The Smithsonian recently made a small portion of its collection available through its new X3D Explorer platform. In a strange invocation of the digital haptic, the organization describes this new form of encounter as “the end of ‘do not touch’.”
You can touch…but you just can’t feel.
About two weeks ago, a fire started at the archive.org scanning center in San Francisco. No one was hurt and, within 48 hours, employees were back at work scanning materials. According to the archive’s blog, they lost hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cameras and scanning equipment, but most of their data was unaffected: Continue reading
I am happy to announce an exciting series of upcoming events that I have been organizing as part of the Aberdeen Sound Festival in collaboration with Ross Whyte, a colleague in Music. In September, we will be hosting SCRATCH, a set of workshops and film screenings that will introduce participants to a variety of recycled, found footage, and recycled cinema practices, along with the basics of sound production and recording.
La Jetée (Chris Marker, 1962)
The latest edition of archival news, edited by yours truly, just went live at the Cinema Journal website. Please take a look! I welcome feedback on the new format and tips for future issues.
A fascinating account of photographer Garry Winogrand from The Awl:
When he died, of gallbladder cancer in 1984, he left behind more than half a million exposures. Most of them were unedited. Most of them he had never even looked at. Winogrand had always been prolific—but this was something else: three hundred thousand pictures (at a minimum), barely sorted, unorganized, with no indication of why or when they were taken. By most counts their quality didn’t keep up with their quantity. Thousands were botched, “plagued with technical failures—optical, chemical, and physical flaws—in one hundred permutations.” The ones that weren’t tended to be either banal or badly composed, but there were so many of them it was hard to get a read on the whole.
The archive Winogrand left behind was an ocean—trackless, infinite, and unsurveyable—and few had the patience to enter into it. Contemplating its immensity, the curator Alex Sweetman imagined a photographic blob, oozing out of its drawers until it blocked traffic on the entire East Side. Leo Rubinfien, the curator of a new retrospective predicated on the idea that the late work wasn’t all bad, admits to a severe drop off in quality. And even John Szarkowski, Winogrand’s close friend and chief patron, while editing the late work for a posthumous exhibit, found himself feeling first impatient, then angry, and finally convinced that he was the butt of a cruel joke, “designed by the photographer to humiliate him.”
The whole thing is worth reading. I am left wondering: what’s the difference between Winogrand’s work–a seeming anomaly in the era of analog photography–and the “trackless, infinite, and unsurveyable” digital archives we are (almost) all in the process of constructing?
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/70532693 w=575&h=400]
Via Kottke: “The film feels like a silent short from the 1920s but also very contemporary.” Around Saturn was made using footage from the Cassini exploration. See also here. Reminds me of this, this, and more than a little of this.
[vimeo http://vimeo.com/11809362 w=575&h=400]
Photographer Antonio Martinez created over 800 “modern dryplate tintypes” from b/w film to produce this stop-motion video, entitled “Near the Egress.” This complex and combinatory work remixes our visual histories and technologies. Here, the moving image precedes the motionless tintype. And digital video gives them both a different kind of life. All of this unfolds with a nod to yet another historical-technological-mythological origin: the circus, the fairground, the site of early cinema.
If you will be in Aberdeen on June 12th, please join the Film and Visual Culture department for a workshop focused on the relationship between animal life and the moving image. From the organizers:
The workshop asks how different dynamics of (re)production – of images, of animals – converge within the circulation of global agri-capital. Yet it also asks broader questions about the relations between cinematic and nonhuman worlds, and about the ethics and politics of images of animal life.
The programme includes the following speakers/papers:
Dr Anat Pick (Queen Mary), “Animal Life in the Cinematic Umwelt'”
Professor Claire Molloy (Edge Hill), “Industrialized food and the politics of pleasure”
Dr Laura McMahon (Gonville & Caius, Cambridge), “Screening Pigs: Moving Images, Materiality and the Production of Species”
Mr Chris Heppell (Aberdeen), “The Withdrawal of Sense in Michelangelo Frammartino’s Le Quattro Volte (2010)”
The workshop will run from 10am to 5pm in the Craig Suite in the Sir Duncan Rice Library. There will be lunch, as well as tea and coffee at relevant intervals. If you are interested in attending the workshop (it is free), please email email@example.com.
My reading of Josephine Baker and the cinema of métissage has just been published by Framework.