Film Fest Fugue by Gerry Fialka  4-22-20

"Cinema is the music of light" - Abel Gance (0) {these are footnotes, see below}

"Nothing is" - Sun Ra (1)

OVERTURE -

In late March 2020, I spent over 6 daze (fifty hours plus) online watching the 58th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival in real time on two thirteen inch laptops. AAFF cantillated live streaming (2) as a way of seeing the paradoxical exuberance of being through virtual community and experimental film. They harmonized a visionary symphony of light as music.

This essay (aka FFF) reflects the art and science of combining filmmakers, moving imagery, sounds, digital simultaneity, my living room, bed and garden into a "fugue" which is a type of musical composition. The word "fugue" comes from the Italian "flight" and "ardor." Etymologically, ardor is rooted in "flame." You know, the ol'campfire metaphor. Film is "light on." Video is "light through." Avant-garde moving imagery can be poetic. Poetry is candor, which comes from the word "candle," which means white light. 

Luis Bunuel quipped, "But that the white eye-lid of the screen reflect its proper light, the Universe would go up in flames." So kick back. Dig. Recalibrate this array of quotes. Don't just settle for their quirky crescendos. I aspire to examine how author Zadie Smith describes artist Kara Walker, "I hope it continues to be her self-defined job to gather all the ruins of her own, and our, history - every abject and beautiful, oppressive and freeing, scatalogical and sexual, holy and unholy - into one place, without attempting perfect alignment, without needing to be seen to be good so that she might make art from it." 

FILM FEST FUGUE -
Kudos to Leslie Raymond and the AAFF staff for carrying out this impassioned and memorable fete. Illumine the act of fleeing with another FFF (aka Fialka Funny Farm) as the resonating themes playfully burn this sucker up: virus/virtual, body, nature, sex/feeling, death/time, technology, story, gaze, and ghosts. 

I welcome your input. Email me your answers. Please keep in mind that we are analyzing the subliminal psychic effects, not the obvious. Not the intention. What is the environment it created? The gestalt. Tell me how that shapes behavior. I even watched one short film on my laptop on the sink while taking a shower with the door open.
1) What does AAFF live stream enhance or intensify? 
2) What does it render obsolete or replace? 
3) What does it bring back that was previously obsolesced? 
4) What does it become when pressed to an extreme, what does it flip into? 

I - VIRUS/VIRTUAL
The 2020 Coronavirus meant the first time the Ann Arbor Film Festival broadcast the entire program online. Can the CV (Corona Virus as Curriculum Vitae as the flip into VC = Video Chatpandemic be considered both a poison and a magic potion? How can we flip a breakdown into a breakthrough? Flip the "pandemic lockdown" into "infodemic look up"? The word "virus" is based on a Latin word for "poison secretion," and similar to another Latinism "vires," meaning power. Proliferation paradox. In Charlotte Eifler's film feminism is a browser, I heard a voice say "I think we can infect with a positive virus to give us hope. . . . that the world can be better." In 1962 William Burroughs described his idea of language as a virus. Complex clairvoyance? Conceptual continuity? 58 years later, AAFF goes viral virtually? 

In that same aeon, McLuhan's "global theater" probe replaced his "global village," which he got from Wyndham Lewis, who wrote "Artists live in the present and write a detailed history of the future." No "on demand" here. Hear? One shot-deal, though one could have filmed the live-stream off the computer screen and then TiVo your binge-watching delights. Rewatching could prove insightful, as you can see in the many links in this essay to the actual films or clips.

We love film. But at this time, who can think about anything but virus. Is it the po-mo de-con (post modern deconstruction) dance? Theodor Adorno wrote, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Or "how can we think about art at a time like this?"

II - BODY
Since this essay is an exercise in media yoga, Alan Watts mocks how we begin meditation with the mantra "I am not my body." Throughout the fest, I heard lines like "where is your body?", "who needs a body?", "do you feel safe in your body?", "body as font", "the cinematic body is not the physical body", and "hell is in the shape of the human body." Lynne Sachs stated, "I only have one body." 

How about five bodies? Please consider McLuhan archivist Robert Dobbs: ”The Chemical Body is what most people consider to be their 'physical body.' The dominant model for this is the product of Western science since the telegraph. The Astral Body is what pervades all cultures - the belief there is more to our makeup than the Chemical Body. It is a huge storehouse of religious and spiritual energy. The third organ is the TV Body - the repository of historical one-way broadcasting. The fourth is the Chip Body - the mutating warehouse of digital omni-directional media. The fifth is the Mystery Body - what we’re still excavating and whose lineaments we cannot fully assess yet, if ever. We now know it’s made up of the previous four bodies but we don’t know what more we will discover about its constituents, affects, and effects.“ The mystery is also that we really don't know if films activate or pacify us?

I especially enjoyed the joyous wit of Pat Oleszko's Kneel & Dimples - Hon-Knee-Moon in Knee York https://www.patoleszko.com/pat-s-last-tapes/2678001-7221-photo-20 reconstituting body parts to the always innovative music of "Blue" Gene Tyranny. 

How does the body politics interconnect with distributing award money? The Q and A session with the three judges was a first and very revealing. As a team, the skill of judging art as a "living social organism" is complicated. How does one navigate personal taste and aesthetic intelligence? How does one determine what constitutes "fair" dishing out the bucks to fellow professors, filmmakers, students and pros?

III - NATURE (3)
Evann Siebens does a Buster Keaton to Bob Fosse's dance (who seemed he was playing at dancing more than dancing) in Time Reversal Symmetry http://evannsiebens.com/time-reversal-symmetry by looking at the symmetries of nature, and asks why we live in a matter dominated universe. I laughed hilariously at one of the funniest scenes in any dance film ever, when her pooch Pina Bausch evokes the George Clinton lyric "Nothing but the dog in me." Atomic dog McLuhan barked: "We must invent a new metaphor, restructure our thoughts and feelings. The new media are not bridges between humans and nature: they are nature." Arf! Arf?

Before every screening the viewer read a warning, "Some films have imagery of a stroboscopic nature." Having made strobe films, I have reviewed the many ways the warning can be worded. Research a few: A) the way Tony Conrad wrote "The Flicker" warning, B)"Flicker vertigo," C) Brion Gysin's Dreamachine and D) the phenomenon of seeing sunlight strobing through tree branches. I am especially intrigued that the word "nature" was included, instead of just saying "warning strobe effects." 

Consider D = Is flickering light Nature's way? McLuhan diagnosed a "peculiar form of self-hypnosis" he called "Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby a human remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of their new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible."

What is nature? At times, are we just watching lots of nature films? Deborah Stratman proclaims "Nature is the original internet." Josh Safdie says, "Movies are against nature. It's the most perverted art form."

Breathe in deep. Release. Now let us reflect consciously how the "AAFF Online Stream" shaped our behaviour. Survey its hidden psychic effects. We can wrangle our aesthetic opinions on the content and style of the individual films. Practice suspended judgement. Let's go deep "see" diving into the subliminal environment of the "form," and not only the "content."

I was able to be cozy in my bed, and lay in my sunny garden watching the Fest. We were all comfortable with the emulating empathy-enhancing properties of this private world being public. McLuhan talked about how we go outside to be alone, and stay inside to be together. Telepathic collective simultaneity? "Telepathy" can describe how we can effectively communicate with each other by non-verbal means, and even more image-based memes.

During one film, I watched a hummingbird on the screen and then a real one flew by my screen. This happened often with car noises and clouds passing by.  "When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art. - Paul Cezanne. Echo images reverberated for location sensing. Cinema as place? Film viewing as Ann Arbor, MI or Venice, CA?

In the book Haunted Media, Jeffrey Sconce examines the relation between communication technologies, metaphysical preoccupations, and our fascination with the boundaries of space and time. In her Penny Stamps presentation, Martha Colburn  https://marthacolburn.com/films/my-secret-shame/ talked about "mushroom inspired imagery. . . and diddling with gag reflex." Tough topics? I felt serenaded by ecstatic new states of tribal immediacy, and integral awareness (IA flipped AI = artificial intelligence?).

