880 Chapters
Medium 9780861966899

Chapter 7 Marta Braun and Charlie Keil,Living Canada: selling the nation through images

Richard Abel John Libbey Publishing ePub

Distinctively in the Western world, Canada’s identity as a nation was forged at the same moment as technologies of mechanized reproduction became prevalent. Early cinema, indeed, assumed a privileged place in defining Canada to its inhabitants and to the larger world. No set of texts reinforces cinema’s role in the formative nation-building exercise more clearly than the changing program of film series known as Living Canada, first exhibited in 1903. Living Canada offers a revealing example of the ways in which film was employed to envision and give form to concepts of nation at that crucial time before World War I. More specifically, the series, filmed under the aegis of the Charles Urban Trading Company in 1902, indicates how closely intertwined the category of nation was with the notion of economic potential. The idea of Canada was predicated on the image of its seemingly infinite natural resources, the visual confirmation of which film was especially well suited to provide. Clichéd notions of Canada as a vast land of forests and mountains, lakes and rivers – notions so successful and persuasive that they retain their usefulness more than a century after Living Canada’s debut – were instrumental in promoting an unknown land as a desirable destination for both immigration and tourism. But while we might be tempted to see Living Canada as a straightforward effort in constructing the identity of a nation, our estimation of the series’ means and aims must take into account the variations introduced by exhibition context and programming strategies.

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Medium 9780253018472

12 Seth Morton · “The Archive That Knew Too Little: The International Necronautical Society and the Avant-Garde”

JONATHAN PAUL EBURNE Indiana University Press ePub

12.1. Inside the INS broadcast crypt.

12

THE ARCHIVE THAT KNEW TOO LITTLE

THE INTERNATIONAL NECRONAUTICAL SOCIETY AND THE AVANT-GARDE

Seth Morton

Over one hundred years after the first Futurist manifesto, the historical avant-garde looks like an oddity that died long ago. Perhaps nothing has served the avant-garde better than its own death. In death, the avant-garde is memorialized and archived. Its antiart position has been absorbed by the art world, and its logics inform mass culture and high art alike. Although the historical avant-garde failed to make good on revolutionary ideals, avant-garde logics continue to evolve and diversify across our entire cultural media landscape, from Dada to Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. This is the odd thing about the avant-garde: its style thrives in a cultural era overwrought with aesthetic and cultural cynicism. If a productive tension between its own cynicism and its revolutionary ideals energized the early twentieth century’s avant-garde, then the relocation of the avant-garde in the museum and in popular culture turns that tension into a perverse parody of “the avant-garde that was.” From today’s vantage point, the avant-garde seems to have cultivated a very real death wish. Its death was not stylistic or aesthetic but rather a failure to be. In the wake of its death, the object lesson of the avant-garde appears to concern the necessary failure of any project that sets radical forms of being as its goal.

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Medium 9780253014078

5. Lapidary Dynamisms: River, Stone, Icon

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

As Geeta Kapur said, “The cinematic construct by Shahani is premised from the start on a reclamation of our cultural history.”1 Shahani’s Khayāl gāthā (Khayal saga) (1988) is formed like a khayāl bandish or khayāl musical composition with recurrent themes and variations. Cyclical, serpentine movements reveal unexpected space-time configurations, colors, sounds, sensations, percepts, and affects where each end is a new beginning and vice versa, and each new face is but that of the same beloved known in so many previous lives. The work of “reclamation” and the transposition of complex systems of signs across several media proceed obliquely in serpentine moves.

