Re:Cinema is an internationally focused research project dedicated to examining the notion of the cinematic in relation to contemporary visual culture. The outcomes of the project will be a pair of curated exhibitions to be held in 2013 accompanied by a publication that will document the exhibitions and surrounding dialogue.
The project is being conducted as an exchange between Sydney College of the Arts and the School of Art, Media and Technology, Parsons The New School For Design, New York. Each institution will reciprocally host an exhibition originating from the partner institution and contribute to the project publication. The development of the exhibitions will occur through a concentrated process of dialogue and exchange. . This dialogue will inform the curatorial vision of the project which will be ultimately shaped by the institutions themselves with participating artists being drawn from the Faculty, research students and alumni.
What is Cinema?
Indeed, this question remains as provocative today as it was in 1958 when it was used for the title of a collection of essays (Que-est-ce que le Cinéma?) by the then recently deceased film theorist and critic André Bazin. For Bazin the cinema was a total system of representation of mythical proportions. A system that at once reinscribed and sublimated the audiences’ relation with reality.
For all Bazin’s insight and lasting influence his ideas are inescapably tied to a particular historical and technological epoch: A golden age of cinema spectatorship in which moving images were displayed and viewed under strict architectural and perceptual conditions. An age that demanded that one must visit a movie theatre to fall under the spell of moving images. It was, of course, a state of affairs that quickly came to pass with the widespread adoption of television in the 1950s and 60s and the subsequent revolutions in digital representation and delivery of recent years. The classical model of cinema spectatorship is now but a mere strand of the multiplicity of ways we engage and are engaged by moving images.
It is here that the conceptual premise of the Re:Cinema project can be located. Perhaps it is no longer entirely useful to consider the cinematic in terms of a totalising system. Rather we must consider the ways in which this system is renegotiated and redefined by forces arising from the conditions of ubiquity, instantaneity and malleability that are the hallmarks of the digital era.
However, it should be foregrounded that this project is not concerned with attempting to redefine the idea of the cinematic (or vis-á-vis the cinema) but rather with recognising the contours of the processes that constantly reshape and revitalise our relationship with the moving image. Within the project the cinematic is considered not as a strict formal entity but rather as a persistent conceptual and visual presence that informs a wide range of visual production and artistic inquiry.
Operating across the fields of video art, installation, experimental film practices, photography and new media the project is concerned with examining this expanded idea of the cinematic in relation to the contemporary image-scape. Within the project the cinematic itself is to be considered as a diffuse presence that permeates visual culture. In this sense the cinematic is considered as a trace element rather than a totalising system.
As a way of both approaching and working through this expanded notion of the cinematic it is perhaps useful to identify a range of formal and conceptual strategies at work here. This inventory is in no way meant to be prescriptive or exclusive but rather to help identify the emerging contours of the project: