WHAT IS CINEMA NOW?
by Al Razutis
These comments, containing both rational and irrational elements, implying both rational and irrational numbers, concern the evaluation of the question: "what is cinema now?", and further imply a formal-contentual re-evaluation of what constitutes "film", "spectatorship", "time", "criticism and evaluation" in consideration of this "THING" that I will posit below.
(VIRTUAL SPROCKET HOLES ARE OPTIONAL and can be placed anywhere in the following text to "frame" any packet of binary-info to the viewer's satisfaction.)
We all know this is a strange way to exchange views. Like speaking in the dark to figures which are only resolved 'in print'. Responses to and from this list feature all kinds of discontinuity. They are not 'chronological', we don't always read and write 'on time'. And when I send something in
(like this), I don't get to 'read it', but receive 'replies" in all forms, or not at all, at times, or not at all.
IF THIS WAS A MOTION-PICTURE -- that is, these ASCII characters (represented by pixels), produced as I type them into memory and onto screen, and viewed as a series of images-over- time (reading) -- then I would say that this FILM was both INTERACTIVE and NON-LINEAR. In 1968 I wrote transversely on a piece of celluloid (with sprocket holes) a poem and called it a "film"; other people made all kinds of "films" by gluing things (and re-printing) on celluloid, by painting, scratching, burning, etc. Then, nobody seemed to have a problem with "what is the correct form and content of cinema", since such a definition would confine and contradict the spirit of 'experimental" cinema and its anarchist principles. So, why is there so much resistance to other cinemas (like cyber-cinemas) now? Why are people eager to categorize it as 'utopian"? Is it some kind of Gene Youngblood lecture (he used to present the future of technology (in the 70's) and image-making in 'utopian' terms) that everyone is stuck on?
So, I will insist that THIS IS A FILM, and that it is INTERACTIVE (you can fuck with it all you want), NON-LINEAR, NON-SITE-SPECIFIC, and if I added image-sound and drew from other mediums, it would be INTER-MEDIA CINEMA as well. The PROJECTION OF THIS FILM is ultimately affected by, and comprised of, a number of CONTRIBUTORS (submitting on a number of subjects), EACH PROJECTING THEIR FILM, and this collective event takes place in a virtual MOVIE THEATER (the net), exhibiting PROJECTION PATTERNS that resemble FRACTALS. (And this 'pattern' of information exchange on the net is based on recent published studies). What a bummer for the phone companies...what a bummer for linear projectionists!
WHERE is this "film" being projected? Everywhere. As you read this, it exists on the internet in any number of simultaneous locations. Not just in some "cinematheque's" archive. WHERE IS IT GOING? The internet and HTML, began as a text-based network, has added audio and video (or digital motion-picture) capabilities/files, and is now open to VRML browsers and sites. The notion of "place" (in cyberspace) is now best described as where "interchange can be founded". And all of the 'hot' HTML web-sites that 'everyones gotta get' as an address, they are going to seem pretty archaic in a few years when VRML is rocking all over the place and image-texture-mapping becomes more commonplace.
Whether anyone likes or dislikes these developments, a particular medium, 'inter-active' graphics, virtual-reality (passive and active), 3-D video, holography, or just plain 'give me that basic 16mm film experience' is ultimately put to the world-test of whether it survives and whether it has an effect on the real world of social exchanges (including money).
The philosophy of this (or any) species of film -- and I am INTERESTED IN READING OR VIEWING OTHER SPECIES -- like love, is an ACTIVITY. It is not a 'state of mind', nor a film theory residing in the book-stacks of prescription. And criticism itself, as a counterpart to the activity of creating, "can only exist as a form of love" (Andre Breton).