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Film and Cinema

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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. This addition to Whitechapel's Documents of Contemporary Art series surveys the rich history of creative interaction between the moving and the still photograph, tracing their ever-changing relationship since early modernism.

Still photography—cinema's ghostly parent—was eclipsed by the medium of film, but also set free. The rise of cinema obliged photography to make a virtue of its own stillness. Film, on the other hand, envied the simplicity, the lightness, and the precision of photography. Russian Constructivist filmmakers considered avant-garde cinema as a sequence of graphic "shots"; their Bauhaus, Constructivist and Futurist photographer contemporaries assembled photographs into a form of cinema on the page. In response to the rise of popular cinema, Henri Cartier-Bresson exalted the "decisive moment" of the still photograph. In the 1950s, reportage photography began to explore the possibility of snatching filmic fragments. Since the 1960s, conceptual and postconceptual artists have explored the narrative enigmas of the found film still. The Cinematic assembles key writings by artists and theorists from the 1920s on—including László Moholy-Nagy, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Victor Burgin, Jeff Wall, and Catherine David—documenting the photography-film dialogue that has enriched both media.

Contributors:
Roland Barthes, Jean Baudrillard, Raymond Bellour, Anton Giulio Bragaglia, Victor Burgin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Catherine David, Thierry de Duve, Gilles Deleuze, Philip-Lorca diCorcia, Philippe Dubois, Régis Durand, Sergei Eisenstein, Mike Figgis, Hollis Frampton, Susanne Gaensheimer, Nan Goldin, Chris Marker, Christian Metz, Laura Mulvey, László Moholy-Nagy, Beaumont Newhall, Uriel Orlow, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Constance Penley, Richard Prince, Steve Reich, Carlo Rim, Raul Ruiz, Susan Sontag, Blake Stimson, Michael Tarantino, Agnès Varda, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, and Peter Wollen.

Copublished with Whitechapel Art Gallery, London

(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. Confounding comprehension still further, the narration begins and ends during the photograph's combustion; smoke and ashes get in our eyes while we are trying to make sense of the image and the narration—trying to remember the story that fits the image, trying to remember the image that fits the story...

Frampton's (nostalgia) is a formal masterpiece, long overlooked and understudied. It emerges from a body of film work that is rarely screened, the prints damaged and difficult to locate. Frampton's work is valued in artist filmmaking and film theory circles, but it has never taken its rightful place at the heart of modern art theory. This study will introduce a new generation to a critical moment in art history—when (nostalgia) confirmed both the essence and fragility of cinema itself.

Afterall Books are distributed by The MIT Press.

Alphabet City Magazine 10
Edited by John Knechtel

What is the condition of the suspect in a post-9/11 world? Do perpetual detention, ubiquitous surveillance cameras, and the legal apparatus of the USA Patriot Act target suspects accurately or generate suspicion indiscriminately? Suspect, the latest in a series from Alphabet City and the first in its new format of topical book-length magazines, gathers hard evidence about the fate of the suspect in a culture of suspicion with contributions from writers, artists, and filmmakers.

Their testimony takes a multiplicity of forms and formats. Among them: A 24-page color comic by graphic novelist Joey Dubuc asks the reader to make narrative choices in a web of surveillance, suspicion, and fear. Harper's contributor Mark Kingwell observes that while suspicion tries to isolate the suspect, in fact we are all the suspect. Slavoj Zizek reflects on the new cultural status of the suspect after Abu Ghraib. Philosopher George Bragues argues that even as the United Nations looks for ways to discipline "suspect nations," it simply cannot succeed under current international conditions. Alphabet City editor John Knechtel interviews Naomi Klein, author of No Logo, about the legal and political strategies of the Bush administration. Sylwia Chrostowska describes what happens, in the the 1970 Italian film Investigation of a Citizen Above Suspicion, when a corrupt official investigates himself. Screenwriter Timothy Stock and illustrator Warren Heise create a documentary in comic form about Critical Ensemble artist Steve Kurtz, charged under the bioterrorism provisions of the Patriot Act. Novelist Camilla Gibb portrays, in "Things Collapse," the terrifying effects of a "separating sickness" of unknown origin, which perhaps exists only in the fears of the population it strikes. And novelist Diana Fitzgerald Bryden follows her character Rafa Ahmed, a PFLP hijacker from the 1970s, as, many years later, she is to appear at a peace conference. Filmmaker Patricia Rozema, director of Mansfield Park and other films, contributes a 16-page film-in-a-book, "Suspect." Suspect is a non-partisan handbook on the mechanisms and machinations of suspicion for the twenty-first century national security state.

