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8 thoughts on Super 8 - click opera
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Mon, May. 29th, 2006 01:38 pm
8 thoughts on Super 8

Home Movie Depot is the YouTube of Super 8 home movies -- a collection of fragile, stereotypical, unedited memories from about 1950 to about 1980. As you watch the films in the archive you're filled with a sense of reassurance, uneasiness, conflicting impressions of freedom and determinism. Here are eight thoughts about Super 8.



1. Everyone the same age, from the same country, really does share remarkably similar memories, framed by dead formats. Each generation's memories are "universal", and yet also pathetically specific.

2. There's a "determinism of infrastructure". Our memories are dictated by the tricycles we all rode in 1964, the cars we drove in 1971, the toys of 1984. There was a specific idea of "tricycle" and "car" and "toy" at any given point, and there was no opting out. You couldn't have a 1989 car in 1979.

3. But it isn't just cars, it's also living styles; carpets, clothes, hairstyles. We're terrible conformists, and we barely realize the extent of it. Socialization is impossible to resist; all we can do is spin it, or have different experiences of it according to our class and our culture. What were you doing in 1972? You had a beard, a ribbed yellow nylon poloneck jumper, sideburns. You were a sexy radical.



4. Paradox: As soon as we leave the consensus of a particular era, its conformist determinism of styles is shucked off. The detritus begins to represent freedom for another era. (The documentaries of Luke Fowler rummage around in other eras for just such glimpses of freedom.)

5. Neglect confers on conformism a sort of ostranenie, an alienation which begins to become liberating. One era's conformism can be another's eccentricity and otherness. Junk store chic. The meanings are all in new places because of the supervening context.

6. It's impossible not to be doing calculations in your head all the time as you watch these movies: that person must be dead 56 years later, that baby still alive but adult, that puppy dead. The more the joy (woman playing with crazy puppy in front of orange plastic chair, 1968), the more the pathos.



7. Earlier this year my friend Xavier Gautier (born 1974, married Anne Laplantine 2005) held an art exhibition at Galerie Alain Gutharc in Paris entitled "Family Films" which (as I reported back in October 2005) "spliced sequences from memorable or moving Hollywood films with Super 8 home movies his parents shot in the 70s. The result is a kind of "epic memory" in which life and media intermingle". Xavier's films are online here.

8. I've been watching these movies in tandem with The Private Life of Plants, the David Attenborough TV series from 1995. Trees, of course, can live hundreds of years. Watching humans, in comparison, is like watching something speeded up, fleeting. We're born, we reproduce, we die. We're gone in a flash; there's a yellow flare, some numbers, some leader and the spool runs off the bobbin.

But would I like to see the home movies of a tree? Actually, why not...

26CommentReply

mippy
mippy
Wronger Than Ten Hitlers
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 12:09 pm (UTC)

Sometimes I watch old films and suddenly realise that the animals in them will now be dead. I'm not sure why this is.


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piratehead
piratehead
Good bye
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 02:06 pm (UTC)

Have you noticed this trend of couple years ago (or last year) in which a mall brand hoodie or t-shirt would just have a year printed (e.g. "1978") in a vaguely era-appropriate font with the store brand (Abercrombie and Fitch or something)? Just the name of a year as an icon to evoke a oversaturated slide show of forgotten styles, to condense, reduce and sell the borrowed memory. 1981. 1968. It really annoyed me. One era's conformism can be another era's even more boring conformism.


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 02:15 pm (UTC)

that person must be dead

she is

but he isn't


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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 02:29 pm (UTC)

I keep looking how much the original format shows through even after successive generations of copying. Like in Xavier Gautier's art, he's working with 35mm and 8mm film, transferred to video, transferred to digital, re-edited, and then compressed for the web. It's all flattened, and yet I can still tell what was shot by billy wilder and what was shot by his father. For similar reasons most TV shows are shot on film even though they're going to be viewed on a regular low-res television screen. It's sorta like vocoded singing--as much as the voice is abstracted, there's still something human about the noise.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 11:04 pm (UTC)

No. Most TV shows are not shot on film. That would be tremendously expensive and wasteful.

