Re: [Frameworks] UbuWeb...HACKED!

From: David Tetzlaff (email suppressed)
Date: Fri Oct 15 2010 - 03:57:56 PDT

Anna Biller wrote:

> The internet creates a sense of flattened relativism in which
> everything loses its context and sense of scale and history.

As an example she cites:

> the way [people] use YouTube and Facebook to select works and share
> them, almost as if their selection of the work is the same as making
> the work.

This is the sort of critique of postmodern culture that comes out of
Fred Jameson's 'Culture of Late Capitalism' essay, or Baudrillard's
'Ecstacy of Communication.' I think this does occur, and I do find it
worrisome. I have seen video blogs consisting of nothing but
selections of other clips from around the web that I think qualify as
works of art because of the genuine creativity, amount of work, and
the effective aesthetic results of the choices made in pulling clips
together and establishing connections/collisions between them. But
such examples are rare and I do see a lot of the Jamesonian flattening
Anna notes.


This is not what people mean when they say 'viewing a work is as
creative as making one.' First of all, that's phrased as hyperbole.
The 'is' is too definitive and universal, and 'as creative as'
indicates a false equality. It would be more accurate to say 'Viewing
is usually an act that involves a significant exercise of creativity
on the part of the viewer.' This is basically the 'active audience'
thesis that drives Cultural Studies. My own conclusion is that this
sort of active engagement, the affectless pomo reflecting screen, and
a more Frankfurt School ideological transmission all occur in our
culture side by side.

The active audience thesis stems from basic principles of semiotics.
The work of art is an object, with elements that act as symbols. These
symbols have no intrinsic meaning. They must be assembled, interpreted
and engaged by whoever perceives them. There is a lot of wiggle-room
in this process. So the mute object only becomes a meaningful work of
art once someone 'reads' it, and invests meaning into it, which is
inevitably a sort of indirect dialogic process. Academic studies like
Henry Jenkins' 'Textual Poachers' may overstate the case, but there's
too much evidence for the basic thesis to dismiss it entirely.

And certainly, experimental film is a form that engenders active
engagements. I'd guess for most folks on this list, early encounters
with experimental work yielded a good share of 'WTF?' reactions,
followed by struggles to parse the text, leading to a variety of
interpretations rooted in part in each viewer's unique life experiences.

Perhaps some UbuWeb users wind up engaging the clips there in the
worst sort of YouTube reflecting-screen pomo fascination. But that's
hardly Ubu's fault. Ubu has clearly been a portal by which a
significant number of people who would not otherwise been exposed to
avant garde work have found their way to some knowledge/interest/
appreciation. As Jeanne Liotta noted, in the long run that benefits
our 'community' as a whole, and we all can benefit individually from
the health in that community.
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