Speculations on Digital Art and Viral Spaces
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Blog written by Dale Hudson,co-curator with Sharon Lin Tay of ‘Map Open Space’ exhibit at FLEFF 2010.
In his monthly column in an issue of Sight & Sound last summer, Nick Roddick reasserted what many critics have already made clear: “the old cinema paradigm” continues to face challenges after movie audiences, particularly in the global North, have enjoyed nearly two decades of screening media online.
Roddick notes three angles of “attack” by new media paradigms: (1) screenings are more likely individual acts involving an “iPod with earphones” than collective acts in a theater; (2) a top-selling videogame, such as Grand Theft Auto IV, is more profitable for transnational media corporations than a movie, such as Pirates of the Caribbean 2 — and, moreover, such videogames are “often narratively more sophisticated”; and (3) the film industry now faces a situation comparable to that faced by the music industry in pervious decades in the form of de-centered file-sharing that they cannot control.
Geffrey Macnab’s column in the same issue discusses web sites dedicated to streaming film (or, more precisely, streaming digital video and digitized film), including “online cinémathèques” such as The Auteurs [http://www.theauteurs.com/], which offers a selection of feature-length narratives and a place to discuss them with other cinéphiles who have paid for a subscription to the site, and UbuWeb [http://ubu.com/], which has provided open access to mostly experimental shorts since “way back” in 1996.
These columns appear in an issue [http://www.bfi.org.uk/sightandsound/issue/200905] devoted to the 50th (masculinist) anniversary of the birth of the French New Wave with the theatrical release of François Truffaut’s Les 400 Coups. (The feminist anniversary of the the birth of the French New Wave passed largely unmarked back in 2004 with the 50th anniversary of Agnès Varda’s La Pointe courte, though Varda’s film [http://www.criterion.com/films/524] has been memorialized along with Truffaut’s film [http://www.criterion.com/films/151] with Criterion Collection editions in the U.S.)
The special issue of Sight & Sound is careful attention not to reproduce the nostalgia that cluttered thinking a few years ago with the 50th anniversary of “1968,” which, in retrospect, might now be considered one of the last gasping breathes of eurocentrism. However, the issue does convey an uncomfortable sense of uncertainty (if not, impending crisis) that continues to spill over from journalism to academic listservs, such as a recent thread on whether “celebrity studies” had supplanted “star studies” in an era when viral videos often have more views than the combined sales across platforms for the latest blockbuster.
For anyone who has participated in FLEFF since its rebranding in 2006, questions relating to “old cinema” and new-media paradigms might be posed differently. New-media paradigms do not displace entirely or replace outright other paradigms. Instead, they offer opportunities for a remixing of conventional modes of thinking, whether to re-think philosophical constructions of knowledge or to re-gauge our expectations from media.
In anticipation of the “Map Open Space” exhibition in mid-March, Sharon and I will be posting on work from the previous exhibits (including the work of the “Map Open Space” jury), which ask us to visualize history, memory, and trauma, according to paradigms that remix “old cinema” with new media. Rather than documenting history, memory, or trauma in the manner of expository and educational films, these works engage audiences in the production of unstable meaning and unfinished events.
Until then, share insights with us about work have you screened that remixes the old cinema paradigm with new-media paradigms.