Thursday, October 31, 2013

WEEK TEN : Music & Sampling: our musical commons


We spent this week mostly *listening*, from Count Basie to Public Enemy and many stops in between as we considered the creative cultural commons of music over the decades, and the relationship between the evolutioin of recording technology and of copyright protection. Some examples we listened to and discussed were:
-the infamous plaigarism case between George Harrison (My Sweet Lord 1971) and Bright Tunes Corporation (He's So Fine, recorded by The Chiffons 1962)
-Douglas Kahn's 1980 tape collage of Ronald Reagan and Bill Moyers, distributed via flexi-disc in Raw Magazine, Reagan Speaks for Himself
-Afrika Bambatta's breakthrough track Planet Rock (1982), and the relationship of his sampling to his collecting, see Bambatta's amazing archive of  records , just recently sent to the Cornell University Hip Hop Colleciton  for posterity.
-DAvid Byrne and Brian Eno's My Life in the Bush of Ghosts (1981) and Bruce Conners film made for one of those tracks America is Waiting (1982)
We also talked about the 2004 project Jay-Z's Construction set which is a huge zip file full of everything you need to remix his album, in the hopes that it will inspire new artists to add their voices to the cacophony. "Make as much music as possible" he says. A DJ named Dangermouse did just that, when he released The Grey Album which combined Jay Z's vocals from The Black Album with instrumentals from The Beatles  White Album. A lawsuit ensued and music  and free culture lovers protested by picking one day to post The Grey Album for anyone to download--this day will forever be known as GREY TUESDAY .
Lastly we watched the entire film of COPYRIGHT CRIMINALS, shown on PBS Independent Lens and produced by Kembrew McLeod, who also organized a collage practice conference and edited a book of those participants called Cutting Across Media: Appropriation Art, Interventionist collage, and Copyright Law. The first chapter is by Marcus Boon and is called Digital Mana: On the Source of the Infinite Proliferation of Mutant Copies in Contemporary Culture. 
Et voila! 

Thursday, October 24, 2013


First step was found object as readymades, and now found films as objects=hello Perfect Film (1985) by filmmaker Ken Jacobs who has this to say
I wish more stuff was available in its raw state, as primary source material for anyone to consider, and to leave for others in just that way, the evidence uncontaminated by compulsive proprietary misapplied artistry, "editing", the purposeful "pointing things out" that cuts a road straight and narrow through the cine-jungle; we barrel through thinking we’re going somewhere and miss it all. Better to just be pointed to the territory, to put in time exploring, roughing it, on our own. For the straight scoop we need the whole scoop, or no less than the clues entire and without rearrangement. O, for a Museum of Found Footage, or cable channel, library, a shit-museum of telling discards accessible to all talented viewers/auditors. A wilderness haven salvaged from Entertainment."

This raw, surprising document has a long arm of influence, seen in works by contemporary artists Walid Raad and the Atlas Group, Matthew Buckingham, and Kevin Jerome Everson whose works  are all in relationship to  media, evidence and documents . Here is a work by Everson that we didn't watch called Ten Things about Vegas.

Then we were visited by Tim Roberts of Counterpath Press, who spoke to us about several of his literary projects around authorship and appropriation, such as LET HER SPEAK, the transcript of Wendy Davis' 11 hour filibuster in Texas this summer, which will also re recreated as a reading event at Counterpath , "to celebrate and extend her act of protest". Thanks Tim!!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

WEEK EIGHT: The Archive: Home Movies &16mm 3 image edits!

Truthfully we hardly had a chance to watch many home movies since we were so busy going over our midterm tests on William Wees' Recycled Images: The Art &Politics of Found Footage Films (1993),
and watching the second projects making analogue 16mm 3-image edits from found footage.

Everyone was busy busy busy at the Steenbecks for the last couple of weeks choosing shots and making precision cuts in bursts of three, in homage to 

Sadly I didn't capture all of them, because they were all pretty amazing! For example I missed Zac's hilarious gas- station- drug- deal -movie that winds up in a handpainted frenzy, I must've been too astonished to remember to push the button on my camera, sorry ...

--Here we have Asa's concise curt commentary on the creative process:

--Here is Eric's enigmatic edit. without sound: 

--and then with sound: THE MEATCUTTERS CAME!

We didn't quite get to the Abigail Child films either, but we will start with her 2004 film The Future is Behind You next week, as a particularly interesting companion to the amateur 1940's (?) hunter home movie we watched this week. Don't forget to read your Patricia Zimmerman Reel Families chapter to prepare. 

OK so the reading for next week is Stephanie Barber's conceptual book Night Moves (Publishing Genius, 2012) which includes this book club study guide to assist you. 

Lastly, don't forget  Saturday is HOME MOVIE DAY and we will be celebrating at The Boulder Public Library from 1-4 pm. Bring your home movies to screen (8mm, S-8 and 16mm only), play Home Movie Day Bingo, meet your neighbors and see what kind of movies they've unearthed!

Friday, October 11, 2013

WEEK SEVEN: The Archive: H'wood/TV

The artist Joseph Cornell  (1903-1972) started us out  with his unique and unimaginably influential collage portrait film from 1936 Rose Hobart, made from the 1931 jungle drama East of Borneo. Further information on Cornell's cinema and boxes can be found here in Catherine Cormans essay on Surrealist Astronomy
and let us not forget your *required reading *

Other works made by raiding the collective celluloid (and electron) memory banks screened
Michael Robinson's  Light is Waiting 2007

We probably should have watched Dara Birnbaum's Technology Transfomation/Wonder Woman (1978) 
for a second time too!

WEEK SIX: The Archive: Politics: DETOURNED!!

“The spectacle is not a collection of images, but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” 
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle (English transl. 1967)

The strategy of detournment was initially practiced by The Situationist International , a group of writers and avant-gardists who cohered in the late 50's and developed various tactics for the reclamation of the creative potential of everyday life --these tactics formed their a critique of capitalist society where value is based on commodification and consumption.

Detournement, according to our friend Wikpedia, "can be defined as a variation on a previous media work, in which the newly created one has a meaning that is antagonistic or antithetical 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. The term "détournement" is borrowed from the French, in English "turnabout" or "derailment". Turn the tables!

For a funny and unsparing introduction to their ideas remember the comics we read in class, this one and this one too.

We watched a few clips to warm us up for a longer consideration of collage-essay film master Craig Baldwin--(Rocket Kit Kongo Kit (1988) and Tribulations 99:Alien Anomalies under America (1992)

Whats up Tiger Lily, (1966) by Woody Allen
Coleman Millers hilarious existential intelligent and stupid Uso Justo (2004)
Can Dialectics Break Bricks (1973), by situationist Rene Vienet
which directly influenced so many culture-jammers, like the work of the Bay area st01en collective's
Lord of the Rings of Free Trade (2001)
and their sequel The Twin Towers

"Plaigarism is necessary--Progress implies it!!– Comte de Lautréamont (Isidore Ducasse), Poésies II (1870)

Wednesday, October 2, 2013