I’ve been thinking a lot about the phrase film culture and its mercurial meaning at a time when the art of the moving image is going through what may be its most profoundly transformational stage ever…
FEATURES: Ragtime, Black History, And Postmodernism; Haneke’s Endgame; IMAX and Its Doubles; Cinematic Encounters in Beijing; Interviews With Jonathan Caouette and Ross Mcelwee
It’s four decades now since those pretzel-logic days of possibility, transformation, rage, confusion, and defeat—and increasingly as they’re returned to us, it’s in the form that documentary currently prefers to dab at history: the immense flow of available news footage intercut with middle-aged talking heads placing themselves in careful safe accord with what all speaking take to be the story.
The Internet may have finally delivered avant-garde filmmakers the audience they always claimed they wanted. With experimentation rejected by the moving-image industry, and moving image shunned by commercial art galleries until the 1970s, film and video artists in the twentieth century relied on film festivals, grassroots film clubs, artist-run co-operatives, and art school curricula as channels of distribution.
The first image we see is of a dead body, probably from a film of a concentration camp but, like every other archival image in this film, it does not fit into familiar paradigms. A skeletal, naked corpse of a man lies face up on the ground, arms and legs splayed out—the whole cadaver fills the screen. Where can we possibly go from here?