You probably came to this assumption because of the very perceptable quality difference between home video and tv shows. This is because studio gear is of a much higher quality than anything you'd own at home. The lenses, colour sensors, tape they record to (VHS/SVHS/Hi8/MiniDV vs BetaCam/DV), and most importantly lighting (can't stress that enough) make a huge difference to the overall visual quality of the end result, even if it winds up on a crummy VHS tape in the end.


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fishwithissues
fishwithissues
jordan fish
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 06:30 am (UTC)

Er, no, you're wrong--unless you're just watching soaps and game shows. I should've said that I was specifically referring to big-budget network television shows like Desperate Housewives, Law & Order, 24, et al. All shot on film, then quickly converted to hi-def digital for editing. Tremendously expensive and wasteful? maybe, but it still looks so great. In conclusion, talking like you know about stuff is pretty fun sometimes.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 02:54 pm (UTC)
2 cents

while my own family never made home movies, and while i've seen only a few, here and there, of friends' families or strangers', the experience for me has been similarly poignant, if not uneasy, with my feeling stirred up by the time what i'm watching is over and, usually, morbidly eager for more. family albums (my own or others') have a very similar effect, despite photography's having rather different capabilities and limitations from those of film.

something that i'm sure would get under my skin a whole lot more would be simple recordings. there's something especially penetrating about voices in the absence of any visuals; your own mind's eye, quickly enough, responds to what you're listening to, and that's an especially intimate way of being engaged, i think. also, with a camera (any kind of camera), the people being recorded almost always have, and keep, an awareness of being recorded, and this finds its way into the picture or film (for better or worse). a recording device is much easier to forget about, i think; perhaps only after it's been on for some time, but, still. what you're privileged to hear is less likely to have been performed for your benefit.




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trufflesniffer
trufflesniffer
trufflesniffer
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 03:04 pm (UTC)

This is a beautiful entry, illustrating a beautiful concept.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 03:50 pm (UTC)
Alexandre

Wouldn't you consent that after over a century of Cinema there's a pattern emergence of said "epic memories" which take form as Feelings (be it aspirations, fears, or hopes) of any given generation? The popular resort to infrastructural mechanisms of time and space have woven a SoulState which we, as later empathical beings, are able to percieve.We are at a conceptual point in contemporary time(speared by the Industrial Revolution and the whole of Modernism) that lets us tolerate an infinite variety of cultural matrices (cultural or auto-biographical) from which springs a very personal though holographic precise Sentiment - whichever it may be.


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songtosetmefree
deaddeaddead
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 03:51 pm (UTC)

wow.
these are fascinating and beautiful
thanks for sharing


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hello_mike
Mike
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 05:24 pm (UTC)

I find it especially haunting to look at movies or photographs from decades ago that are set in places you're familiar with, or are able to walk to and see.

The trees are still there, a little bigger, a little rougher. The grass is the same. The sun filters through the leaves at the same angle.

But the people are gone.


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hello_mike
Mike
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 05:33 pm (UTC)

On the other hand, some of our most beautiful "solid" constructs are all the more alluring when you find out that they're works of dedicated recreation and hard, loving, recent work, like the shrine you mentioned in Japan that gets rebuilt every generation or so.

So perhaps it's not the shortness of lifespan that is what is most halting about these, but the lack of impact? We don't know these people, they're just normal everyday people like you and me, so maybe it's a bit more poignant knowing that all their hopes and dreams culminated in not a whole lot.

I don't know, I guess I buy too much into the western individualist fame-fortune-and-impact fantasy, the new American dream. Or maybe I am second-guessing myself too much, and the desire to leave a lasting legacy to the future of humanity is truly universal. Either way, though, it's what I inevitably come to think about when I end up thinking of the fate of people in old films. I'm notoriously prone to seduction by grandiose thoughts, though, so perhaps it's just my problem.

A tree's home movies would be to film as John Cage's As Slow As Possible is to music, I suspect. At least shooting them would be cheap, at one frame of film per day.


