Re: Research question

From: Mark Toscano (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Jan 20 2010 - 09:49:28 PST

Jonathan -

Interesting topic, and one that probably no one has really looked into. One thing I'd say though, is that all the examples you gave could apply to video/digital too. The idea of being enslaved to a machine/technology...

Fred Worden's first video piece, Amongst the Persuaded (I think 2004), is all about this tug/clash of technologies, and his curiosity/anxiety about switching from film to digital. Fred, as someone who made carefully optically printed films for about 30 years before going digital, would also probably have interesting thoughts on this topic.

Thom Andersen recently told me he was surprised and amused when a student had talked to him about how dauntingly difficult it is to work with film versus digital, because he feels exactly the opposite. In many ways it's all about what's intuitive to the artist, though technological/generational shifts play in heavily of course.

Lewis Klahr is a filmmaker I've heard reference his switch to digital as freeing him up technologically/financially in some ways (because $$ is often a big complaint about film too).

When Ernie Gehr switched to digital, it was to try it out at first, and approach it as a unique medium distinct from film. He continued to make a few 16mm films concurrent with his digital work, but then it seems he shifted exclusively over to digital, even repurposing some unshown 16mm work of the '70s to digital form to complete it and then show it. Another person that would be worth talking to.

Grahame Weinbren, whose films with Roberta Friedman in the '70s-early '80s were extremely labor-intensive, switched to video installation work in the early '80s and would also probably have some great thoughts on this.

Pat O'Neill has recently sort of switched to working digitally, and would probably be very interesting to talk to on the subject. (I say "sort of" because he doesn't rule out the idea of working in film again just yet.)

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.

Hope this is of use,

Mark Toscano

--- On Wed, 1/20/10, Jonathan Walley <email suppressed> wrote:

> From: Jonathan Walley <email suppressed>
> Subject: [FRAMEWORKS] Research question
> To: email suppressed
> Date: Wednesday, January 20, 2010, 8:25 AM
> 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
> existence..."
> 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
> Jonathan WalleyAsst. Professor of
> CinemaDenison email suppressed 
> __________________________________________________________________
> For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at
> <email suppressed>.


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