Repeating Cinema's History

The popularity of online video-sharing sites has led to the ad hoc curation of archives and thematic reblogs of all sort. Recently, curator Joao Ribas started Expanded Cinema, a blog that aggregates web-posted archival videos from the history of avant-garde cinema, including 'experimental film, early video, and sound-based, durational work.' Choice finds include pieces by Martin Arnold, Walerian Borowczyk, Charles and Ray Eames, Harun Farocki, Peter Kubelka, Toshio Matsumoto, and others. Ribas's comments on the videos often include external links to critical essays or other historical details that help frame the work. Quite often, there is a sense of desire to place the work within a timeline of influences, as in the case of 'Le Vol d'Icare' (1974), Georges Schwizgebel's 'pioneering animation,' that 'looks more at home today than it ever did in the early 1970s.' In many of the works, there seems to be a tension between the use of film or video as a means of documentation, and as an art practice of its own. The most interesting piece blur the boundaries, as is the case with the Eameses' 'SX-70' (1972), which also meditates on the formal properties of film and video. Once again, focused internet users are taking art history into their own hands, making 'playlists' that elevate works from the status of hiddenness or obscurity to central in our imaginations--which to say on our desktop. - James Petrie