Re-Enacting Expanded Cinema: Three Case Studies

In 2009, Lucas Ihlein and Louise Curham presented a paper at the Re-Live Media Art Histories conference in Melbourne.

There seem to be some problems accessing the proceedings online, so we’re posting the paper here on our own website in the spirit of collegiality.

It’s entitled Re-Enacting Expanded Cinema: Three Case Studies.

Here’s the abstract:

Since 2003, the practice of Sydney’s Teaching and Learning Cinema has involved the re-enactment of Expanded Cinema performances from the 1960s and 70s. As artists, we have discovered that direct access to the work of our aesthetic precursors is essential for understanding, and building upon the work of the past.

However, since many Expanded Cinema events were ephemeral and situated in time and place, they do not easily lend themselves to documentation and archiving. As a result, the works are poorly represented in art history. Re-creating them in our own ‘here and now’ is a creative pedagogical process, in which the works become available once again for first-hand experience.

Clearly, these re-creations are not ‘authentic’ or ‘correct’ – rather, the very concept of authenticity and the integrity of the bounded art event are brought into question by this unique form of practice-based research. In this paper, we touch on three three Expanded Cinema works we have re-created – William Raban’s 2’45” (1973); Anthony McCall’s Long Film for Ambient Light (1975) and Guy Sherwin’s Man with Mirror (1976).

We discuss the dilemmas that emerge from such a process. Geographical distance, cultural context and technological developments all make significant demands on the resourcefulness and wit of the re-enactors. Emerging from this process, our re-enactments generate an organic living history, in which the works are ‘kept alive’ through the practice of passing them from one generation to the next.

You can download the pdf of the paper here.

PS: Some of my earlier thoughts on re-enactment as a strategy are here.

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