Thursday, April 23, 2009

Immobilité in the Hybrid Art Economy

The remix+ version of Immobilité, compiled by and with the Streaming Museum and featuring some of my collaborations with C.W. Mossholder, Linkoln, and DJRABBI, are already appearing on the creative television network FACT TV. They are also appearing on the urban screens in Federation Square in Melbourne, Australia (my old hangout) and on Saturday will play on an urban screen in the heart of Milan (Piazza Duomo).

One of the exciting developments with this experiment in hybrid exhibition potential, is that the work can now thrive in a variety of contexts and economies. One can experience any number of versions of the work including the online "extras" with textual accompaniment, a big city urban screen, computer accessed TV, a free iPhone app download, or as a limited edition stand-alone feature length arthouse film installation (i.e. the version now playing in the Chelsea Art Museum -- for what is a museum or commercial gallery if not an arthouse?). Because the work owes a great debt to prior works of philosophical cinema, and is currently only available in English, the subtitles can be altered for any language and thus opens up the possibility of other iterations of the limited edition feature-length version for international collectors who prefer to have a localized remix too (although perhaps the collectors of the English language version would prefer to have the rights to localize and distribute the works themselves? Would this make the art collector a film producer as well?).

There are still some issues that need to be resolved. An interesting post at Soluable Fish articulates one of the core issues:
Patrons and collectors should want their artists popular, exposed and of collective value.

Another model is Mark Amerika’s recent cell phone project, Immobilite: a limited edition feature film shown at museums, a website with remixed video segments, an iphone app, a pdf publication, a blog, probably some wall art and performances thrown in. I haven’t seen the 70 min. projected “film”, but what I love about the project is that it is trying to create a model for a new type of art cinema (and a new type of writing) by offering the process of its making and distribution as part of the work. The project is kind of manifesto. You can’t get more democratic than a cell phone. But again, it would be a shame if the limited edition feature were not available for viewing outside major cities.

How to sell a cinema project to collectors and still make it available to everyone?
Good question (and you can read more at the roundtable discussion at BrainTrustDVD). Truth be told, I was having multiple threads of discussions on similar topics while in New York with some artists, gallerists, and collectors during my opening. This is all being worked out as we "speak" ...

Right next door to the Immobilité exhibition at CAM in New York is the incredible Derek Jarman exhibition at the former Dia Art space and presented by the Elizabeth Dee Gallery. As the PR for the exhibition states, his early work produced in Super-8, a medium he returned to throughout his career
... reveals the style and sensibility of Jarman’s unique artistic vision and the range of approaches he would come to take in his more well known feature length works.

Highly personal, poetic and affecting, Jarman’s Super-8 works fall roughly into two, overlapping categories: documents of his immediate environment and imaginative experiments in film-making that sought to express emotion through image rather than acting. The films are “fascinating in their multi-layeredness; they interweave reworkings of history, recuperations of iconic figures, avant-garde forms, personal diaries, gay polemics, political statements and social documents.” (1) Referred to as “home movies” by the artist and often screened for small audiences composed of Jarman’s close friends (many of whom served as the actors in the films), the Super-8s express Jarman’s personal concerns and interests as an artist at the time rather than reflect popular trends in mainstream narrative cinema.
The installation is stunning as are the sounds of Throbbing Gristle that, well, throb throughout the space. But these early Super-8 works were never really intended for "elitist" museum or gallery space, were they? What has changed that makes these works more art-world positive instead of destined to be played in front of a few friends or even screened in the film-festival circuit? If Soluable Fish is right, and we may be on the verge of creating a new hybrid economic model for art-film-video-whatever, then who is to say that we cannot "sell a cinema project to collectors and still make it available to everyone?"

I have had many requests for DVD screeners for the feature-length version of Immobilité but that's not the game anymore. What we need are adventurous collectors who believe not only in the artist and their work, but who also see tremendous value in the online social networking culture and want the original work of cinematic art that they now own, to be distributed in a variety of forms and venues (and to not hoard it as a precious object, even if ownership does indeed indicate value on the work that they legally own).

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