I agree with you that some films definitely need to be seen in the traditional cinematic context of dark theatre/auditorium and large projection. (Though I don't think that 'big' is ALWAYS a necessary cinematic experience. Some of my most profound aesthetic experiences of films have taken place in a living room on a relatively small screen.) I am also not endorsing gallery-type film installations for all films, only for some films. And I am trying to advocate for it being done well (which, as Myron's description of the Bruce Conner show demonstrates, is possible). I agree that some film installations (including Brakhage) have been awful. For me, this has been a learning process as to what, exactly, I've had to spell out and ask for. One can't assume anything, and it's a constant struggle. The increased availability of film works on DVD that you support is also something I'm fine with, just as long as we do have SOMEWHERE it will still be possible for the films to be seen in their original form. That is what I think (and what Erika Balsom was also suggesting, I believe) may become the proper role of the museums, then -- with some films shown in galleries (and they can sometimes be isolated in sections of galleries, in quiet and darkened spaces) and some shown in museum auditoria. The difficulty is in getting the museums and galleries to approach this in a serious and respectful way, not just presenting us with more of, as you describe it, "the available AV distraction of everyday life."


On 5-Mar-12, at 3:54 PM, David Tetzlaff wrote:

IMHO, the real battle is not 'film vs. digital', but 'cinema vs. iPod'. My personal experience is that the experimental films I value most highly do not suffer much from slight image degradations, but do suffer greatly when withdrawn from the context of cinema: i.e. display on a large screen in a darkened room. You have to concentrate to 'get' a lot of this stuff. It NEEDS a certain scale, needs to trap you in your seat without the available AV distraction of everyday life, to force you to deal with it's otherness.

As such, I find Marilyn's endorsement of gallery-type film installations disturbing. I've seen a number of them (including Brakhage) and I thought they all were awful, basically reducing the work to 'TV': small screen, too much ambient light, people wandering in and out distractedly... (The one exception being an Anthony McCall piece where the constant influx of people in and out of the room, figuring out the sculptural nature of the thing, then playing with the beam seemed just right.) If anybody has the responsibility to present the material in a way that maximizes it's integrity, it's museums. But they don't value the work in that sense, because they can't value it in the other sense, so maybe we'd get better screenings under a regime of "purchasing and ownership." (???)

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