super8porter
Super 8 Filmmaker John Porter, Toronto, Canada

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PLEASURE DOME'S "NEW TORONTO WORKS"
Opinion posted here by John Porter, October 2013, plus
3 Facebook threads, Sept 2013 - July 2014 w/ 240 comments!

I've become very concerned about one of my favourite Toronto artist-run organizations - Pleasure Dome Artists Film Exhibition Group. Over many years it has been showing less and less film (work shown on a film projector), disregarding its own written mandate. Its annual New Toronto Works screening the last two years has included no film, even though Toronto has one of the world's largest and most-respected film communities.

The curators of this year's NTW have expressed a hatred of film. Note the last posts (since deleted by person unknown) by Higgs Boatswain in the first two of three Facebook threads which I have copied verbatim below. The next day during their verbal introduction at the NTW, one of the curators echoed that post, saying (and I paraphrase here) "If anyone here is disappointed that there is no scratchy super 8 in the program, they can talk to me after" and "Honestly, sometimes I think it's up to me to drag Toronto kicking and screaming into the 21st century". Since then those curators have refused to discuss this with me privately or publicly, even though Pleasure Dome is a publicly-funded organization.

Does this reflect the direction of experimental film and video programming in Toronto (for example, at Pleasure Dome and The Images Festival) and/or elsewhere in Canada? How about internationally? I'd like to hear from people who attended this screening, and from those who chose not to attend for political or aesthetic reasons.
You may comment on my Facebook post, or at info at super8porter dot ca.

Pleasure Dome Artists Film Exhibition Group presents its

20th Annual New Toronto Works Show
Experimental videos by Rehab Nazzal, Nathalie Quagliotto,
Diego Ramirez, Eshan Rafi, Oliver Husain, Rehab Nazzal,
Faraz Anoushehpour, Rita Camacho Lomeli, Mac Logan,
Jean-Paul Kelly, Sky Fairchild-Waller, John Greyson,
Nahed Mansour, Wanda Nanibush, Willy La Maitre.
Total running time: 108 min. Facebook Curated by
Francisco-Fernando Granados & Cressida Kocienski.

Thursday, September 26, 2013, 7:30pm, $8

Tallulah's Cabaret, Buddies in Bad Times Theatre,
12 Alexander St., Toronto

^^^

3 FACEBOOK THREADS RE: NEW TORONTO WORKS


1. John Porter's Timeline, September 15-16, 2013 - 14 comments.
2. Pleasure Dome's NTW Event Page, September 24-25, 2013
- 6 comments.
3. Pleasure Dome's Group Page, October 30, 2013 - July 6, 2014 - 220 comments!

* Pleasuredome
Launching Pleasure Dome’s fall season, our annual New Toronto Works screening showcases the city’s freshest film and video works. This year’s show marks the twentieth anniversary of NTW and will feature a selection of digital films that propose questions of voice in relationship to space. Ranging through aesthetic choices that consider the body as a vehicle for narration, these works plot gender, geography, optics, utterance and trace. The various...architectures of production generate strategies of spacing that expand and collapse structures of address, moving between the visible speaking subject, the disrupted or disembodied voice and bodies that signal their silence.
Timeline Photos · September 13
12 Likes: Clint Enns, Sally Mincher, Meg Dallas Edwards, Lorenzo Gattorna,
David Davidson, Pleasure Dome, David Hughes, Nathalie Quagliotto,
Marvyn James Morrison, Rita Kamacho, Rehab Nazzal, Mat Palmer.

^^^

Facebook Thread on John Porter's Timeline
September 15-16, 2013

Original Post
* John Porter
Re: New Toronto Works, "digital film" is an oxymoron. Are these all videos? Or are some projected on film (e.g.- 16mm, super 8)? - at Pleasuredome.
September 15.
10 Likes:
Haroon Ladanyi, Deborah S. Phillips, Anthony Kauffmann,
Esperanza Collado, Oliver Kellhammer, Laurie Humphries, GB Jones,
Rob Cruickshank, Mary J Daniel, Meg Dallas Edwards.

* Daria Stermac
I agree! Totally :)
September 15 at 4:42pm

* Greg Woods
Yeah... that's a lot like "jumbo shrimp", isn't it?
September 15 at 6:21pm

* Rob Cruickshank
It's like the "Ketchup-Style Sauce" that I found in someone's fridge.
September 15 at 8:13pm

* Tom Sherman
Yes John, a film is a film and a video is a video.
September 15 at 10:26pm · Daria Stermac likes this.

* John Creson
Do you recall what video looks like? Digital looks different. And film different still.
September 15 at 10:33pm

* John Porter
So non-film movies include both videos and digitals?
September 15 at 10:40pm

^^^

* Tom Sherman
McLuhan, if he were alive to respond, would likely say that digital video is a new form and the old media, analog video and celluloid film, are the content of the new medium. On a practical note, digital moving picture media can be made to look like either of the older media, but the default is digital video because of the electronic base. In other words, todays digital form is much more like video than film (near speed of light write/read, pixels at its core, instant replay, convenient transmission and networking as an electronic medium, backlight display, etc.).
September 15 at 11:05pm

* Tim Howe
remember that in 1971 Frank Zappa's "200 Motels" was the first feature shot on video and then transferred to film!
September 15 at 11:17pm

* John Creson
Little today looks like analog video. Although we have at least three artists in Toronto working regularly with VHS and the results are spectacular.
September 15 at 11:28pm

