an inter-negative is still a "reproduction" subject to the qualities
of the film stock and the available technology to make it from the
original. The original is ultimately fugitive and undergoes changes
as does the internegative and certainly the prints. The museum would
need to own and care for the fragile artifact the same way they
struggle to preserve some master 2-D work done on bad paper with
inappropriate enamels like they must do with some important early
Abstract Expressionist work.
The film "commodity" would have to be dealt with in a way that even a
great piece of photography does not require. Museums do not need to
own original negatives of photographic prints do they?
I am thinking that the very nature of film and the experience of it
is somehow inherently outside of this commodity model and better kept
within the "democratic" model, since it is all "reproduction" on one
level or another.
Photographic reproduction of paintings do not contain the ultimate
subtle nuance of the pigments on the canvas (which themselves are
subject to age over long periods of time). My experience during the
era when there were plenty of film labs, was that even then every
print was slightly different.
Most people know and learn first about art history from reproductions
in books, and hopefully, are encouraged to see and experience as much
work in the live form as possible, but let us not underestimate the
reality and importance of these various forms of reproduction, which
may ultimately have to include digital technology for the
dissemination of the basic "information". Then hopefully one can
ideally see a film or two at a museum somewhere. Meanwhile an awful
lot can be experienced and learned from these other forms of
reproduction. Currently there is hardly enough readily available
digitally formatted material to get much of an overview of the whole
scope of experimental/avant garde film. Its all economic I guess.
First from the struggling filmmakers who are trying to get some money
for all their efforts and sacrifices to the high cost of making good
quality DVDs with a questionable market to justify the expense.
Which does make me wonder what the "numbers" are for Criterion's
involvement in the Brakhage anothologies I and II. eg. how much did
it cost to produce, how much was made, etc. did the numbers really
work out, apparently so???? What is the potential then for the rest
of the work in the overall genre? Would such democratic availability
then totally destroy the museum commodity model.... well maybe no,
books on Van Gogh just make the lines for the museum show just that
much longer around the block.......
sorry I am just thinking out loud, meandering, procrastinating while
I should be doing something else. normally I just delete such
thoughts without posting.... too many rigid pedantic sharks out
there, but what the hell....
On Mar 6, 2012, at 11:34 AM, David Tetzlaff wrote:
>> would the galleries have called if she didn't have famous friends?
> I can't speak to specific case, but 'famous friends' definitely
> matter... if they're "artists." As Shelly says, gallery
> representation is the key, and galleries have to have something to
> sell. The exchange value of an art commodity is partly determined
> by its connection to a 'scene' or 'movement' ... A number of years
> ago, I attended a conference devoted to the work of a well known
> (but sadly deceased) experimental filmmaker. One of the speakers
> was a very highly placed curator. This person's talk was entirely
> about the circle of artists who had lived near and interacted with
> the filmmaker, all of them identified with media other than film. I
> was bored stiff by the talk, which struck me as mere trivia. But,
> in hindsight, I can see that from a curatorial mindset, the speaker
> was making an argument for the importance of the filmmaker, based
> on that maker's position in that larger circle of art-world
> developments -- as it happens, the maker did have famous friends
> (or friends who became famous). While utterly pointless from my
> perspective, the talk may have been quite daring for the curator,
> raising a 'mere filmmaker' to the level of the maker's cohorts in
> In fact, the curator in question could certainly be considered a
> historical force in "the current interest of the museum world in
> 'all things cinematic'."
> Marilyn wrote:
>> given that this interest currently exists, the question becomes
>> what to do with it, and how to ensure that works in film -- from
>> all artists working with it -- are equally valued and given equal
>> respect regarding their presentation.
> While I think Marilyn and I are basically "on the same page", I
> would submit that if one truly does 'get' the economics of the art
> world, then one has the answer to those questions. The museums have
> to have more than "interest." For them to respect the work, they
> have to value it, and for them the two senses of 'value' are
> inextricable. In the art-world definition of art-as-object, owning
> an object means owning its aesthetic uniqueness, and vice versa. So
> even the purchase of an internegative keeps the status of the work
> inherently low. There are other internegs other prints out their.
> They don't have anything "special."
> The only way the art-world is going to give film art the respect it
> is due, including maintaining the technology to present proper
> screenings from celluloid prints as that technology (sadly, but so
> it goes) falls to utter obsolescence and abandonment elsewhere, is
> if filmmakers model the public presentation and distribution of
> their work after painting and sculpture. Not limited editions.
> EXCLUSIVE editions. So, to follow my earlier example, if MOMA owned
> Dog Star Man, they would never have more than one print of it at
> one time. They would retire the prints quickly as they became worn,
> destroying them. Thus, if the Tate wanted to have a Brakhage show,
> they would have to borrow MOMAs pristine lovely print. This would
> be no small favor, so maybe then the Tate would 'owe' MOMA a loan
> of, say, a Gerhard Richter canvas or something for a future show in
> One thing that Balsom's discussion would seem to suggest (not that
> she would necessarily state it explicitly) is that a museum model
> of film, and the co-op model of film, are antithetical and cannot
>> Despite the increasing interpenetration of the worlds of art and
>> experimental film, these lasting ramifications of [the] differing
>> models of distribution and acquisition continue to mark out a
>> divide between the two realms and their treatment in the
>> contemporary museum.
> Just now in re-reading Marilyn's OP reply to Balsom, I noticed that
> Marilyn cites Balsom referring to the adoption of a more democratic
> distribution system (e.g. the co-ops) by experimental filmmakers as
> a "self-insulating" impulse. OMG! How cluelessly philistine and
> self-absorbed can a person be? The co-op movement was a heroic
> attempt to move art outside the walls of the museum, which will
> always have it's values dictated by a social elite, into a wider
> But that was then. One could say that democratic superstructures
> are dependent on conditions in the economic base. Community-driven-
> distribution of 16mm prints was a democratic move in, say, 1960 due
> to the relative cost of film stock and the ready availability of
> film technology, based on their uses in 'educational and corporate
> media." Those days are gone, that economy is gone, and with it the
> democratizing force of print rental.
> So essentially, what I'm saying is that if you want the museums and
> galleries to give film art the respect it is due as ART, then it
> has to be commodified in art-world terms, and the co-op system is a
> major impediment to that, so, as such, film will never achieve its
> 'rightful place' in the art-world until the co-ops go away. (In
> case anyone wonders how i feel about that, I'll report that it
> makes me want to puke, but I gotta call 'em as I seez 'em.)
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