Re: VJ art

From: James Cole (email suppressed)
Date: Mon Dec 15 2008 - 07:57:39 PST

> Maybe we should be screening Smith and Brakhage films at raves instead of
> in tiny cinemas?

Is this something that people feel is a viable option? I'm thinking back to
the Dorsky screenings at the Harvard Film Archive last weekend. For anyone
who has seen and enjoyed Sarabande and Winter, I think the idea of watching
it while dancing to loud music by Modest Mouse or Dizzee Rascal or whatever
is patently insane. The weight of the music would crush the films. At the
Dorsky screening, the sound of the ventilation system and music being played
in the nearby gallery imposed itself on the film-viewing experience to such
an extent that they showed Sarabande twice.

I'm a little bit doubtful that something like Brakhage's Text of Light or
Commingled Containers (both of which I think I could watch for two or three
hours) would be able to hold up in a loud, crowded, frenetic environment.
This leads me to a conclusion, which may be false but seems pretty true to
me, that any attempt to create meaning in VJ-art would almost certainly be
crushed by the music and atmosphere.

I'm reminded in particular of the first time I saw Murnau's Sunrise, which
was at a club in Boston called the Enormous Room which is (or at least, used
to be) one of Boston's biggest VJ spots. It was DVD projection, which
doesn't help, really. The club was playing loud two-step music, I was
drinking, and watching the film somewhat distractedly, at times being struck
by it, and at other times ignoring it, or finding it somewhat dull. I left
believing I had *seen* Sunrise, and finding it pretty good, but nothing too
special. About a year or two later I saw it projected on film in a dark,
quiet room and was, of course, utterly devastated by what an amazing film it

My big issue, then, is why invite that atmosphere, (which, granted, is often
great fun and can provide moments of great beauty) onto your attempts at
creating cinematic art. There's something almost church-like about the dark
theatre with the bright, flickering screen, and all of my greatest and most
lasting cinematic experiences have come in that environment. I am open to
the possibility of having cinematic experiences that are that powerful
outside of that environment (for example, I saw Mark Lapore's Glass System
projected in a pretty bright, somewhat noisy environment, and was greatly
moved by it). I guess what I'm saying is I am open to the possibility of
great VJ art, but I have yet to see any examples of it, and I haven't seen
many examples of it that seem like much more than decoration for dance
music. I will fully admit that trying to watch it on youtube or whatever
probably isn't really giving it a fair chance, and I should probably go out
looking for it, but I'm still not entirely convinced that I want to.


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