Re: Research question

From: Jonathan Walley (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 20 2010 - 12:45:07 PST

Roger, Mark, and everyone,

First of all, thanks to everyone who has so far shared their ideas
with me about the "difficulty" of film. But based on your remarks,
Roger and Mark, I should clarify. I absolutely am looking for examples
in which filmmakers embrace the obstacles and constraints of their
medium - who actually see film's "problems" as positive values. I
agree that there is a long tradition of experimental (I'm going with
that term though I know it always makes people jumpy) filmmakers who
herald film's difficulties, making these the bases for ontologies,
aesthetics, politics, etc. I was sort of hoping my examples would
convey this: the Broughton example is really about how elusive, and
therefore wonderful, "true" film art really is, and about the courage
of those who seek to make art in film. The Brakhage example I cited,
from "Metaphors on Vision," is part of his attack on conventional ways
of seeing that he argues is "built into" the medium - film can produce
new ways of seeing, but only if the filmmaker diligently and bravely
works against his/her medium, to some extent.

So yes, I'm looking for any examples where film's "problems" are made
into a significant issue, whether these problems are characterized as
impossible to solve and exasperating, or creatively productive and

By the way, I recognize that probably all artists in all media have
something to say about the constraints, demands, failures, and
maddening quirks of their materials. I'm not trying to make an
argument that film is unique in this regard; I'm just interested in
tracking the attitudes of filmmakers toward their medium and trying to
get a sense of the kinds of work this particular attitude ("film is
hard") has produced.

Thanks again, and keep the suggestions coming!


Jonathan Walley
Asst. Professor of Cinema
Denison University
email suppressed

On Jan 20, 2010, at 3:17 PM, Roger Beebe wrote:

> Jonathan,
> It's strange to me, as Mark Toscano notes below, that you're looking
> for examples where the constraint of film technology is seen as a
> burden without looking at the reverse, where the constraint is
> actually productive. That resistance in the material is one of the
> main reasons I've been so obstinate about working with (and
> presenting) celluloid-based work. It's like Oulipo, but without all
> the self-imposed obstacles--the constraint is built into the
> materials. For me, ease is the enemy, and whenever I start to feel
> like I'm getting too good at something, I have to introduce an
> element that helps me mess up again. I imagine there are LOTS of
> experimental filmmakers who feel the same way.
> Two cents,
> Roger Beebe
> Gainesville, FL
> On Jan 20, 2010, at 12:49 PM, Mark Toscano wrote:
>> And I assume you're probably not interested so much (for this
>> project) in the converse, i.e. artists who embrace those flaws and
>> limitations, but let me know, I have a few folks in mind.
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

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