* Tom Sherman
You are thinking of early analog video. Analog video included 2" Quad and Betacam SP and quite frankly the digital version of video really couldn't match the presence of high end analog. The old consumer formats have their own essence. VHS brings so much noise of accent; 8mm and Hi8 sometimes feel like the colour is added by hand tinting; and 3/4" U-matic had that amazing 'ringing' around the figure... But high end analog was precise and resolute. It was essentially the medium of television before people started watching TVs on their laptops.
September 15 at 11:38pm

^^^

* Tim Howe
then digital beta came along (yay), great gamut!
September 15 at 11:39pm

* John Porter
John, do they SHOW their videos on VHS (analog video)? Or are they making digital videos shot on VHS? It might make more sense to make films (e.g. - 16mm) shot on VHS.
September 15 at 11:40pm

* John Creson
Granted, many are finishing in a digital format, though we have the capability to show VHS at CineCycle. I am encouraging VHS creators to exhibit on VHS. Some bring their own players to events, and some are bending old tape live, and what is going into the projector is their live feed from their modified machines.
September 16 at 12:00am

* Greg Woods
"The TAMI Show" (1964) was shot on video and transferred to film.
September 16 at 8:11am

^^^

Facebook Thread on Pleasure Dome's NTW Event Page
September 24-25, 2013

Original Post
* John Porter
Finally confirmed by Pleasure Dome - these are all videos, no films. Not surprising, as in recent years this annual showcase has included few or no films. Which is disappointing because Toronto is such a film town. This Showcase only showcases one specific side of Toronto's media community.
September 24 at 4:29pm
* Dan Browne, Roger D. Wilson and Meg Dallas Edwards like this.

* Clint Enns
are you going john?
September 24 at 6:38pm

* John Porter
Probably not. It's $8. I'm kept happy going to all the FILM screenings in Toronto that charge only $5, pwyc or free!
September 24 at 7:21pm · Clint Enns and Stephen Broomer like this.

* Eli Horwatt
I can't speak authoritatively here John because I didn't curate the screening, but I suspect the problem is two sided. I doubt much if any small gauge film was submitted in the open call. Still, I agree with your point. Pdome's mandate is to show half film half video whenever possible.
September 24 at 7:29pm · Dan Browne, Clint Enns and Bo Myers like this.

* John Price
You rock John!
September 24 at 8:15pm · Dan Browne, Clint Enns, Francesco Gagliardi and Stephen Broomer like this.

^^^

* John Porter
Thanks Eli, but I referred to any film, not just small-gauge. Also, the curators are not limited to the open call, and, unless it's changed, Pdome's mandate is to show no more than 50% video in a season, not just whenever possible.
September 24 at 8:19pm · Dan Browne, Clint Enns, Roger D. Wilson and Ginger Cube like this.

* Higgs Boatswain
Jean-Paul Kelly's work was shot on film, and is a good work, which is why it is in the program. It was transferred to a digital file because it's 2013. Any time the Toronto film community care to pitch in with work that is actually "experimental" instead of just repetitive derivative background visuals that rip off work that was innovative SIXTY YEARS AGO I will consider curating it. This Soviet Quota nonsense is what keeps Toronto back.
September 25 at 3:34pm

* Higgs Boatswain
Jean-Paul Kelly's work was shot on film, and is a good work, which is why it is in the program. It was transferred to a digital file because it's 2013. Any time the Toronto film community care to pitch in with work that is actually "experimental" instead of just repetitive derivative background visuals that rip off and add nothing to work that was innovative SIXTY YEARS AGO I will consider curating it. This mandated quota nonsense is what keeps Toronto back. Nevertheless, somebody else will curate this program next year, and then you can get back to your crackly drone films of your back gardens and moody modernist ruins. EXEUNT.
September 25 at 3:45pm

(The last two posts by Higgs Boatswain were deleted by person unknown.)

^^^

Facebook Thread on Pleasure Dome's Group Page
This page: October 30, 2013 to January 5, 2014.
Page 2: January 6, 2014 to July 6, 2014.

Pleasuredome
John Porter
> Pleasuredome
I've become very concerned about one of my favourite Toronto artist-run organizations - Pleasure Dome Artists Film Exhibition Group. Over many years it has been showing less and less film (work shown on a film projector), disregarding its own written mandate. Its annual "New Toronto Works" screening the last two years has included no film, even though Toronto has one of the world's largest and most-respected film communities.

Continued with more details, including two earlier Facebook threads, here:
http://www.super8porter.ca/Pdome.htm
October 30, 2013 near Toronto.

18 Likes: Janet Jones, Gail Mentlik, Meg Dallas Edwards, Barb Sniderman, Lorne Marin,
Cam Woykin, Dan Browne, Richard Kerr, Laurie Humphries, Kaspar Saxena,
Juan David Gonzalez, Philip Hoffman, Tara Merenda Nelson, Liz Coffey,
Saul Levine, Clint Enns, Craig Stephen, Navid Taslimi, Nick Fox-Gieg.

219 Comments by 24 Participants:
Clint Enns, John Porter, Andrew James Paterson, Scott Miller Berry, Eli Horwatt,
Christian Muñoz Morrison, Nick Fox-Gieg, Dan Browne, David Frankovich,
Quinn T. Hornett, Tara Snit, GB Jones, Jim Riley, Jubal Brown, Ekrem Serdar,
Melanie Wilmink, Higgs Boatswain (Cressida Kocienski), Anthony Easton, John Creson,
Jean-Paul Kelly, Kevin Hegge, Erik Martinson, Scott Birdwise and Scott MacKenzie.