It has been said that all cinema is a special effect. In this highly original examination of time in film Sean Cubitt tries to get at the root of the uncanny effect produced by images and sounds that don't quite align with reality. What is it that cinema does? Cubitt proposes a history of images in motion from a digital perspective, for a digital audience.

From the viewpoint of art history, an image is discrete, still. How can a moving image—constructed from countless constituent images—even be considered an image? And where in time is an image in motion located? Cubitt traces the complementary histories of two forms of the image/motion relationship—the stillness of the image combined with the motion of the body (exemplified by what Cubitt calls the "protocinema of railway travel") and the movement of the image combined with the stillness of the body (exemplified by melodrama and the magic lantern). He argues that the magic of cinema arises from the intertwining relations between different kinds of movement, different kinds of time, and different kinds of space.

He begins with a discussion of "pioneer cinema," focusing on the contributions of French cinematic pioneers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. He then examines the sound cinema of the 1930s, examining film effects in works by Eisenstein, Jean Renoir, and Hollywood's RKO studio. Finally he considers what he calls "post cinema," examining the postwar development of the "spatialization" of time through slow motion, freeze-frame, and steadi-cam techniques. Students of film will find Cubitt's analyses of noncanonical films like Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid as enlightening as his fresh takes on such classics as Renoir's Rules of the Game.

Hitchcock, Welles, Renoir

Although Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, and Jean Renoir do not pontificate about "eternal verities or analytical niceties," as Irving Singer remarks in Three Philosophical Filmmakers, each expresses, through his work, his particular vision of reality. In this study of these great directors, Singer examines the ways in which meaning and technique interact within their different visions.

Singer's account reveals Hitchcock, Welles, and Renoir to be not only consummate artists and inspired craftsmen but also sophisticated theorists of film and its place in human experience. They left behind numerous essays, articles, and interviews in which they discuss the nature of their own work as well as more extensive issues. Singer draws on their writings, as well as their movies, to show the pervasive importance of what they did as dedicated filmmakers.

Hitchcock used his mastery of contrived devices not as mere formalism divorced from content, Singer notes, but in order to evoke emotional responses that are meaningful in themselves and that matter greatly to millions of people. Singer's discussion of Hitchcock's work analyzes, among other things, his ideas about suspense, romance, and the comic. Singer also makes a detailed comparison of the original Psycho with Gus Van Sant's recent remake. Considering the work of Welles, Singer shows how and why the theme of vanished origins—"the myth of the past"—recurs in many of his films, starting with the Rosebud motif in Citizen Kane and continuing much later in his little-known masterpiece The Immortal Story. Expanding upon Renoir's comment that his own films were "always the same film," Singer studies his entire work as a coherent though evolving search for contact and "conversation" with the audience. While recognizing the primacy of technique, Renoir used cinematic artifice in the service of that humanistic aspiration.

Irving Singer Library

Contemporary Art in the Animal Kingdom
Edited by Nato Thompson

In an age when scientists say they can no longer specify the exact difference between human and animal, living and dead, many contemporary artists have chosen to use animals in their work—as the ultimate "other," as metaphor, as reflection. The attempt to discover what is animal, not surprisingly, leads to a greater understanding of what it means to be human. In Becoming Animal, 12 internationally known artists investigate the shifting boundaries between animal and human. Their explorations may be a barometer of things to come.

The works included in Becoming Animal—which accompanies an exhibit at MASS MoCA—range from the aviary and cabinet of curiosities of Mark Dion to the gun-toting bird collages of Michael Oatman. Nicolas Lampert's machine-animal collages and Jane Alexander's corpse-like humanoids suggest a new landscape of alienation. Rachel Berwick's investigation of the last Galapagos tortoise from the island of Pinto and Brian Conley's humanized mating call of the Tungara frog question the divide between human and animal communication. Patricia Piccinini imagines a bodyguard for a bird on the edge of extinction and Ann-Sofi Siden recreates the bedroom—and paranoia—of psychologist Alice Fabian. Natalie Jeremijenko presents another installment in her ongoing Ooz, reverse-engineering the zoo, and Kathy High's installation of "trans-animals" remembers lab rats who have given their lives for science. Sam Easterson's videos allow us to see from the viewpoint of an aardvark, a tarantula, a tumbleweed; Motohiko Odani's films show a surrealistic genetically modified bestiary. Becoming Animal documents these works with eye-popping full-color images, taking us on a visual journey through an unknown world.

On the Foreignness of Film
Edited by Atom Egoyan and Ian Balfour

"Every film is a foreign film," Atom Egoyan and Ian Balfour tell us in their introduction to Subtitles. How, then, to translate the experience of film—which, as Egoyan says, makes us "feel outside and inside at the same time"? Taking subtitles as their point of departure, the thirty-two contributors to this unique collection consider translation, foreignness, and otherness in film culture. Their discussions range from the mechanics and aesthetics of subtitles themselves to the xenophobic reaction to translation to subtitles as a metaphor for the distance and intimacy of film.

