Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968, is perhaps the most scientifically accurate film ever produced. The film presented such a plausible, realistic vision of space flight that many moon hoax proponents believe that Kubrick staged the 1969 moon landing using the same studios and techniques. Kubrick’s scientific verisimilitude in 2001 came courtesy of his science consultants—including two former NASA scientists–and the more than sixty-five companies, research organizations, and government agencies that offered technical advice.
In the 1920s, the European avant-garde embraced the cinema, experimenting with the medium in radical ways. Painters including Hans Richter and Fernand Leger as well as filmmakers belonging to such avant-garde movements as Dada and surrealism made some of the most enduring and fascinating films in the history of cinema.
With Relationscapes, Erin Manning offers a new philosophy of movement challenging the idea that movement is simple displacement in space, knowable only in terms of the actual. Exploring the relation between sensation and thought through the prisms of dance, cinema, art, and new media, Manning argues for the intensity of movement. From this idea of intensity—the incipiency at the heart of movement—Manning develops the concept of preacceleration, which makes palpable how movement creates relational intervals out of which displacements take form.
As Hollis Frampton's photographs and celebrated experimental films were testing the boundaries of the camera arts in the 1960s and 1970s, his provocative and highly literate writings were attempting to establish an intellectually resonant form of discourse for these critically underexplored fields. It was a time when artists working in diverse disciplines were beginning to pick up cameras and produce films and videotapes, well before these practices were understood or embraced by institutions of contemporary art.
Twentieth-century art history is not just a history of individuals, but of collectives, groups. Universities and colleges have had much to do with this through their support of artistic communities and creative interactions. In the 1920s and 1930s, the Bauhaus was known for this. In the 1940s, Black Mountain College became a leader in community-based visual art practice and education. And in the 1970s and 1980s, the Department of Media Study at the State University of New York at Buffalo was the place to be.
Film is the supreme medium for mythmaking. The gods and heroes of mythology are both larger than life and deeply human; they teach us about the world, and they tell us a good story. Similarly, our experience of film is both distant and intimate. Cinematic techniques—panning, tracking, zooming, and the other tools in the filmmaker's toolbox—create a world that is unlike reality and yet realistic at the same time. We are passive spectators, but we also have a personal relationship with the images we are seeing.
As celebrated as it is reviled, internationally acclaimed filmmaker Catherine Breillat's novel Pornocracy viscerally enacts the dramatic confluence of mystery, desire, and shame that lies at the heart of sexuality. In Pornocracy, a beautiful woman wanders through a gay disco and engages a man, confident that he will follow her. Perversely and dispassionately, she offers her body as the ground of a ritualistic game in which, over the course of three evenings, the two will explore the numbing mechanics of sexual brutality.
The first video cassette recorders were promoted in the 1970s as an extension of broadcast television technology—a time-shifting device, a way to tape TV shows. Early advertising for Sony's Betamax told potential purchasers "You don't have to miss Kojak because you're watching Columbo." But within a few years, the VCR had been transformed from a machine that recorded television into an extension of the movie theater into the home.
In Andy Warhol's silent black-and-white movie, Blow Job (1964), a youth is filmed as he is apparently being given the sex act named in the title. The 35-minute film is accentuated by the paucity of expression on the actor's face: we see only his head and shoulders, rigidly framed so that all offscreen space has to be imagined, or avoided. Sometimes the young actor looks bored, sometimes as if he is thinking, sometimes as if he is aware of the camera, sometimes as if he is not. Like the protagonists of other Warhol films, he is apparently left to his own devices.