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Re: <nettime> Cinematic video
Alan Sondheim on Sat, 17 Jun 2006 21:12:06 +0200 (CEST)


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Re: <nettime> Cinematic video



On Fri, 16 Jun 2006, twsherma {AT} mailbox.syr.edu wrote:
>
> Is the new video 'film,' video or film?
>
> Video art has been pushed around and roughed up by a technological
> revolution throughout its forty-year history. Analog video, rolling
> through several formats of technological evolution, has been
> completely replaced by digital video.
>
A better way to look at this is that video art _is_ technological revolu- 
tion, from Portapak and earlier through Newtek Toaster to the latest 
Beowulf cluster. It's always on the edge.
[..]

> Filmmakers, displaced and stunned by these developments, have latched
> onto video. Wanting video to be film they slow video's frame rate
> and insist upon progressive scan. Video's aspect ratio has been
> stretched from 4:3 to 16:9. Filmmakers try to slow down and overtake
> an electronic medium that runs at the speed of light. Major equipment
> manufacturers exploit this migration, for the time being... The
> central digital art form is simulation. The goal is the creation of
> a complete fake: the fusion of the copy and the original. As with
> 'reality television,' the digital 'film' demonstrates the difficulties
> of controlling hyper-reality.
>
I have absolutely no idea who you're talking about and I know a lot of 
filmmakers, videomakers etc. form all over the country. I don't even 
understand why you say the 'central digital art form is simulation' - 
where is this coming from? And what is 'hyper-reality' about all of this? 
Are you talking about studio photorealist work or small independents? As 
it is this is problematc. for that matter, the aspect ratio hasn't been 
'stretched' - it's changed with HDTV, but there has been analog letter- 
boxing for years.

> Filmmakers collectively attempt to transform the balanced, brutally
> explicit retinal-acoustic reality of video into an electronic, digital
> photo-optical simulation of 'film.' They try to blanket the video
> medium's essential cybernetic characteristics (behaviour shaped
> and governed by instant replay) with scripts and actors and the
> conventions of cinematic history. It has not yet dawned on filmmakers
> that the explicit nature of the video medium undermines the illusions
> of fictional narrative.

There is NO explicit natu of video and certainly video does not 
'undermine' fictional narrative; just watch an evening of television. As 
far as instant replay goes, that's also been in existence for years with 
video assists.
>
> The semantic trail of this awkward takeover is amusing. Filmmakers
> now say they work in 'digital cinema.' 'Video cinema' or 'video
> film' are too straightforward and don't sound right (video sounds
> better as a noun than it does as a verb). Filmmakers, confined
> to computers and non-linear editing, are attracted to the term
> 'movies' (as in 'QuickTime movie files') -- but the idea of digital
> 'movies' is ultimately too small and fails to encompass the grand
> 20th century scale of cinematic history. The word cinema must remain
> in a description of filmmaking in video. The millennial practice of
> making 'films' in the medium of video is exactly what it is: cinematic
> video. It is filmmakers making cinema using the medium of video. It is
> cinematic video.

Which filmmakers say this? People I know say that they work in video? And 
for that matter filmmakers aren't 'confined' to anything - there is still 
film and all sorts of admixtures.

This definition seems very unnecessary and confining; what bothers me is 
the constant need to define and redefine whole fields of practices ranging 
from analog film through video installation through video art online 
through interactive work or Internet II work, etc. etc. As far as the 
history of 'cinema' goes or 'cinema' itself? Which history? Which cinema? 
I certainly don't seem my work in this tradition, if such it is, at all - 
there are cinemas of the 20th century surely but I'd be hard picked to 
define any of them. As far as 'cinema' goes, I think the word itself 
carries too much baggage.

- Alan


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