Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

Discuss films and filmmakers of the 20th century (and even a little of the 19th century). Threads may contain spoilers.
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MichaelB
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#526 Post by MichaelB » Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:02 pm

warren oates wrote:Hopefully for the few filmmakers who hold out like this, when they're no longer with us their estates will find the good sense to disregard their wishes and Max Brod their work onto video.
I had to reluctantly abandon two dream projects because the filmmakers' estates proved absolutely impossible to deal with. Though in one case the problem was certainly down to their wholly unrealistic revenue expectations.

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The Fanciful Norwegian
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#527 Post by The Fanciful Norwegian » Wed Sep 19, 2012 11:12 pm

...and someone who's truly unbudgeable on the film/video issue may well have their wishes written into their will, which would preempt whatever the estate might wish to do.

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MichaelB
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#528 Post by MichaelB » Thu Sep 20, 2012 2:40 am

Given that the vast majority of Kubelka interviews see him bringing up the topic unprompted (within the first ten minutes of Martina Kudláček's four hour Fragments of Kubelka documentary, for instance), I suspect he'll be doing precisely that.

(Kudláček, presumably after consulting with Kubelka, does include sufficient extracts from his work so that we can get a feel for it, but there's almost invariably some kind of visual distraction to forestall piracy - a highly visible projector beam, Kubelka sitting in front of the screen, or playing it on a Steenbeck and regularly pausing and rewinding sections, etc.)

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#529 Post by Adam » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:14 am

MichaelB wrote:Given that the vast majority of Kubelka interviews see him bringing up the topic unprompted (within the first ten minutes of Martina Kudláček's four hour Fragments of Kubelka documentary, for instance), I suspect he'll be doing precisely that.

(Kudláček, presumably after consulting with Kubelka, does include sufficient extracts from his work so that we can get a feel for it, but there's almost invariably some kind of visual distraction to forestall piracy - a highly visible projector beam, Kubelka sitting in front of the screen, or playing it on a Steenbeck and regularly pausing and rewinding sections, etc.)
In your opinion, how is her Kubelka film? I thought her Maya Deren film was good and her Marie Menken film wasn't, getting too tied up following Gerard Malanga.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#530 Post by Adam » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:22 am

swo17 wrote:Kubelka (whom I highly respect) is of course entitled to present his work as he sees fit, though I do wonder if this is a case of the perfect being the enemy of the good. People want to see these films, and though some remain elusive, bootlegs exist and end up serving as the authoritative versions for those without access to theatrical screenings for these types of films. Granted, some films just won't work at all in the digital realm, but it's a shame that for something like Wavelength, the only option widely available to the curious viewer is a crappy YouTube video (as opposed to, say, a lavish Criterion Blu-ray set à la Brakhage or Frampton).
Actually, Michael Snow created a version of Wavelength called "Wavelength for those who don;t have the time" that is about 15 minutes, was created digitally, and he screens from DVD or Blu-Ray. I have a DVD on the shelf here that he gave me.

But back to Kubelka, I think you are missing a key point here. Kubelka's films really are about film, and work only when handled and projected as film. It would be, well, stupid to view them digitally, and so there shouldn't be DVD or Blu-Ray editions made. People might watch them as bootleg crap, and c'est la vie, but they haven't seen the films, and they are fooling themselves if they think they have, or understand them.
It's a string position; feel free to disagree.
As for the Brakhage Criterion, there were a couple of Brakhage films under consideration for the sets that were left off because after the telecine was tried, it was felt that too much of their essential quality and look was lost. So it is really on a film-by-film basis to evaluate whether the critical aspects of a film (qua film) survive the transfer to digital. I also think that a Bu-Ray, for example. can have the relationship to a film that a photo in a book has to a painting, as a reminder, or an echo. But that is dependent on having seen the original at some point.
Snow's "Wavelength for those..." was really "about" digital editing. He basically cut the original in thirds and layers them on top of each other, a very simple procedure using Final Cut or Avid. There's a bit more to it than that. But you still have the changing wavelengths (in color spectrum and sound), and the zoom across space. But in 15 minutes.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#531 Post by MichaelB » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:08 am

Adam wrote:In your opinion, how is her Kubelka film? I thought her Maya Deren film was good and her Marie Menken film wasn't, getting too tied up following Gerard Malanga.
I haven't seen her other films, but Fragments of Kubelka is mostly excellent - Kubelka (who is on screen, usually talking, for the vast majority of the running time) is such a spellbindingly interesting man on such a huge range of subjects that the four hours flew by.