The festival has always been a means to "dreaming awake." We make a Faustian pact to engage in self-Ludovico treatments. Some attendees told me distractions were increased due to being at home. At times, I felt that distractions happen more at the theater. For years I have surveyed people who lost the cellphone, and many say they get "clarity." It's a "forced fast." The AAFF 2020 was a forced fast - no "live theater" experience. 
McLuhan's "Media Fast" http://www.laughtears.com/salon.html probes the "voluntary fast" - refraining, restraining, "keeping in check."

IV - SEX/FEELINGS
Percept is sensual, intuitive, heart-based. Concept is a head-based, logic, linear, a "con job." The blurb for Dirk de Bruyn's Pattern Recognition talks about Marshall McLuhan’s concept of acoustic space. But McLuhan actually teased people to believe his percepts were concepts. He said that "pattern recognition (4)" can lead to "comprehensive awareness." Is "big picture" perception reality? Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Deanna Morse expressed her tearful feelings yearning for her peeps while watching the slide show of past fests during the DJ sets. I also got emotional and felt a yen for the camaraderie, a word rooted in the Latin"camera." Deanna's loving receptiveness shined bright hosting several Q and A's. 

I felt alot watching Vivian Ostrovsky's Unsound www.youtube.com/watch?v=peznnjmn3EA It broke the barrier as a silent film evoking Jean-Luc Godard's “listens to the light.” Seen is Johnny Weismuller's Tarzan yell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwHWbsvgQUE but not heard. The addition of graphic squiggly lines coming out of his mouth sense-ratio-shifted me into synesthesia (5). I recall Ivan Kral's Iggy Pop footage projected years ago without sound, again enabling our senses to cross-over to the utter side.

V - STORY
It is consistent to note that experimental film often rigorously re-evaluates non-narrative forms. Are these filmmakers telling stories a different way or doing something completely diverse? I turn constantly to Andrew Noren in PA Sitney's book Eyes Upside Down"Every film is narrative simply by virtue of the fact that one frame must follow another in time. Our minds are such that we are obliged to make a story out of everything we experience, obliged to frame things to make them comprehensible. We constantly tell ourselves stories that allegedly interpret the play of light and shadow in the screen of the mind. Story is absolute basic essential of waking, we dream that we are awake, imagining past and future, telling ourselves elaborate stories about both. We invented cinema deliberately as a device to allow us to dream while waking, and to give us access to areas of the mind that were previously only available in sleep." Watch the hypnotic Digits of Pi by Tom Bessoir and Joshua Pines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQn2DEVmDM8 Is it storytelling? You tell me.

At a past AAFF Penny Stamp lecture, video game giant David OReilly yelled "uck storytelling, it's all empathy." Jon Rafman, who said he was influenced by Chris Marker (6), retells Homer's Odyssey as a video game, which, he claims, have replaced cathedrals as the epitome of human ingenuity. Rafman explores digital ephemera and how it is affected by desire. His disturbing dreams are sensory overload. Marker and Rafman both played the video game Second Life. I only believe in reincarnation in one of my past lives.

Eifler stresses how through fiction we can get a deeper truth, recalling how Faulkner influenced Hunter Thompson to spout "Sometimes fiction is more true than journalism." Peter Greenaway touches with "Cinema is much too rich a medium to be left to storytellers." Narrative is born among the "animal necessities of the spirit" because we are "waiting to die" counters Hollis Frampton. Concluding with the La Poste writer reacting to Lumiere Cinematographe film screening December 30, 1895: "When these gadgets are in the hands of the public, when anyone can photograph the ones who are dear to them, not just in their motionless form, but with movement, action, familiar gestures and the words out of their mouths, then death will no longer be absolute, final." Go direct to "Death."

VI - DEATH/TIME
In Colors and Shadows, Andreas Hadjipateras poignantly documents an elderly man reflecting on the final chapter of his life. He can no longer separate reality from what he has dreamed of. It evoked two questions: Can you forget to die? Can you learn to die? 

"What is going to be made and seen in the next ten years would cause your grandfather to leap from the grave." - Ron Rice's '60s comment from Allegories of Cinema by David James (see footnote 1). James Joyce invented online streaming and disguised it as a book, Finnegans Wake (1939), in which a similar "rising from the dead" affair ensues from an open casket. Seven years earlier, the first film festival came into being as a direct result of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini's enthusiasm for motion pictures as a tool for political public relations and propaganda, which is "culture in action."

VII - TECHNOLOGY/ANDROID MEME
Then the "throbber," which is the official term for that spinning wheel in the middle of your computer screen when its recalibrating, stares at the reel "you."  I believe in art that freaks your stuff up and inspires you to say "I can do that." Having attended AAFF for about half of its 58 glorious years, my annual expedition of full immersion (six days and over 8 hours per day) sometimes, well always, fills the bill. I am researching a book entitled Any Complaints Talk to the Projectionist, a history of the future of experimental film. It also encompasses "underground film," a term first used in a 1957 essay by Manny Farber. Parker Tyler's 1969 book Underground Film: A Critical History probed subversive art. They helped inform me these filmmakers are also breaking new ground.

The mechanics of exhibiting in a theater is a big part of the experience. I have curated festivals for over 50 years. At the beginning of one of my screenings of a Martin Arnold flicker film, my projectionist turned it off because he thought the dvd was skipping. As a tipping point, the overlap tended toward the tactile expression of mixed(up)-media while self-consciously compromising the live cinema myth. How about technologies as the collective unconscious and art as the collective unconsciousness? Maybe illustrating Herzog's quip "You have to know the context in which you become inventive." The tech directors have been stellar from legendary Peter Wilde to the current whiz Tom Bray.

Though the AAFF 2020 online streaming had some problems, I duly praise Dr. Chicago, I mean Dr. Bray, for keeping the groove groovy. When we are in the theater, a slide can notify the viewers to stand by, technical difficulties are being resolved. During the online streaming, my picture would skip and repeat. The intrigue astounds me because I am not sure its part of the film or not. Unless that spinning circle starts to hypnotize us. The throbber (the official name of that spiral) tells us to stand by as the the loading and recalculating is got you on hold. Or could that be a trick the filmmaker slipped in? This "Android Meme" (Dobbs term) is humans imitating the hidden psychic effects of our inventions.

Having two laptops enabled me to monitor the situation more closely. They were never in perfect sync. This enable me to review the footage. Study the subliminal effects. We can see in the top left corner how many screeners, which varied from approximately 80 to 350. An increase, since I remember when Dan Gunning and I were the only two people in the theater once.  I wonder if the tech directors can also monitor who exacting is tuning in. It may be revealing since past participants have boycotted the festival for various reasons. We could see who is seeking a peek.

VIII - GAZE
Did humans invent the "gaze"? Did Alice Guy-Blache invent the female gaze? Did Lumiere brothers invent the male gaze? How does one reckon with oculesics, the study of eye contact? Especially when you are staring at your laptop in the very midst of the AAFF, and you see your own reflection in the screen staring back at you?

VIIII - GHOSTS
"Cinema is the art of ghosts" - Silvia das Fadas & Masha Godovannaya, her* hands and his shape. Chris Peters contributed the brilliant Vertigo A.Ivimeo.com/363466204 (did he?) I have envisioned artificial intelligence making avant-garde films for years. He did it with perceptual punch. Bingo a go go! His algorithms present a story and consciously express its visual-space bias to be technologically determined. Or at least, appear to manifest David Lynch as a Frances Bacon wannabe on Hitchcock's backlot. Bravo Chris! Francis Bacon summarized: "I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence and memory trace of past events, as the snail leaves its slime."  Lynch (especially with his shorts) aspired to make Bacon into film. Curtis Harrington aspired to make Edgar Allan Poe into film. Lou Reed aspired to make Edgar Allan Poe into rock'n'roll. Experimental filmmakers are aspiring to make ? into ?

The ghosts in the machines emerged in SPENCER'S SLIGHTLY IMPERFECT PEEP SHOW AKA MICRO-BURLESQUE by AAFF vet Gary Schwartz https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SqI-uGx6R7c It simplified brazen bigness with a real catchy musical tune.

Louie’s Antiques by Melissa McClung https://vimeo.com/352402193 tells of another dimension when one is filming ghosts stories. I don't even have to tell you about the guy going into the antique store, and asking "What's new?"