28 Others Participating by Liking some Comments:
Guillaume Lafleur, Sara MacLean, Zoë Heyn-Jones, Skot Deeming, Eva Kolcze,
RayRay McRabies, Samuel La France, Mike Zryd, Amy Rou, Brian Kent Gotro,
Stephen Broomer, Luke Bellissimo, John Price, John G Hampton, Aaron Zeghers,
Francisco-Fernando Granados, Sissy Bam, Jonah Falco, Alexis Kyle Mitchel,
James Gillespie, Leslie Supnet, Blake Williams, George Hawken, Ship Shape,
Cam Woykin, Marion Lewis, Gail Mentlik, B Jammin LandRack.

^^^

Clint Enns
Is this something that the Pleasure Dome community would be interested in discussing publicly as a panel discussion?
Nov 27, 2013. 1 Like: John Porter

John Porter
I guess not Clint. Over 5 weeks, my post has received only 2 comments including yours, out of 1300 people! Your post received none, over 10 days. I think the reasons include conservatism, excessive politeness, and "arts grant chill" (the fear of alienating someone who may end up on a jury when you apply for a grant). THIS is what's holding Toronto and Canada back, NOT any quotas blamed by Higgs Boatswain.
Dec 8, 2013. 3 Likes: Guillaume Lafleur, Sara MacLean, Clint Enns.

Andrew James Paterson
I think Pleasure Dome New Works programme needs to be defined. If it's supposed to be a survey of film and video work over a specific period, then it should reflect film and video.
Dec 8, 2013. 5 Likes: Eli Horwatt, Sara MacLean, Clint Enns, Zoë Heyn-Jones, John Porter.

^^^

Scott Miller Berry
hi John, Clint, Andrew and Pdome......i'm up for a panel discussion....i think there are two separate but related issues: 1) Does Pdome uphold its policy (still in effect? does the Board know of its existence?) of showing 50/50 video and celluloid each season?(if it is, who is keeping track of this?) and 2) If New Toronto Works is guest programmed each year by different folks then they can stand behind their decisions (and ideally, respond to critiques) yet they should also be aware of the Pdome film/video policy (is there programming mentorship/guidance/assistance provided?) ..... just my two cents..... onward!
Jan 2. 5 Likes: Andrew James Paterson, Eli Horwatt, Dan Browne, Clint Enns, John Porter.

John Porter
We need a series of panel discussions involving many organizations, about the shocking lack of transparency and accountability in the arts!
Jan 3. 3 Likes: Skot Deeming, Christian Muñoz Morrison, Aaron Zeghers.

Clint Enns
Probably but one would be a good start.
Jan 3. 3 Likes: Christian Muñoz Morrison, Scott Miller Berry, John Porter.

Christian Muñoz Morrison
Seems that Higgs-Boatswain doesn't like film? What did he say, crackly shots of our gardens? (I paraphrase)
Jan 3. 1 Like: John Porter.

John Porter
"crackly drone films of your back gardens and moody modernist ruins"
Jan 3. 1 Like: Christian Muñoz Morrison.

Christian Muñoz Morrison
Exactly!
Jan 3

^^^

Eli Horwatt
This has been something discussed a lot between myself a few other Pdome members. I know nothing has come of it yet, but I assure everyone in this thread that any formal change to the 50/50 film/video mandate will be publicly addressed. I am not a spokesperson for Pdome, so I'm only speaking for myself here, but I think there are three (if not more!) separate issues:

1) How the mandate for film/video is defined. This specifically pertains to a trend of filmmakers finishing to video for a variety of reasons. I am aware that this isn’t always the case, but speaking anecdotally, I am seeing it a lot right now. I think a community discussion of this development and how it should be defined under a mandate of 50% film, 50% video would be beneficial. I am well aware that film transferred to video is not film, but as this is happening increasingly for Pdome (and other film festivals) it is worth discussing.
2) Should curators of New Toronto Works (NTW) be given autonomy to select work outside of the film/video mandate? As I understand it, Pdome’s NTW curators are given carte blanche in their selections.
3) Finally, there is the case of this particular NTW and the curatorial relationship to film. A number of people have wanted to make a retort to this position and want the space to air grievances.

If this sounds like a reasonable summary of issues, please chime in with likes or other comments. This issue has a tendency to inflame passions (I’m guilty of this), so I think it’s important to stress civility so that we can have a productive discussion and so that no one feels they’re being silenced. I will bring these to Pdome's next meeting and get the ball rolling on a panel/discussion.
Jan 3. 8 Likes: Zoë Heyn-Jones, Dan Browne, Clint Enns, Melanie Wilmink, Kevin Hegge, Erik Martinson, John Porter, Scott Miller Berry.

^^^

Nick Fox-Gieg
I think works produced on film need to be considered separately from works distributed on film.

The differences between film and video production are objective: there are optical, chemical, and mechanical film techniques that have no video equivalent, and never will. Even where an accurate CG simulation can generate a visually-identical end product in video, the artist's process will always be different. (This also applies to film works whose exhibition requirements make use of specific mechanical properties of film projectors--loops in installations and live performance come to mind.) Preserving film production techniques irrespective of their economic value is an important cultural goal, because by doing this we enable the creation of new work that could not come into being any other way.

The differences between film and video distribution, however, are largely subjective: when it comes to duplicating a finished work, for any given frame of film, there is indisputably a point at which a video of sufficient resolution and bit depth can reproduce that image indistinguishably. I fail to understand how one device that projects a sequence of images can be considered essentially inferior to another device that projects an identical sequence of images, or why paying a film lab to print copies of a finished work is any different from paying a video post house to scan a work originated on film to an identical digital file.

And remember that it's in distribution--making copies and moving them from place to place--where the extreme price disparity between film and video most comes into play. (In production, of course, an independent artist's biggest expense is almost always their own labour time, not the materials and equipment.) We help artists working on film when we ensure they can continue to produce new work using the processes they prefer, but when it comes time to find an audience, we ignore the economics of distribution at our peril.
Jan 3. 3 Likes: Clint Enns, RayRay McRabies, David Frankovich.

