Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!

From: Matt Helme (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Oct 15 2010 - 12:15:49 PDT

Is Fear and Desire that bad?

From: Mark Toscano <email suppressed>
To: Experimental Film Discussion List <email suppressed>
Sent: Fri, October 15, 2010 12:41:01 PM
Subject: Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!

I agree with Steve here, but the big difference is that VDB is working with the
artists directly, and has their permission (and probably even encouragement) to
post those clips. It's part of VDB's promotion of the work, and is a great way
to get a sense of something in order to decide whether or not to show it. Lux
and Light Cone do the same.

I'm all for the access aspect of ubu in a way, but the artists are generally not
being given a choice of how their work is to be represented. It's funny that
some people here seem to think that the artists are just being obstructionist
about the ubu thing. I think a LOT of artists would happily provide work to
them to host (perhaps with reasonable restrictions or stipulations), but aside
from a few examples I know of (Andy Lampert, Pete Rose, etc.), ubu is not
seeking that dialogue with the artists. (And in Pete's case, he provided the
work himself.) Again, my favorite example of abomination here is David Rimmer's
Surfacing on the Thames, which is a ludicrously unwatchable video accompanied by
a borrowed text explaining how subtle and beautiful the film is.

And I agree that those who have been touched by a work do have certain rights
"to" it, but they're not equal to the artist's rights. They're not even in the
same broad category. When someone is the sole author of a film, why don't they
have control over whether they want to change or destroy it? We may not like it
as viewers/historians/whatever, but the artist may hate it for the work to
continue to exist. Three of Bob Nelson's early films are unrecoverable because
he destroyed them. Fragments remain. He's mildly regretful about one, maybe
two of them, but ultimately it's not a big deal to him. Thom Andersen wanted to
show one of them (Superspread) in a Cal Arts class once, and I had to tell him
Nelson destroyed it. He was really bummed ("wow.... i really liked that movie
and it had a big impact on me"). I told Nelson what he said, and he said,
"huh. well, maybe I shouldn't have destroyed it."

Over many years, Stanley Kubrick did everything he could to accumulate and
destroy all surviving prints of his first feature, Fear and Desire. Of course
people were still eager to see it, if not more so because of this action. When
a print turned up unexpectedly at George Eastman House in the '90s or so, they
preserved it and planned a NYC screening. (Note - Kubrick did not own the
rights to it, but I'm talking more about artist's rights here.) Kubrick got in
touch with them and very emphatically tried to get them to not show it. If
memory serves, they didn't, and they made a specific arrangement with Kubrick
regarding how/when they would show the film (at least while he was still alive -
in-house at GEH only, to researchers and in public screenings at their theater
only). Some time after Kubrick died, they started loaning it outside GEH.

I'm imagining a similar scenario with ubu - Ken Jacobs tells them to stop
hosting his files, they counter-offer something, perhaps that they'll stream
them only, no downloads, Ken perhaps agrees, everyone's in accordance (enough to
keep going, anyway).

I don't think the artist has final say, but only from a practical standpoint
more than a moral one. Once something is out there, people WILL bootleg it. I
can tell without doubt that the Awful Backlash video on ubu is clearly lifted
from a digibeta that I made at a lab to provide the film to German TV for them
to use an excerpt for a short piece on Bob Nelson a few years ago. And the text
accompanying it is one that I used AS A JOKE for the Oberhausen program in
2006. Which leads to my main beef with ubu's film section - the lazy

I've been following their site pretty much since it began, way before the
film/video section existed. They've always had a fairly strong curatorial
identity and I know they worked with artists on some amount of their content.
But when the film section came along, it was clearly just shit trolled on the
internet and dumped in a pile for users to sift through, with no regard to
quality, presentation, or curatorial vision. Seems to me that everything about
that section of the site is just lazy and passive. Talk about
viewer's/curator's rights - curating comes with certain responsibilities if
you're going to claim those rights.

Bottom line - I think it would at least be respectful of ubu to attempt to reach
filmmakers about hosting their work, because I do think they'd get more yes than
no. Their 'hall of shame' thing was petty, stupid, and uninformed - good they
dumped it a while back. If an artist doesn't want their stuff up on ubu, then
ubu should take it down. Why is that a big deal? It doesn't mean that film is
suddenly completely removed from public view. It just means it's no longer
being made available without the artist's permission on a site at questionable
quality, and if the artist isn't comfortable with that, they shouldn't be
vilified for it.

And note that none of what I talked about here had to do with financial gain.

Mark Toscano

--- On Fri, 10/15/10, Steve Polta <email suppressed> wrote:

From: Steve Polta <email suppressed>
Subject: Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!
To: "Experimental Film Discussion List" <email suppressed>
Date: Friday, October 15, 2010, 5:43 AM

It is my understanding that the advent of exp. film on DVD (e.g. Brakhage) has
negatively impacted the film co-ops' circulation of work, presumably due to
schools' use of DVD in the classroom as opposed to renting films. This not only
diminishes the income paid to filmmakers by co-ops but also impacts the
viability of the co-ops.

Speaking as a curator, I can say that online access to preview copies of
artists' work (even in excerpt/sample form) greatly facilitates the curatorial
process and has definitely led to me including new-to-me work/artists in
programs I have curated for San Francisco Cinematheque. (For the record, these
rentals have always been acquired from artists or distributors and have always
been paid.)

Regarding Beverly O'Neill's reference to the distribution co-ops' participation
in this process, it's notable that Video Data Bank
(VDB) *does* provide public access to samples of artists' work. Again, speaking
as a curator, I can say that this service has led directly to rentals and
exhibition. Providing this access would be a wonderful service a distributor
could provide its artists. I know it's easier said than done. I would encourage
any artists in a position to effect a positive change in this area to organize
and encourage this service from their distributors.

Steve Polta

--- On Thu, 10/14/10, Beverly O'Neill <email suppressed> wrote:

From: Beverly O'Neill <email suppressed>
Subject: Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!
To: "Experimental Film Discussion List" <email suppressed>
Date: Thursday, October 14, 2010, 9:41 PM

Dear Frameworkers, UBU always sparks
livelihood anxieties in me, not for my generation which has been around for 45
years of filmmaking, but for those who are beginning to make work or struggling
with mid-career anxieties. The scarcity of venues, grants, awards, faculty
positions, -- well, everyone here knows what goes on that list. UBU plays a
very minor role, yeah/nay, in that equation. Just trying to think of ways to
rekindle some of the spirit we all felt when Canyon and Anthology began. It
would be wonderful if we could (Frameworkers, co-ops, Anthology whatever) if we
could revive the Maya Deren lifetime achievement award and present it annually
to several media makers. Suppose the co-op, I'm thinking of Canyon because I
know them, set up a way to digitize work and took a % from the sales of DVDs.
 Could we broaden our focus and support for emerging exhibition groups by
watching previews on-line (via Youtube/whatever) of new
pieces, and offer critical feedback. The diversity of experiences and
knowledge represented on this list has the capacity to imagine and realize some
viable options that would enrich the culture younger artists work in.
 Frameworks serves an invaluable role in this new era. Using new tools what
else can we do. All props to this list.Beverly O'

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