Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A Few Things

Injustice: Workingman's Death leaves NYC theaters after only a week, and I--who have wanted badly to see this film for months--missed it! I had counted on at least two weeks at the Cinema Village here, it seemed only customary for an interesting documentary ...

Reparation: At least I'll see some New York Underground Film Festival stuff this weekend. The new James Fotopoulos? Some Kluge? OK, we're go!

Point to Ponder: I can't claim to have read every section of Deleuze's Cinema books, but neither my memory nor the glossaries indicate that he ever mentioned Albert Kahn, who was a wealthy banker-philanthropist who had a project known as the Archives de la Planète. (In this it's obvious to be reminded of another figure from this time period, Aby Warburg, who fascinates me--the wealthy German art and cultural historian whose lifelong dream was to create a Mnemosyne Atlas [and Warburg's example was in turn a partial inspiration for the younger Walter Benjamin's Arcades Project].) At any rate, apparently this Archive is a treasure trove of unedited 'documentary' or 'actuality' material (film strips, autochromes) that Kahn and his employees/associates put together over several decades at the beginning of the twentieth century. I have not seen any of these films myself, of course--though they have been written about in English by film scholar Paula Amad (U of Iowa), Sam Rohdie, and Teresa Castro (I haven't read all these sources yet). What is interesting about Kahn, and the reason why I mention Deleuze, is that Kahn's intellectual mentor and friend was Henri Bergson, who of course is so important to Deleuze's work on cinema. Deleuze, as has been noted by a filmmaker whose work I first sampled not long ago, is a cinephile, he likes good cinema, which is why his books deal mainly with canonical figures and titles--but more than this, if Deleuze is a cinephile in the sense Moullet suggests, perhaps this explains why Deleuze can't be bothered to deal with a mere 'atlas' of footage, as Kahn has accumulated, since it isn't The Cinema, it isn't Griffith-De Mille-Gance, nor Renoir-Bresson-Tati, nor Ford-Hawks-Preminger, nor Mizoguchi-Kurosawa-Ozu, nor Cassavetes, nor Pialat, nor Syberberg.

That is to say, there may be a lot of 'Deleuzian' work to be done on orphan films, 'incomplete' films and fringe films of all kinds ... and the Vogel Call will eventually be complemented by the Deleuze Call.

10 comments:

David Lowery said...

You've earned my envy yet again, re: the new James Fotopoulos film...

Maya said...

Not familiar with Fotopoulos so anticipate your response!

Andy Rector said...

Hear Hear! What actually happened with the Vogel Call? I don't ask that out of idle curiosity but out of vital interest!...has there been any response to the call that anyone knows of? If not, why aren't we responding?

As Adrian Martin noted on a_film_by, its easy to fall waywardly auteurist, for instance, when compiling a year end film list and beyond. We are effected by and in turn effect the get-go talk about working filmmakers and therefore the landscape of images/sounds. Countless instances of neglect in the past should teach us a lesson.

I *think* the internet is a gift, in spite of its poor transmission. In any case, the landscape of images on the internet is rather poor in dynamic, and rather poor in going beyond a purely authorial relation, which is what the internet should be strong on; sudden images sans author. Images encountered are neither concertedly archival (that I've found), rarely mysterious or cosmic, nor very concrete.

The exception to this, aside from some random encounters, is the Image issue of Rouge which inspired me to do similar things on my blog.

The orphan cause is crucial.

I agree with Moullet that Deleuze HAD to be a cinephile, and I personally loved his books for that reason FIRST, then I began to read more deeply. But Deleuze would be quite useful in thinking about 'found' images/films and the cinema of the gully. When D. talks about the shot through the space of the war invalid's leg in Lubitsch's MAN I KILLED, he's not talking about 'space in the films of Lubitsch'.

An 'unattainable' film that has fascinated me in this regard (I've only read accounts of it) is a film called ESPANA LEAL, EN ARMAS! (1936). Edited by Bunuel (how else would one know about it?) though that's under dispute, it apparently culls footage from the archives of both sides of the Spanish Civil War. It was commissioned by the French Communist Party and reportedly contains some of the most intimate and horrifying images of the Civil War. So, obviously, it is a document of many things! What would it look like today? A gesture of Bunuel's hand? A historical document? A seering or boring piece of agitprop? A revelation of the extant of the devastation? A lost layer of history? A film with a few shots by Norm MacLaren? A view of the French 'regard' on Spain?