However, as an outsider to the classical and folk traditions that inform Shahani’s Khayāl gāthā, I must take on the persona of one who seeks an apprenticeship in the perception of complex systems of signs and their transposition from one medium to another. This move is enabling in a mimetic way because the film itself conjures up a wanderer or seeker, a persona who is dispatched on a journey from the king’s palace while still a child, through the India of both legend and history, to learn – or, rather, to learn how to learn. The only advice given to the little boy as wanderer by the Sufi who garlands and blesses him on his journey is, “Stay close to the river to quench your thirst,” this thirst no water can slake, this river the river of knowledge. This mythical invocation of the river of knowledge enfolds the idea of thirst as a yearning for knowledge. But what kind of knowledge it is not easy to specify as yet: it is revealed gradually through the seeking itself. Language in its several avatārs, as speech, monologue, voice-over, voice-off, incantation, riddle, rune, song, does not mean what it says, operating on several registers (literal, allegorical, mythical, epic) at once. The first diegetic khayāl musical composition, heard over the wanderer’s journey on horseback, is the formal invocation to Saraswathī, the name not only of the lost and hence mythic Vedic river but also the name of the Hindu goddess of music and learning. As such, her name, Sa-ras (wathi), is a compound, Sa-ras meaning “with rasa,” flavor or aesthetic sentiment, while wathi is a feminine termination. The sensory and metaphysical dimension of this feminine mythical archetype is evoked at many critical moments of loss of direction, when a sense of aridity disables the seeker and he reaches a dead end.2

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Medium 9780861967179

Chapter 8 Mobilizing Movies: the U.S. Signal Corps and the Committee on Public Information

James W Castellan John Libbey Publishing ePub

The American entry into the war soon attracted increased attention by the authorities to film censorship and control. In April 1917 the U.S. Attorney General in Pittsburgh requested the Pennsylvania Board of Censorship to stop exhibiting three films, including the movies Civilization and War Brides, because these productions were considered pacifistic and so had a bad influence on public opinion. In Ohio the censors themselves took action and announced all war films would be checked intensively. Senator George Allen Davis from Buffalo, New York, proposed that the Federal Government ban all films with graphic scenes of the war because these would have a detrimental effect on recruitment.

Just a few days after the declaration of war by Congress, the Federal authorities began communicating with the film companies on ways to deal with war-related footage. Josephus Daniels, Secretary of the Navy, sent a letter to all newsreel companies asking them not to show any scenes of navy ships, naval exercises or preparations for war unless these films had been approved by his department. This complicated the production of newsreels significantly. To make matters even more difficult there were no official guidelines yet on what sort of film scenes could be recorded or regulations on securing an official permit to produce such films. Not until August 1917, four months after entry into the war, did the Committee on Public Information (CPI), the U.S. wartime propaganda and censorship agency, provide guidelines to American film producers. One of the most significant measures was the regulation that no photographers would be permitted to accompany the army abroad on active service in the war zone except official photographers in the government service (shades of the European authorities in 1914!).

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Medium 9780253009234

5. Made in America: Urban Immigrant Spaces in Transnational Nollywood Films

Edited by Matthias Krings and Onookome O Indiana University Press ePub

CLAUDIA HOFFMANN

FILMMAKERS IN NIGERIA'S MEGACITY LAGOS HAVE PRODUCED astounding numbers of video films in recent decades, but the significance of the city for Nollywood film production does not stop there. Lagos itself is being reproduced, reimagined, and re-created in many of these films. The importance of the Nigerian urban center for the country's English-speaking film production is indisputable, and the production of English-speaking video films in southern Nigeria is inextricably linked to contemporary Lagos.1 This phenomenon shows that Nollywood is following the cinematic tradition of using the cityscape as a setting and as a symbol of national cinemas, such as Rome for Italian, Berlin for German, and Paris for French national cinema. In the development of Nollywood as a thriving and distinctly Nigerian film industry, Lagos has become the icon and symbol for modern Nigerian filmmaking: “[Nollywood] is a medium of the city. It is only a city like Lagos that could have engineered and nurtured its birth” (Okome, “Nollywood”). In recent years, not only the distribution of Nollywood films, but also their production have become transnational, and Nigerian filmmakers based in cities around North America have produced Nollywood-style videos that are set in urban centers such as New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. Through diasporic filmmaking, these globalized cities and their immigrant communities become cinematic manifestations of transnational movements of money, labor, goods, media, and people, and the actual city space, with its buildings, streets, sidewalks, cars, and other symbols of urbanity, is a place where social actors “negotiate the relationship between the local and the global” (Mennel 201).

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