X - DESIRE
What do you want? See footnote #7. Walter Benjamin quoted Duhamel, who stated "I can no longer think what I wish to think. The moving image have ousted my thoughts." "Our desires are artificial. We have to be taught to desire. Cinema is the ultimate pervert art. It doesn't give you what to desire - it tells you how to desire." - Slavoj Zizek. Study Epictetus. Things in our control (whatever are our own actions): desire, opinion, and are by nature free, unrestrained, and unhindered. Things not in our control (whatever are not our own actions): body, property, reputation, weak, slavish, restrained, belonging to others. Can one control their filmic desires?

So many filmmakers made references to the anxieties of their influences. I loved hearing names dropped and cultural luminaries cited like Angela Davis, Chris Burden, Len Lye, Norman McLaren, Max Ernst, Yvonne Rainer, Bruce Nauman, David Daniels (Buzz Box), Chris Marker. You nonconformists are all alike. I am 'bout to bring up the hardest working human in experimental film. Jump back and kiss yourself. Let's hear it for retired Air Force Colonel Craig Baldwin. Funkadelicize da films. Break the light fantastic. Whatever you play, its gotta be funky. That's My Desire, the 1969 James Brown version, or better yet, Hadda Brooks.

Craig Baldwin's mentor Bruce Conner talked about the desire to make films he had not already seen. Mock Up on Mu mackdaddy Baldwin scored by making such a beast and an AAFF winner, Tribulation 99, abreast his mantra "create something unexpected." To me, Baldwin is the epitome of AAFF pathos. If you don't agree with me, then kindly read my essay Craig Baldwin's Touch: Is It Love or Confusion? Or Glorious Not Knowing? in CRAIG BALDWIN: AVANT TO LIVE!, a collaborative publication from SF Cinematheque and INCITE: Journal of Experimental Media projected to hit the streets in November 2020. 

Preeminent filmmaker James Benning was in desire of something different and saw his first experimental films on public TV. Past AAFF director experienced his first there too. So the through line goes like this: AAFF would not show any video for about the first 4 decades, only celluloid. But they screened a Bruce Conner film that had shots of images on his tv set. What's the diff? Like the joke, sex on tv is ok, just as long as you don't fall off.

I almost remembered to forget three questions I like to ask:
First: What was the first experimental film that made an impact on you, and where did you see it?
Second: If you were an experimental film, what would be your subject matter?
Third: Who is over-rated in experimental film?
One friend scolded me for even thinking we need rating? It's a joke. Art is anything you can get away with, especially in avant-garde cinema. Aye?

Let's sing out this line from Jordan Cronk (Film Comment 1-14-20): "'Taste' and the elite nature of experimental film is counterintuitive to the societal development we seek." The question and answer sessions did not take place in Ann Arbor for approximately the first four decades (no popcorn either). In the Michigan Theater, they can be problematic (and helpful) for various reasons. But online it was more intimate. That resonating interval was gawking in a good way. Brakhage stressed letting the work speak for itself, then he would yap for two hours. I once heard Ken Jacobs say, "I'm not telling" to the question, "How did you do it?" When Robert Frost was asked to explain a poem, he retorted, "You mean, you want me to say it worse." I must admit that hearing the filmmakers talk was enlightening and desirable this year with the "let's explore, not explain" attitude.

You desire more - yeah right?! Easy. Watch more remarkable clips here:
Trauma Chameleon Gina Kamentsky https://vimeo.com/336109616
* tx-reverse 360°- Martin Reinhart, Virgil Widrich https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NOvoATkRqmI
Dont Know What - Thomas Renolder http://www.thomasrenoldner.at/dontknowwhat.htm
We Are Future Shock Zohar Dvir https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XEhyjNlJHgI
SERPENTÁRIO - Carlos Conceição https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zyr0lMdl60Q
The Golden Legend - Chema García Ibarra, Ion de Sosa https://vimeo.com/357513341

CODA -
Is this really the Gerry Fialka essay Film Fest Fugue exploring the Ann Arbor Film Festival 2020 and experimental film's hidden psychic effects via Marshall McLuhan's Menippean satirized percepts: "We shape our tools, then they shape us." and “The Balinese have no word for art, they do everything as well as they can.” and "How about technologies as the collective unconscious and art as the collective unconsciousness?" ???

Can you delve deep into the metaleptic heart, soul and body of streaming cinema online?

I stress: "We must invent a NEW METAPHOR, restructure our thoughts and feelings. The new media are not bridges between humans and nature: they are nature." - McLuhan. Please reimagine new questions with new eyes ala the musical term "marcato," essentially a louder version of the accent. Tell me how YOU speak up on these issues. Email me pfsuzy@aol.com

Survey the services and disservices of streaming a film festival online. How do viewers cope when the normally live experience is changed? "The multiplicity-of-the-media experience we have today will alienate people from identifying with any medium. So people will finally get detached from the hypnotic effect of each medium." Robert Dobbs. How and why does this multiplicity as an artform create the collective consciousness of today?

Retool McLuhan's percept: "May I suggest art in the electronic age is not a form of self-expression, but a kind of research and probing. It is not a private need of expression that motivates the artist, but the need of involvement in the total audience. This is humanism in reverse, art in the electric age is the experience, not of the individual, but of a collectivity." The AAFF community of filmmakers and viewers are social engineers of perpetual motion machinery who are musicalizing a symphony of cinema, needling somnambulism and actualizing the "abnihilization of the etym" (James Joyce's Wakian words for making something out of nothing). The AAFF is a way of seeing the paradoxical exuberance of being through community.

CODETTA -
Honor our Ancestors. Our Kindred. Blast through the bardo and sing out their names:
Agnes Varda
Barbara Hammer
Jonas Mekas
Paul Clipson
Carolee Schneemann
Suzan Pitt
Rob Todd
Dusan Makavejev
Phil Solomon
Woody Vasulka
Robert Frank
Annette Michelson
Ivan Kral
D. A. Pennebaker
Bruce Bickford
Peter Whitehead
Peter Wollen
Jonathan Schwartz
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge
Bruce Baille (Years ago, I asked Bruce at AAFF what inspired his framing aesthetic? He noted that Jean Cocteau said that the silverware setting of the knife, fork and spoon helped determine his framing.)
I welcome adding any others who passed in recent years.

Please let me know when eye go astray.

The fest ended with the son of Les Blank, an AAFF icon. Harrod Blank's documentary Why Can't I Be Around You https://harrodblank.com/work/why-cant-i-be-me-around-you-2019/ is a captivating personal story, and put the icing on the cake. Delectable Dolce! The Blanks reek of funk. AAFF synchronizes best with me when it's funky (7). The word "funky" hails from c.1900 jazz slang meaning "earthy, strong, deeply felt."

Again, I return to author Zadie Smith's article (8) on artist Kara Walker: "The novelist James Hannaham, once said of her, 'She has the hermeneutic idea of the role of the artist in society—a person who is strong enough to withstand projection and then can project ideas back to the people in such a way that their minds change. Or not.'"  . . . “I have always responded,” Walker has said, “to art which jarred the senses and made one aware physically and emotionally of the shifting terrain on which we rest our beliefs.”

So the Film Fest Fugue is just warming up at the Fialka Funny Farm, where ghetto expressionism rains supreme, and the Larghetto (I mean, Laughtears LighthouseMusic) lampoons the final benediction, a double-duty interrobang GG: "Destined, to see the illuminated, not the light." and "Thinking is more interesting than knowing, but less interesting than looking." -both from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

Gerry Fialka (Laughtears.com pfsuzy@aol.com) plays, makes, writes and lectures on experimental film, avant-garde art, beat-funk-noise and subversive social media. He served on the AAFF Screening Committee from 1977 to 1980, when all the members were in one room seeing every entry. His PXL THIS Film Festival (celebrating 30 years in 2020) was featured at the AAFF 2001. He has presented workshops at AAFF over a dozen times. His 2020 Off The Screen Pecha Kucha presentation was postponed. Watch a version of it: "Moving Image Probe" here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKy9z0a8a1Y&t=592s  Experimental Film is not dead, it just smells funny. He just reworded Zappa's "who are the brain police?" to "who are the predictive police?" or "machine learning algorithm police?" or "placemaking police?"

