Week Four: Precursors: TV, Cinema, Contemporary Art
There is a a tradition of “Videographic Film Studies” that existed before the Internet. Some TV channels, like the West-German WDR, but also TV programmers in other countries, initiated an impressive variety of programmes on cinema that combined thorough analytical observations with an inventiveness of visual forms and techniques. Found footage has also been used in experimental cinema and contemporary art. Most examples of this audiovisual legacy remain either overlooked or invisible as they are stacked away in archives or private catalogues. For this reason, this episode mostly gathers fragments and snippets instead of entire essays.
“Cannibalizing Sidney J Furie’s 1982 Barbara Hershey horror film The Entity, the story of a woman who is continually assaulted and raped either by real ghosts or by awfully adept repressed traumas… The screen literally explodes with a tumult of Hershey faces, shattering Steve Burum’s original cinematography into shards of frightened eyes, trembling hands, and violent outbursts of self-defense, presented in multiple exposures too layered to count, too arresting to ignore. Each frame is further entangled with details revealed by a jittery effect (a primitive traveling matte?) which spills fluttering ectoplasmic lightpools from one cubist aspect of the woman to another. The filmmaker mimics the action of nightmares by condensing the original imagery of the feature and displacing it into a new narrative — as in dreams, a narrative not explicitly linked to actual events, but emotionally more true than any rational explanation. Tscherkassky’s shorts are actually considerably more terrifying than the original material.”
– Guy Maddin
Volker Pantenburg is assistant professor for moving images at the media faculty of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.