Filmmaker Johan van der Keuken.

As friends, classmates, family members and co-workers, have been increasingly putting their hands into filmmaking, or to be more accurate, video -most of the time-, it got me thinking about, not only the tremendous importance of this medium, but also about this bizarre need that we, people of this century, have towards this medium. I think I haven’t meet someone yet who hasn’t done or at least attempted to create some sort of moving image -home videos, video art, promotional videos, etc. Why we don’t have the same urge, for example, about writing or maybe photographs…? // what is it that we feel so connected to this medium?. Very few people try themselves at song making, not to mention writing music. I have actually just one friend who dedicates his time to it. What about writing?. I have two or three friends who consider themselves writers, however, image-makers emerge at every corner of the city. With the increscent use of the so-called smartphones, video production is at hands of anyone who can afford a cellphone and a computer. From the Lumiere brothers to Steve Jobs, from the movie theater to the personal computer, not only the format of the social -cinematic- experience has changed, but also the professionalism of image-makers.

“Contemporary art is a farse”, says Avelina Lésper, a Mexican art critic. She elaborates, “the contemporary artist works now in every medium. If they make video, the work doesn’t have the necessary standards needed in cinema or advertising…, same goes for audio and other mediums”. Even though her thoughts can be harsh and poignant, she may have a point. I have seen video work at galleries and museums that really makes me question the validity of the work. I don’t mention cinema, because working with film requires a strict and precise workflow, even in the most experimental works. Video, however, is more forgiven. In the early times of video-art, video makers were almost engineers. They were working with electromagnetic waves and such. In today’s market, the process and the ways in which the artist elaborates a theoretical discourse around the piece, are most of the times, more important than the actual artistry behind the work. Lésper continues her argument by saying that “the work has to stand by itself, and not as a result of a curatorial decision, system or dogma…, art ceased to be inclusive…, it is now elitist and segregationis, it has a pedagogic obsession”.

Filmmaker Victor Kossakovsky adds “Don’t film if you want to say something – just say it or write it. Film only if you want to show something, or you want people to see something. Don’t film if you already knew your message before filming – just become a teacher”. If Kossakovsky and Lésper are correct, then, contemporary video-makers and filmmakers alike should stay away from theoretical discourses and systems of ideas. To avoid pedagogy.

To me, what is valuable when I see video or film work is what happens when I see it. Paraphrasing Roy Ascott in words of Brian Eno “stop thinking about art works as objects, and start thinking about them as triggers for experiences”.

[ link to Avelina Lésper article ]

[ link to Avelina Lésper website ]

[ link to kossakovskys ]

[ link to Roy Ascott’s ]

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