+++++++++

HOOTENANNY CRESCENDOS - Footnotes as Ear-notes

0) In the 20's, Abel Gance was the maverick film pioneer employing elaborate editing techniques and innovative use of rapid cutting. In the 30's, he regarded cinema as "infantile and stupid." He characterized most of the films made during the 40's as ones that he did "not in order to live, but in order not to die."

1) This Sun Ra quote "Nothing is" comes from the exemplary experimental film book Allegories of Cinema by David James, who has influenced me profoundly. I once said to him, "Sometimes I like reading about experimental film more than watching it." David responded, "Not me." I told Frank Zappa during a film shoot as normal music (KROQ) played in the background, "That music will turn you into a normal person." Frank responded, "Not me." They both increased my awareness of non-commodity culture. One cannot make a living being an experimental filmmaker, but you can teaching it. David showed his USC students Frank Zappa films. This faux-faux essay as a soundtrack modally frames the melody gone awry. (Imagine a free MC5 & Funkadelic free concert with The Shaggs gazing at Ornette Coleman's Skies of America during Sun Ra's lecture.) Zappa wrote about music being air molecule sculptures. Andrei Tarkovsky wrote a book entitled Sculpting in Time. David edited a book about Stan Brakhage, who, introducing Tarkovsky at the 1983 Telluride Film Festival, declared: "I personally think that the three greatest tasks for film in the 20th century are 1) To make the epic, that is, to tell the tales of the tribes of the world. 2) To keep it personal, because only in the eccentricities of our personal lives do we have any chance at the truth. 3) To do the dream work, that is to illuminate the borders of the unconscious." Any comments. What are your 21st and 22nd century updates? Is experimental film dead, or just smelling funny? Is it alive and well? I recommend attending the AAFF every year, live and/or online. As Sun Ra said, "Everyone is in jail. The Ra jail is the best and you'll learn things in my jail." Everything is old under the Sun? Or is that new knowledge under the Sun? Over the Sun? Ra Ra Ra, eat it raw!

2) In 2019, I presaged live streaming film festivals (the ones I most love) when Pixelvision was live streamed online at PXL THIS 29. Check out Pixelvision As Live Stream - Gerry Fialka and Brett Neese's fun interactive workshop. It interconnects the infamous Fisher-Price toy video camera, the PXL-2000, and the internet's live streaming simultaneity. Merge the art forms of the new millennium and delve deep into discussion by probing the retrieval of Marshall McLuhan's maxims: “The next medium, whatever it is — it may be the extension of consciousness — will include television as its content, not as its environment, and will transform television into an art form."  “The art object is replaced by participation in the art process. This is the essential meaning of electric circuitry and responsive environments. The artist leaves the Ivory Tower for the Control Tower, and abandons the shaping of art objects in order to program the environment itself as a work of art.” There is an old saying in Silicon Valley that if you are not paying for the product, you are the product.  Brett also details how to merge Pixelvision with cellphones at PXL THIS 30 http://laughtears.com/PXL-THIS-30.html

Also: Can you step in the "live stream" twice? Does the media fallout compromise or strengthen our immunity? What humanness is extended by our inventions? Welly well well, clothing extends skin. Knife and fork extend our teeth. Film editing extends our eye lid. The shutter extends our eye lid. One may say film extends our eye, or memory. McLuhan said it extends the foot. We are on a magic carpet ride, pluralistically in many worlds and cultures simultaneously. 

FFF (which one?) is inter-netted, and socially engineered to hold memories (pictorial, textual, audio, bio-sensorial), and retrieve what? The speed of light, or the speed of thought? And what senses is it numbing?

3) More on "nature" from Dobbs: Human bodies are First Nature, the human bodies make Second Nature, which is media and language. There's a subtle interplay between the bodies and the media. The bodies as souls come and go, but the media keeps building itself through time. So we come to the point where the media builds itself, completes itself, and it's merging with the bodies.The best way to express that is to show the bodies, show the Android Meme dominating them, which is just simple language dominating humans in this dimension, then the language resolves itself through the Android Meme. We've moved into the fused First and Second Nature situation, and therefore you can't tell the difference between First Nature and Second Nature. Cloned ESP. I mean, people don't need words to function today. They have a post-verbal language, which is the intuitive electric media. Electronic digital media. e-mail be considered language? That's ESP. That's mainly your instant interaction with people with words that are a component but not the dominating medium. In fact, the post-moderns talk about the end of the logocentric, that's visual space language. Verbal written language, that disappeared in the 20th century. But you still have language in terms of tactile communication, which is, you use a computer, e-mail, the fellow responds back to you, like when you do instant messaging. That's not verbal language. Verbal is inside it, part of what you read, or you can send pictures, but the instantaneous, the medium you use, the digital environment, is the language, is your tongue. It's your means to communicate.I would say the simple agenda is this. Whatever traditional images you have that make you think you're being affected in a certain way, get rid of those images! Break up those images you have. Don't think "psychosomatic," don't think this, don't think "organic food processes," don't think any of these normal ideas of what might be causing you pain. What's affecting you is something that you can't really visualize. So you loosen up the people's obsession on, "Oh man, I ate too much wheat germ, that's causing  this, I better go get a doctor to give me a drug."If you get lost in that thought form, and the doctors give you a "solution," then that'll cause you more problems. You need to just sit back and say, "Yep, I'm being massaged," and just accept it.  Basically the population's being put on a collective LSD trip, in a more subtle way than TV managed to do. Because these refined vibratory devices are affecting our chi levels, our etheric bodies, which is then affecting the astral plane. So we're being affected in ways that no knowledge system can map anymore. The media needs new content. Because the media want to be kept on and people want to live in that discarnate cyberspace of TV. They want to be part of it every day. So every form of human expression will be used and exploited and expressed. So, you can play a game where each one of us is both figure and ground. Every one of us in this planet is in a yin-yang situation - we're creating our own disease as well as curing it. The hidden environment is what's really motivating everybody, and creating a lot of obsession or neurosis, and the stress of life is always caused by the new invisible environment. Therefore, an antidote or an an aesthetic to that is the past environments, but to use them as props. So, all human creativity is now provided as the content, but the mixed corporate-media create the stress on people, and they're trying to find out how that stress is affecting them. They'll never be able to find out how that stress is affecting them. But all they have to do is understand what I'm talking about. "Process" is what is affecting all of us, that's the hidden ground, and they just reflected the need, subconsciously, for psychology to adapt to the new electric environment in the '60s and '70s, the electric environment being processual. So they came up with concepts of "process". Now that concept is obsolete because they've exhausted it, people are no longer using it, but they are stuck in an environment that is process incarnate. So, they've got a problem.You are saturated with TV by the time you are 18 or 19, you want to know what to do, you want to develop an identity. Study something that has taken the best of what has happened in the last 40 or 50 years. You study that and then you realize that the understanding you got from that is obsolete. Then that's the apocalypse - finding out that you don't exist. You have to deal with the fact you live in an almost Oriental oblivion, you live in a resonating void. Once you realize you are gone, you are invisible, in terms of expressing that relation to anybody else, you might then realize "I'm still here!", and then you start to realize you've survived. 1929: "But the fact remains that, so recently that most people have not realized it, the Earth has become ONE place, instead of a romantic tribal patchwork of places.... What has fact on its side is still this strange synthesis of cultures and times (which we named Vorticism in England) and which is the first projection of a world-art, and also I think the clearest trail promising us delivery from the mechanical impasse." - Wyndham Lewis. 1946: "But I should perhaps add, before concluding, that just as eclecticism as a policy would find its justification in a new synthesis, so, in the case of an individual artist, his personality will all the time be creating a personal synthesis ...When all the cultures have been digested, we shall become a new cultural creature: an Earth Man."--Wyndham Lewis. 1960: “Experimentation has passed from the control of the private artist to the groups in charge of the new technologies. That is to say, that whereas in the past the individual artist, manipulating private and inexpensive materials, was able to shape models of new experience years ahead of the public, today the artist works with expensive public technology, and artist and public merge in a single experience. The new media need the best artist talent and can pay for it. But the artist can no longer provide years of advance awareness of developments in the patterns of human experience which will inevitably emerge from new technological development." - Marshall McLuhan. 2003:"It is now possible to probe the role of politics within the vision of communications beyond media. Particularly now the political element within communication is of the very essence of the process of creating probes and percepts that will ultimately lead to the decentering of the global megalopolis. And this must be done with the awareness that the 20th century launched a "new science" a "poetic science" that will permit analysis of the interplay of contrapuntal oppositions within the cosmic chaosmos--- the post-global village." - Donald Theall    

4) More on "pattern recognition": "The instant replay is the meaning in that it is less concerned with the input of experience than with the process of perception. The instant replay, indeed, offers not just cognition but re-cognition, and leads the mind to the world of pattern recognition, to aftersight and foresight. . . . Living in a new environment of instant electric information has shifted American attention from specific goals to the cognitive thrills of pattern recognition, a change most obviously manifested in the TV service of the instant replay." - Marshall McLuhan.       

