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January 13, 1971 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 1971-01-13

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Wednesday, January 13, _1971


Wedn~sdoy, January 13, 1971 THE MICHIGAN DAIL~

Expanded Cinema: New hope for

Gene Youngblood, EXPAND-
ED CINEMA, Dutton, $9.95.
There are several prerequisites
to the understanding of Ex-
panded Cinema, which should
include a course in Bucky Full-
er-type terminology ("Space
Vehicle Earth's w o m b-l I k e
sheath"), and the viewing of
the "Stargate Corridor" se-
quence from 2001: A Space
Perhaps the author should
have called his book Enlarged
Perception, for the cinema he
speaks of is very little hke that
which is usually called cinema.
Rather, expanded cinema is a
vehicle for subliminal, subcon-
scious communication of the
"filmmaker's consciousness, his
perception a n d its process"
which frees the viewer to exert
"conscious control over the con-
version of sight impressions into
thought images."
There are apparently two bas-
ic reasons for this book. First,
the author defines what is art

("synaesthetic cinema") a n d
what is not-art ("narrative cin-
ema"). Then he argues that the
only salvation - whether eco-
logical, philosophical, or politi-
cal - for the 312 billion pq.ssen-
gers on Spaceship Earth is
through synaesthetic cinema.
Some 75 or so "authorities" are
quoted or otherwise referenced
in various ways to verify, sup-
plement or justify his reason-
ing. These sources of expertise
should satisfy everyone as they
range from, among others, art
philosophers (Rudloph Arnheim,
Herbert Reid, Andre Bazin) to
artists (Piet Mondrian, John
Cage, Paul Klee) to film critics/
filmmakers (Susan Sontag, An-
dy Warhol, Stan Barkhage) to
psychologists and social - psy-
chologists (Sigmund F r e u d,
Abraham Maslow) to R. Buck-
minster Fuller, who perhaps
combines all these categories
and who, incidentally, wrote the
To know the meaning a n d
purpose of art, one must first
agree that those objects of the
past which were given the stat-

us of art were sufficient only
unto the past. This is a new
age which requires a new art.
We are in not only the Dawning
of the Age of Aquarius but also,
and m o r e importantly, the
dawning of the Paleocybernetic
Age in which we see "an image
of a hairy, buck-skinned, bare-
footed atomic physicist with a
brain full of mescaline and log-
arithms, working out the heu-
ristics of computer-generated
holograms or krypton laser in-
terferometry. It's the dawn of
man: for the first time in his-
tory we'll soon be free enough to
discover who we are." The only
art appropriate to and sufficient
unto this "aesthetically impov-
erished culture" which is about
to pass through the Stargate in-
to freedom is synaesthetic cin-
ema "which does not mean com-
puter films, video phosphors,
atomic light, or spherical pro-
jections." Although it usually
seems to turn out that way, it
isn't a movie at all, but "like life
it's a process of becoming, man's'
ongoing historical drive to man-
ifest his consciousness outside

of his mind, in front of h i s
In the past, film was an ac-
ceptable form of entertainment,
but it was not art. The narra-
tive film, whether of the Busby
Berkeley or the Costa-Gavras
genres, is exploitative because it
is based on memory and objects
(reality) which are "conditional
on a present that is conditioned
by the past." But, in the future,
the subjective and the objective
must become one so that art is
not objects but a language
"through which we perceive new
relationships at work in the en-
vironment, both physical a n d
metaphysical. Indeed, art is the
essential instrument in the very
development of that conscious-
The narrative film and all
other forms of entertainment
are based on at least a minimal
amount of probability. That is,
no matter how well concealed
the clue in the murder mystery
or how fanciful the plot of the
musical comedy, we know, or
can quess before it starts, the
probable outcome and several

alternatives along1
known, it is based
it cannot be art.
suspense, and dran
dundant probable
thus are noninfori
Art, then, is thel
will free the mind
self and to know
become: Art is
Synaesthetic Ci
most mundane te
imposition. a kind
posure of anywher
an infinite numb

