The workshop will explore diverse concepts of the cinematic in contemporary art, responding primarily to developments since the 1990s. The participants will consider how the cinematic is manifest within contemporary art practice, through the analysis of artistic production and exhibition practices and theorisations of spectatorship. The questions to be addressed include: Is there a difference between cinema and the ‘cinematic’ in contemporary art? Is the ‘cinematic’ in contemporary art articulated in practices of production, or more specifically associated with modes of exhibition? What is the relationship between the ‘cinematic turn’ in art and current developments in cinema? Are artists typically more concerned with histories and future(s) of film production and exhibition than with the present moment? Is it possible to identify self-consciously cinematic approaches to artistic practice that extend beyond the moving image, to include performances and live works?
Access and Ownership in the Digital World: The effects of new modes of distribution on film consumption, archiving and ownership.
With new methods of accessing digital content that encourage users to stream content via subscription or store their purchases in ‘the cloud’, audiences increasingly pay for temporary access to digital content rather than purchase a physical copy in the form of a CD or DVD. This has obvious implications for how media content is owned, consumed and kept.
This workshop aims to bring participants together to discuss the future of access to digital content and how it relates to film consumption, archiving and ownership. Participants will be invited to share experiences from their own media consumption and encouraged to exchange and compare national approaches to film distribution, consumption and archiving. In doing so they will discuss how questions of access relate to questions of ownership in the digital world.
The spaces and processes between production and consumption have come under the spotlight in recent years. As YouTube vociferates the rallying cry, ‘broadcast yourself,’ there is a perception that we are experiencing an era of disintermediation. Increasingly artists and audiences can connect directly through platforms such as YouTube, Flickr and Twitter and creative projects can be crowdfunded through initiatives like Kickstarter. Furthermore, developments in the way content can be delivered to consumers offers unparalleled access to content on-demand, 24 hours a day. Taking the UK as one example, there has been a growth of new film distribution channels in the form of subscription streaming services such as Netflix and Love Film or cloud access services like Ultraviolet that allow the viewer access to a vast library of films and TV shows.
Alongside the growth of new official distribution platforms there is also the ever-present suggestion that the creative industries are under attack from revenue-stealing pirates. Sites such as Rapidshare and Megaupload, like Napster and the Pirate Bay before them, are said to threaten the very existence of the film and recording industries. Under such circumstances the role of traditional intermediaries seems at risk from all sides.
Looking specifically at film distribution, this paper makes that case that in this arena at least, alternative distribution channels (legal and otherwise) do not necessarily represent increased access to marginalized content. Through a consideration of both formal and informal film distribution channels, this paper asks who holds the power within film distribution in the current supposed era of disintermediation? In other words, who really influences which films reach audiences and in what way they are consumed? Furthermore what role do pirates have to play within that process and to what extent do they destabilize the existing power dynamics of the cultural industries? In doing so I will argue that the process of disintermediation is not as pervasive as we might imagine. The media landscape has undoubtedly changed and there are many new players in the game, but it does not necessarily follow that power has shifted away from the traditional cultural intermediaries and into the hands of consumers.
Uruguayan cinema has been traditionally overlooked not only abroad but also within the nation. This is the result, among others, of poor preservation policies, which have not considered films as part of the country’s cultural heritage. This paper aims to present the case of two recently discovered film and video collections. The analyses of both cases aim to explore the importance of cultural policies that privilege well preserved archives to raise the public’s awareness of the nation’s film heritage. On the one hand, the ICUR (University Film Institute) Archive has been found in 2007, after some University administrators denounced the smell of ‘vinegar’ coming from the basement of the building. This institute was founded in 1950 and its aim was to produce scientific and social documentaries, until it was closed by the dictatorial regime (1973-1985) in 1973. Since these films were discovered, the University General Archive has been trying to clean and preserve them, even though most of them cannot be accessed yet. On the other hand, in 2008, a group of researchers was informed about CEMA’s collection. CEMA was a group of young filmmakers working on video during the immediate aftermath of the dictatorship. In December 1994, the group was dissolved and, at that time, most of their films were kept at the Municipal TV Channel. Without any preservation policies, these films, mostly in U-matic, Betacam and some VHS formats, started to deteriorate. Since 2008, many of these copies started to be rescued from mould and humidity. The dictatorial context of the 1970s, which censored the documentaries made by the Institute, and society’s refusal to deal with the dictatorial recent past in the 1990s, threw these productions into oblivion. Revisiting these productions is crucial to establish a dialogue not only between Uruguayan past and current political scenarios but also between past and current cultural policies.
