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Film and Cinema

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Video Stores and the Invention of Movies on Video

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.

Blow Job

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.

The Reflexive Medium

Video is an electronic medium, dependent on the transfer of electronic signals. Video signals are in constant movement, circulating between camera and monitor. This process of simultaneous production and reproduction makes video the most reflexive of media, distinct from both photography and film (in which the image or a sequence of images is central). Because it is processual and not bound to recording and the appearance of a "frame," video shares properties with the computer.

Reflections on His Creativity

Known for their repeating motifs and signature tropes, the films of Ingmar Bergman also contain extensive variation and development. In these reflections on Bergman’s artistry and thought, Irving Singer discerns distinctive themes in Bergman’s filmmaking, from first intimations in the early work to consummate resolutions in the later movies. Singer demonstrates that while Bergman's output is not philosophy on celluloid, it attains an expressive and purely aesthetic truthfulness that can be considered philosophical in a broader sense.

The Way Things Go

The Way Things Go (Der Lauf der Dinge) is a thirty-minute film by Swiss artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss featuring a series of chain reactions involving ordinary objects. It is also one of the truly amazing works of art produced in the late twentieth century. Admired, even loved, by members of the public as much as it is praised by the more specialist audience of artists, critics, and curators, The Way Things Go was perhaps the most popular work shown at Documenta 8, Kassel, in 1987.

For Alan Stone, a one-time Freudian analyst and former president of the American Psychiatric Society, movies are the great modern, democratic medium for exploring our individual and collective lives. They provide occasions for reflecting on what he calls “the moral adventure of life”: the choices people make--beyond the limits of their character and circumstances--in response to life’s challenges. The quality of these choices is, for him, the measure of a life well lived. In this collection of his film essays, Stone reads films as life texts.

Edited by David Campany

The cinematic has been a springboard for the work of many influential artists, including Victor Burgin, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Stan Douglas, Nan Goldin, Douglas Gordon, Cindy Sherman, and Jeff Wall, among others. Much recent cinema, meanwhile, is rich with references to contemporary photography. Video art has taken a photographic turn into pensive slowness; photography now has at its disposal the budgets and scale of cinema.

The Narrative Power of Visual Effects in Film

Computer-generated effects are often blamed for bad Hollywood movies. Yet when a critic complains that "technology swamps storytelling" (in a review of Van Helsing, calling it "an example of everything that is wrong with Hollywood computer-generated effects movies"), it says more about the weakness of the story than the strength of the technology.

From Alberti to Microsoft

As we spend more and more of our time staring at the screens of movies, televisions, computers, and handheld devices—"windows" full of moving images, texts, and icons—how the world is framed has become as important as what is in the frame. In The Virtual Window, Anne Friedberg examines the window as metaphor, as architectural component, and as an opening to the dematerialized reality we see on the screen.

(nostalgia)

In his 1971 short film, (nostalgia) , American artist and writer Hollis Frampton oveturned the conventional narrative roles of words and images. In his account of an artists's transformation from photographer to filmmaker, Frampton burns photographs he had taken and selected from his past along with one found photograph. A calm voice tells a story about an image, but the story is about the following image, not the one shown.

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