Re: [Frameworks] Film and video

From: Anna Biller <>
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2011 15:26:49 -0700

By the way, Fred, I was not replying to what you said about your own preferences when you work with Super 8mm film. I'm totally fine with that and it's a pleasure to hear! I was objecting to the way you seemed to single out the word "better" in Florian's post as if he meant it as an expression of overall value, when it's common parlance to use the word "better" when talking about film or video projection as a description of the fineness of grain and resolution. And you somehow managed to include my use of the word "better" in that post as if it had been meant also as an expression of absolute value, when I had already explained that I was only talking about my personal preferences. It's really much too frustrating to continue to write anything here when all of my posts only end up getting put through a scrambling machine.

I really would like to get along, but that takes two. I'm only interested in discussing film here.

On Aug 27, 2011, at 8:56 AM, Fred Camper wrote:

> Anna had written that she was "leaving" our thread, and so I respected
> that, leaving her with the last word even though there was much I
> could have answered, until now, when she has decided to post a
> statement about my "fantasy life":
> "So if that's what you disagree with you are not disagreeing with me,
> you are disagreeing with Fred's fantasy life in which I say much
> stupider things than I actually say."
> Earlier, Florian had written:
> "Super 8 film, when scanned well, looks better on a big screen when
> it's projected by a good digital projector than by a Super 8 projector
> (because of the 250 watt/300 lumen limit for Super 8 projectors)."
> I then argued that not everyone wants that kind of "better":
> "I greatly prefer dim super-8 film projection for my super-8 film to
> super-8 on bright video, because I wasn't trying get the bright look
> of 16mm or 35mm, but to use super-8 for its own, small, fragile,
> sketch-like qualities."
> To which Anna replied:
> "Anyone who has tried to project Super 8mm on a big screen will
> usually feel that the results are disappointing. The colors wash out
> and the images can really get very indistinct. One can always play the
> devil's advocate and say 'well, the ugly is really beautiful,' or 'I
> like blurry washed out images, and anyone who disagrees has not
> considered all the options,' but I think just in terms of courtesy
> people should be able to speak in plain language and be understood."
> I might remark at this point that the ENTIRE ETHOS of avant-garde film
> has been that there is no one correct way, no one "better," and that
> in particular "better" is certainly not the "better" of sharper and
> brighter images, and that the "courtesy" Anna mentions seems to me to
> show no knowledge of this and no courtesy at all to my self-declared
> preference. (Or, is she saying she is judging others' films by how
> much they are like her own? Is "better" for her own work "better" for
> every other film too?)
> I recommend to all who don't already know it a careful reading of Stan
> Brakhage's wonderful and practical guide to how to make films, "A
> Moving Picture Giving and Taking Book," available in "Brakhage
> Scrapbook," as one example.
> Then, in the post in which she announced she was leaving the
> discussion, she ended with:
> "Anyone who has followed this discussion can plainly see that I have
> only ever been serious and respectful in my posts, and that I have not
> made blanket statements of the kind you keep insisting I am making.
> I'm leaving the discussion now. "
> So "anyone" can read the above and decide if replying to my own stated
> preference for super-8 projection of my own work by suggesting I was
> saying "the ugly is really beautiful" is "serious" and "respectful."
> The problem from the outset has been, as I see it, is the unexplained
> uses of the word "better." Anna says it was to "define" her
> "subjective tastes," but she didn't explain anything about it, unless
> I missed something. My original query did not envision responses such
> as "I like film better because it looks better" or because "faces look
> better," but something more specific.
> Here are some invented examples of the kind of replies I was hoping
> for, staying with Anna's interest in the human figure:
> I prefer the human figure on film because the physicality of film
> gives me a stronger sense of a physical human body than any of the
> types of video I've seen, including HD, and my work depends on
> starting with the illusion of the physical presences of my characters
> in the screening room.
> Or:
> I prefer the flatness of projected HD for my work because bodies in it
> preserve all the details I want -- my work depends on seeing every
> blemish -- while not pretending that the bodies are physically
> present; in my work, it's the idea of a body rather than the presence
> that's important.
> Or:
> I prefer low definition video shown on the cathode ray tube because in
> this format bodies are flickering, evanescent presences that are in no
> way physical, but rather, ghosts in the phosphor, and all my figures
> are meant to be ghosts, which is anyway true to what we know from
> quantum mechanics about the impossible to pin down, immaterial nature
> of all matter.
> Statements such as these reason from the nature of media to one's preferences.
> And just to be sure no one thinks I have a preference between these
> three, which I do not, I'll mention love the video "films" of Michael
> Mann, and among my ten favorite films are the celluloid,
> character-based "Genroku Chushingura" (Mizoguchi), "El Dorado"
> (Hawks), "Seven Women" (Ford), and "The Tarnished Angels" (Sirk).
> Fred Camper
> Chicago
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Received on Sat Aug 27 2011 - 15:27:04 CDT