A Research Site Devoted to the Past and Future of Found Footage Film and Video

"The Literary and Artistic heritage of humanity should be used for partisan propaganda purposes." - Gil J. Wolman
“A lot of people who call themselves artists now are cultural critics who are using instruments other than just written language or spoken language to communicate their critical perspective.”
-Leslie Thornton

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Patterns of Collection

I have previously discussed some tendencies of experimental filmmakers to rigorously construct patterns of images usually related to a prominent trope in cinema. For a good example, see Volker Schreiner's amazing film "Counter" below.

Watch Counter By Volker Schreiner in Entertainment  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

This tendency has become a significant part of digital remixes in the past year demonstrating a rigorous form of collection, repetitive editing and exhaustive archeology of popular media. A recent example:

Many appropriation artists are first and foremost, collectors. The materials collected, their visibility in popular culture and the modes of transformation implemented by the artist all help to characterize their approach to appropriation. Joseph Cornell was well known for his elaborate collections of found objects—ordered in numbered and catalogued boxes and reconstructed into archival boxes themselves turned into art objects. Critic Jodi Hauptman characterizes Joseph Cornell’s artistic career as a form of “image search” or new form of portraiture utilizing “exploration, research [and] collection” (Hauptman 1). Cornell’s interest in cinema revolved around the actress-muses that found their way into his box assemblages, collages and subsequent found footage films.

While much could be made of Cornell’s obsessive fascination with Hollywood actresses Hedy Lamarr, Rose Hobart, Lauren Bacall and Greta Garbo to name a very few, more interesting is his method of collection. Cornell produced dossier folders of images and trinkets, some literal and others highly personal and oblique, which reminded Cornell of these individuals. He engaged in research in order to link actresses to historical figures by weaving invented stories. Cornell was also deeply interested in presentation, creating archives and “romantic museums” to commemorate his obsessions. Hauptman suggests that, “In his dedication to preservation and his labors as an archivist, he is less a surrealist and more a historian” (Hauptman 37).
Much of Cornell’s work can be understood as a sophisticated method of interrogating popular images and fostering of an individual mysticism and alchemy of everyday objects. In this way, Hauptman describes Walter Benjamin as being in harmony with Cornell’s ideas on collection. She writes:

Cornell’s activities call to mind Walter Benjamin, a figure who similarly turned his attention to history and to the survivors of the past. Benjamin’s interests—book collecting, childhood, the city, miniatures, the nineteenth century, photography, flanerie, the trivial and shabby—parallel Cornell’s own. In the artist’s archival accumulation of texts, quotations, and images, Cornell resembles Benjamin at work on his Arcades Project, a “materialist philosophy of history” that excavates Paris (Hauptman 37).

The connection between these two thinkers also leads back to the surrealist movement, as indicated by Hal Foster in Compulsive Beauty. Described as an uncanny form of found object, the ruin, referred to as the “romantic ruin,” strikes an “auratic register and represents a “displaced” object that has been “outmoded” by capitalist production. Assigning value to this outmoded object is a form of détournement to Foster (Compulsive Beauty 127) who sees the collection of such objects existing outside of capitalist production as a subversion of that process. The romantic ruin is emphasized by the Surrealists because it is seen to “redeem the outmoded and to mock the mechanical-commodified” (Foster, Compulsive Beauty 127). The “romantic ruin” described by the Surrealists and later by Benjamin, is echoed in the language of Cornell when describing the “flotsam and jetsam...” of found objects (Hauptman 21). Like Benjamin’s penchant for a critical montage of quotes in the Arcades Project, Cornell “began to see his collecting…as a viable, if not critical, form of art-making” (Hauptman 22). Part of Cornell’s impetus towards manufacturing boxes from ephemera, was to turn the found detritus he had collected into something that could, in his own words “transcend the dustheap & ruthlessness of time” (Hauptman 3).

