Re: [Frameworks] media in the classroom, was UbuWeb...HACKED!

From: jeanne LIOTTA (email suppressed)
Date: Sat Oct 16 2010 - 07:00:03 PDT

wow that is a compelling narrative, erp!
I cant speak about how it was in the old days, as I've only been teaching
for just over a decade. But reading David's story led me to consider my
experience at each place I've taught and ways of using and showing various
media in the classroom. Sometimes there's a budget, much not much of one.
Sometimes there's a library with film titles though it usually stops around
1979. Sometimes there's an awesome local dvd-video store with a crazy
collection. There's one's own collection often acquired by trades with other
makers, and there's the internet with all its multiplicity of media
sproutings. Personally I use them all, in more or less equal measures, and
have to assume that is probably true for everyone, right?.
I generally don't find it debilitating nor do I feel compromised; I think
its the way we work now in the present moment, as artists as well as
educators, it's part of what media literacy actually means I think, and
students, especially makers, seem to appreciate all the discriminations
between how something is made, and how we are able to view it with all the
twists in between, from aesthetic traditions to financial histories. maybe
this is all very obvious though.

On Fri, Oct 15, 2010 at 9:30 PM, David Tetzlaff <email suppressed> wrote:

> On Oct 15, 2010, at 12:43 PM, Steve Polta wrote:
> > 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.
> All I want for Christmas is for this cannard to die. At least Steve
> tempers his statement with the qualifiers "my understanding" and
> "presumably," gaining some distance from Scott MacDonald's screeds
> about how the evil professors are destroying film art by not renting
> from the co-ops, not projecting real _film_, yada yada yada. If only
> the professoriat actually had the power to decide the fate of the
> artform, for good or ill.
> Let me explain one more time (please please please let it be the last)
> how this actually works.
> The reason teachers use DVDs in the classroom is because film
> projection has become impractical for all but the big programs and the
> superstar professors who get special treatment from the powers that be.
> 1. Most film faculty are on the low rung of the academic totem pole.
> They don't get budgets for film rentals, and they have too many other
> problems to spend what little political capital they have to fight the
> administration in an attempt to get a rental budget. Unless they can
> get the library to buy it, they can't show it. And the library will
> buy a video if you ask them nice.
> 2. In the 'old days' every academic institution had extensive support
> for 16mm projection as a general educational tool. That support is now
> TOTALLY gone. Schools don't own working 16mm projectors. If you ask
> the Media Services department to provide one, they'll tell you they
> can't support a technology with so narrow a user base (because it's
> really just you). If you dig up an old projector, there's not just no
> one on campus who can do maintenance on it, there's no one on campus
> who has any idea where to go to get maintenance on it. On the other
> hand, you can get the school to spend a bucketload on a nice video
> projector for the auditorium because it's 'sexy' new technology that
> will impress everybody and lots of people will want to use.
> 3. At the risk of stating the obvious, film professors are in the
> business of having students study moving-image art works, their duty
> is to maximize learning, get the students to write better papers. And
> the majority of things the majority of professors want students to
> think about are a) as much present in a decent video copy as in a film
> print b) easier to unpack and yield to inquiry with repeated viewing
> of key segments -- which, of course, can be easily done with videos
> but not with film prints.
> 4. To be blunt, film faculty are mostly academic grunts, proles in
> masquerade, with more independence than workers on an auto assembly
> line perhaps, but still relatively powerless and subject to the
> dictates of their bosses. The professors do not define their own jobs,
> create their own parameters of judgement. The institution does. Like
> any worker, when faculty deviate from the prevailing dictates they put
> their livelihoods in peril. Believe me, if Young Film Professor goes
> into a review with the Dean or the T&P committee, and they ask, "and
> what have you accomplished" and YFP says "well, I've helped support
> film artists by consistently renting films from Canyon and FMC!"
> they're gonna say, "Uh, supporting artists is not your job. You're
> supposed to be getting the best learning results from your students."