5) Synesthesia: We still have a long way to go "surfing" the electronic highway. This metaphor was first used by McLuhan about the same time Jimi Hendrix sang "You'll Never Hear Surf Music Again." And the same time, Rudolf Arnheim was applying the fundamental principles of Gestalt psychology to the creation and appreciation of film and art. These principles emphasize the primacy of structured perception and the spontaneous experience of emotional expression. Read more: https://whitehotmagazine.com/articles/breder-intermedia-artist-1935-2017/4561
As a major source of discovery, McLuhan acknowledged one of most influential thinkers in the visual arts, Arnheim (University of Michigan professor in the Department of the History of Art from 1974-1984). In 1935, in an essay titled “A Forecast of Television,” Arnheim wrote “television…can…put our mind to sleep.” Film engages consciousness, the surface of the psyche; television engages the unconscious, the depths of the psyche. Arnheim begins his essay by noting the difference between what we know about things and what we can sense about them. Video, he argues, diminishes this disproportion or discrepancy by articulating what we know in direct sensory terms.  This makes them truly interesting—interesting for unconscious not simply conscious reasons. Arnheim is in effect asserting that video breaks down the barriers between the unconsciously interesting—what we feel and intuit about things—and the consciously sensed—what we perceive them to be in our sense experience of them.  This means that video simulates how things exist in the unconscious.  It is the basic reason why the video image has a hypnotic effect—is unconsciously mesmerizing.  It explains why television “changes our attitude to reality,” as Arnheim says. “Simultaneity can be experienced as such”—simultaneity of the conscious and the unconscious, that is, their co-existence and co-operation in every perception and conception of a thing. . . . Odilon Redon declared that “all art is submission of the will to the unconscious.”  . . . The video image is an “iconic mosaic,” an “inclusive image” that “mandates participation in depth”—like an image in the unconscious.  Somewhat extravagantly, not to say deliriously, McLuhan insists that television affords an experience of “synesthesia, or unified sense and imaginative life,” ending “the rigorous separation and specialization of the senses.”  In a similar vein, Arnheim insists that television replaces the “realm of thinking” with “direct experience.”  Both are a bit of overstatement, but their point is that “TV engages you totally,” as McLuhan puts it:  “you have to be with it.”  Synesthetic immersion in television indicates the “sense of intimacy” generated by it, and with that unconscious engagement with it and its ever-changing images—unconsciously attune to its process, even more than to the images that appear on its screen, products designed to appeal to our more superficial consciousness.  Video has been used to record performance artists’ self-conscious (not to self-aggrandizing) behavior, but that is not true video art.  It uses the video camera as a passive mirror, a recording device rather than a divining rod—it is not art that uses video process to unconscious effect. Authentic video art made a grand appearance with Nam June Paik’s Electronic Superhighway:  Continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, 1995, but it still has a long way to travel on the Electronic Highway.

6) Chris Marker wrote voice-over text for Sans Soleil: "a solution: if the images of the present don't change, then change the images of the past. . . . I begin to wonder if those dreams are really mine, or if they are part of a totality, of a gigantic collective dream . . . And beneath each of these faces a memory. And in place of what we were told had been forged into a collective memory, . . . voyeurizing the voyeurs. . . My memory superimposes . . .death is not a partition to cross through but a road to follow. . . . I'm writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility. . . . I picked up the whole shot again, adding the somewhat hazy end, the frame trembling under the force of the wind beating us down on the cliff: everything I had cut in order to tidy up, and that said better than all the rest what I saw in that moment, why I held it at arms length, at zooms length, until its last twenty-fourth of a second."

Jon Rafman's Dream Journal 2016-2019 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8cd0Dt94-MA&t=18s description unravels a "nightmarish vision of an internet addict’s unconscious." His articulate discussion afterwards revealed this influence of Chris Marker, who wrote in the Sans Soleil narration, "Video games are the first stage in a plan for machines to help the human race, the only plan that offers a future for intelligence. . . .  I'm writing you all this from another world, a world of appearances. In a way the two worlds communicate with each other. Memory is to one what history is to the other: an impossibility. Legends are born out of the need to decipher the indecipherable. Memories must make do with their delirium, with their drift. A moment stopped would burn like a frame of film blocked before the furnace of the projector. . . . I remember the images I filmed of the month of January in Tokyo. They have substituted themselves for my memory. They are my memory. I wonder how people remember things who don't film, don't photograph, don't tape." Nuff said? For those of you miffed by McLuhan, let's recall Chris Marker's proclamation: “I betrayed Gutenberg for McLuhan long ago.” 

One of the judges, Lynne Sachs, worked with Marker, who seems to conducts symphonies of symptoms when it comes to this essay itself. The voice-over in Sans Soleil actually illuminates me traversing the crossover of written word and moving image online: "He might have cried out if it was in a Godard film or a Shakespeare play, 'Where should this music be?'" Yeah, where should this festival be talked about?

7) Zappa-meets-"yacht rock"-wannabe Thundercat says, "All I ever wanted to be was funky and funny." I can dig it. Words evoke more that their meaning: "Fun is the key." Bootsy Collins believes "Funk is the absence of any and everything you can think of, but the essences of all that is." I'm just funning. Funk is the absence of this essay. Robert Frost proposed "all the fun's in how you say a thing." Righteous rascality!

8) What Do We Want History to Do to Us? by Zadie Smith The New York Review 2-27-20 
What do we want AAFF live stream to do to us?
What do we want experimental films to do to us?
What do we want essays on experimental film to do to us?
     
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LAST SONATA  -  "The Melody Haunts My Reverie" - Hoagy Carmichael or Roy Lichtenstein?

"The point of the Narcissus myth is not that people are prone to fall in love with their own images but that people fall in love with extensions of themselves which they are convinced are not extensions of themselves. This provides, I think, a fairly good image of all of our technologies, and it directs us towards a basic issue, the idolatry of technology as involving a psychic numbness."  And  " Holmes genius for constructing patterns from chaotic surface events is a critical perceptual tactic for the electronic/information age ..." – Marshall McLuhan=MM  “All situations are composed of an area of attention [figure] and a very much larger (subliminal) area of inattention [ground] ….Figures rise out of, and recede back into, ground….for example, at a lecture, the attention will shift from the speaker’s words to his gestures, to the hum of the lighting or street sounds, or to the feel of the chair or a memory or association or smell, each new figure alternatively displaces the others into ground…The ground of any technology is both the situation that gives rise to it as well as the whole environment (medium) of services and disservices that the technology brings with it. These are side effects and impose themselves willy-nilly as a new form of culture”.- Robert Dobbs  MM:“Film is high-definition pictures. You don’t have to fill in the blanks, so you’re detached and can think critically. Radio, telephone—they give you less to go on, and you have to fill out the message with your own story. But they’re still relatively hot. At the far end of the gamut is TV. It’s cool, low definition; you get completely absorbed in processing the bombardment of dots, hypnotized. It’s also non-sequential, like newspapers. Movies flow narratively, sequentially, the way we see. TV throws everything at us holus-bolus like sound. We can see only one thing at a time, but we can hear many things at once, even around corners. That’s why film is an eye medium and TV an ear medium. The phonetic alphabet fell like a bombshell on tribal man. The printing press hit him like a hydrogen bomb. Now we’ve been blitzkreiged by TV. The horseless buggy was the only way people could describe the automobile. Families whose wealth was based on carriages and buggy whips soon went bankrupt. Horsepower moved from animals into cars. The wheel extends the foot in an automobile. In this way the wheel amplifies the power and speed of the foot, but at the same time it amputates. In the act of pressing the gas peddle, the foot becomes so specialized it no longer performs its original function, which is to walk. If the wheel is an extension of the foot, then money is an extension of muscle, radio an amplification of the human voice, and the hydrogen bomb an outgrowth of teeth and fingernails. Why should the sending or receiving of a telegram seem more dramatic than even the ringing of a telephone?   What do you think Hitler meant when he said: “I go my way with the assurance of a sleepwalker?”   Read Finnegans Wake outloud with other people.