the way. It is inarticulate conscious of the
on memory, vi wer recognition of an over-
"Expectation, all pattern-event t h a t is in
na are all re- the film itself as well as the
qualities and 'subject' of the experience.
native." Recognition of this pattern-
process which event results in a state of oce-
to become it- anic consciousness. A mytho-
what it has poeic reality is generated
Synaesthetic through post-stylization of
unstylized reality.
nema. in the Once we have learned h o w
rim is super- and why to produce synaesthe-
of double-ex- tic cinema, whether film or vid-
e from two to cotape, it can be broadcast or
er of images. experienced through television,

E ar t
come the videosphere, which in
its "many simultaneous fields of
sense-extension . . . transcends
Along with the mind-freedom
of synaesthetic cinema will come
political-freedom as world rul-
ers will no longer be able to pre-
dict reactions of citizens and
hence will not be able to con-
trol. Since ecology deals with
environmental relationships and
since synaesthetic cinema - art
- deals with physical and met-
aphysical relationships, all eco-
logical problems will be solved.
for "ecology is art in the most
fundamental a n d pragmatic
sense, expanding our apprehen-
sion of reality."
It's really a shame t h a t
Youngblood's predilection for
impressive terminology conceals
his basic argument just as his
name-dropping tendencies make
one wonder if the book is an
anthology-in-disguise. In many
respects, Expanded Cinema is
an interesting book, especially
in such things as the technical
discussions of the filming of the
2001 Stargate sequence or the
reports of the experiments now
being done with holographic
cinema, a true 3-D process, or
the explanation of the various
electronic processes needed for
superimposition in videotape
There are exciting things be-
ing done in cinema and in vid-
eotape today, and some of them
are discussed in this volume.
With the demise of the studio-
and star-systems, new film-
makers are beginning to make
valuable statements, but wheth-
er the communication of a film-
maker's perception and, con-
sciousness is superior to t h i s
"exploitive, narrative cinema"
is open to doubt. As to where
television will go with the com-
ing boom in cable-TV is also
open to conjecture, but wherev-
er it is, it probably still will be
concerned with rather tradition-
al ideas of art and aesthetics for
communication, rather t h a n
with "neuro-aesthetics" or syn-
Read Expanded Cinema for
what is there - and there is a
lot, not f o r the terminology-
riddled call to "radical-evolu-

Today's Writers.
John Carlisle is a 9r
student in American
and an avid follower o
temporary cinema.
Ron Brashii r centlI
pleted hi, M.B.A. anI
works In sales promotiG
advertising in Detroit.

An adman s view of Mad. Ave.

