I think David's point about identifying value is very important.
Something I have always wondered is whether this level of debate concerning
format and viewing exisits in other genres or other art forms. Do art
history teachers and students limit their study only to paintings and
sculptures to which they have direct access? I don't mean to sound snarky
with this question- but rather to look at other systems that seem to be
I want to see 16mm film exhibition survive, and I fully respect artists who
choose not to digitize their work. But looking at other art forms, I
wonder if it is time for experimental cinema to follow a similar path and
look to museums to archive and exhibit original 16mm film? We don't bat an
eye at the thought of seeing paintings reproduced in books, on posters, or
on slides- in fact we can learn a great deal from them. We understand that
we are looking at a reproduction and not the original, and if we are drawn
to the piece we look forward to someday seeing the original work- perhaps
even go out of our way to see that original work. (There is a Rothko
retrospective that just opened in Portland with lines to get in stretching
around the block. I doubt there are many pieces in the show that couldn't
be found in books or even on the internet- yet people clearly care about
seeing the original work. Seeing reproductions of the work only has made
Couldn't the same art museum model work for most 16mm experimental film?
Focus the energy on keeping top-notch projection in a few select venues and
maintain pristine prints that don't rent out for $65? Use the advantages
of digital to build and educate audiences, and turn 16mm exhibition into a
destination or very special event?
I am not saying this is ideal, or something I am advocating for. And
obviously it would take some funds and at least a few eager institutions.
But is it possible that the accessibility of 16mm prints of the great Avant
Garde filmmakers is actually a hindrance? If you could rent an original
Mark Rothko for $75 and show it to art history students every semester
would that leave any excitement for the big traveling retrospective at the
confused as always...
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