Film and the Visual Arts

Our March edition of 15 Bytes concentrated on video, installation and performance, genres that stretch the normal categories of the "visual arts" (or, for discussion purposes, what used to be called the "plastic arts"). Video stradles the visual art and film worlds. Performance does the same with theatre and dance. And I suppose installation could be said to do the same with interior design (okay, that may be a stretch, but you get the idea).

For my article on the OUT/EX series I asked Tyrone Davies what the difference was between video and film. Not understanding exactly what I was asking, he responded that the one was tape and the other celluloid. What I was getting at, though, was what is the distinction between video [art] (which is generally associated with galleries and musems of the visual arts) and film, usually considered an art form of its own. But is that distinction valid? Alfred H. Barr included film at the Museum of Modern Art. But does that mean 15 Bytes should be covering the Oscars? Or Cannes? Is there some type of border that determines when moving pictures belong in the gallery and when in the theatre? Is it a matter of narrative? That doesn’t seem a satisfactory distinction. Bill Viola’s video installation at the UMFA contains a narrative of sorts. And painting frequently has a narrative.

Why worry about the distinction, you ask, why bother with all of these boxes and categories? Well, there might be a variety of valid reasons but the pressing one for me is an editorial one. How wide of an angle should 15 Bytes use when attempting to cover the "visual arts" in Utah. Film is visual and it is an art form. But so is the ballet and the theatre. Our postmodern world loves the blurring of distinctions and I’m all for exploring barriers. But is there a point when blurring means we simply can’t see anything anymore. 15 Bytes could attempt to become everything for everyone, but in the process might end up becoming nothing for no one.

So, my question to the readers (and my hope for responses) is what did you think of this last edition? Are you excited by the coverage of video art? Should we expand our coverage to film? Any ideas on the distinctions between the two?

I appreciate your input, and if you get a chance join me this Saturday at Nobrow Coffee for the OUT/EX screenings starting at 7 and then over to the Pickle Company for the Guillermo Gomez-Pena performance at 8.

Categories: Film

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