^^^

John Porter
Nick, what about all the films which, like my 300 films, are not in distribution and are neither loops in installations nor live performances but nevertheless require a film projector to be publicly exhibited?
Jan 4. 3 Likes: Andrew James Paterson, Clint Enns, Christian Muñoz Morrison.

Nick Fox-Gieg
@John I meant film loops as just one of many examples, not an exhaustive list. I agree: a film print that's meant to exist as a unique art object, and not one of many mass-produced copies, can by definition never be replaced by a mechanical reproduction, in any medium. Even if you take the highest-quality photograph of a painting imaginable, you can't claim the mechanical copy ever replaces the original, because they remain two different works in two different media.

However, I'd argue that in the distribution case, we've already resolved to make lots of copies--so now we're merely comparing two methods of making copies, not two original works!
Jan 4.

John Porter
I'm trying to understand. With works in distribution, it shoudn't matter how they're projected, but with works not in distribution, it should matter how they're projected?
Jan 4.

Nick Fox-Gieg
I think the distinction should be "works that are copies" and "works that are originals." If, after the original sequence of images has left the artist's hands, a duplicate sequence of images copied by technology A is identical to a duplicate sequence of images copied by technology B...then I'm comfortable saying that one mechanical copying technology can replace the other.

However, an original work is an original work, and by definition can't be replaced by a copy, no matter what the quality.

Behind all the theory, for me, is a very practical question: would I turn down the chance to exhibit a new work by my favourite artists working exclusively on film, just because the copy I was seeing was produced through a digital process, and not an optical/chemical one?
Jan 4.

John Porter
You mean the PREVIEW copy you were seeing? We're not discussing preview formats.
Jan 4.

Nick Fox-Gieg
Nope, I mean would I turn down the chance to see a high-quality digital exhibition copy of a new work originated on film, in a situation where the artist's intention is to make and distribute lots of copies.
Jan 4. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

^^^

John Porter
If you had a choice, would you prefer to see a film or digital copy of a film? Film projection is a different medium than digital projection. Neither is inferior to the other, but I prefer film projection.
Jan 4. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

Clint Enns
If such a choice exists John. (Although I can think of two counterexamples in recent years. Once when a 35mm film print of a video shot on VHS was shown in a small room where the sound of the projector was louder than the sound of the film, something the film relied heavily on. A few years ago I watched the worst 16mm film print of Kenneth Anger’s Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome (1954). The film print itself was suffering from a bad case of vinegar syndrome, in addition to fading colours, five or six major scratches seemed to run for the entire length of the film and too many splices to count. The print quality severely detracted from the content of the film and it is almost certain Anger did not intend for his movie to be viewed in this condition. Despite the fact that watching this film print was beautiful in its own right due to its scars and defects, a high-quality digital restoration of Inauguration would have been closer to Anger’s vision than this run down print.)

Eli and Nick are suggesting a reality where many contemporary filmmakers shot on film and finish on video. The film vs video (50/50) dichotomy seems to break down with this hybrid form of filmmaking.
Jan 4. 4 Likes: GB Jones, David Frankovich, Scott Miller Berry, Nick Fox-Gieg.

Nick Fox-Gieg
For me the best-case scenario is seeing the work the way the artist intended, with the artist available for Q&A afterward. :)
Jan 4. 4 Likes: Jubal Brown, Tara Snit, Clint Enns, David Frankovich.

Clint Enns
Best quality version/artist intended version might be worth arguing for at this point, however, this still does not clear up the 50/50 dichotomy.

What status should moving images shot on film and finished on video take in the PD 50/50 dichotomy?
Jan 4.

John Porter
Yes, but don't exclude films just because there are more videos to choose from.
Jan 4. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

John Porter
No status. The issue is, regardless of shooting medium, how much (artist-intended) film projection do we want? I like lots.
Jan 4. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

^^^

Dan Browne
Hybridity is political, and can vary in its determination from artist to artist and work to work, in my opinion. I think another big issue with shows curated from submission callouts is that the preview copies are almost always digital and it is often difficult to determine which works have been finished on film... These works are often negatively impacted by digital transfers, appearing more scratchy and less saturated if not properly transferred. For a curator going through a mountain of submissions it can be easy to overlook gems as a result, especially if the artist is not well known.
Jan 4. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

Clint Enns
The more interesting question is what is PD's policy in regards to hybrid form?

50% video proper
25% film proper
25% film finished digitally
Jan 4. 1 Like: Ekrem Serdar.

Dan Browne
Ie. what if a filmmaker is reusing old Hollywood footage? Is that "film finished digitally"?
Jan 4. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

Dan Browne
Also it's really interesting that Nick is defining things in terms of originals vs copies... As far as I see it, only reversal positives are "originals", never prints from negatives. Digital works are always a copy, unless there's no backup. The whole medium of film was what generated Walter Benjamin's concerns about technological reproduction and art, and while it's undoubtedly true that film now has a unique "aura" today as it never did before, it's still based fundamentally in the act of copying... Except for John Porter's films ;)
Jan 4. 1 Like: Nick Fox-Gieg.

^^^

Nick Fox-Gieg
@Dan Yeah, the philosophical problems are only going to get weirder with time. I suspect the arrival of "prosumer"-level telecine machines is going to make digital distribution even more attractive to film artists--if you've previously needed a post house you could recoup the cost of a gadget like this pretty quickly:
http://kinograph.cc/

What about making the quota an _artist_ quota instead of a _media_ quota--50% of the artists programmed must work primarily in film? And handling exhibition media formats I think could be solved with a simple three-step rule--in order of preference, screen: 1. The artist's preferred format, 2. The curator's preferred format, 3. The best-quality available copy.
Jan 4.