The essays, interviews, and visuals include a collaboration by Russell Banks and Atom Egoyan, which uses quotations from Banks's novel The Sweet Hereafter as subtitles for publicity stills from Egoyan's film of the book; three early film reviews by Jorge Luis Borges; an interview with filmmaker Claire Denis about a scene in her film Friday Night that should not have been subtitled; and Eric Cazdyn's reading of the running subtitles on CNN's post-9/11 newscasts as a representation of new global realities. Several writers deal with translating cultural experience for an international audience, including Frederic Jameson on Balkan cinema, John Mowitt on the history of the "foreign film" category in the Academy Awards, and Ruby Rich on the marketing of foreign films and their foreign languages—"Somehow, I'd like to think it's harder to kill people when you hear their voices," she writes. And Slavoj Zizek considers the "foreign gaze" (seen in films by Hitchcock, Lynch, and others), the misperception that sees too much.

Designed by Egoyan and award-winning graphic designer Gilbert Li, the book includes many color images and ten visual projects by artists and filmmakers. The pages are horizontal, suggesting a movie screen; they use the cinematic horizontal aspect ratio of 1.66:1. Subtitles gives us not only a new way to think about film but also a singular design object.

Subtitles is being copublished by The MIT Press and Alphabet City Media (John Knechtel, Director). Subtitles has been funded in part by grants from The Canada Council for the Arts, The Henry N.R. Jackman Foundation, and the Toronto Arts Council, and the Ontario Arts Council.

In this book Lev Manovich offers the first systematic and rigorous theory of new media. He places new media within the histories of visual and media cultures of the last few centuries. He discusses new media's reliance on conventions of old media, such as the rectangular frame and mobile camera, and shows how new media works create the illusion of reality, address the viewer, and represent space. He also analyzes categories and forms unique to new media, such as interface and database.

Manovich uses concepts from film theory, art history, literary theory, and computer science and also develops new theoretical constructs, such as cultural interface, spatial montage, and cinegratography. The theory and history of cinema play a particularly important role in the book. Among other topics, Manovich discusses parallels between the histories of cinema and of new media, digital cinema, screen and montage in cinema and in new media, and historical ties between avant-garde film and new media.

This book examines the innovative work of thirty-four-year-old Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. Gordon is perhaps best known for installations that feature classic films by directors such as Alfred Hitchcock, Otto Preminger, and Martin Scorsese. In each of these works the original film has been manipulated—slowed down, mirrored by the use of split screen or dual projection, or had its soundtrack altered—to emphasize the artist's own signature themes, which include trust, guilt, madness, confession, deception, and doubling.

Produced in conjunction with a survey of Gordon's work at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the book features essays by MOCA assistant curator Michael Darling, exhibition curator Russell Ferguson, Scottish novelist Francis McKee, and Guggenheim Museum curator Nancy Spector. Darling’s essay places Gordon's work in the context of the Romantic tradition. Ferguson's essay looks at Gordon's work to date. It focuses on the issue of trust as it weaves its way from early works such as the performance/installation Trust Me, through his tattoo and instruction works, to more recent works such as Feature Film, which incorporates the Hitchcock film Vertigo. McKee compiles Gordon’s literary sources into a kind of hybridized text. Spector's essay focuses on the autobiographical nature of Gordon's oeuvre, showing how he shifts between revealing details of his personal life—for example, the ongoing List of Names lists all the people he has met in a given period of time—-and obscuring other aspects of his identity. Designed by the studio of Bruce Mau in close collaboration with Gordon himself, this book promises to be the definitive reference on one of today's most exciting young artists.

A History of Voice, Sound, and Aurality in the Arts

This interdisciplinary history and theory of sound in the arts reads the twentieth century by listening to it—to the emphatic and exceptional sounds of modernism and those on the cusp of postmodernism, recorded sound, noise, silence, the fluid sounds of immersion and dripping, and the meat voices of viruses, screams, and bestial cries. Focusing on Europe in the first half of the century and the United States in the postwar years, Douglas Kahn explores aural activities in literature, music, visual arts, theater, and film. Placing aurality at the center of the history of the arts, he revisits key artistic questions, listening to the sounds that drown out the politics and poetics that generated them. Artists discussed include Antonin Artaud, George Brecht, William Burroughs, John Cage, Sergei Eisenstein, Fluxus, Allan Kaprow, Michael McClure, Yoko Ono, Jackson Pollock, Luigi Russolo, and Dziga Vertov.

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