Research question

From: Jonathan Walley (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 20 2010 - 08:25:56 PST

Hello everyone and (belated) Happy New Year,

This is one of those Frameworks emails that asks for input on a
research project. Though the project is a "scholarly" (read, academic)
one, I'm really hoping for input from both artists and academics - as
well as artistic academics or academic artists.

I'm looking for references by experimental filmmakers to the
"difficulty" of working with film (I mean film film, not video). These
can include references to any of the following: the clunky, obstinate,
mechanical nature of film, the way film materials potentially thwart
the aims of the artists who work with it, the idea of film as
"obsolete" in the digital age, the various "failings" of film
(scratches, burns, fading, dirt particles, faulty projectors, etc.),
and the effects of any of these things on makers and viewers alike.
Such references could include filmmakers who saw a need to abandon
film or radically reconfigure it as a "way out" of these problems -
that is, expanded cinema as a solution to film's material difficulties.

I know this is rather broad, so here are a couple of examples that are
along the lines of what I'm interested in:

James Broughton on the difficulties of editing: the filmmaker
“searches for that continuously flowing Light which will transform his
leaden fragments into a single glowing jewel. Often enough, alas, his
‘original chaos’ remains unredeemed.”

Tony Conrad on the arbitrary limitations placed on the filmmaker by
his/her medium: "I have a certain sense of disappointment about the
fact that the filmmaker is expected to use a particular kind of
material that he buys in a box[…]and then he takes it home and puts it
into an instrument manufactured by someone else, and then he’s
supposed to perform specific operations on it, like cutting the
material, and then putting it back together[…]and then running it on a
projector, manufactured by someone else, and this inextricable bind to
the commercial process infuriates me to some degree."

Stan Brakhage, famously, on the limits the film machine places on
vision: "Oh, slow-eyed spectator, the machine is grinding you out of

And so on. These references could be published or unpublished, they
could even be your own spur of the moment thoughts on the subject of
what Bazin called "the obstinate resistance of matter to ideas." I'm
open to anything. Thanks in advance,


Jonathan Walley
Asst. Professor of Cinema
Denison University
email suppressed

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