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February 07, 1990 - Image 7

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Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1990-02-07

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ARTS

The Michigan Daily
The avant-gard
BY MIKE KUNIAVSKY video/computer artist who is teach-
ing the class.

le

Wednesday, February 7, 1990
marches on

Page

Almost everyone has seen the
stereotype of avant-garde film and
experimental filmmakers: people
who smash bricks on stage and fry
eggs on projectors while keeping
their black turtlenecks, goatees and
Chuck Taylors clean. After the
:show, our stereotype surmises, they
all go out back and smoke cloves
,pretentiously while talking about
nonretrohemineomoderism and how
it's so misunderstood by the lay
vmasses.
Now it's a law of nature that
*anyone who talks like this doesn't
know diddly about diddly, much less
avant-garde film. Unfortunately,
while most of us do know diddly
about diddly, avant-garde film has
'been somewhat of a blank spot in
party small-talk. Until now. All this
semester the Program in Film and
Video Studies is presenting a series
of avant-garde films. Originally in-
-tended for viewing by a class
(Film/Video 413, section 2), the
films are now going to be shown to
the public every Wednesday
evening.
Rather than having some two-bit
~Daily film writer pontificate on the
subject while the cloves smolder in
the ashtray and the black turtleneck
dries (from having espresso stains
removed), it's probably best to hear
about this program from the source.
Following is an interview with Han-
nelore Kober, the German film/

Daily: What is the exact purpose
of avant-garde film, why is it im-
portant to teach it and why is it
there?
Kober: I think that it is impor-
tant to teach it because it is not that
well-known, and it's not like Hol-
lywood cinema. In Germany, for in-
stance, there are many independent
filmmakers who work in other arts
and who try to make films which are
not like ones in Hollywood. This is
necessary because most of the films,
most of the long narrative films, are

give you any and so the best way to
start making films is to make exper-
imental films because when you
think about the structure of those
films it's not necessary to think in
the narrative. So people who want
to make films and have never made
them - usually they are painters or
working in the other arts - when
they start thinking about film they
don't think in terms of "how can I
tell a story?" but more like "what is
film and what can I do with it?"
This, of course, does not just happen
to painters, they are people in the
performing arts or they're poets, or
whatever.
You're saying that in its basic
premise, avant-garde film is non-
narrative?
Yeah, it started non-narrative and
although it's changing a little bit
now, it's still non-narrative. Of
course, there have always been films
that have some narrative... but it's
always experimental, and never the
straight narrative of commercial or
Hollywood film. That's not the
point of it. It's not there to tell a
story via film, but to deal with the
film as an art medium.
All artists develop their ideas and
present a lot of things you have to
think about, not just on film but on
audio, video and computers. They
are not just trying to convey-a story,
but trying to say more.
I noticed that the newest film you

show is Michael Snow's So Is This,
which is from 1981 or '82. Why
don't you show any newer films?
In your subjective opinion,
hasn't there been anything really
important in the last 10 years?
I think that So Is This is a very,
very important film. It's a milestone
in avant-garde film. Which is why I
put it in, because you cannot show
all of the important films in an
overview of the whole history of
avant-garde film. There are of course
some important films which are
missing: I left out the films by the
Whitney brothers, or Len Lee...and I
left out some very early abstract
films, sometimes because some of
them are not there anymore, they do
not exist. In the end I feel the stu-
dents will understand much better
what was going on in the beginning
and what it was all about when they
have seen these early films.
So you're concentrating more on
the early history of avant-garde
than on what's happening right
now....
Right. It's because it's always
important in order to understand
what people are doing now to know
what artists in the '20s, '30s, and
'40s were doing. Really, it doesn't
actually matter where you start, it's
just that you start early. It's impor-
tant, in order to get in touch with
any art, to know the history of that
art. You get to know what the art
means today or what it could be.

Avant-garde film ser
February 7 (running time 42
minutes)
Man Ray
Retour a la Raison (1923)
Anemic Cinema (1926)
L'Etoile de Mer (1928)
Fernand Ldger
Ballet Mechanique (1924)
February 14 (90 minutes)
Dziga Vertov
The Man With a Movie Cam-
era (1929)
February 21.(24 minutes)
Oskar Fischinger
Programs II and V (1923-1941)
February 28 (34 minutes)
Stan Brakhage
Desistfilm (1954)
Blue Moses (1962)
Murder Psalm (1981)
(room 2520 Frieze)
March 14 (60 minutes)
Peter Kubelka
One Man Show (1954-1977)
March 21 (72 minutes)
Kurt Kren
One Man Show (1960-1968)

March 28 (68 minutes)
Paul Sharits
Wrote Movie/Fluxfilm 29 (1966)
Razor Blades (1965-1966)
Inferential Current (1971)
Malcom LaGrice
Castle One (The Lightbulb Film)
(1966)
After Lumiere (1974)
April 4 (80 minutes)
Werner Nekes
Hurrycan (1979)
April 11 (77 minutes)
Michael Snow
So Is This (1982)
Ken Jacobs/Jack Smith/Bob
Fleischner
Blonde Cobra (1959-1963)
April 18 (40 minutes)
Tony Conrad
The Flicker (1966)
Straight and Narrow (1970)
April 25 (93 minutes)
Jonas Mekas
Film Magazine on the Arts
(1963)
Walden: Reel One (1963)
Anthony McCall
Line Describing a Cone (1973)

7 p.m. Wednesdays,
Angell Auditorium C. $1.

Hannelore Kober
supported by the government usu-
ally. If you're young and you want
to make films you can ask the gov-
ernment for money. But they won't

I don't think that art history is
very important, it's that after you
have seen a series of films it will be
easier to understand the next film
you see. And it really doesn't matter

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