Thursday, June 23, 2011

Fewer frames make finer films - Contracted Cinema

Contracted Cinema – the reverse or, better still the inverse of expanded cinema.

In terms of defining that which we seek to invert namely expanded cinema, we could choose Gene Youngblood’s interpretation – a fluid liquid a go-go of art and life colliding as retinal consciousness which, for years had all the appeal of some bad hippy trip but now, in the age of media convergence seems timely and prescient. Alternatively we might prefer the English somewhat more sober focus on expanded cinema as involving the transformation of the spectator’s reception of the cinematic.

So contracted cinema then is the opposite of all that? In trying to achieve contraction we might try simple physical ploys like ensuring that all seats have a restricted view with pillars and obstacles between them and the screen or indeed we could take out the seats and make the audience stand to attention or slump against the wall. We might ensure that the sound is all but inaudible so audiences strain to hear over the amplifier hum or indeed we could crank up the volume sending the punters from the auditorium with ears bleeding. In terms of timing the contracted cinema programme should always begin before the audience arrives and end before they leave. But you protest, this is all too familiar, this is nothing new, your contracted cinema is what we already experience when we visit artist projections in the gallery; the black box in the white cube.

Bother - we need something less simplistic than just making life difficult for the audience or spectator. So contracted cinema could mean just less of everything; a sort of rationed cinema. Our slogan could be ‘Fewer frames make finer films’. To be fair though film stock was always so damned expensive that an excess of celluloid was rarely a problem it was video that could and often did go on and on. ”Cut out the bits you don’t need”. Sounds like a recipe for lo-fi. Should we be considering the material nature of the medium and how to foreground this, reducing everything down to the bare essence. Hell why not dispense with the whole paraphernalia (if we set light to it, it could be parafinalia) and just look out the window?

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