John Porter
Clint, PD has no hybrid policy. Hybrid first needs to be defined, and as Dan says, there will be many different definitions. What do you mean by "film finished digitally"? Video shot on film? To me there are 2 types of projection - film and video. Yes, some videos are shot on film, and some films are shot on video, but that's beside the point.
Jan 4. 2 Likes: Dan Browne, Clint Enns.

John Porter
Dan asks if a filmmaker is reusing old Hollywood footage, is that "film finished digitally"? If the work is finished digitally, I would ask, is that a film, and is that maker a filmmaker? Nick suggests 50% of the artists programmed must work primarily in film, but what is "film"? Work merely shot on film, or work shown on film?
Jan 4. 2 Likes: Christian Muñoz Morrison, Clint Enns.

Clint Enns
These ambiguities are precisely why a panel discussion is important...to work through some of these distinctions in the context of PD's mandate.
Jan 4.

^^^

David Frankovich
To my recollection, the policy states that PD should strive to screen 50/50 film/video works but it is not specific as to how they should be *projected*, in which case I think that Clint's and Nick's suggestion that showing the work in the way the artist intended, when humanly possible, and failing that in the "best quality" available is the way to go.

I think what this conversation demonstrates is that the rigid categories of "film" and "video" are becoming increasingly inadequate at describing the range of work being done by contemporary media artists. I don't think one or the other can be simply reduced to either their mode of production or distribution.

John might say that some videos are shot on film and some films are shot on video, while someone else might say that some films are finished on video and some videos are finished on film. Others might question the assumptions underlying either view. I wonder if the time hasn't come for a more nuanced approach to showcasing the breadth of work out there, rather than trying to shoehorn it into a quota that is based on what has become something of a false dichotomy.
Jan 4. 6 Likes: Samuel La France, Eli Horwatt, Tara Snit, Mike Zryd, RayRay McRabies, Nick Fox-Gieg.

John Porter
I hope that showing work in the way the artist intended is a given. We all want that, so why even discuss it. But don't exclude work because the artist wants it projected on film. In fact if that is a minority of work, all the more reason to not exclude it. Let's promote the most marginal work, and video has become the mainstream of moving image art.
Jan 4.

John Porter
David, if PD's policy doesn't specify projection format it's because back when we wrote the policy, it wasn't necessary. "Film" meant work shown on a film projector, and that's what we meant. That's what the policy is referring to. If "film" no longer means that, then we still need a commonly used word that does refer to that specific medium, so we can discuss that specific medium. I can't think of another such word than "film". Nobody refers to their "celluloid camera" or the "celluloids" they've made. Meanwhile "movie" is a very commonly used word referring to both/either film or video. Why do we need to appropriate the word "film" to merely mean the same as "movie"?
Jan 4.

^^^

David Frankovich
That's precisely what I'm saying, John. The policy was written at a time when these distinctions may have been quite clear in people's minds, but they have come to be more blurry, and while there are still works being made that can be clearly said to be either "film" or "video" there are also works which challenge these categories. It is no longer always a case of either/or, and PD needs an approach to its programming that reflects the complexity of contemporary media art practice, rather than trying to shoehorn works into categories that may not be appropriate for what they are.

I also find your suggestion that the means of projection is the sole determining factor of whether a piece is a film or video to be frankly absurd. If a filmmaker goes to LIFT, rents a Bolex, shoots some film, hand-processes it in the darkroom, edits it on a Steenbeck and does some optical printing with the JK, the suggestion that if they end up digitizing their work and distributing it as a file means that the piece is definitively a "video" in spite of how the artist may define their own practice is just silly.
Jan 4.

John Porter
Well I don't want to be absurd and silly, so please tell me what commonly used word I should use to refer specifically to that unique medium which can only be exhibited on a projector that passes light through a transparent strip (it would be silly to say a "film projector"), and I will use that word so people will know what I'm referring to without offending anyone.
Jan 4.

John Porter
By the way David, where did I suggest what you accuse me of suggesting? I merely asked questions about the type of work that you illustrated with your LIFT filmmaker analogy. I asked "Is that a film, and is that maker a filmmaker? What is film? Work merely shot on film, or work shown on film?" Was I silly to ask such questions? I'd like anyone here to feel free to ask ANY questions w/o fear of being called absurd or silly.
Jan 4.

David Frankovich
I believe the term you're looking for is "newfangled thingamawhatsit."
Jan 4. 1 Like: Nick Fox-Gieg.

John Porter
That's not the commonly used word (I've never heard it before), but OK, everyone please go back to my original post on my website and PD's Facebook Group page and replace "film" with "newfangled thingamawhatsit" and then we can re-start this discussion anew with everyone knowing what we all mean.
Jan 4.

^^^

John Porter
I'll save you all the trouble. After reading this please change your earlier comments to reflect my changes:

I've become very concerned about one of my favourite Toronto artist-run organizations - Pleasure Dome Artists' Newfangled thingamawhatsit Exhibition Group. Over many years it has been showing less and less newfangled thingamawhatsit (work shown on a newfangled thingamawhatsit projector), disregarding its own written mandate. Its annual New Toronto Works screening the last two years has included no newfangled thingamawhatsit, even though Toronto has one of the world's largest and most-respected newfangled thingamawhatsit communities.

