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The New Frontier of Cinema _amp; Digital Culture

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The New Frontier of Cinema _amp; Digital Culture Powered By Docstoc
					Publication Date 1 August 2010
Return to www.aestheticamagazine.com/film.htm




              The New Frontier
                of Cinema &
               Digital Culture

                                              Abandon Normal Devices Festival
            The DigiTAl lANDsCApe hAs AlTereD how AND wheN we experieNCe CiNemA. This AuTumN, The
              AbANDoN NormAl DeviCes FesTivAl opeNs To explore These juNCTures iN more DeTAil.




Today there is a distinct intersection between art and cinema, which is evolving    rules to enable people to change their creative process and their method of
into a new paradigm within the digital landscape. The delivery systems have         working. Festival Manger, Gabrielle Jenks, explains: “The idea is, if you were
changed, it’s no longer the multiplex that’s in charge of when, where and how       creatively stuck, you could pick up a card and it would say: ‘Ask your body’ or
films are screened, rather there’s a burgeoning democratisation of film culture.   ‘Say it in the simplest terms as possible.’” Fortunately for the organisers, they
At a new frontier, cinema, in the traditional sense, is now being experienced in    selected the card “Abandon Normal Instruments”, which inspired the festival’s
innovative and stimulating ways.                                                    vision, but also encouraged an “idea for filmmakers, producers and writers to
   In the last issue, we reported the Secret Cinema project, where participants     abandon their normal processes and create something different or propose a
not only watch films, but experience live cinema. There are more options            striking perspective on how to move forward and change the normal routine.”
available for viewers and artists’ films are extending beyond the context of          The 2010 edition of Abandon Normal Devices features brand new commissions
the gallery, for example, including the cross-over film, My Winnipeg (2007) by      from internationally renowned artists, filmmakers and cultural provocateurs.
Guy Maddin or more recently Yorgos Lanthimos’ Dogtooth (2009). Not only is         The programme includes a special collaboration and exhibition with artist Phil
cinema being encountered in new ways, but audiences are starting to question        Collins for his new work, marxism today, the UK premiere of Gillian Wearing’s
the overall experience of what it means to watch a film. Even the rituals of the    first feature length film Self-Made, human vacuum packing from controversial
film festival are changing, expanding the trajectory of cinematic practice. With    artist Lawrence Malstaff, and UnSpooling: Artists & Cinema, a gallery based
this in mind, cinema becomes more than a ticket and box of popcorn.                 exhibition of work from artists and filmmakers, which explores the materiality
  This October, the Abandon Normal Devices (AND) Festival of New Cinema             of film and the history of cinema. There are even plans to screen a 570 minute
and Digital Culture opens in Manchester. Formed in the Northwest, AND is            film, challenging the framework of how you show films by length, and how you
a collaboration between FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology)           push people’s concentration and invite them to slow down.
in Liverpool, Cornerhouse in Manchester and folly in Lancaster. After its             The main premise behind this year’s festival is to create a discursive platform
inauguration in Liverpool last year and plaudits from The Guardian and Little       that will be centred on debate around new cinema, particularly with reference
White Lies, the festival is a catalyst for production and experimentation. This     to looking at its definitions. Even the title of the festival is curious – organisers
year’s emphasis is on explorations of identity, behaviour and systems, which        are requesting attendees to abandon their normal devices. How can this be
define who and what we are. The festival invites a host of international cross-     achieved? In a rigid world of protocol and expectations, this seemingly painless
platform artists and filmmakers to investigate what normal devices are and          concept is difficult to put into practice. However, Jenks is pragmatic: “We want to
asks, how might we abandon them?                                                    take risks, it’s an opportunity for three organisations that are already producing
   AND will travel between Liverpool and Manchester on alternate years with an      interesting work to push boundaries further through the festival, but there is a
extended programme in Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire. Could this be the           level of responsibility, because we can programme work that we’d never be
beginning of the Northwest Film and Digital Culture Festival? Conceived from        able to do within the context of running a venue. We want to galvanise energy
a flipchart of “doom”, the organisers’ decided to strategize using Brian Eno        over a period of time, and get audiences talking around the bar, push artists in
and Peter Schmidt’s, Oblique Strategies (1975). Oblique Strategies is a project     new directions, and put films in unusual spaces.”
that consists of a set of cards with a series of instructions and self-imposed         One of the main festival highlights is the premiere of Self Made, co-written by