-a

Maya said...

No sooner do I admit my ignorance about Fotopoulos than I received an email from Arthur magazine with a sample of his artwork:

http://www.arthurmag.com/news/

Zach Campbell said...

Fotopoulos is fairly cool, I will try to make his film tomorrow. I've seen a few of his films, my favorite of which is Back Against the Wall.

Andy, I don't know what happened to the Vogel Call. My own response to it is happening slowly: part of what I want to do, including in some projects I'm considering now, involves really dealing with the subversive, fringe, orphan, or 'boring' films that don't get much space in the history & criticism of moving images (or if they do, only as corraled into warning-labelled fields of 'subversive,' 'fringe,' etc.). We will see ... meanwhile, if anyone wants to start planning some amateur or non-profit archives of material, let's hear a few 'yeas.'

Adrian said...

Zach, great to see so many references and links to ROUGE articles in this thread! And, believe it or not, the ENTIRE editorial collective has taken the train out of Paris to ... the Albert Kahn museum! It is a truly amazing place to visit. A mixture of stills, films, etc, is always on show, always circulating from within the entire massive 'global' project. The work of Patricia Amad (an Australian expatriate) is very interesting on it. There is something very poignant about it - this impossible dream of 'mapping the world' which can only result in ruins (however vast and magnificent) - and, at the same time, a triumph of 'art brut' in a way (Dubuffet's theories on art brut have yet to be related to a concept of 'outsider cinema') ... As for the Vogel Call: Nicole deliberately wrote it as a 'provocation' rather than as a bid to start an 'institution' with a collection-address attached ... I guess SOME arhives would already see themselves involved in SOMETHING approaching the principles of the Call, although not systematically, and probably never enough ... So, any event that could crystallise around 'orphan films' would be something! Just the other day, I hoarded a collection of films by little kids for some possible future purpose ...

Adrian

Zach Campbell said...

Great information, Adrian, thanks. I hope to make it to the Albert Kahn Museum someday.

Maya said...

Zach: What do you have in mind when you query if anyone wants to start planning some amateur or non-profit archives of material? I respect that you acknowledge the privilege bloggers have of evaluating work the print press rarely have time to feature. Along with "big" movies that I review, I try to make an earnest effort to check out alternate film venues, festivals that are just beginning, and nonprofits that harbor esoteric collections. Oddball Films here in San Francisco comes directly to mind. 35,000 reels of home movies, inherited footage, on and on. It's amazing.

Zach Campbell said...

Michael, I don't know if I have anything specifically in mind when I think of a response to the Vogel Call. But let me relate one project that I find tempting--to help organize a decentralized network of users across the globe, many of whom will have some sort of capacity to project (8mm, 16mm, even 35mm) films, or to transfer video formats, etc. who will organize small private archives of films which are not otherwise easily attainable. Each person would contribute whatever resources & skills they could volunteer, and maintain a personal 'archive' of their own choosing (a few dozen--or more, or fewer--bootleg DVDs, some reels of orphan footage, a compilation of advance screening tapes from years past, whatever).

This network of users would be connected by, say, a listserv, or a website, where they could update their private holdings as well as the potential 'functions' (e.g., "I own and can use a film projector for local screenings," "I can rip DVD to my computer," etc.). Anyone trying to get ahold of a work on some format, or simply to see certain kinds of footage/video that are marginalized in some way, could then query the network to see what's available and if it's feasible to get it, perhaps by way of a middleman or a transfer (e.g., make a DVD transfer of an old VHS bootleg). It could be a service provided only by members of the network to each other, or perhaps also to outsiders 'sponsored' or 'ok'ed by the network. Another function of the network might be to organize screenings in a given location ...

Maya said...

Ambitious. I actually hope in time to develop my downstairs unit into a salon space to host private screenings, talks, etc. Keep me in on the loop on this one, if you will.