Louis Malle, 1969
b) In and Out of "the City"
Footage from the city: about entering and then leaving it at will: via excursions out to sea, double-lives, afternoon-naps, bike-rides, water-wells, and more.
What are films? Are they calculating commercial wrappers applied by financiers to moving images, or purified forms that directors and crew distill from grand ideas and too many days of shooting? Surely a bit of both, a bit of both, and much more besides. But among the many, often unacknowledged, things and forces that make up "the film", there is one thing that physically, undeniably, film is "made of". We usually call this material, footage.
But of course, film is not just made of footage pieces, or rows of images. As if counting all the bricks or admiring the square feet in a home would tell us everything about it. Films have their own wholeness, beauty, aura. Footage on the other hand, is the ghost that flickers from inside every film, suggesting the autonomy of the images, threatening to overflow their "use" in the film. Flickering by at 24 (or 25) times a second is not "frames" (since that would be only a narrow technical definition), nor "truth" (since that would be a bit romantic), but footage. Footage is what exists, the moment a camera "films", and that remains a stubborn kernel at the heart of everything made from it.
Louis Malle's 1969 TV film, L' Inde Fantôme, provides a visceral example of this. In 2010 this film (part 7 of it) flickers for us between one kind of recognition -of the directors voice and intent- and another- of landmarks, people or contexts from Bombay of the late 1960's- and a third- of the official response to the film. As the authorial narrative waxes and wanes, and as it becomes clear that intentions on various sides can expire, the footage remains. In every film, some footage remains, and we can glean things from it. And every footage is then part of possible, future, films.
But there is other footage too, which has nothing to do with films. Which is not born within the idealism, auterism or commercialism of films. And which is not just a natural produce of so-called "digital natives", either. In other words, there are diverse forms, materials and effects, to be found in the space between film and video genres, their technologies, learned shooting habits and pure chance, that we would like to explore in some detail over these eight weeks, with the help of others who have thought through and produced in this way before. All of this suggests that footage has the capacity to be a vital "currency" in relationships, arguments, pleasures and politics both within cinema and beyond it, not limited to the ways that, say, YouTube allows us to deal in it.
Look forward to seeing you there.
Saturday or Sunday evening screenings through winter, exploring footage both within and outside the usual capsule of "the film". An experience that could be similar to watching films, or at other times harder to digest, or slower to release, closer to the moment of shooting, less censorious, and less fearful of finitude. Another life, another world of viewing and listening experiences is always possible.
Artist talk @ Beginnings with CAMP
Workshop with Students of ERG/Artistic Practices and Scientific Complexity Masters/Kobe Matthys at Argos.
Beginnings is an exhibition tracing some of the conceptual and artistic origins of CAMP. At ARGOS, Brussels as part of new beginnings at ARGOS itself.
Artist talk: Shaina A at Institute for Comparative Modernity, Cornell University.
A film program at Slought, with Shaina Anand /CAMP about surveillance systems, critical documentary filmmaking, subjectivity and distribution, and a screening of Al Jaar Qabla Al Daar (60 min, 2011), followed by a discussion with filmmaker Shaina and Deborah A. Thomas.
Ishara Art Foundation
Ashok gives a part-biographical talk at the MMB, Mumbai, as part of the State of Nature series. Himalayan horticultural history, sewage-infused ice skating rinks, potato science and a series of proposals for art.
A 100-foot long branching sequence of cutouts drawing from the photo archives of The Hindu, a 140-year old newspaper. Cutouts here are a way of reframing existing photographs as new organisms and to create a new boundary or border for the image.