Monday, March 29, 2010

The Ecstasy of Influence

image by Owen O'Toole from back in the day

OK so now READ THIS article by Jonathan Lethem called The Ecstasy of Influence: a plagiarism, originally published in Harpers Magazine in early 2007, essential reading for all of us recyclers/appropriationists/samplers/remixers/fair users/ supercutters/and masher-uppers out here. Author Lethem even has his own project called Promiscuous Materials that is very similar to Jay-Z's 2005 online Construction Set , where the tracks to his Black Album were made downloadable specifically for musical remix use. WE listened to a little bit of DangerMouse's The Grey Album (2004) that was a direct result of that project, which certainly shook the copyright laws up--check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation's reportage on the federal copyright exception called 'fair use' specifically surrounding Feb 24, 2004, the day of coordinated internet civil disobedience known as Grey Tuesday. George Harrison was probably rolling in his grave, after everything he went through with the My Sweet Lord/He's So Fine trial in 1976.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

perfect as is

left: PerfectFilm(1986), Ken Jacobs,
and above
: Beirut Outtakes (2007) by Peggy Ahwesh

We've spent some time on readymades and gave ourselves permission to think about found films as found objects. We watched Works and Days (1969) by Hollis Frampton, What Makes Day and Night (1998) by Yours Truly and of course Perfect Film by Ken Jacobs. But we didn't stop there -- we spent some time with 3 very recent and very short found footage works pointing to the African American experience from various archives as unearthed by Kevin Jerome Everson; check out his Ten Things About Vegas here. And finally we watched two of Peggy Ahwesh's films dealing with the found deterioration of film material to very differnt ends: the entertaining and political Beirut Outakes from 2007 and her outrageous 1994 fem/porn/tango piece The Color of Love .

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


Busy day in class, what with a basic Introduction to concepts of 'detournment', which according to our friend wikipedia, "is a variation on a previous media work, in which the newly created one has a meaning that is antagonist to the original. The original media work that is détourned must be somewhat familiar to the target audience, so that it can appreciate the opposition of the new message."
Read this comic and this other comic for a funny unsparing introduction to their ideas!
This strategy of detournemnt was initially practiced by the Situationist International, and we read some excerpts from Situationist theorist and filmmaker Guy Debord, most famous for his text and film Society of the Spectacle, where he states " The spectacle is not a collection of images, rather, it is a social relationship between people that is mediated by images." He is often spoken of in the same breath as his contemporary Jean Baudrillard who used the term 'simulacra' rather than Debord's 'spectacle'.

We watched an excerpt of the classic 1973 SI film Can Dialectics Break Bricks? by Rene Vienet, which influenced many works such as the Bay Area's st01len collective's The Lord of the Rings of Free Trade (2001). See more of their activist remixes here.

Another work worth mentioning that we didn't quite have time for is an audio tape collage called Reagan Speaks for Himself (1981) made by sound artist Douglas Kahn. As you can see from the picture above it was distributed via a flexi-disc that btw was inserted inside Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly's comic-art magaizine RAW.

Up next: Duchamp's Readymades and Ken Jacobs Perfect Film (1985).

Thursday, March 4, 2010


Busy busy cutting at the Steenbecks and working with found film now, sharpening our scalpels and making precision cuts in bursts of three--in homage to Eisenstein, japanese haiku and the general round magic of the number 3 . I like to call them simple machines myself, which can later be assembled into larger more complex machines otherwise known as, um, films...
It would be lovely to her about everyone's edits on their individual blogs!
Here's John's:

Here's Hogan's:

Here's Michael's:

and here's Kevin Rice's (last years class)