They want for their art work to escape the shadow of these powerful influences, to go forth and persist in the world on its own merits, and to take on a fresh new life of its own in the minds of its viewers. Amid this jujitsu dance of enemies and influences, how do viewers of art and film make meaning? As Marshall McLuhan might say, the user needs to become the content, throwing him or herself into the middle of the melee. In the process the viewer moves beyond both the artist and beyond the influences that shaped, inspired, and hampered the artist.

“What can one do about an observed problem in the world?”  Make a film? Write an essay? Not make a film? Not write an essay? As Maurice Blanchot observes, “The answer is the disease, the misfortune, of the question.”

Playwright Bertolt Brecht believed “Art is not a mirror held up to reality. Art is a hammer with which to shape it.” High aspiration? McLuhan probed the hidden psychic effects of the words making and matching (mirroring). He wrote: “Most people have the idea of communication as something matching between what is said and what is understood. In actual fact, communication is making. The person who sees or heeds or hears is engaged in making a response to a situation which is mostly of his own fictional invention. What these critics [F. C. Bartlett and I. A. Richards] reveal is that the mystery of communication is the art of making.” McLuhan challenges us to have the courage to: “Carefully make plans, then do the opposite.” - Laughtears.com 

SCHERZO -
As the rollicking finale sounds, I want to thank you for reading. Recalling the wise words of preeminent Venice street artist, Dougo: "Art isn't." As a Rube Goldberg wannabe, I am riffing off the avant-gardey craze, asking "Foolish Questions" (his 1912 vaudevillian comic strip), and parodizing "when you're laughing, you're learning."

Visit:


COMMENTS CONCERTO - CC Seeing: 

1= from Evan Meaney 4-21-20
Gerry:

You are, and remain, a powerhouse. This is tremendous. I love the parallels between virus-ality and virtuality. Prudent and pertinent. The wrapping nature of the new exhibition format reminds me of the wrapping nature of internet protocols. I also like the combination of Adorno here. What place does art have in the quarantine?

I have to say, this is an awesome recap of AAFF in unprecedented times, drawing in so many things and themes that I wouldn’t, necessarily, have brought to the forefront on my own. And, quite clearly, I was drawn to Section VIIII (not section IX), hiding itself in a ghostly nature. 

This is wonderful and you remain thoughtful, thought-making, and thought-provoking. 

Stay well and safe, my friend.
And thanks for this. 

Evan

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2= From: Haeyong Moon 4-19-20 
Hi Gerry,

Thanks for sharing your writing - what a great resource! I will keep this email in my inbox and sift through the links.

I especially loved the quote from Cezanne (that art should not clash when placed next to a tree or flower - so simple and true!) and Maya Angelou (that people forget what you said or did, but they will never forget how you made them feel). Summarizes the root of my art-making - to create a reflection of the world that is as natural as it can be and echo a feeling of warmth and compassion for the viewer.

Stay well,
Haeyong

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3=Walter Alter 4-20-20
Good stuff.  See in for comments.

OVERTURE -

In late March 2020, I spent over 6 daze (fifty hours plus) online watching the 58th annual Ann Arbor Film Festival in real time on two thirteen inch laptops. AAFF cantillated live streaming (2) as a way of seeing the paradoxical exuberance of being through virtual community and experimental film. They harmonized a visionary symphony of light as music.

This essay (aka FFF) reflects the art and science of combining filmmakers, moving imagery, sounds, digital simultaneity, my living room, bed and garden into a "fugue" which is a type of musical composition. The word "fugue" comes from the Italian "flight" and "ardor." Etymologically, ardor is rooted in "flame." You know, the ol'campfire metaphor. Film is "light on." Video is "light through." Avant-garde moving imagery can be poetic. Poetry is candor, which comes from the word "candle," which means white light. 

Luis Bunuel quipped, "But that the white eye-lid of the screen reflect its proper light, the Universe would go up in flames." So kick back. Dig. Recalibrate this array of quotes. Don't just settle for their quirky crescendos. I aspire to venture how Zadie Smith describes Kara Walker, "I hope it continues to be her self-defined job to gather all the ruins of her own, and our, history - every abject and beautiful, oppressive and freeing, scatalogical and sexual, holy and unholy - into one place, without attempting perfect alignment, without needing to be seen to be good so that she might make art from it." 

Great quote - not attempting perfect alignment.  As head boohoo of the Anti-Nuance Artists League (ANAL), I'm all in for imperfect alignment.


FILM FEST FUGUE -
Kudos to Leslie Raymond and the AAFF staff for carrying out this impassioned and memorable fete. Illumine the act of fleeing with another FFF (aka Fialka Funny Farm) as the resonating themes playfully burn this sucker up: virus/virtual, body, nature, sex/feeling, death/time, technology, story, gaze, and ghosts. 

I welcome your input. Email me your answers. Please keep in mind that we are analyzing the subliminal psychic effects, not the obvious. Not the intention. What is the environment it created? The gestalt. Tell me how that shapes behavior. I even watched one short film on my laptop on the sink while taking a shower with the door open.

Dude, you are Media Man!
 
1) What does AAFF live stream enhance or intensify? 
2) What does it render obsolete or replace? 
3) What does it bring back that was previously obsolesced? 
4) What does it become when pressed to an extreme, what does it flip into? 

I - VIRUS/VIRTUAL
The 2020 Coronavirus meant the first time the Ann Arbor Film Festival broadcast the entire program online. Can the CV (Corona Virus as Curriculum Vitaepandemic be considered both a poison and a magic potion? How can we flip a breakdown into a breakthrough? Flip the "pandemic lockdown" into "infodemic look up"? The word "virus" is based on a Latin word for "poison secretion," and similar to another Latinism "vires," meaning power. Proliferation paradox. In Charlotte Eifler's film "feminism is a browser", I heard a voice say "I think we can infect with a positive virus to give us hope. . . . that the world can be better." In 1962 William Burroughs described his idea of language as a virus. Complex clairvoyance? Conceptual continuity? 58 years later, AAFF goes viral virtually? 

I'm thinking that a bow to meme theory might fit in here.  Memes are considered to be viruses in the theory.

In that same aeon, McLuhan's "global theater" probe replaced his "global village," which he got from Wyndham Lewis, who wrote "Artists live in the present and write a detailed history of the future." No "on demand" here. Hear? One shot-deal, though one could have filmed the live-stream off the computer screen and then TiVo your binge-watching delights. Rewatching could prove insightful, as you can see in the many links in this essay to the actual films or clips.

There are apps that can do exactly this - video capture apps, tho not popularized insofar as they can bec considered a tool of media piracy.

We love film. But at this time, who can think about anything but virus. Is it the po-mo de-con (post modern deconstruction) dance? Theodor Adorno wrote, "To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric." Or "how can we think about art at a time like this?"

Hard to consider a neolithic hunter gatherer putting a bit of design on his spear shaft as bourgeoisie, but that's basically what art is, a bourgeoisie pastime.  Consider this - the sum totality of our modern aesthetic sense is in truth an hand me down from the ruling class aesthetic of leisure, ornament, decor, fad, Veblin's conspicuous consumption, nuance, refinement, good manners, romantic chivalry.  What other sort of aesthetic could there be, you may ask.  "Bauhaus" he stated whistfully, think efficiency, form follows function in all things.  But I'm not sure everyone would be happy driving an Army Humvee or wearing sturdy rip stop military fatigues with lots of pockets, D rings, snaps, zippers and Velcro tabs, but there it is - practicality, durability, convenience, the sort of aesthetic that can get you through an Amazonian spider collecting expeditiion.