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beketaten
beketaten
Juliet
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 09:02 pm (UTC)

Not all of us are as hideously conformist, because in different eras there is only a certain selection that one can run accross. Now just seems to be filled with so much variety that you can see all the conforming groups divided off at once, but it still seems like all of the pants they sell to my younger age group are either ridiculously tight and/or riding-up, or they are disturbingly baggy and shapeless.
I suppose the most we can do in any era of fashion, (which Oscar Wilde said is a thing so dreadful we must change it very often (i didn't remember the original quote--don't shoot me!)), is to find the small amount of the least offensive, vaguely archtypal pieces of clothing available to us. It is often the stores, the monotonous stores, that render us with little choice.
I say now, even if something is in style, I'll wear it anyway if I really like it, and I'll wear it with Zubas if a bloody well please.


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(Anonymous)
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 09:26 pm (UTC)
last Alexandre post

I didn't know but how to parent a reply.
Care to comment on the previous post , Momus?


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imomus
imomus
imomus
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 11:05 pm (UTC)
Re: last Alexandre post

I'm afraid I couldn't understand it at all!


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(Anonymous)
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 11:29 pm (UTC)
Re: last Alexandre post

damn..

I was hinting as to whether or not we may attribute ONE general overall shared emerging feeling to a specific community - this one being that of the democratization of film.


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cityramica
cityramica
cityramica
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 11:30 pm (UTC)
Re: last Alexandre post

THAT ICON IS TERRIFYING!!!
your face looks distorted like you just saw something awful in a japanese horror film!!


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its_his_factory
its_his_factory
krylon
Mon, May. 29th, 2006 09:27 pm (UTC)

There's something platonic about the absorption of defining concepts you describe in 2 and 3. New ideals are grabbed at, with the old refusing to snatch at the new for newness sake.

Plato didn't have the benefit of watching society reinvent itself, in terms of material goods, every 10 years.


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stanleylieber
stanleylieber
Stanley Lieber
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 02:07 am (UTC)

I tend to think of fashions in these sorts of terms. One day I'll say to myself, 'Today I shall dress in the mode of 1989.' I'm not sure my vision of these modes is consistent with other people's views of the time periods though. Everyone copies but I think some people are copying more interesting misunderstangings than others.


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cheapsurrealist
cheapsurrealist
Dave Nold
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 05:33 am (UTC)

I've been dressing like it was 1972 since 1969


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rob.rabiee.myopenid.com
rob.rabiee.myopenid.com
Tue, May. 30th, 2006 04:55 am (UTC)
'Home movies of a tree'

You know, I think I'd like to see that, too. I'm building a windowbox camera obscura for my room. That's pretty close, right?

Oh, and this is my brand-new OpenID! I'm so excited! No more 'Anonymous' for me: no sirree!


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(Anonymous)
Fri, Jun. 2nd, 2006 06:03 pm (UTC)
If you like this, you'll love Home Movie Day

You can share that awesome "that dog is dead now" frisson live, with a whole roomful of people, at Home Movie Day (www.homemovieday.com)--held nationwide and around the world on the second Saturday in August, annually. I'm a co-founder of this project and have been the coordinator for the Los Angeles event since it started. There's no media experience quite like watching people watch their own home movies--of their own first birthday party, or their parents' wedding, or their long-gone grandmother--and you never know who's going to show up with what. Also, there will be bingo.


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(Anonymous)
Sun, Jun. 4th, 2006 03:09 am (UTC)
Far from Dead

Actually, Super-8 is quite far from dead...
There are quite a lot of people who still shoot and project in Super-8.

Berlin, actually, is one of the cities with the highest Super-8 activity...

For example, the German magazine Schmalfilm (out of Berlin, I think) is now (for the past year or so) published in English. See www.smallformat.de

Interestingly, what has occured is that many videomakers who have been using DV are 'discovering' the older small formats (which have better resolution), such as Super-8, and there is a small-scale resurgence taking place...


Mitsos
New York


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gowylie
gowylie
gowylie
Thu, Jan. 18th, 2007 02:51 pm (UTC)
Re: Far from Dead

nice article thanks !


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(Anonymous)
Wed, Apr. 11th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
So it goes

I haven't gotten much done these days. So it goes. What can I say? I've just been letting everything pass me by. Basically not much going on lately, but it's not important. I've basically been doing nothing worth mentioning.


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(Anonymous)
Sat, Jun. 23rd, 2007 11:07 pm (UTC)
DhOjElICCpOosDz

8hosmM simpson2.org.ua


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