Cornell’s fascinations, however, do not account for what motivated his obsession with cinema. As an aesthetic form, Hauptman suggests that Cornell’s “flanerie” extended to the cinema and that the fleeting images and objects he collected on the streets were replicated by the camera. Cornell’s fascination with maps and the flaneur also link him to the Situationists. Cornell’s “Souvenirs for Singleton” box, made for actress Jennifer Jones, was a map made from detritus which is reminiscent of a chronologically simultaneous image, “Discours sur les passions de l’amour,” by Guy Debord, which offers a psychogeographic guide through Paris with map fragments united by red arrows. One of the connections between the flaneur and the person undertaking a dérive , is the goal of both “to find.” The recovery of objects is frequently associated with the pedestrian strolling through the city and coming upon some discarded artifact of overlooked importance. Collage itself is described as a kind of artistic corollary of the views of the city walker. Hauptman writes “In its accumulative structure, collage visualizes the city’s temporal layering.” She invokes Rosalind Krauss’ contention that collage is a form of image reading that focuses on duration—“the kind of extended temporality that is involved in experiences like memory, reflection, narration, proposition.” (Hauptman 153) William Burroughs suggests that collages, or as he called them, “cut-ups” resembled the human mind’s perceptual approach to the world. He wrote, “the cut-up is much closer to the actual facts of perception. As soon as you look out the window, look around the room, walk down the street, your consciousness is being cut by random factors. Life is a cut-up…rather than a straight linear narrative” (Burroughs, quoted in the film William S. Burroughs: Commissioner of Sewers). In this way, we might see collage as an attempt to reproduce the reality of the city dweller, walking down a busy urban street.

The search for moving images by remixers often takes place on YouTube, which allows Internet spectators to search through videos by clicking other videos associated through key-words, users and actual video responses. This allows for YouTube users to scroll through videos without creating new search terms and, in effect, drift through the digital archive the site provides. This pattern of spectatorship, which promotes an aimless drift, a discovery of images and reuse of those materials re-imagines the urban derive as a stroll through the spaces of a digital archive.

The appropriation artist and avant-garde musician Christian Marclay was deeply influenced by artist Bruce Conner and employed found images in his visual artworks for years before moving into the cinematic milieu. However, unlike Conner, Marclay was interested in using recognizable materials rather than ephemeral industrial or educational films. Critic Jennifer Gonzales suggests, “For Marclay, it is crucial that the films he uses are recognizable, that they spark a memory in the viewers who see them. The individual film clips are not merely archival, they parallel our memories of them” (Gonzales 63). The importance of recognizable materials to these artists cannot be overstated. Part of the pleasure of the spectator when viewing these materials is experiencing the nostalgia and memories they elicit in the spectator.

In terms of appropriation, Marclay has said that “To be totally original and to start from scratch always seemed futile. I was more interested in taking something and making it mine through manipulation” (Seliger 136). All of these strategies come to paint a picture of the artist as collector and archivist. Hal Foster suggested, “the classic site of the surrealist dérive” was “the flea market…” (Foster, Compulsive Beauty 159); a site that Marclay explores in his own work. Jennifer Gonzales suggests that though “nearly all of Marclay’s works rely upon readymade images, objects or texts, they can also be called ‘archival’” (Gonzales 56). She argues that Marclay is overwhelmingly dealing with historical and cultural memory—inscribing new meanings onto the work through his transformation of the materials. Sometimes the materials are simply curated—as in his piece Arranged and Conducted (1997) in which Marclay “arranged, with frames abutting, more than a hundred prints, drawings, paintings and photographs drawn from the permanent collection of the Kunsthaus, each depicting a musical event.” (Gonzales 57) These materials have not been altered—they have been dropped into a new context, yes, but the overwhelming sense is that they have been selected and organized anew.

