AVANT-GARDE FILMS AND VIDEOS by Al Razutis
"L'imagination au pouvoir" ('let imagination rule') -- Paris student revolt, May 1968.
"THESE FILMS - THIS SITE"
The films listed on this site span over five decades of avant-garde filmmaking, beginning in the 'underground film' 60's, continuing with 'experimental' films and videos in the 70's and 80's, and engaging with 3D and web-interactive (VRML) and digital forms in the 90's and now holographic motion-pictures for the arts and the avant-gardes that will spring from them.
Historical contexts of Canadian avant-garde cinema:
Who is the speaking subject 'I'?
This is written by a avant-garde filmmaker whose works and experiences constitute a 'body' of film and critical works with a perspective that is of its own time and place. You, the reader, and 'I' will likely never meet. In any case, this is not about you and I but about knowing avant-garde motion-picture cultures, the players and the playing field. Wankers don't produce films or original insights; they go with the flow. And this is about going against the flow.
'Al Razutis - Iconoclast' - Anthology of writings edited by Mike Hoolboom / 1989-2009 -- 5.8 MB PDF file
Between Agonism and the Autonomy of Art: The Case of Al Razutis - by William C. Wees (on 'Amerika' and 'Splice').
Visual Essays: Origins of Film + Amerika by Al Razutis, Revisita Laika (Carlos Adriano, ed.), 2016 (PDF)
The Remix Age Exhibition as Archive by Viva Paci, The Moving Image. Journal of the Association of Moving Image Archivists, vol. 15, n. 2, 2015, p. 72-82. (PDF)
Additional thoughts on avant-garde (and surrealism):
First-person perspectives guide this film introduction, because specifics of experience have a name, date and perspective. This is only one of many pages on avant-garde film on the spider-crawled world wide web. A first-person narrative concerning my SeNef2004 exhibitions or 2002 EMAF Retrospective of these works may be illuminating as to 'da Old School', 'avant-garde' and 'how we got from those kinds of films' to 3D - virtual - digital. These essays also illuminate the question of 'why it has been so tough' to bring in the new in an art culture of aging orthodoxies.
In the passage from analog to digital era
When 16 / 35 mm film sprocket holes and analog video blanking signals were replaced by a binary 'dash' that synchronized all of the audio video streams into a MPEG delta frame train, read from a laser illuminated disc DVD, decoded on the fly into scenes. That's what the 'experimental scene' of DVD artists today owe to 'da Old School': the invention of the streamed synchronized and variable bit rate data train 'bandwidth' that commercial and avant-garde creators share on the web, and everywhere else. And they're called digital 'talking motion-pictures', and legitimately art. And now it's interactive (games) and networked (projections), all to the chagrin on the oedipal 'theorists'.
These films were not created or determined by consumer - client markets or financial enticements. (They were not produced 'to make money' or to 'illustrate a screenplay' or as 'commissioned art'.) My impulse to create radical and independent motion-pictures became a life's work that was personally and socially motivated, independently financed, and contentious to the core. The films themselves, and the methods of production - distribution - exhibition are the 'theory' and 'practice' (the praxis) of these works. The hostile environment of academic (notably psychoanalytic) film theory towards avant-garde film is referenced in a separate essay Film Studies 101.
If academic film theory is your interest, a more in-depth critique of structuralist and psychoanalytic 'film theory' metaphysics, and its misinterpretation of avant-garde film can be found in Propositions for the Deconstruction of Cine-Structualism..., an academic essay, which was published in Opsis in 1985. 'Twenty years later, the ventriloquism is still familiar, the script unchanged.'
This body of work is argumentative and has provoked many contests 'for' and 'against' the works and myself. Some of the films have been censored, some denounced (as 'un-Canadian' or 'trivial'); conversely, some of the films have been praised, awarded prizes, purchased for inclusion in collections, exhibited in retrospectives. Antagonisms to me and my works chiefly arise from the 80's - 90's academic sectors (which I have not been shy in criticizing).
Meaning what, precisely?
These films and videos were not created in a 'vacuum' of isolated experience. Their creations were influenced by others, including previous generations of underground filmmakers (the US, Canadian and European 60's - see 'Recovering Lost History...'). Even though many of the technologies used in these films (optical printing, video-synthesizer, animation) were personally created / re-created, the content and form of the fields was certainly a partial collaboration between 'maker' and curators, distributors, exhibitors as well as other filmmakers. Ideas flowed across genres, styles, borders, until the dispersal of the 'professionalized' 90's.
The avant-garde 'film - video making' that is referenced here included underground exhibition of films (Intermedia, Vancouver), co-creation and administration of film distribution and production co-ops (Intermedia, Cineworks), education, intervention, political and cultural activism, and historical writings on avant-garde and experimental film. Personal accomplishments are referenced in the resume brief and Curriculum Vitae - Bio pages.
The films and videos continue to be exhibited world wide, are distributed for rental only from Light Cone (Paris) and sales of available distribution copies have been strictly relegated to the web since the late 90's. The numbers of available distribution copies are diminishing due to the economics of the 'end of experimental film'. Films and videos no longer in distribution are listed here.
The many intersecting medias (video art, 3D Video, virtual reality, web animations) on this site join with the many avant-gardes of motion picture practice today and in the demonstration that contemporary motion pictures can be hybrids of source, form and content, and exhibition contexts to include all forms of analog, digital, single and multi-channel 'animation' and 'photography' and 're-photography, browser-art, performance and on-line distribution which utilize cross-platform technologies that are 3D, 2D, and interactive.
The future is here, in spite of those who pretended to know.
Who back in the 80's - 90's said that a motion-picture must be a linear oedipalized story telling of photographic events recorded in logical order that should be 'informed by theory' and other sanctioned 'social realisms'? There were plenty of Semiotic Marxists around in media studies at the U, but they weren't making the films, nor could they determine who and what could be made once their students left the U. Their empires of 'structural linguistics' informed by their own failed determinisms are in ruins, if not entirely vanished.
Now, contemporary 'film' is any motion-picture that was or was not shot with a camera, analog or digital, linear or non-linear, passive or interactive, bitmapped or vector mapped, local or networked, two - dimensional or three - dimensional, single or multiple channel, screened or performed, cached or streamed, flash animated, anything you can imagine, including interactive on-line video games!
Contemporary 'film' is of any or all genres, crossing borders, sweeping aside nationalist chauvinisms ('the school of Canadian experimental cinema' ), existing on the internet at many places simultaneously, projected in subways, on trains, and it certainly isn't to be 'politically corrected' and 'informed by theory' by a bunch of grey haired docs in the old folks home at the college.
'What a bummer for linear projectionists!'
Along with (1996-97) works that featured motion-picture movie mapping of 3D objects in VRML 'worlds' as 'movies in 3D space', I wrote "The future cinema is being created now. And it does not have 'sprocket holes". These 1996-7 postings of mine on Frameworks are listed here.
The topics of these avant-garde films by Al Razutis are both the works themselves and the critical environment, presented in selected manifestos - critiques - writings, that have contextualized the works.
This is the way the words end.
These films are the works of a media anarchist who 'left the profession' and set out to discover the possibilities of a 'future' that was not condemned to the ventriloquism of 'the lack', 'castration', 'social realism', 'theoretically informed production', and other hegemonies. That was then. This is now.
XAR (Al Razutis) 1998, 2002, 2008, 2012
FILM - VIDEO WEB CATALOGUE - available works by Al Razutis