Jerry Della Femina, FROM
HARBOR, Simon & Schuster,
All of us, e'v e n the aristo-
eraey, have a favorite commer-
cial. Mine-Alka Seltzer, where
an immigrant in very obvious
pain 19 trying to say, "Mamma
Mia, 'ats a spicy meatball." This
particular testimony to man-
kind's progress was created by
Jerry Della Femina, who is
threatening to become a f o 1k
Della Femina is a strange man
who has written a strange book
with a title rivaling the Alcan
Highway in length: From Those
Wonderful Folks Who Gave
You Pearl Harbor. In parts this
book is brilliant, while at all
times it is fascinatingly nutty.
The subtitle - Front-Line Dis-
patches from the Advertising
War - foreshadows the analogy
that is secondary to the book's
expose aspect.
War, we all k n o w, has its
good and its bad guys. Number- .
ed among the white-hatted are
Doyle, Dane, Bernbach (VW,
Avis, Alka Seltzer), Wells, Rich
Greene (Benson and Hedges,
TWA), and Della Famina's own
agency. First-string for the bad
guys features J. Walter Thomp-
son, Ted Bates, and a batallion
of others.
If someone were to say that
Madison Avenue's Old Guard
hates this book, it w o u 1 d be
comparable to saying that at
Little Big Horn Custer g o t a
military crewcut. The powers
that claim to be are ready to
lynch DF. What we have in this
book is the open-air undressing
of an institution, kind of what
Jim Bouton did to baseball, Dave
Meggysey to football, and Mrs.
O'Leary's cow to Chicago.
There are many illnesses from
which both advertising and the
old-line dinosaur agencies suf-
fer. Clearly Della Femina fan-
cies himself as spokesman for
the revolution currently taking
place. More and more accounts
are divorcing their traditional
agencies. T h i s, the author
claims, is partially attributable
to their inability to innovate in
creativity, Somewhat paradoxi-
cally, f e a r of losing the big
clients make them play it safe.
99 and 44/100 per cent of the
names and situations described
are real, an author's note states.
Believe it. DF is candid even af-
ter the pain. Agencies, writers,
art and account men get blitzed
for 240 pages. This includes ev-
eryone from the acid head art
director to the exec so anxious
he can barely pull the cork out
In Chapter One 'NazisDon't
take Away Accounts"), Della
Femina gives h i s purpose: to
dispell the public's false image
of advertising. In t h e 180's
there was Adolphe Menjou as
the prototype ad man; the '40's,
Melvyn Douglas (DF: "Menjou
was superficial; he knew noth-
ing about advertising. Douglas
knew nothing about it, and
didn't care either."): next came

Clark Gable of The Hucksters'
fame, whose "main concern was
getting laid every hour on the
Super Chief between Chicago
and the Coast;" and finally,
suave, shell-like Tony Randall.
True, there are plenty of
shlack stereotype movies on TV.
And in their quarter-ass style
they'll m a k e you believe the
moon is blue. But if someone
were to only read Those Won-
derful Folks, he might t h i n k
this same moon was purple with
polka dot bell-bottoms and Jim-
my Hendrix hair. There are

funtions. "Fear, Son of Fear,
and Fear Meets Abbot and Cos-
tello" describes how fear per-
meates advertising. Fear of los-
ing an over-salaried job, of being
employed, of the "creativity"
leaving, all kinds of fears. Ac-
cording to Della Femina, at
night many people in advertis-
ing-cry. By day they visit head-
shrinkers. Hell, DF says, so
many ad people go to the shrinks
that the shrinks are sneaking
off to their shrinks because
they're worried about losing
their advertising clientele.

able Miss Cheng, censor for the
National Association of Broad-
casters, is a charming woman.
One that you could grow to love
like a mother-in-law (unmar-
rieds, pick your own).
To be acceptable for tele-
vision a commercial for a toy
machine gun was forced to run
this visual r on the screen
throughout the commercial:
"The mound of dirt does n o t
come with the gun." This was
for the protection of the two-
year old viewer, who might be-
lieve the dirt ifrom which a
kid actor was firing the gun)
was part of the game. How
many two-year old kids that
you know can read?
"Profiles in Warm and Hu-
mane Courage" is by far the
funniest chapter. It deals with
presentations; and the stories of
the hotel and perfume pitches
and Singer Sewing Machines in
Peru are classical. yet probably
representative of the industry.
For Singer, the ad agency was
selling sewing machines to In-
dians who couldn't run them
because they had no place to
plug them in. There is also a
chapter, "The Jolly G r e e n
Giant and Other Stories," eval-
uating campaigns in several in-
dustries. The comments are in-
formative, if superficial.
Those Wonderful Folks tends
to generalize and oversimplify
("Media are the great equaliz-
ers."), could use further editing,
and is one man's story of adver-
tising, though not necessarily
the story. Despite these critic-
isms, Della Femina has penned
an excellent book that is almost
certain to become a best seller.
All things considered, the book's
major shortcoming is that it will
probably never be made into a
Classics Illustrated comic book.