The curators of this year's NTW have expressed a hatred of newfangled thingamawhatsit. Note the last posts (since deleted by person unknown) by Higgs Boatswain in the two Facebook threads which I have copied verbatim below. The next day during their verbal introduction at the NTW, one of the curators echoed that post, saying (and I paraphrase here) "If anyone here is disappointed that there is no scratchy super 8 in the program, they can talk to me after" and "Honestly, sometimes I think it's up to me to drag Toronto kicking and screaming into the 21st century". Since then those curators have refused to discuss this with me privately or publicly, even though Pleasure Dome is a publicly-funded organization.

Does this reflect the direction of experimental newfangled thingamawhatsit and video programming in Toronto (for example, at Pleasure Dome and The Images Festival) and/or elsewhere in Canada? How about internationally? I'd like to hear from people who attended this screening, and from those who chose not to attend for political or aesthetic reasons. You may comment on this Facebook post, or at info at super8porter dot ca.
Jan 4. 1 Like: Christian Muñoz Morrison.

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Dan Browne
David's last example is a good instance of how hybrid cinema definitions can be very political... maybe that artist could not afford a print, therefore is not a "real" filmmaker, falls thru the cracks, etc. For me it has to do with engaging with the aesthetics of film on some level... finishing on film is a definite way of demonstrating such an engagement. If nothing else (and returning to the primary subject) Pleasure Dome's mandate espouses a commitment to such engagement, and if individual curators are going to contradict this in ways that cause insult to local film artists, it would be nice for there to be some recovery of this mandate on the part of PD, so that it does not appear disingenuous. I don't think this requires discrete quotas (never been a fan of bean counting), but rather the right sort of curator who is chosen for the right reasons.
Jan 5. 4 Likes: Tara Snit, David Frankovich, John Porter, Nick Fox-Gieg.

Quinn T. Hornett
i don't think this argument has much merit anymore. what is important is the image in motion, not the means by which it is stored or produced; such concerns are secondary. i don't have a problem with people who love film; film's great ! but there's a significant political economy to its use (film is expensive) which keeps many voices from being heard. i'd rather live in a world with many voices speaking in many mediums than a few voices speaking in film
Jan 5. 1 Like: Nick Fox-Gieg.

Christian Muñoz Morrison
So then what happens to an organization whose mandate is to serve one medium more than another?
Jan 5.

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Nick Fox-Gieg
@Dan Great point; I also think it's a matter of where we choose to concentrate limited time and resources. Film distribution is effectively dead from a market perspective, but commercial film production is still healthy. Here's a long list of recent features and TV series shot on film; if anybody's actually seen a film print of any of these, I owe you a beer: KODAK: Productions on Kodak Motion Picture Film
http://motion.kodak.com/motion/Customers/Productions/index.htm

However, film _post-production_ isn't in as good shape. Film's 100-year lead over video will give it decades more life as a high-end image acquisition technology. (Personally, I predict it'll stay in use until the camera itself--that is, a box with a hole in it--becomes obsolete.) But most film shot today is immediately scanned to a digital file and tossed in a vault. Optical printers, chemical timing, Oxberry animation cameras--instruments still used daily by a nontrivial number of virtuoso craftspeople--are all in danger of falling into disuse, and with them entire modes of artistic production.

In my opinion, we need to concentrate on the kind of work Steven Woloshen does--writing down timers' chemical recipes before they die locked in the heads of the last people to receive them by apprenticeship. Ideally this should be done with public funding and legislation--to my knowledge Canada already has the world's first "Orphan Works" law (artists who restore an abandoned artwork are protected from being sued later, as long as they've done due diligence trying to find the rightsholders); it could be supplemented with an "Orphan Technologies" law covering patents on tools used in artistic production. Under the guidance of the last two still-alive-and-well generations of film post experts, we could scan the disassembled parts of equipment for future 3D printing, and write software emulators for the wee antique computer systems that drove them. (Fun fact: animation filmed with early computer-controlled animation cameras was called "computer animation.")

I'd much rather do this than expend energy arguing over which kind of device we use to throw the final set of coloured dots on a screen, as long as there are enough dots in enough different colours so that it looks the same. (Heck, the majority of current video projectors would even meet John's definition of a film projector--white light passes through a clear medium that filters colours and is focused by a lens.)
Jan 5. 1 Like: Dan Browne.

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Dan Browne
Quinn T. Hornett, that's exactly what is prompting this post, the fact that the recent TNW show had many voices speaking in a single medium: video (and some "digital film" works that folks have a hard time defining). People want plurality to continue, and I think this is reasonable, given that there is a mandate supporting it. Also, as a maker I would disagree that storing and production of moving images is not important -- I find it to be an integral aspect of my creative process both as a filmmaker and audience member. But that's just me.
Jan 5. 1 Like: Nick Fox-Gieg.

Nick Fox-Gieg
@Dan Working exclusively on film to create your final master negative/reversal print--I'd say that's definitely integral to the process. But what about making copies--taking the inevitability of analog generation loss and accumulated projector damage into account?
Jan 5.

Quinn T. Hornett
i also find storage and production processes to be integral at a certain level -- i once buried a photograph for sixty days outside in the mud to rephotograph it after photocopying it -- but not to the point where an artist-run centre writes production criteria into its exhibition mandate
Jan 5. 1 Like: Nick Fox-Gieg.

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Dan Browne
Nick, I think it's really a process idiosyncratic to each artist/work, this is why I am skeptical the issue can be resolved through quotas. And artists can change what they are doing over time... For example, I used to work primarily in 16mm but now am largely using HD video. I still call the HD works "films" sometimes but they are not on "film," per se. This leads me towards embracing a "post-medium" view, but I still love and admire works on 16mm, and my heart will always be warmed by the sound of film projection being cranked up amidst a show of digital works... hence I am skeptical that we can ever be "post-medium" without a loss of historical and cultural memory. The following link was shown at TNW in 2010 and I would not want to present it in a cinema in a format other than 16mm projection... but I am OK with offering a digital preview online because otherwise I am severely limiting the audience who can be aware of it - https://vimeo.com/17873236
Jan 5. 2 Likes: David Frankovich, Nick Fox-Gieg.

