Re: looking for good intro text

From: Roger Beebe (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Dec 04 2009 - 17:08:15 PST

I'm wondering if the thing that Bernie's calling for doesn't exist
because there's not enough of a market for it. Sure, every university
has a big intro to film class through which hundreds of students pass
each year (and for which there are a host of books competing with
Bordwell & Thompson's Film Art: An Introduction). Those texts usually
have a chapter (or less) on avant-garde work. But how many
universities have standalone classes on avant-garde film as a regular
part of the curriculum. At Florida we do have one, but it's an upper-
division elective that's taught maybe every third semester and that
accommodates a maximum of 35 students. My impression is that many
schools don't even have that much of an investment in experimental
film, so the perception may be that there's no great demand (in market
terms) for such a book.

Still, I actually think this is an idea that it might be worth
pitching to a press to see if there is any interest. It might only be
a smaller niche (so they likely won't want to update the volume every
few years like they do with Film Art), but it does exist. Bernie, if
you'll write the thing, I'll happily write a blurb for the back
cover! (That's the challenge now, right?--finding someone who'll
actually do the work of producing such a book. Since most presses
jack up their textbook prices to unconscionable levels, there'd at
least be an economic incentive to write it--finally SOMEONE could make
a few bucks off of experimental film!)


On Dec 4, 2009, at 3:30 PM, Bernard Roddy wrote:

> Thank you, guys.
> In contrast to my dream list a while back this title makes obvious
> educational and financial sense, particularly if the history of
> video art in the U.S. and Canada were covered (Experimental
> Television Center, Video Data Bank, Electronic Arts Intermix, VTape,
> Bay Area Video Coalition, Visual Studies Workshop, etc. etc.). This
> could be an inquiry into course packs, but it's ridiculous we still
> have to rely on that. We're not talking here about graduate
> education, where course packs are understandable. A published text
> book signals to new students that there is a credible discipline.
> Such a text would not be some final authority, but would provide a
> variety of entry points for different kinds of courses taught by
> faculty who work in film or video and who share a particular
> orientation toward art and art history. For me it is essential that
> there be a theoretical basis that motivates insisting on individual
> practices. David James would be ideal where
> film is concerned. Where video is concerned this is an even greater
> challenge. But such a text also requires the pen of someone who has
> weathered the storms of actual practice. Scott MacDonald comes very
> close. But he seems engaged in a kind of archeology of cinema at
> the expense of video.
> It seems that whenever I search for such a text I am either reading
> about British work and/or reading the writing of artists about their
> own work (criticism/journalism). When I consider extremely
> accomplished thinkers the work discussed is not avant-garde (and
> here the term must retain its radical edge) and/or it is serious
> scholarship.
> Bernie
> --- On Fri, 12/4/09, Jonathan Walley <email suppressed> wrote:
>> From: Jonathan Walley <email suppressed>
>> Subject: Re: looking for good intro text
>> To: email suppressed
>> Date: Friday, December 4, 2009, 12:58 PM
>> Brett is absolutely right about Renan's book. I
>> didn't mention it because it ends at 1967 (obviously). A
>> somewhat "journalistic" account, but an easy and
>> entertaining read. Renan's enthusiasm for the subject,
>> unadorned by a lot of theoretical jargon, is
>> refreshing.
>> JW
>> Jonathan
>> WalleyAssistant Professor, Department of
>> CinemaDenison UniversityGranville,
>> Ohio 43203
>> On Dec 4, 2009, at 12:10 PM, Brett Kashmere
>> wrote:
>> It's
>> not perfect, and it's probably no longer in print, but
>> I've always been partial to Sheldon Renan's "An
>> Introduction to the American Underground Film"
>> (1967).
>> It's written in a straight-forward manner and
>> covers a pretty wide range of filmmakers and trends,
>> including some consideration of expanded cinema, intermedia
>> performance, computer films, etc, towards the end.
>> I
>> don't remember exactly, but I believe there is also some
>> attention given to developments in the distribution and
>> exhibition of avant-garde films, and to publications like
>> Film Culture.
>> Brett
>> KashmerePittsburgh
>> ----------------
>> Date: Thu, 3
>> Dec 2009 19:25:44 -0800From: Bernard
>> Roddy <email suppressed>Subject:
>> looking for good intro text
>> Greetings,
>> frameworkers:
>> Can
>> anyone think of an introductory text that combines a history
>> of experimental film and video IN THE U.S. with a strong
>> discussion of the history of artists' organizing,
>> writing, and distribution IN THE US?
>> For
>> Great Britain there's David Curtis' A History of
>> Artists' Film and Video in Britain. This has the
>> distinct advantage of combining film and video art criticism
>> with strong (and introductory) writing about the social
>> history behind production, distribution, and critical
>> reception.
>> It includes discussion of "little
>> magazines," the "schooling" of film artists,
>> institutional support for artists' work in film such as
>> the Experimental Film Fund and the Arts Council, as well as
>> issues motivating and confronting artists' organizations
>> like the London Filmmakers' Co-op.
>> I'd
>> love to find something like this for the U.S. It would include
>> a history of things like Canyon Cinema and the
>> Film-Makers' Co-op, Cinema 16 and Anthology Film
>> Archives, in addition to offering a critical context for
>> student work.
>> Thanks
>> in advance.
>> Bernie
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> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

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