From now through April, the Oberhausen International Short Film Festival will present "Film Studies in Motion", a Web Series curated by Volker Pantenburg and Kevin B. Lee. This series, available on the festival's website and Facebook page, presents weekly selections of analytical video essays on the web, in preparation for Pantenberg and Lee's presentation "Whatever happened to Bildungsauftrag? – Teaching cinema on TV and the Web", scheduled for April 28 at the festival.
Week Four: Precursors: TV, Cinema, Contemporary Art
There is a a tradition of “Videographic Film Studies” that existed before the Internet. Some TV channels, like the West-German WDR, but also TV programmers in other countries, initiated an impressive variety of programmes on cinema that combined thorough analytical observations with an inventiveness of visual forms and techniques. Found footage has also been used in experimental cinema and contemporary art. Most examples of this audiovisual legacy remain either overlooked or invisible as they are stacked away in archives or private catalogues. For this reason, this episode mostly gathers fragments and snippets instead of entire essays.
Matthias Muller (1990)
The most unmistakable forerunners of the supercut come from the end of the 20th and start of the 21st century. For Home Stories (1990), Matthias Müller fashioned an elliptical narrative out of a host of very similar scenes from Hollywood melodramas. Pastel-decked women linger in large, well-ornamented rooms, all lying down, throwing their heads back and forth, hearing something, turning on a lamp, looking shocked, slamming doors. Funny in their sameness, the women also unearth a disturbed core to the gilded dreams of ‘50s America.
– Tom McCormack, Moving Image Source
Christian Marclay (1995)
Christian Marclay's "Telephones" (1995), a 7 1/2-minute compilation of brief Hollywood film clips that creates a narrative of its own. These linked-together snippets of scenes involve innumerable well-known actors such as Cary Grant, Tippi Hedren, Ray Milland, Humphrey Bogart and Meg Ryan, who dial, pick up the receiver, converse, react, say good-bye and hang up. In doing so, they express a multitude of emotions–surprise, desire, anger, disbelief, excitement, boredom–ultimately leaving the impression that they are all part of one big conversation. The piece moves easily back and forth in time, as well as between color and black-and-white, aided by Marclay's whimsical notions of continuity.
– From description on YouTube
View all Motion Studies video selections.
Volker Pantenburg is assistant professor for moving images at the media faculty of the Bauhaus-Universität Weimar.
Kevin B. Lee is Editor in Chief of IndieWire’s PressPlay Video Blog and contributor to Roger Ebert.com. Follow him on Twitter.