Both the Israeli film industry and the academic research of it, have always suffered from a shortage of financial resources, caused both by the general material scarcity in a land founded on ideology rather than economical advantage, and by lack of institutional acknowledgment, from which the industry suffered for the first 60 years of its existence. The problem confronted by the research community as a result of the scarcity of released film material has two aspects: shortage of availability, and the low quality of what is available. The latter is so prevalent that until the present millennium it could be described as a permanent feature affecting Israeli cinemaand itsreception.
While the introduction of VHS technology in the 1980s was crucial in opening up new channels of availability, the effects of digital technology were unprecedented.
The last decade has seen the release on DVD not only of new productions, but also of many older ones, that were unattainable before, which is mainly due to the private initiative of the largest distributers in Israel who owned the rights for many of these films.
New digital cable TV channels, dedicated to Israeli culture, regularly screen older films, some of which would not have been released otherwise.
While new productions gain inquality, copies of the old ones seldom undergo restoration, and their ragged physical condition is carried over to the new medium.
Another digital outlet for Israeli films is the internet sites, which furnish frequently illegal downloads of feature films. Such Hebrew sites offer a separate category of Israeli films, and are fiercely pursued by Israeli copyright owners, i.e. the largest distributer in Israel mentioned above, and some TV production companies. The new copyrights law from 2007, which was partly inspired by rapid technological development, had little bearings on the legal conditions of ownership in field of cinematography. The battle against the burgeoning practice of illegal distribution of films, is therefore fought in the judicial realm, through court orders.
The illegal download sites provide insights into the unexplored aspects of the Israeli film-viewing tradition. These include not only the choice of older films put online, which is not subordinated to economic considerations, and likewise deviates from the academic canon, but also the choice of image quality. Despite the potential of visual improvement, the ragged condition of older Israeli films is preserved and translated into digital form.
The EYE Filminstitut decided to restore their print of Ballet Mécanique, cubist painter Fernand Léger’s masterpiece of the European Twenties Avant-garde, with Kiki de Montparnasse, Dudley Murphy and Katherine Murphy. Perhaps the most known example of 1920s Avant-garde cinema, it is a film sought out by many archives in all the world.
Many different contributors have been involved in this important work, and we still cannot affirm with certainty the actual authorship of this film, which changed audience’s perception of editing towards new rhythmic and dynamic dimension. Abstract shapes, faces without dramatic intent, kitchen tools and other objects live a new automatic, mechanic life, in a kind of ‘ode to machinery’.
The Dutch nitrate copy of Ballet Mécanique is unique: it is a colored copy with both some tinted and many hand-painted sections, and additionally contains images of paintings made by Fernand Léger. For the Filmmuseum, Haghefilm acquired a 2k digital scan in order to produce both a black and white preservation element for the entire film, as well as a digital intermediate for the color parts (thus requiring positive editing for the projection prints). But another experimental project has been proposed, i.e. to produce another, unique black and white positive copy with hand-painted or tinted sections matching, as closely as possible, the nitrate original.
Unfortunately, this operation has not been completed for reasons related to a complex situation of copyright, which have not allowed access and dissemination of the restored copy of the film. While the copy has been preserved, it has been interrupted the funding for a film that would not be allowed to screen, as a failed investment. Of course this negative event is a chance to think about the mission of archival films restoration, in order to modify the conditions of legitimacy of future intervention, according to the current laws.