II - BODY
Since this essay is an exercise in media yoga, Alan Watts mocks how we begin meditation with the mantra "I am not my body." Throughout the fest, I heard lines like "where is your body?", "who needs a body?", "do you feel safe in your body?", "body as font", "the cinematic body is not the physical body", and "hell is in the shape of the human body." Lynne Sachs stated, "I only have one body." 

The illusion is that one body implies one mind, whereas, instead, if the neo-Freudian object drives psychoanalisis school is not fallling down drunk, we might consider that we are the combined personas of our parents, family members, anyone we ever befriended, met, seen in media or imagined from a fairy tale or pets we had or dolls we played with.  Perhaps the mirror actually does lie.

How about five bodies? Please consider McLuhan archivist Robert Dobbs: ”The Chemical Body is what most people consider to be their 'physical body.' The dominant model for this is the product of Western science since the telegraph. The Astral Body is what pervades all cultures - the belief there is more to our makeup than the Chemical Body. It is a huge storehouse of religious and spiritual energy. The third organ is the TV Body - the repository of historical one-way broadcasting. The fourth is the Chip Body - the mutating warehouse of digital omni-directional media. The fifth is the Mystery Body - what we’re still excavating and whose lineaments we cannot fully assess yet, if ever. We now know it’s made up of the previous four bodies but we don’t know what more we will discover about its constituents, affects, and effects.“ The mystery is also that we really don't know if films activate or pacify us?

Well OK then, I was talking about the bio-body.  Not sure the others can be measured other than with a very rubber yardstick.

I especially enjoyed the joyous wit of Pat Oleszko's Kneel & Dimples - Hon-Knee-Moon in Knee York https://www.patoleszko.com/pat-s-last-tapes/2678001-7221-photo-20 reconstituting body parts to the always innovative music of "Blue" Gene Tyranny. 

How does the body politics interconnect with distributing award money? The q and a session with the three judges was a first and very revealing. As a team, the skill of judging art as a "living social organism" is complicated. How does one navigate personal taste and aesthetic intelligence? How does one determine what constitutes "fair" dishing out the bucks to fellow professors, filmmakers, students and pros?

Yah, ezackly.  What is good art?  All I know is that Beavis and Butthead knew music and the maintenance of an adolscent spirit might be a step in the right direction to solve this insoluble conundrumic riddleoid mystery.

III - NATURE (3)
Evann Siebens does a Buster Keaton to Bob Fosse's dance (who seemed he was playing at dancing more than dancing) in Time Reversal Symmetry http://evannsiebens.com/time-reversal-symmetry by looking at the symmetries of nature, and asks why we live in a matter dominated universe. I laughed hilariously at one of the funniest scenes in any dance film ever, when her pooch Pina Bausch evokes the George Clinton lyric "Nothing but the dog in me." Atomic dog McLuhan barked: "We must invent a new metaphor, restructure our thoughts and feelings. The new media are not bridges between humans and nature: they are nature." Arf! Arf?

Well, it's ALL Nature, but differentiation into infinite qualities of nature might be a start.  Heck, even dogs have identifiable barks, tho the aliens in "Mars Attacks" seemed to have univeralized and absolutized the utterance.

Before every screening the viewer read a warning, "Some films have imagery of a stroboscopic nature." Making strobe films, I have reviewed the many ways the warning can be worded. Research a few: A) the way Tony Conrad wrote "The Flicker" warning, B)"Flicker vertigo," C) Brion Gysin's Dreamachine and D) the phenomenon of seeing sunlight strobing through tree branches. I am especially intrigued that the word "nature" was included, instead of just saying "warning strobe effects." 

I actually look forward to, nay, expect to be moved into a cognitive grand mal seizure when viewing art.  Anything to avoid the sin of cliche.

Consider D = Is flickering light Nature's way? McLuhan diagnosed a "peculiar form of self-hypnosis" he called "Narcissus narcosis, a syndrome whereby a human remains as unaware of the psychic and social effects of their new technology as a fish of the water it swims in. As a result, precisely at the point where a new media-induced environment becomes all pervasive and transmogrifies our sensory balance, it also becomes invisible."

Attention directing being largely a function of eyeball movement, when there is too much to see, too much eye candy ambivalence, you can get a paralytic hypnosis.  Schizophrenics do this a lot.
 
What is nature? At times, are we just watching lots of nature films? Deborah Stratman proclaims "Nature is the original internet." Josh Safdie says, "Movies are against nature. It's the most perverted art form."

Sometimes I think that critics and commentators are accessing a secret metaphor magnet where any concept can be seen in terms of any other concept.  Freud said the id sees everything as equivalent to everything else in what he called the "primary process".  The id equates "I have to shit" with "I'm hungry", they are both needs that require immediate gratification.  The ego is the part that says "We should find a toilet" or "We should find a Jack in the Box".

Breathe in deep. Release. Now let us reflect consciously how the "AAFF Online Stream" shaped our behaviour. Survey its hidden psychic effects. We can wrangle our aesthetic opinions on the content and style of the individual films. Practice suspended judgement. Let's go deep "see" diving into the subliminal environment of the "form," and not only the "content."

Yes, good technique.  If you analyze wiggly fingers, it's possible to conclude they could work a violin to play a little Vivaldi.

I was able to be cozy in my bed, and lay in my sunny garden watching the Fest. We were all comfortable with the emulating empathy-enhancing properties of this private world being public. McLuhan talked about how we go outside to be alone, and stay inside to be together. Telepathic collective simultaneity? "Telepathy" can describe how we can effectively communicate with each other by non-verbal means, and even more image-based memes.

Study a laptop and environs and you can conclude a lot about the joys of portability, A window you can carry around and see a lot more than you can see staring at a brick.  The lapto's multifunction capacity should not escape investigation, much as we would investigate all the doodads on a Swiss army knife.
 
During one film, I watched a hummingbird on the screen and then a real one flew by my screen. This happened often with car noises and clouds passing by.  "When I judge art, I take my painting and put it next to a God made object like a tree or flower. If it clashes, it is not art. - Paul Cezanne. Echo images reverberated for location sensing. Cinema as place? Film viewing as Ann Arbor, MI or Venice, CA?

We are gods and everything we make is a god made object.  It's just that we're hampered by the infant's observation that Dad and Mom are gods, which is something the infant is not, so he grows up thinking he's not a god.

In the book Haunted Media Jeffrey Sconce examines the relation between communication technologies, metaphysical preoccupations, and our fascination with the boundaries of space and time. In her Penny Stamps presentation, Martha Colburn  https://marthacolburn.com/films/my-secret-shame/ talked about, "mushroom inspired imagery. . . and diddling with gag reflex." Tough topics! I felt serenaded by ecstatic new states of tribal immediacy, and integral awareness (IA flipped AI = artificial intelligence?).

I'd rather diddle with my Babinsky reflex.  Boundaries dissappear when you zoom in on them.  Similarly when we zoom out from ourselves, we see boundaries we didn't think were there.  Emotions for example.

The festival has always been a means to "dreaming awake." We make a Faustian pact to engage in self-Ludovico treatments. Some attendees told me distractions were increased due to being at home. At times, I felt that distractions happen more at the theater. For years I have surveyed people who lost the cellphone, and many say they get "clarity." It's a "forced fast." The AAFF 2020 was a forced fast - no "live theater" experience. McLuhan's "Media Fast" http://www.laughtears.com/salon.html probes the "voluntary fast" - refraining, restraining, "keeping in check."

Separate media from ambience.  The media is the small laptop screen vs. the large theater screen.  The laptop also has controls that you can manipulate.  No such in the theater.  Autonomy vs. bee hive.  Scale of image has something happening as well.  Little image, I'm in control; big image, I'm dwarfed.

