Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Minimal Film

One of the benefits of recent technology is a resurgence in experimental film, and an amazing increase in their availability. (I'm particularly fond of the offerings at UbuWeb, which include Robert Ashley's Music with Roots in the Aether, a work which changed my musical life.)

The webcam, in particular, has reopened a chapter in experimental film, the one in which the camera, unmanned, is simply allow to roll, whether in front of live actors, objects, or simply the weather. As impressive an experience as the 24-hour film Empire (1964) -- in which Andy Warhol let a camera run 8 hours, from dusk to dawn, in front of the Empire State Building -- was, I have to say that it really has nothing on the live Cheddar Vision TV, which shows a piece of West Country Cheddar Cheese doing what it does best: age. If Empire was boring, this is really boring. This is minimalist, it represents a gradual process, and it's arguably even a kind of music made visual, as the process is the end product of vibrating spores and bacteria. Is it art? The cheese making, for sure, inasmuch as it is a form of artifice, modifying natural processes for aesthetic ends. But the film itself, Ithinks, could do with some more inventive lighting. And maybe a soft filter...

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