Once digital media became the paradigm of home spectatorship and editing, moving image appropriators could transform materials with a newfound ease and on a larger scale. Christian Marclay has produced three significant works appropriating mainstream images and sounds with the use of digital video. Marclay’s three major film works, Telephones (1995), Up and Out (1998) and Video Quartet (2002), are compiled from recognizable films edited based on an organizing principal Marclay has set out to explore. In Telephones, Marclay has constructed a “seemingly plausible linear dialogue between historically (and spatially) unrelated characters” (Higgs 88) by appropriating clips from mostly Hollywood films of actors on telephones. Up and Out uses the images of Antonioni’s film Blow Up (1966) and blends the film with the soundtrack to Brian De Palma’s homage to the film, Blow Out (1981). His most ambitious work, Video Quartet, features over 700 DVD clips from films of actors “playing instruments, singing or making noise” (Higgs 88). The film is a quadriptych, featuring four simultaneous screens that are expertly arranged to create a seemingly cohesive soundtrack. The grouping of multiple sounds has features “akin to that of a hip-hop DJ,” (Higgs 89) with the pleasant collision of sounds from disparate source materials. These works often feature the exploration of film clichés or frequently employed film motifs—the dramatic telephone conversation or the café piano player.

This kind of archeology of repetition in film scenes has permeated both contemporary avant-garde films and digital remixes on the Internet. In German artist Matthias Müller’s found footage film Home Stories (1990), women from disparate Hollywood melodramas go through the same series of actions—answering a phone, receiving dramatic information, running down a lavish flight of stairs and grabbing their coat and fleeing outside. Müller also enacted similar patterns of collecting with his epic Phoenix Tapes (1999), which examines numerous Alfred Hitchcock films.
These patterns of collection and ordering of archives is a stalwart feature of found footage today. German video artist and essay filmmaker Harun Farocki’s Workers Leaving the Factory in Eleven Decades (2006) is a twelve channel video installation building upon the first Lumière Brothers’ film “Workers Leaving the Factory” (1895). The installation goes through eleven decades of cinema and appropriates scenes of factory workers leaving work. In the digital remixing community these patterns of collection appear often though in many cases without the implicit political concerns observed by Farocki. In his writing, Farocki has justified this form of collecting in his call for “An Archive for Visual Concepts.”

Many digital remixers catalog repetition in films through humorous reconstructions of tropes into a new ensemble. In Augart Media’s remix Crash (2008), images of car crashes and car explosions are assembled into pulsating rhythmic crescendos. The remixer transforms Hollywood’s overwrought love affair with automotive destruction into densely layered percussive experiments which reveal an incredible attention to detail and a highly patient and disciplined editor. Augart assembles other experiments by exploring screams, parades and war film images. One of his most ambitious works, YouTube Symphony (2009) is strikingly similar to Christian Marclay’s Video Quartet. In this work, Augart lifts YouTube clips from amateur musicians and layers them to construct his own experimental music piece.

The remixer AMDS, by far one of the most adept editors in the remix community, documents the use of black sunglasses as a device for imparting mystique onto characters in the remix Black Glasses (2007). The video utilizes hundreds of clips in which mostly male action heroes put-on or take-off sunglasses with a focus on the gestural continuity between each film. Unlike political remixers, AMDS does not construct a visible critique onto the materials he appropriates, but rather celebrates these films and their characters. A figure highly regarded in the remix community because of his seamless integration of multiple film images, AMDS is unlike other remixers who construct relationships between films through montage as mash-ups do. Instead, AMDS is a collage remixer, putting multiple films into the same image. In Neo Vs. Robocop (2007) the editor masterfully places both characters (including Charles Bronson’s character from Once Upon a Time in the West (1968) and Yoda from the Star Wars (1977) films into the same frame. This kind of work, which celebrates films rather than critiques them, is discussed (albeit in an art context) by Hal Foster, who is concerned with appropriations that merely reproduce images rather than engages critically with them. In the last chapter of his book Recodings: Art, Spectacle, Cultural Politics, Foster addresses appropriations which reveal a “fetishism of the signifier” or an uncritical passion for the materials appropriated (Foster, Recodings 175). This work might be a prime example of such a fetishism of spectacle and celebration of Hollywood semiotics, which does not possess an implicit critique.
The examples above imply that the collection and ordering of archival images only occurs on a superficial level in digital remixes and do not necessarily consider the implications of the frequency of such images. But this criticism applies widely in the digital remixing community; remixers are more prone to making observations about cinema rather than examining what the prevalence of certain images might signify. This of course, does not apply to the entirety of the community.

