Rant 81: The Simplicity Complex of Moving Images

Rant 81: The Simplicity Complex of Moving Images Michael Cousin, 009 - 012 Valerie & Countryside, 2011 - 2011

It is captivating and seductive, but moving image has its own particular difficulties and restrictions. Michael Cousin defends a practice that is often misunderstood and poorly curated.

Making, curating and watching moving image practice should be a straightforward process. Point a camera, steal some footage, make a showreel, choose some films and press play. Easy, no?

The moving image has as many pitfalls as it has benefits but why is it often seen as an easy option by non-practitioners and some curators? From screening, to selling, to representing, to funding and making, this discipline presents a particular set of problems or advantages depending on your particular viewpoint. 

This is a rant about the particular misunderstandings and misrepresentations of film and video in general.

The practitioner faces an uphill struggle. The materials of filmmaking change and evolve constantly which leaves the artist clinging onto kit that is an endangered species or hurling endless cash into the bottomless pit that is technological advancement. 

This is often coupled with having to be self-taught in video and sound recording, lighting, prop making, scriptwriting / storyboarding, directing, researching, subtitling, editing, DVD authoring and distribution.

Funding this kind of practice can be more difficult than others. There are few funding sources that provide for the artist who works in the ever-widening space between moving image as installation and moving image as narrative film. There are even fewer collectors of moving image practice and it’s a notoriously difficult product to sell.

However, screening work has never been easier. There are hundreds of festivals and galleries around the globe that specialise in experimental video. Yet all too often video is presented en masse, unconnected by anything other than it all being 'video'. Work can be compromised for an audience by being buried in a screening reel lasting several hours. 

No other artform is stacked or piled or merged, so why is film? (This isn’t to say that it should never be done, either to film or to paintings. But that should not happen for mere expediency).

The artist filmmaker on the face of it has an easy life. But underneath is a complexity that needs support; practical, financial and curatorial.

Contributed by Michael Cousin
Michael is a moving image artist based in Wales. He is the founder and curator of Outcasting, an online moving image gallery and has worked as Co-curator at g39 in Cardiff. He is also an artist member of the Contemporary Art Society, London.

Michael Cousin on Axisweb

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