IV - SEX/FEELINGS
Percept is sensual, intuitive, heart-based. Concept is a head-based, logic, linear, a "con job." The blurb for Dirk de Bruyn's Pattern Recognition talks about Marshall McLuhan’s concept of acoustic space. But McLuhan actually teased people to believe his percepts were concepts. He said that "pattern recognition (4)" can lead to "comprehensive awareness." Is "big picture" perception reality? Maya Angelou said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Deanna Morse expressed her tearful feelings yearning for her peeps while watching the slide show of past fests during the DJ sets. I also got emotional and felt a yen for the camaraderie, a word rooted in the Latin"camera." Deanna's loving receptiveness shined bright hosting several Q and A's. 

Feelings are positioning devices from which plans are made, Maya, prone to undifferentiated meta data which orient and prepare for the details to follow in regards to the necessity to flee or engage.

I felt alot watching Vivian Ostrovsky's Unsound www.youtube.com/watch?v=peznnjmn3EA It broke the barrier as a silent film evoking Jean-Luc Godard's “listens to the light.” Seen is Johnny Weismuller's Tarzan yell https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MwHWbsvgQUE but not heard. The addition of graphic squiggly lines coming out of his mouth sense-ratio-shifted me into synesthesia (5). I recall Ivan Kral's Iggy Pop footage projected years ago without sound, again enabling our senses to cross-over to the utter side.

Sense is change detection, it's that simple.  A signal that does not change becomes background.  We are figure junkies, the background always gets the short shrift.  McLuhan is actually a gestalt missionary.  Media is background is static.  Content is object, is dance.  Our eyes saccade, vibrate constantly sub threshold, so that the retina cells don't saturate and lose function.

V - STORY
It is consistent to note that experimental film often rigorously re-evaluates non-narrative forms. Are these filmmakers telling stories a different way or doing something completely diverse? I turn constantly to Andrew Noren in PA Sitney's book Eyes Upside Down"Every film is narrative simply by virtue of the fact that one frame must follow another in time. Our minds are such that we are obliged to make a story out of everything we experience, obliged to frame things to make them comprehensible. We constantly tell ourselves stories that allegedly interpret the play of light and shadow in the screen of the mind. Story is absolute basic essential of waking, we dream that we are awake, imagining past and future, telling ourselves elaborate stories about both. We invented cinema deliberately as a device to allow us to dream while waking, and to give us access to areas of the mind that were previously only available in sleep." Watch the hypnotic Digits of Pi by Tom Bessoir and Joshua Pines https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hQn2DEVmDM8 Is it storytelling? You tell me.
 
Time in its guise as sequence is the background to everything.  Space in its guise as simultaneity is the background to everything.  Go figure. 

At a past AAFF Penny Stamp lecture, video game giant David OReilly yelled "fuck storytelling, it's all empathy." Jon Rafman, who said he was influenced by Chris Marker (6), retells Homer's Odyssey as a video game, which, he claims, have replaced cathedrals as the epitome of human ingenuity. Rafman explores digital ephemera and how it is affected by desire. His disturbing dreams are sensory overload. Marker and Rafman both played the video game Second Life. I only believe in reincarnation in one of my past lives.

Epitome of human ingenuity might also exist in improv comedy, schizophrenic word salad, football quarterback, rodeo bull rider, parachutist in mid fall with tangled lines, etc.
 
Eifler stresses how through fiction we can get a deeper truth, recalling how Faulkner influenced Hunter Thompson to spout "Sometimes fiction is more true than journalism." Peter Greenaway touches with "Cinema is much too rich a medium to be left to storytellers." Narrative is born among the "animal necessities of the spirit" because we are "waiting to die" counters Hollis Frampton. Concluding with the La Poste writer reacting to Lumiere Cinematographe film screening December 30, 1895: "When these gadgets are in the hands of the public, when anyone can photograph the ones who are dear to them, not just in their motionless form, but with movement, action, familiar gestures and the words out of their mouths, then death will no longer be absolute, final." Go direct to "Death."

Yah, I guess media are our immortality.  I have a feeling my Facebook account will remain alive for all eternity, and certainly the Wayback Machine is going to be around.  And who knows, the zero point energy field, the quantum Dirac Sea, may be a recording medium if rupert Sheldrake's "Morphic Fields" have anything to say about it.


VI - DEATH/TIME
Can you forget to die? Can you learn to die?

VII - TECHNOLOGY/ANDROID MEME
Then the "throbber," which is the official term for that spinning wheel in the middle of your computer screen when its recalibrating, stares at the reel "you."  I believe in art that freaks your stuff up and inspires you to say "I can do that." Having attended AAFF for about half of its 58 glorious years, my annual expedition of full immersion (six days and over 8 hours per day) sometimes, well always, fills the bill. I am researching a book entitled "Any Complaints Talk to the Projectionist," a history of the future of experimental film. 

Immersion, think immersion, river baptism.  I think all are basically is a wish.


The mechanics of exhibiting in a theater is a big part of the experience. I have curated festivals for over 50 years. At the beginning of one of my screenings of a Martin Arnold flicker film, my projectionist turned it off because he thought the dvd was skipping. As a tipping point, the overlap tended toward the tactile expression of mixed(up)-media while self-consciously compromising the live cinema myth. How about technologies as the collective unconscious and art as the collective unconsciousness? Maybe illustrating Herzog's quip "You have to know the context in which you become inventive." The tech directors have been stellar from legendary Peter Wilde to the current whiz Tom Bray.

Zoom conference, mosaic of talking heads observing the rules of conversation, what is that?   Drummers separate feet and arms into separate instruments and can improvise on them independently - parallel processing.  How many TV screens can we watch at once and still get the content?

Though the AAFF 2020 online streaming had some problems, I duly praise Dr. Chicago, I mean Dr. Bray, for keeping the groove groovy. When we are in the theater, a slide can notify the viewers to stand by, technical difficulties are being resolved. During the online streaming, my picture would skip and repeat. The intrigue astounds me because I am not sure its part of the film or not. Unless that spinning circle starts to hypnotize us. The throbber (the official name of that spiral) tells us to stand by as the the loading and recalculating is got you on hold. Or could that be a trick the filmmaker slipped in? This "Android Meme" (Dobbs term) is humans imitating the hidden psychic effects of our inventions.

Having two laptops enabled me to monitor the situation more closely. They were never in perfect sync. This enable me to review the footage. Study the subliminal effects. We can see in the top left corner how many screeners, which varied from approximately 80 to 350. An increase, since I remember when Dan Gunning and I were the only two people in the theater once.  I wonder if the tech directors can also monitor who exacting is tuning in. It may be revealing since past participants have boycotted the festival for various reasons. We could see who is seeking a peek.

Two screens.  Woo.  Advanced.  Next time 3.

VIII - GAZE
Did humans invent the "gaze"? Did Alice Guy-Blache invent the female gaze? Did Lumiere brothers invent the male gaze? How does one reckon with oculesics, the study of eye contact? Especially when you are staring at your laptop on the very midst of the AAFF, and you see your own reflection in the screen staring back at you?

Disembodied poetics.


VIIII - GHOSTS
"Cinema is the art of ghosts" - Silvia das Fadas & Masha Godovannaya, her* hands and his shape. Chris Peters contributed the brilliant Vertigo A.Ivimeo.com/363466204 (did he?) I have envisioned artificial intelligence making avant-garde films for years. He did it with perceptual punch. Bingo a go go! His algorithms present a story and consciously express its visual-space bias to be technologically determined. Or at least, appear to manifest David Lynch as a Frances Bacon wannabe on Hitchcock's backlot. Bravo Chris! Francis Bacon summarized: "I would like my pictures to look as if a human being had passed between them, like a snail, leaving a trail of the human presence and memory trace of past events, as the snail leaves its slime."  Lynch (especially with his shorts) aspired to make Bacon into film. Curtis Harrington aspired to make Edgar Allan Poe into film. Lou Reed aspired to make Edgar Allan Poe into rock'n'roll. Experimental filmmakers are aspiring to make ? into ?

I dunno but it resembles 12th century alchemy looking for gold or something of value even when a victim of an inchoate force that will refuse to be metaphored - "I do it for the fuck of it".

OK, I'm gonna go do something else now, lol!  Fun stuff.  Parting word from Guru Jimmy - "Don't worry, be scrappy"

Cheers
Walter

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