[-empyre-] high/low art economies

christopher sullivan csulli at saic.edu
Sat Feb 13 16:19:56 EST 2010

Hi Renate, I am joining next week, but the website still has some kind of
permission block, can you send me the exact wed site with password if needed, I
also don't mind just doing reply all, and having you post it. 
I will be jumping in sunday night or monday. Chris. 

Quoting Renate Ferro <rtf9 at cornell.edu>:

> Dear Suzanne,
> Many thanks for bringing up the issue of "animation" within the context of
> the museum.  A few months ago the Whitney Museum in NYC hosted the
> animated project "Play/Pause," an array of double screened animated
> paintings set to a musical score by Sadie Benning.  In December, the
> Museum of Modern Art in NY featured the blockbuster multi-media work of
> Tim Burton.  In the catalog's introduction, Burton admits that the museum
> was the very last place he expected his work to reside.  Tim Murray and I
> visited the exhibition twice.  It was so crowded on both occasions not
> only were we unable to see the work but we left the museum early because
> of the hoards of tourists that gravitated to what I perceive is a show
> that was launched to lure the viewer who ordinarily opted out of buying an
> entrance ticket.
> Those of us in close proximity of NY are looking forward to the opening of
> William Kentridge's show at the MOMA but also his collaboration at the Met
> for his artistic intervention into the opera "The Nose."
> So I agree that the work "fuzzy" is most appropriate for the broad
> interdisciplinary/multi/mixed media that animation encompasses.  The
> low/high divide is dissipating in the US because of economics.  Bringing
> popular culture into institutions that usually feature high art is a
> strategic way to broaden the demographics of the viewers.  Perhaps the
> Tate and the MOMA will include the Quay Brothers phenomenal work sooner
> than later.
> Renate
> >
> >
> > I'm very glad to be 'here' with you and all involved in this empyre
> > thread. (I hope this post doesn't turn into overlong lines that you need
> > to scroll to read - if so I'll try to rectify this in the next one)
> > I'd like to briefly pick up on what Paul wrote about 'fuzzy' terms - the
> > reason for posting this is to encourage people to consider the complexity
> > of techniques and forms that fall under that umbrella, and to give some
> > regard for the hundreds of genres that the form can express. It is most
> > pointedly *not* a genre.
> > For example,   The Library of Congress Moving Image Genre-Form Guide
> > allocates animation as one of three Sublists (the others are Experimental
> > and Advertising) that is classified in Subdivisions according to
> > techniques and technologies. This is unusual in that other genres are
> > described with historical, ideological, aesthetic or content-based
> > terminologies:
> >
> > http://www.loc.gov/rr/mopic/migsub.html#Animation
> >
> > It is much like the troublesome term 'experimental film'. . In September
> > last year, a ListSERVE debate ensued around a call for proposal for the
> > FSAC Film Genre Series, two of which were anime (which is a genre) and
> > experimental film. A discussion ensued, and Jeffrey Skoller for UC
> > Berkeley offered up some valuable arguments for the case against
> > ‘genrification’ of experimental film. Analogous to the Cinema & Media
> > Studies Special Interest group Ex-FM (that founder Michael Zryd asked me
> > to be a founding member of precisely because of animation's 'fuzziness')
> > members’ concerns about experimental film the very fuzzy term of
> > 'animation' needs unpacking and redefining into a number of related areas
> > of critical engagement and authorship
> >
> > An example for this is Stan Vanderbeek's collage and cutout film work (the
> > next issue of animation: an interdiciplinary journal - ANM for short -
> > will be a special issue on him). Vanderbeek's animation films are
> > 'experimental' but they can also be allocated to genres of  dark comedy,
> > activist, diary, lyrical, reflexive, public affairs, war (using the LoC's
> > gernres). Many animation films express social critique, political satire,
> > commodity culture, gender, issues of representation, for instance Martha
> > Coburn, Paul Vester, George Griffin,Vera Neubauer and many more.
> >
> > So 'fuzzy' terms can be a good thing, they can also be a disservice to the
> > multliplicity of styles, content and form, not to mention the multiple
> > platforms animation is increasingly using. Part of my concern with the
> > term is to do with the artefact - another theme you were interesting in
> > pursuing here - and the (improving) high/low art divide between 'serious'
> > and 'art' animation. William Kentridge and Robin Rhode are to my
> > knowledge, two of the few  'animation' artists to actually break through
> > this divide. Why aren't the Quay brother's works in Tate Modern? Why do
> > they screen Fischli & Weiss, but not Jerzy Kucia's or the Quays' works in
> > the same contexts? An example is their currently touring DORMITORIUM
> > exhibition, that was recently at Cornell.
> >
> > There is a long way to go to correct a common perception that animation is
> > not art. On the BBC’s website, one reviewer of the 2007 exhibition
> > Momentary Momentum: Animated Drawings at Parasol Unit Foundation for
> > Contemporary Art, London (which includes Kentridge and Rhode), states, “It
> > would be wrong to refer to these works as just ‘animations.’”  ( Francesca
> > Gavin, “Moving Drawings at London’s Parasol Unit,” Collective: The
> > Interactive Culture Magazine, March 8, 2007,
> > http://www.bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/A20531611.)
> > This comment is symptomatic of the common misconceptions of 'animation',
> > as the Parasol Unit’s selection of artists merges “just” animation with
> > art, perhaps, in reversal, challenging in its own way the high/low divide.
> > The concern is that the terms elides some (of course not all of it is art)
> >  animation from art economies and I agree with what you write, that " Like
> > “documentary”, another term that is utterly straightforward to some
> > people, utterly contentious to others (with the truth being that, really,
> > most people find it somewhere in between; which is to say, a useful term
> > to describe what they do/watch/make/critique on a day-to-day basis). My
> > critique of the term is not that it is pejorative - rather that in (many)
> > people's mind it doesn't differentiate between Looney Tunes and
> > Vanderbeek's 'Dance of the Looney Spoons):
> >
> > http://www.ubu.com/film/vanderbeek_dance.html
> > (Ubuweb has over a dozen of his films online)
> >
> >  So I think it is very much in the ballpark of writers and filmmakers to
> > contribute to expanding and defining the term, and this is increasingly
> > the case as more animation and moving image studies scholars apply their
> > specialist knowledge and expertise to animation in all its variety. This
> > is what I mean by tired canons. So I'll end this post here and look
> > forward to what comes next.
> >
> > Suzanne
> >
> >
> >
> > _______________________________________________
> > empyre forum
> > empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> > http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> Renate Ferro
> Visiting Assistant Professor
> Department of Art
> Cornell University, Tjaden Hall
> Ithaca, NY  14853
> Email:   <rtf9 at cornell.edu>
> Website:  http://www.renateferro.net
> Co-moderator of _empyre soft skinned space
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empyre
> Art Editor, diacritics
> http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/dia/
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au
> http://www.subtle.net/empyre

Christopher Sullivan
Dept. of Film/Video/New Media
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
112 so michigan
Chicago Ill 60603
csulli at saic.edu

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