Friday, November 6, 2009

30 years of unconventional camera movements from the Vtape collection

For those of you in Toronto, this looks pretty great. Forwarded message below:

Dear Friends of Vtape

As many of you know, for over a decade, Vtape has developed an intensive and multi-faceted intern programme for students and members of the interested public. We are very happy to support all your future endeavors and provide as many opportunities as we can within our facilities.

Dragging my video camera down the front steps: 30 years of unconventional camera movements from the Vtape collection provides a showcase for the curatorial research of one of our recent - and longest serving – technical interns, John Shipman.

Shipman says this of his intriguing selection: “Eight short videos, from 1974 to 2004, playfully use unusual camera positions and movements to create a slightly different visual gravity, showing things improbable, but viscerally informative."

The opening screening will be on Saturday November 21 from 2pm-4pm. The screenings will be at 2:00pm and 3:30pm with a curator's talk at 3:00pm.

Dragging my video camera down the front steps: 30 years of unconventional camera movements from the Vtape collection.
Saturday November 21 2009
Screening at 2& 3:30pm, Curator talk at 3:00pm
Curator will be present!

This installation will run until December 19 2009.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Hal Foster @ OCAD

ALK | OCAD | Hal Foster | NOV 3
Nomadic Resident Hal Foster presents
a free public talk at OCAD:
"How To Survive Civilization, Or What Dada Can Still Teach Us"
Tuesday, November 3, 7:30 p.m.

Ontario College of Art & Design
Auditorium, 100 McCaul Street, Toronto
416-977-6000 | www.ocad.ca

OCAD is pleased to welcome internationally acclaimed author
Hal Foster as the next resident of its Nomadic Residents
program, generously supported by the Jack Weinbaum Family
Foundation. Foster will be in residence at OCAD from
November 2 to 6, and will deliver a free public talk on Tuesday,
November 3 at 7:30 p.m.

Widely considered one of postmodernism’s founding theorists,
Foster has participated urgently in the critical and historical
investigation of avant-garde art for almost thirty years,
producing a body of writing that has informed the practices of
many contemporary artists. He draws from a wide range of
intellectual traditions to illuminate the continuities and ruptures
in the avant-garde’s critiques of art and society, exposing its
underlying historical and institutional frameworks while
assessing its continuing relevance.

Foster is the Townsend Martin 1917 Professor and Chair, Art &
Archaeology, at Princeton University, where he teaches
modernist and contemporary art and theory and the graduate
proseminar in methodology. In addition, he works with the
programs of Media and Modernity and European Cultural
Studies as well as with the School of Architecture. His
publications include The Anti-Aesthetic (1983), Pop Art (2005),
Art Since 1900 (2005), Prosthetic Gods (2004) and Design and
Crime (2002). A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, Foster
is an editor for October, and continues to write regularly for
Artforum, London Review of Books, The Nation, and The New
Left Review.

