To make a chronological journey back in the history of experimental cinema and videoart would be too long and it´s not the purpose of this meeting; but to give a frame to the short films screened in this season.
The twenty-one artists in this festival represent a wide range of aesthetics and languages of the experimental cinema and videoart, national as well as international, belonging to different generations, some of them true pioneers of these art trends.
First thing first: to establish the differences between experimental cinema and videoart as well as their common boundaries.
The origin of experimental cinema goes back to the beginning of cinema with the Abstract Movement and the Expressionism in Germany, with Buñuel´s Un Perro Andaluz, Marcel Duchamp´s film production and Léger, among many others. The fast technological development of film language and industrialization seemed to put an end to this aesthetics until its revival in the 60´s.
Videoart and video installations started before artists could have video cameras – remember the camaraless cinema! It started in the 70´s as a reaction against television and the first samples were works with magnets that destabilized the TV image producing abstract visions. Many theorists appoint Nam June Paik and Fluxus group as the pioneers of this aesthetics.
Another important difference is the format.
Experimental cinema is shot on film and many times the movie is only screened in cinema projections. S8, 16 and 35 mm films are some of the formats used. Found footage, this is to say found material, is widely employed. The film can be intervened manually making drawings, modifying the developing process, using out-of-date film rolls.
Obviously, all the lighting work, production, camera speed, etcetera, play an essential role. This happens in cinema as well as in video, the difference lies in treatment and the effects it produces. Video has less depth of field, colours and texture are different.
In the beginning, videoart was analogical, magnetic tape, at present it is digital. This discipline intervenes the image mainly during post production: windows inside frames, animation, overlapping. Within this aesthetic current, many times low definition technology is chosen as opposed to the high definition trend. Let´s remember that videoart started as a reaction against mass media and still continues doing so.
Well-known filmmakers specially produced movies or series for television: Igmar Bergman, David Lynch, Peter Greenaway, Raoul Ruiz, David Stivel in Argentina. Peter Greenaway even predicted TV language would become less obvious in its way of depicting, thus urging viewers to deep thinking. There is still a long way to go but I believe new trends are rising.
As Roberto Arlt wrote: The future is ours by working arrogance. This is avant-garde art tradition in general terms. Since the beginning, the production of experimental cinema and videoart is sporadic but endless. Work and arrogance to break institutional models, conquer, expand.
Experimental cinema and videoart break the identification spectators usually feel with the characters on screen, they are invited to approach image differently. Roland Barthes referes to the obtuse meaning, which could be understood as a signfier with no signified. No representation, no copy. At the same time, this “frame idiolect” emphasizes the signified to each signifier and produces new meanings. So experimental cinema and videoart turn the spectator into a clairvoyant.
There are many who made the creative strength of these currents possible. Within experimental cinema, Stan Brakhage, Joseph Cornell, Raymond Rohauer -whose first projections were in Los Angeles-, Norman McLaren, Agnes Varda, Ferrucio Mussitelli in Uruguay, in Argentina Narcisa Hirsch, Claudio Caldini, Marielouise Alemann, Silvestre Byron, just to name some of them.
Within videoart: Wolf Vostell, Nam June Paik, Lynne Sachs and Mark Street, Roberto Mascar, Teresa Puppo, Enrique Aguerre, Ángela López Ruiz in Uruguay; in Argentina Graciela Taquini –who also curates videoart and tech-art -, Sara Fried, Gabriela Golder, Anna-Lisa Marjak, etcetera.