John Porter
Nick, analog generation loss and accumulated projector damage can be beautiful and intended. And it's a different beauty than achieved with digital projection. Not better, just different.
Jan 5. 1 Like: Christian Muñoz Morrison.

John Porter
Quinn, when you say film is expensive, are you referring to newfangled thingamawhatsit? If so, it's not necessarily expensive, but in this bigger-is-better world, artists who CHOOSE to make expensive films get most of the attention. I advocate for more marginal artists - the "underdogs" - who make films that are as inexpensive as video can be. But I'm not suggesting we show ONLY those marginal artists. We all want to see the diversity that's out there, especially in Toronto, so let's not shut film out entirely from New Toronto Works screenings.
Jan 5. 4 Likes: Dan Browne, Clint Enns, Sara MacLean, Christian Muñoz Morrison.

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Nick Fox-Gieg
@John I started out working in film and analog video, and even though i later moved to digital video and graphics programming, I wouldn't give up any analog artifacts when they're deliberate choices--our palette of options is lessened without them. But here comes the original/copy issue again--when the original work is finished, analog artifacts and all, I want the copies to be as faithful as possible to the master. Otherwise, if fidelity isn't the standard by which we're judging the copies, on what basis can we object to digital projection of a film original?

(Again, where the artist's intention is to make no copies, and for a unique original print to irrevocably accumulate damage each time it's projected, things are different. But surely we can all agree this is a less common case.)
Jan 5.

Tara Snit
This is indeed an expansive subject and not one I feel a ratio can accommodate. Digital completion of media works is on the rise and I don't see this changing in the future. Film is now but one means of production and projection (a beautiful one at that), and should be respected as part of film/video art heritage. Looking at the origins of this discussion - the NTW show last season - perhaps the underlying issue is to ensure that PD retains a mandate of showing (and appreciating) media works of ALL formats and that curators representing the organization be compelled to engage in respectful discourse regarding their decisions. After all, the audience is also essentially the funders of our art orgs.
Jan 5. 4 Likes: Dan Browne, John Porter, Amy Rou, Nick Fox-Gieg.

John Porter
"John's definition of a film projector--white light passes through a clear medium that filters colours and is focused by a lens." Nick, that wasn't exactly my definition, but I'm intrigued. Can you explain that clear medium in lay terms? (Your tech talk is often over my head.) Could I see it and hold it (like newfangled thingamawhatsit) somewhere such as LIFT, Trinity Square Video, or an electronics store? I'd love to check it out.
Jan 5.

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John Porter
I like Dan's alternative to a format quota - "the right sort of curator who is chosen for the right reasons". PD doesn't appear to work as a team striving for diversity, inclusiveness and equity on all levels. It appears to have mostly video curators and some token film curators each doing their own autonomous programs. And, like most artist-run centres, there's no interest in their own history so potential board members aren't de-briefed (BEFORE agreeing to serve) on all of the centre's many previously agreed-upon policies and practices. (Nobody has yet been able to quote verbatim on this thread, PD's quota policy). And PD's and other ARC boards are too big to manage. If they were smaller, there'd be actual ELECTIONS, and not ANYbody who wants to being able to get on board, and the larger voting membership would have more influence.
Jan 5.

Nick Fox-Gieg
@John The medium I was referring to is an LCD panel--they're the display technology in nearly all TVs and computer monitors today; to hold one, just pick up any phone or tablet. Basically it's a grid of tiny clear prisms that can change colour when you run an electric current through them. Microscopically fine wires are laid over the grid and deliver current to each prism, creating a mosaic of colours; a white light shines behind the panel to illuminate the picture. To generalize, most video projectors throw an image by placing a lens in front of a tiny, high-resolution LCD panel and a very bright bulb behind it.

Of course, video is about a century younger than film (1922 vs. 1826), and the technology we use is much more in flux--think of unstable, decaying magnetic media as the "nitrate" phase we're just now leaving. Video projectors can use a bewildering array of technologies ranging from electron guns to lasers to spinning colour wheels. The highest-end models you see in movie theatres these days add a complex array of mirrors that produce a deeper, richer black by mechanically deflecting light; on their own, the tiny prisms in an LCD can have trouble blocking all the light passing through them. (You've probably seen projected video where the blacks were an unsatisfying milky grey.)

A neat thing worth mentioning about LCD panels--as with film, they can hold a steady still image that, unlike CRTs (tube TVs), can be easily optically rephotographed. In the heyday of analog video, a lot of nifty hybrid systems were built along the lines of optical printers, using various kinds of film and video rephotography--often routing a live feed through an early image-processing computer that could only hold a single frame at a time. It'll be interesting to see if the widespread availability of LCDs, and the ease which which they can be photographed, leads to the rediscovery of some neglected artistic techniques that directly manipulate the physical properties of video.
Jan 5.

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GB Jones
Note to self: finish that Super 8 film of moody modernist ruins ASAP.
Jan 5. 4 Likes: Eva Kolcze, Clint Enns, Christian Muñoz Morrison, Andrew James Paterson.