All are welcome; admission is free. Limited seating available;
guests are advised to arrive early.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pleasure Dome Call

CALL | Pleasure Dome | New Toronto Works Show 2010 | DUE: JAN 15 2010
Pleasure Dome is seeking short experimental film/video works,
expanded cinema performances and media art installations
produced within the last year by Toronto-based artists for the
annual New Toronto Works Show. Now in its sixteenth year, this
members-curated programme features the cutting edge of
experimental film and video produced in Toronto today.
Please send preview tape/DVD or film (Super 8 or 16mm) or
short outline of proposed performance or installation to:

Pleasure Dome
195 Rushton Rd.
Toronto, ON M6G 3J2

or drop off to
401 Richmond St. West, #452
* note: Vtape is closed for holidays Dec 19- Jan 4 so no drop off
between those dates

The New Toronto Works Show will be presented in March as
part of the Winter 2010 season.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Call for Submitions

Trinity Square Video: Call for SubmissionsDeadline: November 15th, 2009
Trinity Square Video (TSV) has a long history of supporting and presenting video-based works that are mediated by images of protest and activism, providing a space to explore the range of meaning that can be generated from such imagery. Our upcoming programming will build from this history. In the fall of 2009, TSV will begin an extended investigation of the current state of political engagement in contemporary art by exhibiting works that question the motivations, objectivity and ethics found in and around political representations.TSV is eager to hear from artists and curators working with video and video installation who are rigorously invested in enriching and expanding the field of socially critical visual and media-based art. We are looking for dynamic video and video-based artworks that are engaged with varying forms of contemporary politics in unexpected or unconventional ways.We are seeking innovative artist's works that use video, its forms and its processes, to examine the modes of presentation found in activist gesture, social action or cultural critique. We intend to offer a wide range of video programs and installations: from those that feature direct activist gestures to those that call into question the relationship between aesthetic value and the promotion of social causes. TSV is an artist-run resource for the production, education and dissemination of video by artists and community organizations. Since 1971, TSV has made access to the means of communication its priority, providing a diverse community of video practitioners media-arts related development through workshops, seminars and classes, as well as offering a space for the creation and exhibition of video-based images. Through its public programming, TSV has advanced the understanding and appreciation of media works produced by various community-based groups and numerous internationally recognized artists, such as Michael Balser, John Greyson, Vera Frenkel, Richard Fung, Nancy Nicol, and Lisa Steele and Kim Tomczak. In recent years, TSV has presented works by Sara Angelucci, Jeremy Blake, Deanna Bowen, Manon De Pauw, Isabelle Hayeur and Éric Raymond, Nelson Henricks, Gunilla Josephson, Jude Norris, 640 480 Collective, among many others. Submission Requirements:1. One DVD with a maximum of 10 minutes of previous and/or proposed work.* 2. Written proposal (1-page)3. Artist's Statement (1-page)4. Curriculum Vitae5. Self-addressed, stamped envelope for return of support material.***DVDs can be supplemented with up to 10 digital slides on CD-ROM (Mac compatible, .jpg images only, no folders, all images must be listed with slide number, artist's last name, title of work and year, eg. 01_smith_untitled_2009.jpg).**Support material will not be returned without a SASE.Submissions must be postmarked no later than November 15th. If this date falls on a weekend or statutory holiday, the deadline moves to the next business day.Submissions will not be accepted electronically. A floorplan of the TSV Gallery is available at www.trinitysquarevideo.com We encourage proposals from emerging to established artists and curators. We firmly support the equitable remuneration of artists. TSV pays all of it exhibiting artists in accordance with the CARFAC fees schedule. Our exhibitions are presented for 4 to 5 weeks. We will accept proposals by curators for single-night screenings. If you have any questions, please contact Jean-Paul Kelly, Programming Director at programming@trinitysquarevideo.com, or 416-593-1332. Please send submissions to: Jean-Paul KellyProgramming DirectorTrinity Square Video401 Richmond Street West, Suite 376Toronto, ON, CanadaM5V 3A8
TSV gratefully acknowledges the generous support of the Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council and Toronto Arts Council

Friday, August 28, 2009

The New Charter

I'm back, fresh after completing and defending my thesis "The Work of Art in the Age of [Ctrl]-C: Digital Remixing and Contemporary Found Footage Film Practice." This 120 page tome was primarily devoted to drawing linkages between avant-garde found footage film aesthetics, the practices of the Soviet re-editors and the explosion of digital remixes on the Internet. During that period, this blog focused primarily on the American avant-garde and digital remixing on the net. That phase is now over and I will be continuing my research in some new directions.

