Rebirth of a Nation and Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y

In Rebirth of a Nation, creator DJ Spooky remixes the original film The Birth of a Nation (1915) by D.W Griffith. The original film is highly controversial. The original film was set during and after the American Civil War and dealt with an unfortunate positive form of white supremacy and the Ku Klux Klan. By remixing the film’s music and using different film techniques, it allows the original film to be criticized in a moral standpoint by creating parallels of the socio-political and economical conflicts in the United States in the original film’s era. It combines contemporary film, music, and art.

Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, Johan Grimonprez shows the history of airplane hijackings portrayed on mainstream television. The film is filled with archival footage, such as reports, clips from science fiction movies, found footage, and home video. This film was made before the September 11 terrorist attacks. The media coverage of the terrorist attacks within the film produce a shock within society. The terrorist attacks in the 1960s-1970s differed from the 1990s because the earlier ones were perceived by the media as revolutionaries but in the 1990s, they only showed bombs not the actual terrorists. By the end of the film, the more hijacks were shown on television, the deadlier the hijacks became. The media gives the terrorists a political platform when they commit the hijacks and they are recorded on television.


In “Structural Film” Sitney explained how people who watch experimental films can get confused with simple and conceptual art. He states that films are extensive than compressed and static than rhythmic. Sitney also states that the newest stage of cinema is now the structural film. In “On ‘Structural Film'” George Maciunas stated how Sitney’s definition for structural film is wrong because it is defined through the ideas of art, philosophy, concept art, and structural art. He was the founding member and central coordinator of FLUXUS and viewed it as a non art reality. In “America Post-War”, Malcolm Le Grice wrote how the American abstract film movement began before World War II started. He explains that in that time period, there were many artists who expressed their work in metaphysical art. In “Around 1966”, Le Grice states how avant-garde became mainstream in the 1960s. It apparently was as popular as mainstream film of that era. In “Yoko Ono: #4 (Bottoms)”, Scott MacDonald explained how Yoko Ono began to make American avant-garde films and before she became a filmmaker, she studied poetry and music. Ono explored the ideas of conceptual and performance art.

Hybridity, History and the End of Cinema

Leighton Pierce’s 50 Feet of String (1995) is an example of simply using what is around you and creating a different perception than what is normal. It teaches the viewer to look differently through the eyes of a child instead of an adult. It concentrates on the childhood time and motion. The film uses stop-motion and slow motion and moves into another space.  by changing the ordinary. The film focuses on listening to background noises, such as the lawn mower, truck passing in the back, and people having conversations. Sometimes images would be blurred in the background to accentuate other images, such as the boy cutting grass with scissors. This is done to show the importance of the boy’s childhood. The adult perspective is not important because he was blurred out when he was cutting the grass with a lawn mower. Sometimes the film would show film techniques of horror films, such as suspenseful scenes with the boy and a semi-truck and the audience believes the boy would get hit by the truck. Even though the boy never interacted with the truck and was fine, the audience is programmed to believe that he can become injured since the film is set up in that certain way.

In “The Western Edge: Oil of LA and the Machined Image”, Paul Arthur explains how Los Angeles’s culture is dominated by the entertainment industry, including experimental film, even though it would hid in the shadows of major mainstream film, television, and other forms of art. Arthur further explains how experimental films from the past such as Maya Deren’s Meshes of the Afternoon and how “it was under-acknowledged role in the evolution of avant-garde psychodramas in the forties” (pg. 94). In the mid-seventies, film became a important part of academia in Southern California in USC, UCLA, and CalArts. LA experimental film differs from the film technique such as the narrative fluidity. “O’Neill’s  work stems in part from the complexity of individual images, but it is also a consequence of their laconic, transient organization, re-presenting familiar objects as prone to mysterious incursions” (pg. 105).  Pat O’Neill’s films have the possibility to contradict the natural world and how things are perceived in relation to light, shape, and color. His films effect the natural orders of how things are perceived in normal films.