Thursday, June 28, 2007

VHS / DVD

I don't know about y'all, but I find I'm much more forgiving of bad videotape transfers than bad DVD ones.

A Cult Alley Theatre disc of Enzo G. Castellari's pimps-cops-and-hookers update of The Iliad, known by one title as Hector the Mighty, is an appallingly pan-and-scanned affair. I couldn't finish it, and it wasn't with the low quality of the film itself. And yet I find that if I had the same transfer on VHS, if it were all that were available to me, I'd probably convince myself to be resigned to the experience, maybe even romanticize the idea of the shaky, murky nth-generation dub.

2 comments:

dave said...

Digital formats lack the 'authenticity' of human work that goes into their reproduction. They are products of a system of production that doesn't utilize human labor to produce contraband. [See: Andy's final comment on your October post on VHS, and his reference to Taylorism]. DVDs are a labor of machines rather than love, and this lets us treat them as mere object-products, useful to us but nothing more than this use value.

"Use-value is an expression of a certain relation between the consumer and the object consumed. Political economy, on the other hand, is a social science of the relations between people. It follows that 'use-value as such' lies outside the sphere of investigation of political economy." - Paul Sweezy

With VHS, there is still a dash of political economy in the gesture of reproduction, while digital formats only carry political economy in the fact of their reproduction.

Zach Campbell said...

Hmm. I think this gesture of reproduction comes from the fact that the videotape has always come to us as a mediation of its object, whereas the DVD is really more and more closely a different manifestation of it. More demonstrably true for a Kevin Smith or Stephen Sommers film than, say, Ugetsu--but even so, the act of the DVD release comes to "suit that need" (use value) more and more closely to the way that cinema screenings are being presented toward fulfilling the same demands, I think...

Such are the new 'auras' of the mass-(re)produced work of art: auras not of object status but of release, of availability as commodity ...