First, I will be focusing more on contemporary video art, photography and other new media and practices of recycling, appropriation and adaptation. It will take some time to build the site to reflect these new directions, so I appreciate any advice, links, artists to watch and relevant news to post. I am moving into my Ph.D. at York University and am (at this juncture) looking at discourses and strategies of appropriation in contemporary art.

Second, I will focus less on simply posting videos and more on theories and philosophies of appropriation. I am also interested in manifestos, interviews, artists’ statements and reviews.

Third, I'm very interested in being a part of the larger network of individuals researching copyright issues, digital remixing and found footage film practice. I'm happy to link to other sites you either run or frequent and will take emails through my contact or in comments.

Because the blog is engineered to represent a chronological and continuous record of research as opposed to websites which are ordered by topic, I will also be updating recent gallery or museum openings around the US and Canada as I become aware of them. Anyone interested in publicizing events related to appropriation in art, film and video can email me.

Long Live the Recycled Cinema!


Monday, April 20, 2009

New Work

Sorry I've been gone for so long. I'm finishing my thesis. Some great new work to send your way:

Below is Enrique Piñuel's "The Dancer's Cut":

Also, check out these gorgeous videos by Dinorah de Jesús Rodriguez here and some majorly ambitious work by DDLM, who describes his 4 hour (!) piece "SUCHILECTRO-C°°°°" as a journey through frivolomental irredemption. Wow. Just wow...

Monday, February 16, 2009

Nicolas Bourriaud

While I’ve been a fan of Lawrence Lessig’s passionate defense of remixing culture for years, I haven’t hailed him as its greatest spokesperson. As Lessig says in his book Free Culture after his failed defense of Eric Eldred which reached the Supreme Court: it will take more than legal arguments to defeat the repressive aspects of copyright law; judges must see the harm it can do to the spread of culture and ideas.

To understand just how valuable appropriation is to a progressive society, there is no better and more dynamic advocate than Nicolas Bourriaud. An art theorist who seemed to shape contemporary art discourse after his book Relational Aesthetics, Bourriaud went on to write a small and now out-of-print text which has greatly benefited my understanding of approproiation as a progressive cultural phenomena.

I am including my own thoughts and a link to the book in PDF form.

In Relational Aesthetics, Nicolas Bourriaud explored several artists’ propensity towards dealing with “the interhuman sphere: relationships between people, communities, individuals, groups, social networks, interactivity, and so on.” (7) Postproduction follows this trajectory towards the participation of individuals in shaping new meanings from extant materials—appropriation for the purposes of transformation. Though Bourriaud acknowledges that “citation, recycling and détournement were not born yesterday; what is clear is that today certain elements and principles are reemerging as themes and are suddenly at the forefront, to the point of constituting the “engine” of new artistic practices.” (9) Though this is likely the result of the ease in which materials may be copied, altered and disseminated, Bourriaud’s focus on the moving image is telling. In my own research, I observe this as the result of shifts in media popularity (Georges Braque using newspaper, Koons using mass produced objects based on the zeitgeist of the time) and the supremacy of moving images as a means to disseminate information and entertainment.

First, the term postproduction is used to describe “the scrambling of boundaries between consumption and production.” (19) Though I admire the gist of Bourriaud’s term and it correctly implies the “second look” which occurs with transformed works, it does not posses the singularity of meaning terms like “found footage” or “digital remixing” have. It would be my guess that Bourriaud wanted to include a term that carried the weight of cinematic production with it but also could easily be applied to art works. Like digital remixing and remix culture in general, Bourriaud asserts that postproduction is not simply a tendency in contemporary art, but rather a new and semi-permanent culture of making art. He argues that “artists’ intuitive relationships with art history is now going beyond what we call “the art of appropriation,” which naturally infers an ideology of ownership, and moving towards a culture of the use of forms, a culture of constant activity of signs based on a collective ideal: sharing.” (9) Bourriaud locates appropriation, not as a marginal art practice but as a central motif of contemporary art.