agency presidents who chase
fire engines and guys who never
attend a presentation unless
their fly is at half 'mast. And
yes, too, the Age of Aquarius
has seen an increased emphasis
on "freaks" in advertising. (Da-
vid Ogilvy refers to t h i s as,
"The. lunatics taking over the
asylum.") But there are still
some industry people who should
not be committed for their own
or society's good.
The beauty of the book's title
is that Della Femina suggested
it as a campaign headline for
Panasonic, a Japanese electron-
ics account. W h e n offered in
jest during a brainstorming ses-
sion at Ted Bates, those pres-
ent were, shall we say, shocked.
Showmanship may be the jug-
ular vein of advertising. Sleight
of hand, white magic, and
slickness are perhaps its blood.
In this atmosphere, the author
may be P. T. Barnum on his
second time around. The fasci-
nation with pranks and irrev-.
erent s'ogans like the book's ti-
tle and "Certs Cures Cancer"
(which he claims almost caus-
ed a brawl at Bates) indicate
he's pure showman.
When Della Femina's n e w
agency (established 1967) had
already been two times under
the water for lack of business,
DF rolled for the bank throwing
a gargantuan Xmas bash. Just
like in a paperback, the next
day an insurance company rang
up and the client drought was
over. The illusion that the
agency was doing well, contrary
to all rumor and fact, was
enough to turn the corner.
Today, Della Femina, Travi-
sano & Partners, Inc. - sounds
like a high class Sicilian pizzeria
that maybe doesn't deliver past
one a.m.-is hot. They have bill-
ings of around $20 million and
are derrogatorily referred to by
the ancien regime as a'boutique.'
Chapter titles are some indi-
cation of the way DF's mind

Della Femina has a number
of other questionable comments.
Like: Advertising is the greatest
welfare state going in the world.
Like: Advertising is the only
business in the world that takes
on the lamed, the drunks, the
potheads, and the weirdos. Etc.
Even if there are accurate, may-
be the question we should ask
is: Should the pantsmaker take
off his pants in public? The
author claims he loves his in-
dustry and says its the most fun
you can have with your clothes
on. The second part may be
true, but the first is question-
able given this context.
While we're on the subject of
censorship, there's a chapter by
that name. If anyone ever need-
ed proof of the idiocy that rises
to the top wherever censorship
reigns, it's here. The inscrut-

This superimposition is done by
a mechanical process in the lab
o.,. in the cast of synaesthetic
t deotapfs, by electronic man-
ipulations. such as feedback,
mixing, de-beaming, keying and
chroma-keying. The purpose of
the superimposition is to show
the filmmaker's consciousness.
not to create what some would
call confusion of the visual im-
ages. Confusion - a noninfor-
mative state - must not be mis-
taken for chaos, for "chaos is
order on another level" as "the
new artist and the new scien-
tist" already know. But, this is
the mundane, simplified way to
explain superimposition and its
purpose. The author defines
synaesthetic cinema:
An alloy achieved through
multiple superimpositions that
produce syncretism. Syncret-
ism is a total field of harmonic
opposites in continual meta-
morphosis; this metamorpho-
sis produces a sense of kinaes-
thesia that evokes in the

either via videotape players or a
chain of underground TV sta-
tions. Thus, television becomes
the savior of humaniy for "glo-
bal television is directly respon-
sible for the political turmoil
that is increasing around the
w o rld today , . . Television
makes it impossible for govern-
ments to maintain the illusion
of sovereignty and separatism
which is essential for their ex-
istence." This freedom through
TV will even replace, or at least
supplement, t h e noosphere,
Chardin's "film of organized in-
telligence that encircles the
planet, superimposed on the liv-
ing layer of the biosphere and
the lifeless layer of inorganic
material, the lithosphere" to be-

is Interested in Proposals for
Involving Students in the Community
Deadline-Thursday, January 14

Staffed by Licensed Gynecologists
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of New York H
Call: 212-592-8335 k.
WANT to draw, paint, dance, make
your own jeery, play violin, viola,
cello bass, winds-for fun and to
meet interesting pol?
THEN consider
participating in H.A.P.*
Crafts and Performance workshops in-

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your favorite dorm

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