I'd question whether we really needed the excessively long interview with a fan so ardent that he'd tattooed frames of Arnulf Rainer around his arm (we even get to see the actual tattooing after the point has been made by showing us the end result), and other parts could probably be tightened up too, but as an introduction to the breadth and totality of Kubelka's work (naturally, it concludes with a lengthy lecture on cooking, one of his favourite subjects), it's very highly recommended indeed.
Adam wrote:Kubelka's films really are about film, and work only when handled and projected as film. It would be, well, stupid to view them digitally, and so there shouldn't be DVD or Blu-Ray editions made.
Kubelka acknowledges that it would be easy to construct something similar to Arnulf Rainer digitally, and even easier to make Antiphon (simply take the digital file of the first film and invert everything) - but it wouldn't be the same thing. Both films, especially when paired, are designed specifically to exploit the unique properties of projected light and the visible flickering of a projector shutter in a way that's a fundamental part of the intended viewing experience - so if you remove those elements it really doesn't make much sense any more.

As far as he's concerned, a screening of one of his films is essentially an unrepeatable live performance - especially if he's present and orchestrating everything. So he's philosophically quite relaxed about his films dying with him - after all, the vast majority of musicians and stage performers throughout human history are now only known by reputation, and his frame of reference goes back millennia.

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htshell
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#532 Post by htshell » Thu Sep 20, 2012 6:56 am

Could Kubelka not leave instructions on how to create prints of Anulf Rainer and Anitphon, though? Perhaps it is a simplistic understanding of the content of these two films in particular, but it seems to me they are frames of black and clear leader arranged in certain patterns. If he left a blueprint towards this construction, it would be easily feasible for a gallery or perhaps knowledgeable archive or distributor to create "new prints."

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swo17
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#533 Post by swo17 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:21 am

Adam wrote:Actually, Michael Snow created a version of Wavelength called "Wavelength for those who don;t have the time" that is about 15 minutes, was created digitally, and he screens from DVD or Blu-Ray. I have a DVD on the shelf here that he gave me.
Yes, I'm aware of this, though it's not quite the same thing, is it?
MichaelB wrote:Kudláček, presumably after consulting with Kubelka, does include sufficient extracts from his work so that we can get a feel for it, but there's almost invariably some kind of visual distraction to forestall piracy - a highly visible projector beam, Kubelka sitting in front of the screen, or playing it on a Steenbeck and regularly pausing and rewinding sections, etc.
Except this doesn't seem to have completely worked, as a number of Kubelka's films exist in DVD-quality bootlegs. Including Arnulf Rainer, which I will concede is likely missing in that format a key element of its entire reason for being, though several of his other films have plenty to offer besides just being on celluloid.

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Matt
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#534 Post by Matt » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:12 pm

I always wonder what the holdup getting Warhol's films on DVD/BD is. The Warhol Foundation/Museum has no issue with slapping images from his painting and prints on skateboard decks, iPhone cases, and cereal bowls, so why treat the films like some kind of holy relics?

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NilbogSavant
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#535 Post by NilbogSavant » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:22 pm

What about the Raro set? I know the silent films are encoded at the wrong frame rate, but most of Warhol's work is there, right?

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swo17
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#536 Post by swo17 » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:23 pm

That's an unauthorized bootleg.

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Matt
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#537 Post by Matt » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:27 pm

Bootleg or no, you might as well not watch a silent Warhol if you're going to watch it at the wrong frame rate.

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htshell
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#538 Post by htshell » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:41 pm

After a recent visit to The Warhol I was a bit disappointed that all of the work was presented in video with seemingly little discussion or context of how and why he used 16mm. Would have been nice to at least see one 16mm film loop instead of video artifacts/compression on many of the projections.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#539 Post by Adam » Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:46 am

MichaelB wrote:I'd question whether we really needed the excessively long interview with a fan so ardent that he'd tattooed frames of Arnulf Rainer around his arm (we even get to see the actual tattooing after the point has been made by showing us the end result), and other parts could probably be tightened up too, but as an introduction to the breadth and totality of Kubelka's work (naturally, it concludes with a lengthy lecture on cooking, one of his favourite subjects), it's very highly recommended indeed.
I wonder if that's a friend of mine here in LA, who has that Arnulf Rainer tattoo on his arm.
Martina is married to Henry Hills, who makes great films and edits hers.