Though many of Bourriaud’s descriptions of appropriation are not groundbreaking in their originality, they constitute the first book entirely dedicated to the subject that I am aware of, and he masterfully explains the key concepts. I will briefly quote several of his descriptions of how appropriation functions in contemporary art:

“Notions of originality (being at the origin of) and even of creation (making something from nothing) are slowly blurred in this new cultural landscape marked by the twin figures of the DJ and the programmer, both of whom have the task of selecting cultural objects and inserting them into new contexts. (13)

“Artists today program forms more than they compose them; rather than transfigure a raw element (blank canvas, clay, etc.), they remix available forms and make use of data. (17)

“In a universe of products for sale, preexisting forms, signals already emitted, buildings already constructed, paths marked out by their predecessors, artists no longer consider the artistic field (and here one could add television, cinema, or literature) a museum containing works that must be cited or “surpassed” as the modernist ideology of originality would have it, but so many storehouses filed with tools that should be used, stockpiles of data to manipulate and present.” (17)

“The material they manipulate is no longer primary. It is no longer a manor of elaborating a form on the basis of a raw material but working with objects that are already in circulation on the cultural market, which is to say, objects already informed by other objects.” (13)

“To use an object is necessarily to interpret it. By using television, books, or records, the user of culture deploys a rhetoric of practices and “reuses” that has nothing to do with enunciation and therefore with language whose figures and codes may be cataloged.” (24)

“A DJs set is not unlike an exhibition of objects that Duchamp would have described as “assisted readymades;” more or less modified products whose sequence produces a specific duration.” (38)

Bourriaud’s continuous invocation of both DJs and programmers seems highly applicable to the dual influences of hip-hop and computer technologies which inform digital remixing. The idea of the DJ as a curator or archivist and the programmer as a person that utilizes platforms, images and processes in an ensemble to form a new product mirrors the practice of assemblagist or collagist. Additionally, Bourriaud correctly places historical bodies of work as places to begin from by replicating those materials and altering them. One cannot help but remember Situationist artist Asger Jörn’s project to “update” paintings by simply painting over reproductions to make them “modern.” This kind of artmaking questions a teleological end to the process of creating an artwork as once supposed and constructs a new paradigm. Bourriaud says, that “The artwork is no longer an endpoint but a simple moment in an infinite chain of contributions.” (20) This kind of art making in which works are constantly revised, revisited and altered mirrors the programming algorithms for the Wiki in which a page is constantly changed (for better or worse) under the auspices of improvement over time. Briefly, I will list some of Bourriaud’s comments on the idea of collective and continuous art making:

“To rewrite modernity is the historical task of this early Twenty-First Century; not to start at zero or find oneself encumbered by the storehouse of history, but to inventory and select, to use and download.” (93)

“What if artistic creation today could be compared to a collective sport, far from the classical mythology of the solitary effort? “It is the viewers who make the paintings,” Duchamp once said, an incomprehensible remark unless we connect it to his keen sense of an emerging culture of use, in which meaning is born of collaboration and negotiation between the artist and the one who comes to view the work.” (20)

“Appropriation is indeed the first stage of postproduction; the issue is no longer to fabricate an object, but to choose one among those that exist and to use or modify these according to a specific intention. Marcel Broodthaers said that “ Since Duchamp, the artist is the author of a definition” which is substituted for that of the objects he or she has chosen…If the process of appropriation has its roots in history, its narrative here will begin with the readymade, which represents its first conceptualized manifestation, considered in relation to the history of art. When Duchamp exhibits a manufactured object…as a work of the mind, he shifts the problematic of the “creative process” emphasizing the artist’s gaze brought to bare on an object instead of manual skill. He accesses that the act of choosing is enough to establish the artistic process, just as the act of fabricating, painting or sculpting does; to give a new idea to an object is already production. Duchamp thereby completes the definition of the term creation; to create is to insert an object into a new scenario, to consider it a character in a narrative. (25)

