who couldn't
afford to wait around for all the niceities to be settled before assembling
a celebration of the avant-garde of the last 100 years. And poets being
poets, they wanted to include all the mind-blowing stuff that has
substantially reconfigured the mindset of our time. So they just acted like
poor, abused poets, and did what they thought they ought to do.

So the filmmakers who've been ripped-off by ubuweb ought to feel just a
little bit of pride, it seems to me, even if you'd rather have much better
control over your work (and I can't disagree with you there in the

But ubuweb points to a problem: there are people who want to know just how
far the art of film has come, and who's got the goods, and where the edge of
tomorrow is, etc.. And probably quite a few of those desperate people are
poets themselves. Which stands to reason, since a lot of filmmakers started
out as poets. Added to which, poets are some of the most visually attuned
people on the planet. And many of them feel an insatiable hunger for what
they need to survive and continue...

To a considerable degree, then, poets are among your best friendsand
greatest allies, and you just might need to try to find common cause with
each other.

Of course, finding common cause among friends is often like trying to
conduct a well-behaved passover seder. Enough already, when do we eat?

But insofar as we are all being forced to recognize the Avenue of Bytes as
the necessary and expedient way to disperse information about the existence
of your (or any) art, I suggest that filmmakers need to make a better
practice of giving a little in order to get a lot more.

Specifically, why not offer up a portion of your films, for free, to sites
like ubuweb or youtube or whatever, and include information within the
"teaser" about where to find/view/acquire your films in the form you feel is
proper? Give half a film, or a quarter, or moiety, and you will create
demand for the other half, or three quarters. If you tell ubuweb what you
want to give them, I feel certain they will be willing to work with you.

You SHOULD control how your art is perceived. But you MUST be out THERE, in
the thick of the cultural surround, and battle on your own terms for as much
attention as you can possibly obtain. By all means, you should decide how
much to give, how much to ask for, but you must be seen to want to be seen.

People desperately need to know what you have made and are making. Pound
once commented that men and women live and die miserably every day for lack
of what the poets can tell us, if only we will read them. You are the poets,
too. Create your art. Raise your flags. Tell us where you are, what you
have, how to regard you. Define your terms. Command and at the same time
respect your audience: they are there (and I am among them) because they
thirst for your in-sight.

And then, whether or not it proves to be the most financially remunerative
career choice you might have made, know that you've received exactly what
you need. And go forward. Selah.

Bruce McPherson

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