Re: Experimental films showing at various Universities

From: Chuck Kleinhans (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Nov 26 2008 - 09:42:48 PST

On Nov 26, 2008, at 6:45 AM, Jason Halprin wrote:
> Urging people who teach to take an active interest in their
> replacement is a good start. I suggest that more arguments be
> articulated regarding the value of showing art, and specifically
> film, on its original medium. And, I'd like to hear other opinions
> about this issue...

I understand Dominic's desire to maintain a healthy level of rental
activity for Canyon, but there are other issues here which aren't
being considered.

First, the nature of tenure and academic positions moves to a very
conservative pace of change in higher education. If someone has been
teaching something, it is likely to remain in the course catalogue.
The curriculum is most likely to change when personnel change, or
when student enrollment changes. Or when outside pressures such as
budget cuts appear, or after internal or external review takes place
and new priorities are set.

It's actually not very wise for departing faculty to try to influence
the future of their program or department. The people who are going
to be living there in the future should shape hires and curriculum.
Otherwise you have the "dead hand of the past" controlling things,
and hate and discontent among the young upstarts that now-departed
old farts left an ironclad legacy. Even worse if that is embodied in
a new hire whose specialties are resented by everyone else.

What we're now seeing is a generational change. Certain material
conditions allowed for the growth and development of 16mm filmmaking
in the post WW2 era in the US. That infrastructure included
educational films, TV newsfilms, industrials, and on the margins
experimental films. That allowed some of those folks, and others who
were critics, or critic/artists, to find academic employment in a
"new" area. We're now at the end of a generational cycle and at the
point where a technological change has also taken place.
Institutions are in the process of changing as well.

The artworld of experimental film exists fundamentally in a social
and material world. Technology, the economics of education and
media, organizations that artists create and use including
exhibition, distribution, criticism, funding, equipment access, and
so forth are necessary to the existence of an experimental film
artworld. People ignore this at their own risk. Appeals to
individual will or creativity or personal vision or the presumed
autonomy of artworks are nice, but when they are used to hide from
the hard realities of the social nature of art, they lead to deadends
and creative suicide. A pity, but true.


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