ANTHEIL Georges (1981), Bad Boy of Music, Da Capo Press, New York. BERTETTO Paolo (1983), Il cinema d’avanguardia 1910-1930, Marsilio, Venezia.DE FRANCIA Peter (1984), Fernand Léger, Yale University Press, New Haven – London. DE HAAS Patrick (1985), Cinéma intergral: de la peinture au cinéma dans les annees vingt, Transeditions, Paris. DELSON Susan (2006), Dudley Murphy, Hollywood Wild Card, Minnesota University Press, Minneapolis, London. ELSAESSER Thomas (1987), Dada/Cinema? in KUENZLI Rudolf E., Dada and surrealist film, Locker & Owens, New York. FREEMAN Judi (1987), Bridging Pursim and Surrealism: the Origins and Production of Fernand Léger’s Ballet Mécanique, in KUENZLI Rudolf E., Dada and surrealist film, Locker & Owens, New York. GRAF Alexander and SCHEUNEMANN Dietrich (2007), Avant-garde film, Rodopi, Amsterdam – New York. GREEN Christopher (1976), Léger and the Avant-Garde, Yale University Press, New Haven – London. HEDIGER Vinzenz (2005), The Original Is Always Lost. Film History, Copyright Industries and the Problem of Reconstruction, in HAGENER Malte, DE VALCK Marijke (eds), Cinephilia. Movies, Love and Memory, University of Amsterdam Press, Amsterdam. KOSINSKY Dorothy M. and ASENDORF Christoph ed. (1994), Fernand Léger, 1911-1924: the rhythm of modern life, Prestel, Munich. LAWDER Standish (1975), Cubist Cinema, New York University Press, New York. LÉGER Fernand (1931), A propos du cinéma, in «Cahiers d’Art». LÉGER Fernand (1965), Functions of Painting, Viking, New York. LISTA Giovanni (1995), Léger scénographe et cinéaste, in Fernand Léger et le spectacle (catalogue, Biot, Musée National F. Léger), Editions de la Réunion des Musées nationaux, Paris. MAN RAY (1963), Self Potrait, Little, Brown, Boston-Toronto. MANDUCA Giorgio (1996), La lavandaia sulle scale. Una nota filologica al Ballet Mécanique, in BERTETTO Paolo and TOFFETTI Sergio, Cinema d’avanguardia in Europa, Il Castoro, Milano. MITRY Jean (1974), Le cinéma expérimental: histoire et perspectives, Seghers, Paris. MORITZ William (1995), Americans in Paris: Man Ray and Dudley Murphy, in HORAK Jan-Christopher, Lovers of Cinema: The First American Film Avant-Garde 1919–1945, Wisconsin Studies in Film, University of Wisconsin Press, Madison, pp. 118-136. NOGUEZ Dominique (1979), Eloge du Cinema Experimental: Definitions, Jalons, Perspectives, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. READ Paul (2009),‘Unnatural Colours’: An Introduction to Colouring Techniques in Silent Era Movies, Film History: An International Journal, Volume 21, Number 1. TURVEY Malcom (2002), The Avant-Garde and the “New Spirit”: The Case of “Ballet Mécanique”, October, Vol. 102 (Autumn), pp. 35-58
The lecture will consider how film theory can inform analysis of aspects of contemporary art practice that extend beyond the moving image. In particular, it draws upon Thomas Elsaesser’s account of the ‘mind-game’ film, developed in relation to complex puzzle-like structures in narrative cinema, to theorise a number of recent works by artists such as Joachim Koester, Mike Nelson and Clemens von Wedemeyer. While both Koester and von Wedemeyer have worked extensively with the moving image, Nelson is best known for spatially complex installations with labyrinthine structures. Informed by Elsaesser’s analysis of the mind-game film, and his related concept of ‘productive pathology’, the lecture will examine commonalities between the forms of cognitive labour demanded by cinema and by contemporary art.
Le film ready-made. Pratique d’appropriation et valeur d’exposition à partir de Perfect Film (1986) de Ken Jacobs
La notion du ready-made a été étudiée d’une façon approfondie dans le domaine des arts plastiques et de l’esthétique en tant que notion centrale de l’art contemporain, mais son application dans les études cinématographiques reste quasiment inexplorée. Pourtant, certains questions intrinsèquement liées au ready-made, tels l’idée de « original » (et, évidemment, du « faux »), ou encore de « l’auteur » aussi que celle de l’appropriation ne sont pas du tout étrangères à l’histoire du cinéma. C’est peut être à cause de ce proximité que certains cinéastes (notamment du milieu du cinéma expérimental, au croisement donc entre le cinéma et les arts plastiques) ont choisi de intégrer cette pratique à leur propre travail.
Un cas exemplaire est le film de Ken Jacobs intitulé Perfect Film (1986), un travail pionnier dans ce domaine. D’un point de vue historiographique, il ne serait peut être qu’un cas particulier de la très vaste production de films de found footage et, au sens littéral, il l’est, vu qu’il s’agit de rushes trouvés. Toutefois, Jacobs dans cette oeuvre ne fait recours à aucun type de manipulation, contrairement à la majorité des oeuvres issues de ce domaine. Il se limite à exposer ces images trouvées, dans un geste que, aussi grâce à sa simplicité extrême, dégage des questions théorique d’importance cruciale.
Cette intervention s’intéressera donc à retracer quelques conséquences de la pratique du ready-made appliquée au domaine de cinéma dont notamment le changement de statut de l’auteur dans le geste d’appropriation, le déplacement des images d’un contexte à l’autre et la perte de leur fonction originelle (les rushes étant destinés à la télévision mais diffusés en salle par l’artiste) et surtout ce qu’on nommera la valeur d’exposition, c’est-à-dire une ouverture à la lecture de l’image qui se relie d’ailleurs à nouveau à la pratique artistique de Ken Jacobs.
