Re: [Frameworks] Experimental Editing - writings and films

From: David Tetzlaff <>
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2011 07:07:23 -0400

A citation eludes me (and my library is all in boxes), but one way I would locate experimental film vs. conventional film in class discussions was by referring to the concept of the 'content curve.' This is the idea, used in conceptualizing 'mainstream' editing that any image - depending on its visual complexity and context within the larger structure - takes a certain period of time for the viewer to read. This is apart from narrative content and concerns of rhythm or pacing: just as visual information there is a certain 'natural' time window for an image to be on screen. Cut away too quickly and the viewer says 'hey, I didn't get a good look at that.' Hold it too long, and the viewer says, 'OK, be there, dne that. Now what?'. It's pretty common for mainstream forms to mess with the content curve for individual shots: the most common example probably being beer commercials and music videos involving 'hot babes'seen only briefly as a form of tease. (There was one by Van Hale
 n/Hagar, 'Finish What You Started' as i recall).

Anyway, it's very common for works in the experimental mold to just ignore the content curve completely, for a variety of different reasons and via a variety of different methods. 'Recreation' being sort of the extreme paradigm on the short end of the scale. One of the problems newbies have with experimental work, it seems to me, is that they stunble on the content curve hurdle: the visuals move 'too fast' or 'too slow' and that's all the newbie registers. Everything kinds of looks alike - Breer, Brakhage, Kubelka. But, of course, they're not.

It takes some getting-used-to to view work without engaging this convention via reflex, to realize that there may be different things going on temporally in different kinds of fast and slow, and to absorb what they may be, and I've found that just discussing this issue, calling it to consciousness, helps that process of getting-used-to for students.

Another example on the other end of 'Recreation' I'm reminded of is '(nostalgia)'. Some newbies tend to freak out as the ashes just sit on the hotplate long after the photos are done burning. One tends to think that HF is doing this as a tease, since you're trying to remember things to match picture to story. It took me several viewings to figure out the duration principle - each shot is a full 100' load, and the photos just take different lengths of time to burn due to conditions of the paper etc., leaving different amounts of ash-on-burner time before the film runs out. I don't know (or really care) if this was HFs intent, but there's a reflection of the photographer-to-filmmaker progression in this, where each daylight spool = a single shot, like changing the plate in a view camera.

On Aug 4, 2011, at 4:47 AM, Yoel Meranda wrote:
> Breer's REcreation (as an example of how some people think that the
> unit of cinema is frames, not shots, seems to me to be an obvious
> example). You could use Breer's own writing (or Kubelka's) as reading
> material.
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Received on Thu Aug 04 2011 - 04:07:40 CDT