Everything But The Planets
Everything But The Planets
Film as Imaginary Museum
Any film can be perceived as an Imaginary Museum as defined by André Malraux. Film footage photographically preserves the moment in an image. It is put into context through montage; the moments are lined up like images in an imaginary museum. The famous photograph of Malraux standing amongst hundreds of photos of artworks is reminiscent of the beloved method of the cutting room, whereby the prints represent individual scenes and anticipate montage. With a film, the filmmaker tries to achieve what Malraux attempted with art history: to provide an overview. But only Malraux can see the individual photographs lying all over the floor. In the book they are already compressed in a narrative—Malrauxesque, influenced by the French and European. The filmmaker, as well, is the only one who can see all of a film’s footage and decides alone on its contextualization.
Museums try to lend a similar narrative to their openly accessible rooms with audioguides. In new museum buildings, the visitor’s path is planned from the outset, serving to dramatize the collection (from highlight to highlight) and facilitate the most efficient turnover of the masses of visitors. Malraux was highly criticized for his narrative. The same unease assails film. The filmmaker’s license to cut together footage of a demonstration with images from a slaughterhouse—or a moon with a cloud against an eye with a razorblade—has something suggestive, even violent, since the viewer can only remove himself with great difficulty from the situation. Mainstream cinema resolves this problem by keeping to the relatively standardized story-telling methods developed in the 1930s. So the viewer knows approximately what to expect depending on the genre. Experimental film and video art do not keep to these conventions and are difficult to place even today.
The museal and filmic practice of contextualization repeats once again in the curatorial process in which (short) films are embedded in a predetermined series of programs. The fixed program thus forces relationships between individual works that are, quite possibly, completely foreign to each film. In contrast to filmic montage, the curatorial process is usually unique; the programs are never executed in the same way again. This presentation of film, program and festival as an imaginary museum and of the compression and contextualization of entire worlds is the metanarrative of the transmediale 2013 film program.
The term “everything” in the program title refers to an additional characteristic that the imaginary museum and film both share: Both can communicate practically unlimited amounts of information. The 49 films in this program have a running time of 719 minutes in total, that is approximately over 4000 scenes and over a million frames. In every scene of a film, each frame can represent a completely different world.
The selection of 49 films in total is based on submissions to the transmediale Call for Works, as well as research in archives and collections. The proportion of older and current work is more or less balanced. Beyond that, like last year, retrospective and contemporary aspects are presented together. Every program follows its own subcategory that, in most cases, reacts to topics in current submitted works. Idiosyncratic interconnections like the treatment of religious tradition in contemporary art determines the program Tales of the Unknown, but also reemerge in the programs Talking to the Exterior World, Toute la mémoire du monde and Malraux’s Screening.
The recontextualization of filmic images created by others is the central moment in the opening installation, The Zone, and is the recurrent theme in the entire program: from the first found-footage film in film history, Crossing the Great Sagrada, up to the remix of Internet videos in the web-video program Videodrones. In Remade Reproductions, entire works of art are reloaded. The ordering of the world order in communicable categories begins with sorting out, more or less useful, things in Too Many Things, up to the manual and algorithmic depiction of people in The Economy, Stupid!
In the current work, it is worthy to note that the years of a documentary approach dominating artistic moving images seems to be giving way to almost fantastical forms of storytelling leading the film medium to the borders of its possibilities.