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Ex-Cinema: From a Theory of Experimental Film and Video

Akira Mizuta Lippit
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 201
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    What does it mean for film and video to be experimental? In this collection of essays framed by the concept "ex-"-meaningfrom, outside,andno longer-Akira Mizuta Lippit explores the aesthetic, technical, and theoretical reverberations of avant-garde film and video.Ex-Cinemais a sustained reflection on the ways in which experimental media artists move outside the conventions of mainstream cinema and initiate a dialogue on the meaning of cinema itself.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95391-8
    Subjects: Film Studies

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. EXC00 Exergue Ex-Cinema
    (pp. 1-14)

    An exergue, from the Greekex(outside) andergon(work), refers to a space outside the work, outside the essential body of the work, and yet part of it, even essentially—a part and apart. An exergue locates an outside space that is included in the work as its outside. What kind of work, and what kind of outside? TheOxford English Dictionarydefines the exergue as “a small space usually on the reverse side of a coin or medal, below the principal device, for any minor inscription, the date, engraver’s initials, etc. Also, the inscription there inserted.” A small space...

  6. EXC01 Out of the Blue (Ex Nihilo)
    (pp. 15-37)

    First is blue, firstness, and then at the end, still blue. At the end, always still the firstness of blue. Derek Jarman’s last film,Blue, begins and ends in blue, running blue from beginning to end. From this blue, out of the blue,ex bluecomes a voice: not one, but several voices—those of John Quentin, Nigel Terry, Derek Jarman, and Tilda Swinton. He and she blue, they blue, the film remains blue, the voices blue, everything beginning and ending in blue, in and from Jarman’s blue movie. An entire film rendered in blue, every element turned blue, until...

  7. EXC02 Extimacy Outside Time and Superrealist Cinema
    (pp. 38-55)

    One feature that returns chronically in the various names and modes Jean-Claude Lebensztejn calls “hyperrealism” in painting—photo-, super-, and hyperrealism; sharp-focus and new realism; realist revival and realism now; and post-pop, cool, radical realism, and more—is an intimate proximity to photography. The works collected in his retrospective of hyperrealist painting,Hyperréalismes USA, 1965–1975, held at the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art) in Strasbourg in 2003, share an origin in photography, in the idea of photography, and in the represen ta tion of photographic proximity. A nearness that generates influences and overflows,...

  8. EXC03 Cinemnesis Martin Arnold’s Memory Apparatus
    (pp. 56-72)

    The recycled films of contemporary Austrian filmmaker Martin Arnold point to the place of a machine, an apparatus for collecting and redistributing memories in particular—a memory machine that preserves interiority outside,ex machina. In fact, the discourses on memory have often imagined such a machine, a perfect memory, a fail-safe mechanism for regulating the vagaries of memory. One might locate the machine’s origin in the Greek figure Mnemon, who was assigned to Achilles as a mnemic prosthesis. Classical historian Robert Graves recounts the narrative: “Thetis had warned Achilles that if he ever killed a son of Apollo, he must...

  9. EXC04 The Rhetoric of Images, of the Unimaginable
    (pp. 73-86)

    Filmmaker and videographer Caveh Zahedi’s body of work shares both a relentless interrogation of reality—relentless to the point of absurdity, or rather to the point of rendering reality absurd—and a similarly relentless interrogation of himself, of his responses to the world he experiences and engages. In a series of feature-length works that often reenact past events and stage present events, Zahedi zealously flings himself into the world and refuses to let it go, mixing and remixing elements of the past and himself until they reflect for him the image he seeks. His feature films,A Little Stiff(1991),...

  10. EXC05 Derrida, Specters, Self-Reflection
    (pp. 87-105)

    Who or what is a specter? When and where does it appear? Jacques Derrida offers some thoughts on spectrality and the timely dimension of ghosts. Against the assumption that ghosts always return only later, and are an effect or aftereffect of the past, Derrida suggests that specters are always there in the living, and haunt the present in advance. They are, Derrida insists, the condition of possibility of all work:

    A specter is both visible and invisible, both phenomenal and nonphenomenal: a trace that marks the present with its absence in advance. The spectral logic is de facto a deconstructive...

  11. EXC06 (Parenthesis Video Ergo Sum)
    (pp. 106-118)

    On the many screens and surfaces that constitute video artist Diana Thater’s work, one face looks back repeatedly—the animal’s. One face but many, many animal faces played back in her medium of choice, video. And more than one video; many looks, surfaces, media, and videos. In her numerous installations, frequently consisting of multiple and dispersed screens spread across large spaces, as much architectural and sculptural as visual, animals and video come together. Both of them subjects, both of them media. Of one, Thater says, “Video is a medium whose flexibility has obscured both its history and language.”¹ Video’s flexibility,...

  12. EXC07 Digesture Gestures without Bodies
    (pp. 119-137)

    The very term cinema, from kinematics or “pure motion,” alludes to a foundation in movement and gesture; its vernacular name makes the relation explicit, “movies”—images that move, that produce and reproduce movement from life itself, animation.¹ The illusion of authentic movement in cinema depends on the verisimilitude of the image, on the reproduction of the bodies in motion.² The photographic images that form the basis of live-action films refer to a body in space, a body from which the images are drawn indexically, if not umbilically. Noting the lengthy exposures required in early photography, Walter Benjamin speaks of the...

  13. EXC08 Extract Matthias Müller
    (pp. 138-149)

    Among the many faces of German experimental filmmaker Matthias Müller—many faces, but also hands, limbs, prosthetic accessories, and other body parts, as well as surfaces, including global landscapes both barren and lush—are also many phases: poet, video artist, landscape artist, melancholic, and comic. These faces form an autobiography dispersed throughout his work, a series of faces or surfaces that Robin Curtis, following Paul de Man, calls prosopopeia, “a figure by which an imaginary or absent person is represented as speaking or acting, or in which something inanimate or abstract is personified.”¹ Müller’s autobiographies do not lead to Müller...

  14. EXC09 Revisionary Cinema
    (pp. 150-168)

    “This is only a dream.” An unknown voice interrupts the dream, not entirely from within its diegesis, but somewhere there on its surface, like a voice-over. It resonates across themise-en-scènefrom someplace both within and without the dream, an ambiguity infused into the dreamworld. From where? “Das ist ja nur ein Traum.” For Sigmund Freud, the nondiegetic utterance suggests evidence of a secondary revision, habitual, he argues, in all dreams. Another apparatus has interrupted the flow of the dream, leaving a trace of its intervention in the form of adifférance: another subject (of enunciation) from another temporal order...

  15. EXC10 xxxxMA
    (pp. 169-180)

    Cinematography. In a brief essay from 1973, “L’Acinéma,” Jean-François Lyotard speculates on the relation between cinema and negation, filmmaking as the labor of negating movement.¹ The title of the essay almost forms a pun, forms an almost or aborted pun, a silent negation of the negation, a denegation of “la cinéma” as “l’acinéma.” The pun collapses because the French word “cinéma” carries a masculine article, “le cinéma.” Lyotard’s negation of cinema as acinema produces a mild sonic play, almost inaudible, through the already somewhat faint acoustics of gendered nouns. “La cinéma,” “l’acinéma” represents a transgendered cinema (the negation of cinema...

  16. Index
    (pp. 181-189)