> And of course, in that, they would be right.
> So if you want to show real films, first you have to scrape up some
> money for rentals, which, if even possible, means you probably have to
> sacrifice something else really important. Then you have to find a
> projector - which you'll probably have to buy on eBay with your own
> money, not that that's a big deal. Then you have to figure out to work
> the projector, since no one else on campus knows hows and as a YFP you
> saw lots of real films in grad school but you never actually touched a
> projector. So then you thread up that print from FMC on your second-
> hand Eiki that isn't really lubed and adjusted quite right, and you
> discover the print is pretty much of a mess, with half-a-dozen tape
> splices that are pulling apart (and were made sloppily to begin with).
> So the film breaks and/or jumps out of the path, and starts piling up
> on the not very clean floor. And you have no idea where you're going
> to get the funds to replace the print without your department chair or
> the Dean catching on.
> Now I'm not a YFP. I'm an old geezer, I come out of a production
> background from back in the day when we shot film and projected it
> ourselves all the time. I even had a campus job as a classroom
> projectionist when I was a freshman. And I'm a gearhead, tinkerer, DIY
> kinda guy besides. I can disassemble a Filmo and put it back together.
> I've made hundreds and hundreds of tape splices in my day, and I know
> how to fix a bad one. And I've still gone through pretty much the
> exact scenario described in the last paragraph. And it totally freaked
> me out. And since i know more about what I'm doing with film equipment
> than even most old geezer faculty, I have no clue how any YFP could be
> expected to handle something like that.
> So basically, unless you were hired explicitly with teaching and
> writing about experimental film as a central aspect of your brief,
> making the expenditures involved in showing real films, in terms of
> its consumption of your operating budget, in terms of its demands on
> your time, in terms of its threat to your fragile sanity -- amounts
> not just to impracticality but a dereliction of your duties to your
> students and the intellectual substance of your field.
> Now, this is a relatively recent development, a corollary of the death
> of 16mm as an 'AV' staple used to deliver educational materials. Not
> that long ago, things were very different. We are talking about a
> major technological shift here, against which the mere wills of
> faculty one way or the other are essentially trivial. The coops will
> change or die, because their operating model is dependent on the
> existence of a customer base of a certain size being capable of
> projecting 16mm as a matter of routine. That particular critical mass
> is gone, and what is left will only continue to shrink. They don't
> make projectors anymore. It's hard to get parts. People aren't
> training to become projector techs, because it's not exactly a good
> career move.
> Am I happy about any of this? Not at all. You can take my Pageant when
> you pry it out of my cold dead fingers (not that I have anything to
> show on it...but...) In case anyone is wondering what I did in my
> experimental film class... I did not do the prudent thing, which would
> have been to schedule all of our screenings out of titles available on
> video, and add something like an excursion to Anthology to provide at
> least one 'genuine film' experience for the students. Instead, I
> decided to show what I really wanted to show, and I used video if a
> good copy was available (the Fantoma Anger discs, for example), and
> rented prints if not ('Chronic' for example, and of course 'Christmas
> on Earth'). This amounted to maybe 60-40. I had the luxury of having a
> pretty healthy budget for the production side of the program that
> allowed me to scrimp enough to fund the print rentals, and also the
> 'luxury' of not having to worry about the Dean, since he already had
> no use for me or the Film Program anyway. So I busted my ass to keep
> the projectors running, upgrade the projection, do all the paperwork
> for the rentals (no secretarial support, nada), arrange to bring in
> some guest makers... I put twice he effort into that class than any of
> my other courses, not that I cut corners there. I just worked harder,
> at the expense of increasing stress on my out-of-school existence.
> Which contributed to the burnout/breakdown that ultimately led to the
> loss of my position and what is most likely the end of my career. So
> if you wanna get into pious blame-the-professors crap with me, you had
> better have an asbestos cover for your tuchus.
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