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zedz
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#540 Post by zedz » Fri Sep 21, 2012 4:43 pm

Adam wrote:
MichaelB wrote:I'd question whether we really needed the excessively long interview with a fan so ardent that he'd tattooed frames of Arnulf Rainer around his arm (we even get to see the actual tattooing after the point has been made by showing us the end result), and other parts could probably be tightened up too, but as an introduction to the breadth and totality of Kubelka's work (naturally, it concludes with a lengthy lecture on cooking, one of his favourite subjects), it's very highly recommended indeed.
I wonder if that's a friend of mine here in LA, who has that Arnulf Rainer tattoo on his arm.
The alternative - that there's more than one of these guys out there - is too frightening to contemplate.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#541 Post by AlexHansen » Fri Sep 21, 2012 6:06 pm

Not to distract from the current discussion, but I came across an excellent interview with Ben Russell not too long ago and thought I'd pass it around.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#542 Post by Adam » Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:19 pm

zedz wrote:
Adam wrote:
MichaelB wrote:I'd question whether we really needed the excessively long interview with a fan so ardent that he'd tattooed frames of Arnulf Rainer around his arm (we even get to see the actual tattooing after the point has been made by showing us the end result), and other parts could probably be tightened up too, but as an introduction to the breadth and totality of Kubelka's work (naturally, it concludes with a lengthy lecture on cooking, one of his favourite subjects), it's very highly recommended indeed.
I wonder if that's a friend of mine here in LA, who has that Arnulf Rainer tattoo on his arm.
The alternative - that there's more than one of these guys out there - is too frightening to contemplate.
I verified; it's him. He hasn't seen the film yet, but is going to catch it at NYFF.

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Matt
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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#543 Post by Matt » Sun Sep 30, 2012 9:50 am

If anyone has the means of getting to the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis before January 6, I recommend it. They've got a very cool exhibit of 6 films by 6 filmmakers, the highlight of which is a massive triple projection of Bruce Conner's Three Screen Ray. It ran in a similar setting a couple of years ago at SFMOMA (here's a clip of what it's like).

Only a couple of the films in the exhibit are running from actual film (one of which is a print of Brakhage's Mothlight), the others have been transferred to video, but that's understandable since they're running constantly. But they've given two whole huge darkened galleries over to these films. It's probably the most respectful gallery showing of experimental film I've ever seen.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#544 Post by MichaelB » Tue Oct 09, 2012 9:17 am

My Peter Kubelka interview has just been published in the latest Sight & Sound.

I also understand that the entire 45-minute interview may make an appearance on their website in due course - which I'm very pleased about, as I had to cut about 75% in order to squeeze it into my allotted word count.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#545 Post by htshell » Tue Oct 09, 2012 3:52 pm

Yesterday was Kubelka Day at NYFF. The documentary was well-done (just like his schnitzel) and the Monument Film screening/lecture/performance/exhibition was really impressive. Saw some other great stuff at Views From the Avant-Garde by Paul Clipson, Camille Henrot, Luther Price, Ferdinand Khittl, Nicolas Rey, and John Smith. (And some stuff that I thought was awful, but that's how it goes.)

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#546 Post by kidc85 » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:42 am

MichaelB wrote:My Peter Kubelka interview has just been published in the latest Sight & Sound.
Did you go to see the retrospective at the ICA last night? Great to get the chance to see his films but I have never - not even in a multiplex - been with a more restless crowd. You would think grown adults could sit still for an hour!

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#547 Post by MichaelB » Fri Oct 12, 2012 9:24 am

Sadly not - I live 90 minutes outside London and had multiple deadlines all this week.

But I'm going to Monument Film on Saturday 21st.

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#548 Post by swo17 » Mon Oct 22, 2012 12:51 am

Pardon my ignorance, but what's keeping Bruce Conner's films from coming out on DVD?

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#549 Post by htshell » Mon Oct 22, 2012 1:12 am

Conner was yet another believer in medium-specificity and the Conner Trust are not interested in releasing his films on home video (even the ones that he made on video, rather than film).

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Re: Avant-Garde, Experimental & Non-narrative Films

#550 Post by MichaelB » Mon Oct 22, 2012 3:10 am

htshell wrote:Yesterday was Kubelka Day at NYFF. The documentary was well-done (just like his schnitzel) and the Monument Film screening/lecture/performance/exhibition was really impressive. Saw some other great stuff at Views From the Avant-Garde by Paul Clipson, Camille Henrot, Luther Price, Ferdinand Khittl, Nicolas Rey, and John Smith. (And some stuff that I thought was awful, but that's how it goes.)
Sadly, yesterday's London performance was a bit of a calamity - only one of the two projectors worked, which meant that Kubelka had to scrap the second half of the performance (since that involved showing Arnulf Rainer and Antiphon side by side and then superimposed). He did a pretty good salvage job on the talk, and we did at least get to see the two films separately (and the three-panel gallery installation outside, which was fascinating), but whether or not I can make the promised repeat performance at some unspecified date in January remains to be seen.

But on the way out I bumped into Sight & Sound's online editor, who told me that the recording my Skype interview with Kubelka had also run into technical problems (which is why it didn't appear last week as planned) - but he's now got a couple of extra months to resolve them. So hopefully it'll turn up before too long, and I'll link to it from here when it does.

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