Let's talk about expanded cinema

Wednesday, 8 December 2021, 12:00:00 am UTC

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Session Convenors

Dr Louise Curham, Charles Sturt University
Sally Golding, Independent

Session Moderators

Dr Louise Curham, Charles Sturt University
Sally Golding, Independent

Session Speakers

Associate Professor Dr Dirk de Bruyn, Deakin University
Associate Professor Dr Catherine Fowler, University of Otago
Associate Professor Dr Jonathan Walley, Denison University

Some 1960s artists explored moving image by mixing up and investigating the elements of cinema in the not-so-well known practice of expanded cinema. Approaches differed from embracing new technology, a mix-all-the arts attitude and paring back elements to no film at all. Both historical technological utopia and evolving contemporary dialogue, current practitioners embrace how it challenged black box screen culture, informed the white cube space of interactive art, and influenced contemporary networked culture. Yet, in our region, it remains submerged. Scholars argue that historically, expanded cinema was the banner under which forms like video art, interactive and computer art began (Walley 2020) and that expanded cinema starts the practice of institutional critique by artists (Uroskie 2014). There is a strong case for it as the site of avant-garde film right now (Walley 2020), including eco materialist practice (Knowles 2020). There has been practice in our region (Australia NZ) at other times. Did we know about it then and do we know practice in this area now? Does past practice have critical bearing and impact on contemporary practice in ways that are less obvious? Scholars and artists have made claims for why expanded cinema is important. Can we extend that thinking?

PAPER #1
Migrating Technologies

PRESENTER
Associate Professor Dr Dirk de Bruyn, Deakin University

The migration of earlier materially-based expanded cinema aesthetics into the present opens up a critical dialogic space that illuminates digital invisibilities. In Australia this technological shift can re-enact the real migration from the old world (Europe) to the new (Australia). Alongside these ideas of migration and invisibility, this conversation will explore Australian expanded cinema as at the margin of the margins, historically difficult to access, selectively remembered and often unavailable for contemporary retrieval. It will also explore if there is a particular Melbourne based experimental aesthetic from the 1960s on, that has not yet been clearly identified or theorized. For discussion will the way this invisible 1970s oeuvre eluded economic support, occupying a gap between the Australia Council and the Australian Film Commission.

PAPER #2
Expanded cinema in Aotearoa New Zealand: Gathering histories, communities and experiences

PRESENTER
Associate Professor Dr Catherine Fowler, University of Otago

Aotearoa New Zealand’s topography has led to disparate artistic centres that have produced equally disparate ‘scenes’ with different characteristics, making it challenging to consolidate and categorise work connected with expanded cinema. A second point for discussion is that the many ephemeral and idiosyncratic examples in Aotearoa New Zealand fit with a sense of cinema as a gathering place for statements, actions and propositions, distinct from cinema as performance, object or idea as Jonathan Walley proposes (2020). This conversation includes a call to action to explore ways to keep historical live art alive in the New Zealand context.

PAPER #3
Expanded Cinema in the Age of Intermedia

PRESENTER
Associate Professor Dr Jonathan Walley, Denison University

This dialogue will explore how expanded cinema, while moving beyond the bounds of familiar filmmaking practices and the traditional theatrical exhibition space, can nonetheless still be understood as claiming this new territory for the cinematic. It will explore the emergence of expanded cinema, and how the concept has waxed and waned in the public imagination. When it first emerged in the 1960s, amidst seismic shifts in the arts, the term “expanded cinema” operated as a kind of ‘placeholder’ for areas of practice that went on to become fields in their own right, such as video art and light art. But quite quickly it became evident that expanded cinema offered a means for filmmakers within the avant-garde, with different styles, formal concerns, and politics, to stake out cinema's unique aesthetic terrain - its ontology, its independence, its identity. This discussion will delve into the impacts of positioning expanded cinema practice towards film rather than towards practices such as intermedia and performance art. From the mid-to-late 1960s, expanded cinema was front page news, but by the late 1970s it had virtually disappeared from view. Yet now there is a vibrant international community of artists involved in work that takes expanded cinema as its inspiration. With this in mind, the discussion will also turn to the urgent need to address current debates about the fate of the moving image amidst a digital age of near-constant technological change. It will also consider the context of experimental film and artists’ moving image in the Australia/NZ region, measuring the extent to which the history articulated above has also applied here.

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Biographies

Dr Louise Curham, Charles Sturt University

Louise Curham is an archivist, media artist and researcher based in Canberra who teaches about archives and collections. Louise uses her art and her expertise as an archivist to explore themes that flow from old media, ranging from digitisation to the impact of algorithm-based technology on citizens. In her art practice, Louise makes performances, photographic works, video and 16mm films and installations. Her work explores decoding the ‘black box’ of contemporary technology and extending the life of old media through creative archiving. Her methods include hand processing movie film, making performances using old media and re-enacting early media art performance.


Sally Golding, Independent 

Sally Golding is an artist and curator whose work considers participation and liveness in art as a mechanism for shared experiences and dialogues within technological contexts. Exhibitions and performances include: Tate Britain, Serralves Museum (PT), Digital Culture Centre (MX), CAM2 (ES), San Francisco Cinematheque, Metro Arts, Institute of Modern Art, South London Gallery and Tromsø Center for Contemporary Art. As OtherFilm (AU) and Unconscious Archives (UK), Golding has presented hundreds of programs of expanded and experimental cinema, sound and emergent digital art. Her publication ‘Parsing Digital: Conversations in digital art by practitioners and curators’ is published by ACF London.


Associate Professor Dr Dirk de Bruyn, Deakin University

Dirk de Bruyn is Associate professor of Screen and Design at Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia where he teaches Animation and Documentary Animation modules. He has made numerous animations, performance and installation work over the last 50 years. His book The Performance of Trauma in Moving Image Art was published in 2014. His recent animations such as Re-Vue (2017), Chanting (2018), Living in the Past (2018) and White Bat (2021) have screened internationally. Retrospective programs of his animations have been presented at Melbourne International Animation Festival (2016), Alternativa, Serbia and Punto Y Raya, Karlsruhe Germany (2016).


Associate Professor Dr Catherine Fowler, University of Otago

Catherine Fowler is Associate Professor in the Media, Film and Communication department at the University of Otago, New Zealand. Her research involves an interrogation of the film/art axis of influence and an engagement with feminism and film. She has published articles on gallery films in journals such as Screen, Framework and Art Journal and Senses of Cinema. Her work on women filmmakers includes books on Sally Potter and Chantal Akerman.


Associate Professor Dr Jonathan Walley, Denison University

Dr Jonathan Walley is Associate Professor and Chair in the Department of Cinema at Denison University, Ohio. His primary research interest is avant-garde or experimental film, and he has published extensively on this subject, and especially on the subject of “expanded cinema”. His scholarship has appeared in October, The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, The Moving Image Review and Art Journal, Millennium Film Journal, and The Velvet Light Trap. His book, Cinema Expanded: Avant-Garde Film in the Age of Intermedia (Oxford university Press, 2020), is a comprehensive account and major theoretical and historical revision of expanded cinema.