[Frameworks] prints and copies: (was Lookout Mountain films (Pat O'Neill))

From: Chuck Kleinhans (email suppressed)
Date: Wed Oct 06 2010 - 08:36:34 PDT

On Oct 6, 2010, at 7:20 AM, Tom Whiteside wrote:

> Before DVD and before home videotape, film artists sold 8mm prints
> for home use, the radical notion being that one could not simply
> <OWN> but repeatedly view a film by Brakhage, Conners, etc. Iím not
> sure how many people sold 8mm prints (but it was done, right?) or
> how much (if any) money they made Ė but it seems to me that
> marketing of this Pat OíNeill DVD is very much in the same spirit,
> and it is to be commended.

As I remember this was a pretty limited "experiment" in marketing:
only a few filmmakers did it and with only a few of their films. Of
course some filmmakers actually made 8mm and S8mm films, and sold
prints, as they did with 16mm films. But even some of these were
later blown up to 16mm for more practical distribution/exhibition.
(Fred Camper can say something better and more accurate about
Brakhage's practice here.)

The "market" was less for enthusiasts than collectors. Someone once
pointed out in Canyon Cinemanews that if filmmakers wanted to command
the same kind of high returns on their work as painters, they had to
make unique works. Of course the collector then owns the unique work
and it can only be seen when the collector decides to screen it and
to whatever audience appears. (As with easel painting.) An
alternative is to make a limited number of copies (as printmakers
commonly do) and thus be able to sell them as worth a certain
(somewhat) predictable amount: necessary to work effectively in the
collector market.

Another strategy for the collector market is to sell the original (as
some photographers do with their negatives) as a unique item. Of
course as with any reproducible art, this creates market quandaries
and confusions. (Is an Ansel Adam print that was overseen by the
photographer more valuable than one made after his death when the two
actually seem to be identical?)

It is interesting to contrast the actual current practice of
experimental video artists (or perhaps more accurately, artists who
produce some video for gallery and museum exhibition). Matthew
Barney's videos sell for phenomenal amounts precisely because they
are so restricted/rare. The situation is similar for other artists,
some of whom actually shoot on film but who exhibit as video
projection (much simpler in gallery/museum sites). Sharon Lockhart's
LUNCH BREAK is an example: the installed exhibition includes two
projected films (which require black boxes within the gallery) and a
series of her photographs, all taken at a Maine shipworks.

Clearly, these video artists by and large are using a very different
business model than the traditional or typical experimental
filmmaker. The video folks often receive large commissions in
advance to produce their work for museums. Most of them are
represented by galleries who seek to maximize the price of a copy
(since the gallery gets about half).

Chuck Kleinhans

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