For the Love of Film

Film. I don't think Brent's ever shot on film? A lot of our friends are film purists though, recently mourning the loss of kodachrome and the decreasing film developing locations all over the globe, so when I read this article about an artist who was so outraged by the lack of film developing studios she published a letter in a major British paper I definitely knew where she was coming from. The artist Tacita Dean loves film. Based in Berlin but British born, Dean shoots lush depictions of people and places usually focused on the complexities of time. I actually saw one of her pieces, called Stillness, awhile back at The Walker when we performed a show there. It was unassumingly incredible! Multiple nearly invisible screens hung throughout a low lit room, projectors loudly clanking and beaming from all sides, film spinning forever on large mechanical loopers, and images of the aging dancer Merce Cunningham seated nearly still in different ways quietly reaching the silent white scrims. It was so simple yet so moving, the film projecting process exposed while still maintaining the intimate, slow, hushed, personal experience of film watching- a weird voyeurism through such an overbearing artificial process! Time moving fast and slow at once! Everything suspended in the air! I Loved it!

Now, Dean has taken over the cavernous walls of the Turbine Hall (pictured below empty/possibly filled with a sound piece? also pictured, some bridge near there?) at the Tate Modern. Her piece here involves giant, looped projections of images she made using old, mostly in camera or hand made special effect techniques like color tinting and image bubbles! She wanted the sprocket holes to be exposed too, further showing the medium, so she had someone make a masking device (which was created with 3D digital printing technology!) that mimicked the holes that were then fastened onto the cameras her & her team used to shoot tons of footage that would later be spliced into the giant films filling the giant hall. I understand her passionate love of film, her love of a medium that has so much beauty in it to begin with, the history, the feeling, the timing but I am not too sure if I agree with her inability to move away from film...

All artists should be able to express an idea or emotion through any medium really. Part of being allowed to be an artist is to have something to say, something to speak out for or against, and use whatever you have to do so. Film is an important substance but those using it should either take up the means of production themselves if it is that important to them or find another way to express their message...but, maybe that is the problem that a lot of art has nowadays- the message is only the medium? Anyway, I wish i could see Dean's piece out in London especially since the other work I have seen of hers is not done justice in still photographs and I guess that is her point in the end: film is an action, a process, a living world unto itself that we should create not destroy like all of the other worlds we let slowly fade away and make further digitally distanced. Film for thought? (That's right: ends on pun.)



Donna K. is a recent transplant to the Midwest where she can be found exploring culture at large through film programming, writing and her general interest in the world- both on and offline.