My current MRES is practice based and I am looking at film artefacts in digital networks and/or archives.
Behind this though is a different kind of engagement with the archive because It is really films archival proclivities that interest me.
There are film archives because there were films that became records. A celluloid record if you like. We live in desperate times. As a film maker and artist who handles and works with film I am compelled to consider the need to continue contributing to this record.
Is film the memory of technology?
This will mainly involve a look at and engagement with youtube and ebay. Youtube as a kind of archive that replaces the need for projection but nevertheless attempts to display film based moving image material. It also allows textual material to accumulate around displays and it allows a certain kind of tracking of material in terms of viewings, downloads, etc.
Ebay I am treating as an archive of the material world and I am using it in several ways. 1 as a source for film artefacts to help inform and compile an archive of my own that represents the general creative aims of this specific collection but also 2, as a way to ‘stage’ original film works that I create myself. In these instances I am producing works with very specific parameters and guidelines. These artefacts are made available on ebay to purchase and ebay allows the collection of some material data that forms part of the archiving process. They will be available under an experimental licence and original camera negatives and possibly 1 positive will always remain in their originating archive.
The early practical stages of this project are unfolding now with the initiation of a youtube account you can visit. I have uploaded a first test clip entitled CAT001.
The films for ebay are being outlined and the ‘furniture’ that supports and structures the archive entity ‘NACHLEBEN EXPERIMENTAL FILM LAB AND ARCHIVE’ is being designed.
In some ways the entity (from archival science studies) is not merely myself and my personal interests. A focus on the 16mm format through the agency of the collective archive of ebay renders a kind of entity that is beyond my individuality and rather becomes the apparatus itself, all the 16mm forms on ebay (and anywhere) being a materiological expression of that system of moving image production and its context and expressions in history.
In many ways this is an object orientated study as I am foregrounding the artefact, its modes of production, its properties and its proclivities to numerous contingent factors especially arrangement in series (the archive) and its appearance through projection (cinema). But this foregrounding comes with my anthropocentric ideas about use and expression and this lessons my interest in an ontology that might seek to define film ‘as inaccessible and infinitely withdrawn from all relations’ (g.harman).
Its precisely its relations to us through the agency of its relations within itself that constitutes one part of Cinema that interests me, and Cinema here would need redefining in terms of epochal reach, digital amnesia and the socio-political tyrannical capacity of technologies.
|Machines cluster around the basic
system of Cinema, as Cinema, in Cinema, etc
Also I am using NACHLEBEN in the Warburgian sense of ‘afterlife’ and ‘survival’.
Its my conviction that a classical analogue cinema (with sustainable digital/electronic augmentations) could and should be established/preserved as a working system. The reasons are many and involve several core principles.
In the Warburgian (or formerly in Anton Springer) sense of the survival and afterlife of classical forms in creativity we confront the idea that any age produces its classicism. Revival, repetition, imitation and replication all function as engagements with the past. Revival can only take place using the past, so classicism is always potentially being established for a future society and culture to rediscover. Its this current condition of Cinema, or rather its endangered classical preservation that concerns me. Without the system of this classic machinic-set as a working instrument, ‘Cinema’ will gradually be erased by the commercially driven media/moving image scaffolding that constantly empties out the human dimension of the machinic in order to undertake (more efficiently anyhow) the programme of total capitalisation in accordance with global neo-lib-con ambitions. The partial completion of this project globally has already led to the depletion and dispersion of Cinema forms as classical. But the reason for this (the move away from analogue tools) is not a function of the wider media / technological landscape (of progress) that we are constantly being told it is. The reason is the break that cannot fully take place in the development of new (digital) tools (in Cinema) due to exactly the ‘nachleben’ of classical cinema that keeps appearing. Take the argument over Netflix for instance. In a twitter moment I said:
Netflix is not the future of cinema because Cinema is public, social and shared
and Netflix is private, domestic and temporary.
The classical need for a public building, the Cinema perseveres, against all the odds and all the demands for us to atomise into personal screen spaces.
If we are going to have a Cinema building space then we may as well have a proper film projector, a 35mm one for Cinema’s classical expressions (and other formats) and the ‘cultish’ although steadily normalising presence of the 35mm Print demonstrates that the public share a fondness for this form and technique (nachleben of machines?). If we are going to have a public cinema building and call ourselves Cinema we may as well use film in film cameras, hence Nolan, Dean, Tarantino, Thomas Anderson, Scorsese, etc, etc. Even the current trend (market driven?) of the 4K restoration usurps the allure of film in order to justify its place, its somehow a simulacra of the print as the hidden secret is that it could be printed out to celluloid for deep storage on a shelf, in a tin, in a cold room and maybe it already has. But also because its a revival, imitation, replica of the model state of the print, the original and produces this classical form albeit in a new manner.
Festishisation gets in the way of the new. The quicker the new can get adopted the more the supply can be mobilised. Read Dr.Seuss’s The Lorax and you’ll get the picture better than I can explain it here.
Another dimension of my use of ‘The Archive’ is informed by cultural memory studies, namely Aleida Assman’s mapping out of how cultural memory gets remembered and forgotten (Canon and Archive, Companion to cultural memory studies 2010 ) but I attempt to place the ‘archive’, suggested by her as ‘passive remembering’ also as ‘neglect and disregard’ which for her are forms of ‘passive forgetting’. As some film materials I am planning on incorporating into the archive come from eBay they could be defined in these senses. They are dispersed, material relics (her words) but the important thing here is that I am collecting them as a way of saving and restoring them. Not restoring in the sense of re-filmic operations but rather restoring their place as memories, in the Archive which nevertheless records their origination from neglect and disregard.
Here is a basic account of one aspect of my creative practice in diagrammatic form.
Ideas arise within a mental platform I am labeling Granular Idea Moment. This really an attempt at producing a material account of the formation of ideas (for films).
If suitable, ideas are executed in their production. The production outcome is a film artefact.
The artefact undergoes an arrangement, OCN and 1 POS print are added to the Archive.
The 2nd POS print (1 of 2) goes for sale on eBay, one type of ‘cloud’ archive, dispersed, expansive, public, networked (although propietry).
It may or may not be displayed on youtube, another type of ‘cloud’ archive (as above).
A full account of the Granular Idea Moment will take place away from this blog as it quickly descends into an avalanche of theories. It is made possible by a rigid and rigorous ‘project format’ outline that defines the productions or films that I plan to make. It does this by a series of properties and markers that consist of things like:
- ‘pro-filmic feasibility (ie, is the idea possible)
- vagueness and semiotic/semantic looseness
- aesthetical quality
- in series or catalog form?
- does it make use of the optical printer, etc
- does it repeat or reference part of something else?
- is it a direct formalisation of a written academic idea, moment, phrase, comment?
- does a ‘title’ suggest a whole series or work?
- does it conform to the reversal of Jean Brunhes description of the Albert Kahn archiving process?
When an idea arises that seems to fit several of these checks, then I make a note of it. Usually, or at least so far into the process, ideas arise in a complete form, almost like dictates to me from someone else. This process is of great interest to me. Is all creativity collective (Deleuze & Guatarri) as ideas arise out of the sub-conscious which itself is always collective? If so then even within a reading that says that any idea is a programmatic response to the material format it must inhabit (to some degree) it still contains ‘imagery’ that cannot be predicted so easily and must come from a collective ‘pool’ of desires, memories, visions, dreams, experiences, etc.