Re: Burying Film

From: David Woods (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Oct 30 2009 - 14:08:07 PDT

Oh dear! I seem to be infected with a need to respond to frameworks.
Maybe it's the rather rancid goats' milk cheese I consumed earlier.

I find sympathy with / value in TBW's observations.

My only take is, remembering my fungus film which I've long forgotten to
dampen...six years perhaps since I last sprayed the 1600' reel. I imagine
the process of chemical decay will have frozen somewhere between the poles
of visual record and abstract oblivion. I'll have to re-activate it.
What's important is that the process continues on its own.

What is of slight interest to me (in all these composting / stress
approaches) is that the conventional agency of the cinematographer has been
actively usurped by processes that have no hang-ups; they go about their
busyness, hopelessly helpless in the random determinism of their biochemical
inevitability. And I suspect this latest compost fetish is little more
than an unholy and misplaced ritualized submission to the inevitabilities of
post Darwinian ecological truths replacing the liturgical tyrannies of
modernist impositions. Surely a cardinal sin.

DBW East Yorkshire


From: Experimental Film Discussion List [mailto:email suppressed]
On Behalf Of Tom B Whiteside
Sent: 30 October 2009 20:03
To: email suppressed
Subject: Re: Burying Film


 I want to put film in my barrel-style composter. Any suggestions?

For one thing, I can't see how it will help your compost. As for the process
of making experimental film, there are all kinds of ways of torturing and
distressing film to see what it will yield, a lot has been done with this
and surely a lot more will be done. But isn't it true that in most cases the
material that is buried (abused, abandoned, whatever) is, for the purpose of
making art, rephotographed or copied onto fresh stock that will run more
smoothly on a projector?

In these cases, why is the distressed material film? Why not photograph the
mold on old shower curtains, or the surfaces of well-circulated coins? Why
not let a plateful of spaghetti rot and photograph it with a camera each day
for a month (yes, I know it's been done before) or let some odd pieces of
lumber sit out in the weather for twenty years and make an image every week,
or bury some handmade paper and then make a film of that......... Is it
simply that people are interested in watching a record of violence against
the emulsion (and base) itself? Why do we have to continue to kill the old
medium, or draw attention to the fact that it is decrepit? It's not just
experimental film - I can't believe how many faked out "distressed film"
looks I see on teevee.

I suppose there is economic sense in making what we might call "reversal"
distressed film, where the material that is buried is the same material
that you put on the projector - you don't have to pay for anything. This can
work fine if you clean it up and keep the perfs reasonably intact. Most
people can lay their hands on SOME kind of 16mm film absolutely free of
charge, any previously recorded image can be erased and you start again on
blank plastic, there are no lab fees, you don't need a camera or a computer
or anything. But how many people are making truly unique films - in the
sense that there is no copy, only the distressed original?

As many have pointed out before - for decades already ! ! - we are working
in the age of the pathology of film. This notion of burying film is so
pervasive. Where does this impulse originate? Interesting to note that for
most of film history, MUCH more film has been cremated than interred.

I don't want to be a voice saying "Don't do it," as I have nothing against
anyone burying film, or developing film in strawberry jam, or anything else
they want to try. I myself have not tried those two things, but I've done
plenty else. So please, do compost your film if you want. At this point the
whole enterprise reminds me of a curious nine year old who, having buried a
family pet three years ago, wants to dig it up and take a look at the
skeleton. He will probably learn something from it, and it might well be
worth doing, but how many times?

        - Whiteside North Carolina

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

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