Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Catching Up.

Sitney, “Structural Film”

1. How is structural film different from the tradition of Deren/Brakhage/Anger, and what are its four typical characteristics?
Tradition: movement toward increased cinematic complexity.
Structural: opposite direction of the formal effort - the shape of the whole film is predetermined and simplified, and it is that shape that become the primary impression of the film. It is dependent on shape - content is minimal and subsidiary to the outline.
4 Characteristics: fixed camera position (fixed frame from viewers perspective), flicker effect, loop printing and rephotography off screen. All four are seldom in the same film, some films modify these.

2. If Brakhage’s cinema emphasized metaphors of perception, vision, and body movement, what is the central metaphor of structural film? Hint: It fits into Sitney’s central argument about the American avant-garde that we have discussed previously in class.
Cinema of the mind (rather than the eye).

3. Why does Sitney argue that Andy Warhol is the major precursor to the structural film?
The roots of fixed frame, loop printing and rephotography can be found in Warhol's early works.

4. The trickiest part of Sitney’s chapter is to understand the similarities and differences between Warhol and the structural filmmakers. He argues that Warhol in a sense is anti-Romantic and stands in opposition to the visionary tradition represented by psychodrama/mythopoeic/lyrical films. But for Sitney’s central argument to make sense, he needs to place structural film within the tradition of psychodrama/mythopoeic/lyrical films. Trace the steps in this argument by following the following questions:

a. Why does Sitney call Warhol anti-Romantic?
Because he turns the camera on and walks away, completely ignoring the "Romantic heritage" of Avant Garde.

b. Why does Sitney argue that spiritually the distance between Warhol and structural filmmakers such as Michael Snow or Ernie Gehr cannot be reconciled?
They are on opposite poles - Warhol's camera is fixed as a statement against the norm, while structural filmmakers used it to contemplate that place in space.

c. What is meant by the phrase “conscious ontology of the viewing experience”? How does this relate to Warhol’s films? How does this relate to structural films?
Ontology -
1. the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such.
2. (loosely) metaphysics.
So the conscious ontology of the viewing experience is the conscious study of being through the viewing experience. This relates to Warhol as he films life before his lens, his films are a study of being. This relates to structural films as they contemplate existence through the film.

d. Why does Sitney argue that structural film is related to the psychodrama/mythopoeic/lyrical tradition, and in fact responds to Warhol’s attack on that tradition by using Warhol’s own tactics?
Structural film takes the triggering of ontological awareness (as seen in the psychodrama/ect tradition) to the next level, as Warhol forces ou to see things in a new light thanks to the length of his films.

5. What metaphor is crucial to Sitney’s and Annette Michelson’s interpretation of Michael Snow’s Wavelength?
Metaphor is consciousness.

6. What role does the materials of film play in the work of Michael Snow and Paul Sharits?
Different film stocks and focal points create a change in mental and physical state (consciousness) from those of human actions.

7. Summarize in your own words Sitney’s description of the structure and process of Hollis Framption’s Zorns Lemma
Zorns Lemma
is a three part film. Its first two parts especially are deeply involved with letters - the first part is a reading from a primer book, the second is a repetition of the alphabet through letters on signs, which are gradually replaced by symbols. In the third part, a couple walks in the snow.

J. Hoberman, Jonathan Rosenbaum, The Underground

3. How does Edie Sedgewick end up "stealing" the scene in Vinyl?
Edie steals the scene with her beauty and her constand actions. Just her presence was enough to take the focus off the boys.

4. In what ways did the underground film begin to "crossover" into the mainstream in 1965-1966?
Magazines all across the country were running articles on them, the Museum of Modern Art ran a special on them and two major theatres were regularly screening underground films.

5. How was John Getz an important figure in the crossover of the underground?
He developed Underground Cinema 12, a series of midnight showings that played in 22 cities.

Daniel Belasco, "The Vanished Prodigy"

7. Name at least three important friends/relationships Barbara Rubin had in the world of art and music in the early 1960s.
Allen Ginsberg, Bob Dylan, Jonas Mekas, Andy Warhol.

8. Briefly describe Rubin's production and exhibiton practices for Christmas on Earth. Why does Belasco argue that Christmas on Earth cannot be reproduced electronically or in other forms?
The film was produced by locking her friends into an apartment for 24 hours and letting them have fun. She edited it with no purposeful connections. It is shown in superimposed projection of unequal sizes, accompanied by whatever happened to be on the radio. Therefore each showing is unique and cannot be reproduced.

Toby Mussman’s review of The Chelsea Girls

9. How does Mussman compare and contrast Warhol’s work in The Chelsea Girls with the work of the following directors?

Luis Bunuel - similar to his explosive, monumental L'age d'or.

Alfred Hitchcock - Warhol doesn't manipulate the audience towards a planned ending, he has an open ended resonse.

Jean-Luc Godard - similarity: role playing, "Cinema to Sieze Life". difference: metaphorical cinema (JLG) vs close to life, cinema as reproduction of life (W)

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