42 Aesthetica
Lawrence Malstaff, Shrink.




                             Turner-prize winning artist Gillian Wearing and playwright Leo Butler. Based        addresses all five senses, but without giving priority to the communication-
                             on an idea by Wearing, the film follows 12 participants as they discover their      technologies that are today still limited to the audio-visual.
                             invented personas through a method workshop. Filmed on location in Newcastle          Another hot ticket on this year’s programme is UnSpooling: Artists & Cinema
                             it follows newspaper and Job Centre adverts being placed that simply asked          (curated by Andrew Bracey and Dave Griffiths), which questions our expectations
                             members of the public: “If you were to play a part in a film, would you be          about the production, display and experience of cinema. The project features
                             yourself or a fictional character?” From those who replied several were cast to     innovative painting, drawing, film and video from the last decade, plus newly
                             develop their characterisation and eventually appeared in the film. Wearing         commissioned performance, installation and cinematic sculpture, as well as
                             explains: “We are currently living through uncertain times that are forcing         architectural and street interventions. Together the work explores a field where
                             many people to question and redefine established notions of identity. In a          cinema exists, as an experience, language, history, theory and artefact.
                             world in which CCTV, reality television and ‘fictionalised’ documentary makes         With a dynamic and probing programme, AND will incite new experiences for
                             us all into performers, reality and fiction are rapidly becoming interchangeable    cinema-goers and by “looking at the journeys we’ve already been on, artists
                             commodities. Self Made will show how it is possible to blur the divisions of        are inspired by this idea of abandoning normal devices.” Unpacking this idea
                                                                                                                                              further, Jenks wants to dissect normality: “We start-
                               “We started to look into what normality was and we couldn’t                                                    ed to look into what normality was and we couldn’t
                             separate it from identity. It’s something that we either try to                                                  separate it from identity. It’s something that we
                             rebel against or it’s seen to be reinforcing a status quo.”                                                      either try to rebel against or it’s seen to be reinforc-
                                                                                                                                              ing a status quo. Statistically there’s a dataset that
                             reality and fiction and expose how real people see their own lives as a movie. offers a benchmark on how ‘normal’ you are by asking questions such as, how
                             Are we all playing a role, consciously or unconsciously?”                           many cars you’ve owned; it’s through numbers that you can determine how
                               When heroes are reality TV stars and a breaking news story is a celebrity break- ‘normal’ you are, and how identity is linked to normality, behaviour and sys-
                             up, Wearing’s film is a profound analysis on society, and the norms and social tems.” But with this comes accountability: “There is a balance between offering
                             mores of the day. Jenks comments: “Wearing works with personal identity and striking perspectives and asking hard-line questions about why we behave the
                             the media’s identity, while critiquing television, and how that determines the way we do. You have to be careful about how you do that, and the responsibil-
                             way we perceive ourselves. The decline of the class system gave us a need to ity that you have when you want to push things quite so far.”
                             align ourselves with another narrative. We were able to categorise other people       This year AND offers a heady mix, curating a subversive programme that will
                             and ourselves but we no longer can, we have to build a story around ourselves. challenge perceptions, notions of identity, and engage within the broadest
                             Self Made is evidence of this – if you want to be in a film who would you be?”      context of digital culture. AND examines the process as much as the product,
                               This year’s programme will also consist of sensory experiences through Law- which in its own right, makes this a festival of its day. For tickets, venues and
                             rence Malstaff’s highly provocative, Shrink. Consisting of two large, transparent further information visit www.andfestival.org.uk.
                             plastic sheets, volunteers will be wrapped, while a device gradually sucks out
                             the air leaving their bodies vacuum-packed and vertically suspended. Shrink Cherie Federico

                                                                                                                                                                                      Aesthetica 43

				
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