In april 2012 EYE Film Institute Netherlands – the former Nederlands Filmmuseum – opened the doors to its new building in Amsterdam. In the building’s permanent exhibition space one finds the Panorama: an installation in which EYE presents a vision of film history with clips from its digital archive. The Panorama consists of a fully darkened room, lighted only by projectors controlled from seven consoles each representing an individual theme such as for example Exploration, Magic or Color. From these different themes the museum visitor chooses film fragments to be projected on the wall in front of it, in juxtaposition with clips on the screens next to it. As the visitor walks through the categories of the Panorama, a meeting occurs between films from diverse historical periods that challenges the periodizations and genres of traditional film history. Peter Greenaway’s The Cook, the Thief, His Wife and Her Lover (1989) meets the Dutch absolute film of Frans Dupont, and unidentified fragments of travelogues is screened back to back with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001). In the light of new media theorist Lev Manovich, this feature of the Panorama echoes his claim that the hyperlinked cultural interface of the digital database ”…can be correlated with contemporary culture’s suspicion of all hierarchies, and preference for the aesthetics of collage in which radically different sources are brought together within a singular cultural object”. On the other hand, the a-hierarchical approach of the Panorama’s design evokes the strong institutional tradition of programming and recycling film fragments in derivative works at the Nederlands Filmmuseum in the past two decades. The Panorama console Magic for example hints at Gustav Deutsch’ found footage work Film Ist. 7-12. (2002) and its conception of film, by claiming that ”Film IS Magic” and by giving the visitor the opportunity to project fragments of Segundo de Chomón films that appear in the Magic chapter of Deutsch’ work.
Departing from this observation my paper discusses what model of film history is presented in EYE’s Panorama. How does its vision of film history relate to EYE’s established presentation and access policies and how are they rearticulated and developed with the Panorama’s digital dispositif? My paper pays particular attention to the Nederlands Filmmuseum’s Bits & Pieces initiative in the 1990s and the ”aesthetic of film history” formulated by former director Eric de Kuyper in that period. In my discussion I look closer at specific clips presented in the Panorama in relation to previous presentations in the context of the Nederlands Filmmuseum. Within the theme of ”The Film Heritage: Film Between Accessibiliy and Governance” the paper wishes to contribute to a discussion of the (dis)continuities in archival policies that occur with the introduction of digital access tools.
Documentary Fictions: Challenges to Concepts of Originality and Authenticity in the work of Pierre Huyghe
This paper addresses the work of Pierre Huyghe as emblematic of the tendency within contemporary art practice to question concepts of authorship, originality and authenticity. Taking the film Streamside Day (2003) as a case study, the paper shows how Huyghe creates a work that positions the audience amidst competing visual codes and claims of authenticity. The film was the outcome of a project where Huyghe worked with a community from Streamside Knolls, a private housing development in upstate New York. It is twenty six minutes in duration and structured in two sections, with the first section, titled “A Score,” depicting a lush wilderness around the development. In contrast to the first half, which is shot on 35 mm film, the second half of the film is shot on video and titled “A Celebration.” It purports to be a documentation of a festive event called “Streamside Day.” However the status of this event is not straightforward. The event, the parade and other elements were suggested and instigated by the artist with the cooperation of the residents. The resulting “footage” has documentary-like qualities but is also stilted and strangely subdued.
Huyghe plays with the received conventions of documentary by simultaneously setting them up and undermining them. The idea of a documentary is inverted if the object of the documentary is already a fiction or a form of stage-managed reality. Huyghe states: “what interested me was to investigate how a fiction could in fact produce a certain kind of reality.” Huyghe uses video in support of the effect of authenticity and the sensation of documentary, contrasting the grainier footage of the community event with the richer film quality of the first part of the film. The work relies on both the viewer’s willingness to believe in the objectivity of the camera and their ability to sift between representational modes. This awkward film of an artificial event underscores the dominant drive in Huyghe’s work to negotiate between versions of the real. Streamside Day is a record of an event that has been created in order to be documented and replayed. Huyghe states: “The replay really is the most important thing. It is not the event anymore that is important, it is the replay.”
In conclusion, the paper seeks to show how Huyghe sets up a complex set of relationships between the production of an artwork involving a real community, an event, the representation of these elements and the target art audience. Like other works by Huyghe, Streamside Day raises questions about authenticity and the ownership of images forcing the audience to consider these implications.