Re: [Frameworks] Fluid Criticism (was Open Litter)

From: Fred Camper (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Jul 31 2010 - 09:10:10 PDT

Quoting Chuck Kleinhans <email suppressed>:

> On Jul 30, 2010, at 9:32 AM, Tony Conrad wrote:
>> I’m not sure what Chuck is asking Bernie to do, but before they
>> compare vital
>> fluids between Nietzsche and Wilde, let’s see.
> "I am always amused by the silly vanity of those writers and artists
> of our day who seem to imagine that the primary function of the
> critic is to chatter about their second-rate work. ...[The critic's]
> sole aim is to chronicle his own impressions., It is for him that
> pictures are painted, books written, and marble hewn into form."

I can make two somewhat opposite arguments here.

If an artist is making truly great work, truly original work, work
that transcends the categories and can change the ways we see and
think, then if critics and others don't get it at all, and the work is
largely unknown and unseen, that seems like at best a lapse of
professional responsibility, and at worst a kind of crime. The best
justification for a critic seems to me that she or he can see farther
and better and deeper than others.

On the other hand, it is true that many mediocre artists think the
function of a critic is not only to "chatter" about their work, but to
promote it, to make it better known, to argue for its greatness, to
make them rich or famous. No critic has that power in any case, but
also, an authentic critic has to be true what he or she sees and thinks.

All of these arguments take on a particular coloring in our list's
rather small world, in which, as far as I know, not one avant-garde
filmmaker has ever been able to make a living from making films. This
is not like the art world where, while most artists can't make a
living at it, some can, and a few get wealthy. What is the prize in
avant-garde film? Some festival shows? A tenured teaching post? I
guess it's natural to crave recognition, but in my own professional
life in this field, I have heard much more anger at lack of
recognition (sometimes accompanied by absurd conspiracy theories) than
the agonized wondering that I would like to think is more the mark of
a genuine artist (albeit often only early on): "Is my work any good?
Is my work getting better? Are these films adding something to the
discourse? How can I break through to something grater?"

It's worth remembering that Hollis Frampton began making films in
1962. The first film he would ever show was from 1966.

Fred Camper

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