#87, produce sites of-for-and-against cinema
April 13, 2017
Tonight, I share this project at the Columbia Seminar: Sites of Cinema. Preparing this talk for this group of people in this place and at this time has allowed me to see #100hardtruths-#fakenews as a site of-for-and-against cinema (and as a failed site, see below) in that: it holds cinema; it holds arguments about what cinema can and can’t do in relation to fake news; it holds arguments about the world made through cinema and its related art forms: song, poetry, photography, language; and it holds implicit and explicit arguments against cinema because it is itself an internet construction that suggests that this here is the site most suitable for engaging with this, our world and its fake news. This form to hold cinema—a website—moves away from cinema’s linear, temporal, durational, unitary structure for holding complexity and spatializes it onto a grid, networks it to other films and works of art and analysis, and argues through a data-base montage logic of proximity, connection, flow, and false user agency and rather phony gestures of randomization.
Writing my talk, I found that there are 22 #100hardtruths that engage with or against cinema and its deep connections to the problem of #fakenews in a variety of ways. These #100hrdtruths:
- let cinema (video) speak the argument: #8 FAKE! and #29: interrupt the narrative
- let the argument speak through video: #45: oil at any cost
- let the argument made through poetry speak through cinema: #82: explain your irrational destruction before the eyes of humanity
- let the argument made through song speak thr0ugh cinema: #81: call the man of the year a liar
- let filmmakers speak the truth against #fakenews: #16: practice strategic contemplation and #65: #fakenews #realtalk #realtruth about black girls’ liberation
- argue that screening series are places of disruption that galvanize people: #23: Galvanize people at the crossroads of cinema and community and #49: support cinematic solidarity against Islamophobia
- honor films (especially experimental films) as sites of disruption and subversion: #25: evidence of the opaque and intricate apparatus of our reality needed; and #22: experimental escape routes needed; and #56: subversion through grinning; learn truths from radical black artists who lived through civil rights and #85: make productive fake documentaries
- imagine that art exhibitions can hold films and photos and tweets and videos in ways that help to provide clarity: #27: New image holding environments needed
- understand seeing as an act of disruption and expansion: #37: size matters; we have to be minimalist and #72: Learn how to see Palestine
- support protesting to protect the funding of cinema and art: #38: the NEA matters, fight for the least-seen to speak truth to power
- understand cinema or images theoretically through semiotics #42: phatic communication eases interactions but lessens information; affect, #43: emotional+rational resonances needed and historically, #71: cultural myths often lead to dominant ideologies
- think about photography and its relation to cinematic ways of seeing as critical given the current state of images: #44: black lives matter
- think against viral video: #62: don’t look
Just look at this list (above). Go look at my site. No matter how I try to make this project small, things lengthen and grow as they build toward 100!
I think my site for cinema—a stack. 5-20. A relatively simple form that itself holds great complexity—is most likely a failure: it got away from me. 100 is just too big, even if the component parts are small. I probably should have made a film, but wow, how? In 100 days? Instead, I have used the internet’s ready and cheap affordance of access to production, quotation, and distribution to construct another sort of failed (but not fake) site. I have made what I might think of (looking at it now in it near completion), as a monolith: one that has become both way too high (and too deep) due to this very internet ease of accumulation.
So perhaps, instead, I might want to propose that for better or worse my site for cinema has become a tower of babble. This is for the worst in the sense of being way too much noise to signal; but perhaps, I hope, for the better in honor of its etiology. Mine is a site of cinema that holds cultural differences and multiples ways of seeing and knowing, thereby acknowledging Babel as a model for one cradle for a civilization, or at least one of that civilization’s core problems and projects, that can and will not be simplified, made unified or uniform, and in this very chatter and clutter, what with all its diverse beauty, poetic precision, and self-contradictory proofs and competing claims for cure, lies the real, many, competing, truths of this moment, for which there is no quick fix, no simple to do list or listicle of self-improvements or ready-at-hand literacies, no one project or answer or image, but rather, what art and intellectualism and community always provide, in all of their exquisite, frustrating diversity, the ever-so brief reminder that, as Audre Lorde said, “We know what it is to be lied to, and we know how important it is not to lie to ourselves.”
In February 1982, when she delivered her address “Learning from the 60s” as part of the celebration of the Malcolm X weekend at Harvard University (this quote shared with me by Hugh Ryan as part of #100hardtruth #85), Audre Lorde said: “Within each one of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust.” Poetry, film, art, photography, our words and communities and cinemas can and must be the sites that distill this human clarity in all its rioting complexity.