John Porter
GB, you just gave me a great idea! An alternative New Toronto Works show! A "Salon des Refuses", maybe at the same time as PD's next NTW but at another location like CineCycle, with nothing but scratchy super 8, crackly back gardens and moody modernist ruins. There'd be way more than enough to choose from, so we could have an election for curators, and a competing Call for Submissions with our own quota, like "no videos of performance art".
Jan 5. 2 Likes: Christian Muñoz Morrison, GB Jones.

GB Jones
There you go! Now I'll have somewhere to show my new moody modernist ruins Super 8 film.
Jan 5. 2 Likes: Clint Enns, Christian Muñoz Morrison.

Christian Muñoz Morrison
I'm already using a Brillo pad on my old S8 home movies, I'll be ready when GB Jones and John Porter are!
Jan 5. 2 Likes: GB Jones, Nick Fox-Gieg.

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John Porter
In response to lobbying from video artists, Pleasure Dome Artists Film Exhibition Group changed its Constitution in 1993 to replace all references to "film" with "film and video". It added clause #6: "Pleasure Dome seeks to exhibit a balance of work from both the film and video mediums and as such, will show video up to a limit of 50% of our total screen time and financial resources devoted to exhibition, in each season." Changing this clause requires a 2/3 majority of votes at an Annual General Meeting after notifying all members before the AGM of the proposed change.
Jan 5. 1 Like: Clint Enns.

Nick Fox-Gieg
P.S. The videos must be screened using CRT video projectors and tape decks using no format newer than Digital Betacam (invented 1993).
Jan 5. 2 Likes: Clint Enns, David Frankovich.

John Porter
Over my head again Nick. Not everyone knows what CRT means. Anyway, no limit to the type of equipment used to show either film or video, just to the amount of video.
Jan 5.

Dan Browne
^^ so if there is no limit to the type of equipment used to show film or video, what is to prevent film works from being screened digitally? I can't help but stir the pot.
Jan 6. 2 Likes: David Frankovich, Nick Fox-Gieg.

MORE COMMENTS, JANUARY 6 - JULY 6, 2014, CONTINUED ON PAGE 2

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http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/envelope/cotown/la-et-ct-paramount-digital-20140117,0,5245137.story#axzz2qhgdCs1W

End of film: Paramount first studio to stop distributing film prints
'The Wolf of Wall Street'
Paramount's "The Wolf of Wall Street" is the first major Hollywood movie to be distributed entirely in digital format -- without the use of film or film reels on which the industry has depended since it began. (Mary Cybulski / Associated Press)
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By Richard Verrier
January 17, 2014, 3:47 p.m.
In a historic step for Hollywood, Paramount Pictures has become the first major studio to stop releasing movies on film in the United States.
Paramount recently notified theater owners that the Will Ferrell comedy “Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues,” which opened in December, would be the last movie that would it would release on 35-millimeter film.
The studio’s Oscar-nominated film “The Wolf of Wall Street” from director Martin Scorsese is the first major studio film that was released all digitally, according to theater industry executives who were briefed on the plans but not authorized to speak about them.
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The decision is significant because it is likely to encourage other studios to follow suit, accelerating the complete phase-out of film, possibly by the end of the year. That would mark the end of an era: film has been the medium for the motion picture industry for more than a century.
“It’s of huge significance,” said Jan-Christopher Horak, director of the UCLA Film & Television Archive. “For 120 years, film and 35 mm has been the format of choice for theatrical presentations. Now we’re seeing the end of that. I’m not shocked that it’s happened, but how quickly it has happened.”
A spokeswoman for Paramount was not available for comment.
Paramount has kept its decision under wraps, at least in Hollywood.
The reticence reflects the fact that no studio wants to be seen as the first to abandon film, which retains a cachet among some filmmakers. Some studios may also be reluctant to give up box-office revenue by bypassing theaters that can show only film. About 8% of U.S. movie theater screens are equipped to show movies only on film.
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Other studios were expected to jump on the digital bandwagon first. 20th Century Fox sent a letter to exhibitors in 2011 saying it would stop distributing film “within the next year or two.” Disney issued a similar warning to theater operators. Last year, many industry watchers expected Lions Gate would make history with an all-digital November release of “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire.”
Paramount’s move comes nearly a decade after studios began working with exhibitors to help finance the replacement of film projectors with digital systems, which substantially reduce the cost of delivering movie prints to theaters.
In addition to relying on digital hard drives, theaters are installing satellites to digitally beam movies into cinemas. That could significantly lower the cost of delivering a single print, to less than $100 from as much $2,000.
Digital technology also enables cinemas to screen higher-priced 3-D films and makes it easier for them to book and program entertainment.
As a result, large chains have moved quickly to embrace digital technology: Ninety-two percent of 40,045 screens in the U.S. have converted to digital, according to the National Assn. of Theatre Owners.
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The dwindling number of film screens has made releasing movies on 35 mm less attractive, especially given the rising cost of film prints for major movies. Film print costs have been rising rapidly as suppliers have scaled back production.
Last month, Technicolor, the French-owned film processing and post-production company, closed a film lab in Glendale. That lab had replaced a much larger facility at Universal Studios that employed 360 workers until it closed in 2011. Also last year, Technicolor closed its Pinewood film lab in Britain.
The march to digital also puts further pressure on some small-town community theaters that have been struggling to finance the purchase of $70,000 digital projectors.
Those theaters are at risk of going out of business if they can no longer obtain film prints of movies. As of last year, about 1,000 independent theaters had not transitioned to digital. Some are turning to their communities to raise funds for digital equipment.
"The Wolf of Wall Street” would seem an unlikely choice for an all-digital wide release given that movie was partially shot on film and that Scorsese is a a passionate advocate for film preservation. What's more, he directed a movie that was a homage to the early days of film, the 2011 3-D movie "Hugo."

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