Here, Bourriaud hits upon one of the central themes of contemporary remixing; the curatorial and the selection process which informs many contemporary “postproduction” or found footage artworks. If we look at the major thrust of Christian Marclay’s found footage films, we observe that the emphasis is on the collection of materials rather than on their presentation. Additionally, the “artists gaze” here seems to mirror the idea of the “second look.” The artist’s “definition” of the artwork implies a kind of replacement of the original coding of the work or object which indicates the transformation made through the second look. Many contemporary modes of appropriation deal with constructing “archival interventions” in which features of the archive are reproduced to facilitate transformation in their groupings and combinations.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

A Brave New Work

I've often thought that the next frontier in film mash-ups lay in feature length works. Below is a trailer for one such work by Gabriele Guerra. Remember, this is the trailer for a 53 minute movie!

More incredible digital remix/found footage work from Dinorah de Jesús Rodríguez:

check out more of his incredible work here: http://cinesthesia.blip.tv/

Also, some very fun and mysterious interstellar found footage work from Man Zanas:

Also, I wanted to share the call for works from the 2009 "(In) Appropriation" festival. It looks amazing and I think they may read this blog. Wooooo!


Los Angeles Filmforum invites film and videomakers to take part in the

WHO: All film and videomakers
WHAT: Call for entries for the Festival of (In)appropriation
WHEN: Entries must be received by April 1, 2009.
WHERE: Send submissions to Jaimie Baron, 10480 National Blvd. #308,
Los Angeles, CA 90034
PRESENTED BY: Los Angeles Filmforum

Whether you call it collage, compilation, found footage, detournement,
or recycled cinema, the incorporation of previously shot materials
into new artworks is a practice that has generated novel
juxtapositions of elements which have produced new meanings and ideas
that may not have been intended by the original makers, that are, in
other words “inappropriate.“ This act of appropriation may produce
revelation that leads viewers to reconsider the relationship between
past and present, here and there, intention and subversion.
Fortunately for our purposes, the past decade has seen the emergence
of a wealth of new sources for audiovisual materials that can be
appropriated into new works. In addition to official state and
commercial archives, vernacular archives, home movie collections, and
digital archives have provided fascinating source material that may be
repurposed in such a way as to give it new meanings and resonances.

Thus, Los Angeles Filmforum invites submissions for a Festival of
(In)appropriation, open to all works that appropriate film or video
footage and repurpose it in “inappropriate” ways. We will consider
both films and videos, including works that are made up entirely of
found footage and those that only use small segments of appropriated
material. Particular consideration will be given to films that
repurpose materials in an inventive way and to films that are under
twenty minutes long. We will only accept work finished in 2006 or later.

The Festival of (In)appropriation will take place in June 2009.
Curated by Jaimie Baron and Andrew Hall

• Submission deadline: April 1, 2009
• Please send all submissions in DVD format to: Jaimie Baron, 10480
National Blvd. #308, Los Angeles, CA 90034
• Submissions must be 20 minutes or less and must contain some form
of “(in)appropriation.“
• Acceptable submission formats: DVD and VHS
• Acceptable exhibition formats: mini-DV, DV-Cam, 16mm film, 35mm
film, DVD (but discouraged, since DVD is not a reliable projection
• Please include: title, filmmaker, running time, a 30-word or less
synopsis, and contact information (phone and email).
• No submission fee, but please send only good films ☺

Los Angeles Filmforum is the city’s longest-running organization
dedicated to weekly screenings of experimental film and video art,
documentaries, and experimental animation.

For more information, please go to: http://lafilmforum.wordpress.com/