Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Oct 15 2010 - 03:09:10 PDT

I usually find Anna Biller's posts to list to be thoughtful and sharp
whether I agree with them or not. But the msg. below makes me wonder
if Matt Helme is spoofing Ms. Biller's email address:

> If they really cared and
> wanted to support experimental film they could buy an inexpensive
> Brakhage DVD on Amazon and have it shipped to them internationally,
> and then Marilyn Brakhage could make a dollar or two or fifty cents
> which would be nice.

Of course, 'they' do buy the DVDs. What is missing from the discussion
of film-art-economics an analysis of how audiences for experimental
work come to exist -- what has to occur in the life of an individual
to make them want to see experimental films, rent experimental prints,
buy experimental DVDs. How is an appreciation for this out-of-the-
mainstream work acquired, and how does it grow and expand? Very few
people are going to buy that 'inexpensive' Brakhage DVD unless they
have some acquaintance with Brakhage. And how do people in 'the
sticks' get such an acquaintance? By things like UbuWeb and Karagarga
where they can try things out. _Pirates buy more content_ because
they've had a path to explore their inquisitiveness within their
financial means, develop the taste and appreciation for free that are
the pre-conditions for making any kind of financial investment.

Virtually every form of modern cultural production works this way --
first one's free kid, then you pay when you want more and better. The
clearest example being the relationship between radio airplay and
recording sales in pop music, but it's true (if in somewhat diluted
form) in other mediums as well.

> If no one pays for anything and everyone insists on getting
> everything for free,

But that is not the case...

> we will ONLY have the corporations and the work they produce,
> because no one else will be able to afford to produce anything.

Which brings up the question, 'how is anyone able to afford to produce
anything NOW?' And the answer is NOT, 'because of the income generated
by coop rentals and/or print/dvd sales.' If we ask 'what are the
economics of being an experimental filmmaker?' we immediately confront
the fact that the work itself has little direct market value due to
the lack of auratic status inherent in it's mechanical
reproducability. AFAIK, no one has ever made a living from the
receipts of experimental films. The economic value of such filmmaking
has always resided in the notoriety it brings to the maker, the kind
of opportunities for other channels of income opened by having one's
work circulated, noticed, appreciated. These include the ability to
obtain grants and other subsidies, to obtain academic positions, and
to increase the value of creative work the artist may do in more
auratic forms. Matthew Barney is the master of the latter, but I'm
sure Michael Snow's sculptures are worth more because he's Michael Snow.

We may like this situation or not (I'd rather things worked
differently myself) but that's how it is, has been, and is likely to
be. Internet forms like UbuWeb don't change that basic equation.

I too think it's nice if Marilyn gets some royalty payments, but
she'll more in the long run the more people know who Stan was and what
his work was like, which doesn't happen by magic. And since 'Cats
Cradle' and 'Window Water...' are on the DVD I wonder if Jane Brakhage
or Carolee Schneemann are getting a cut, and if not, where's the moral
economy in that?

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