Narrative Exploration in Expanded Cinema
Main project collaborators
David Curtis, University of the Arts London (Principal Investigator)
Prof Stephen Partridge, DJCAD, University of Dundee (Co-Investigator)
Dr Duncan White, University of the Arts London (Research Fellow)
Prof Stephen Partridge (Co-Investigator)
Adam Lockhart (Technical Consultant and Archivist)
Context and background
Coined in the mid-1960s by Stan Vanderbeek but with its origins in the experiments of early 20th century avant-garde filmmaking, media-technologies and performance art, ‘Expanded Cinema’ is a film and video practice which activates the live context of watching, transforming cinema’s historical and cultural ‘architectures of reception’ into sites of cinematic experience that are heterogeneous, performative and non-determined.
The term ‘Expanded Cinema’ was given greatest currency by Gene Youngblood in his eponymous book (1970), which identified a contemporary development in cinema and the emerging field of video that pursued cinematic equivalents to consciousness-expansion. Other subsequent definitions were sufficiently broad as to encompass almost any deviation of cinematic presentation away from that of the darkened room with its single screen, including all moving-image installations.
Aims and objectives
Works identified as ‘Expanded Cinema’ open up questions surrounding the spectator’s construction of time/space relations, activating the spaces of cinema and narrative as well as other contexts of media reception. In doing so it offers an alternative and challenging perspective on filmmaking, visual arts practices and the narratives of social space, everyday life and cultural communication.
The Narrative Exploration in Expanded Cinema project explored the various histories of ‘Expanded Cinema’ and their impact on the question of narrative, space and time in experimental film and art practices.
The highlights of the project included two exhibition and conference events. Expanded Cinema: The Live Record, held at the British FiIm Institute, 6th December 2008, screened classic ‘Expanded Cinema’ texts, included performances and was accompanied by the publication of the ‘Map of Expanded Cinema Works’. The second event, Expanded Cinema - Activating the Space of Reception was held at Tate Modern, 17th – 19th April 2009, and brought together scholars, curators and key practitioners in an event that mixed scholarship with presentations of work. Three screenings/performances of classic works and three installations were staged, and a videotheque of 69 full-length recordings of classic expanded cinema works was available for delegate’s and public use.
The project website carries transcripts of interviews with artists and scholars, a PDF of the ‘Map of Expanded Cinema Works’ and video records of both public events. Two additional international symposia were held and papers have been published and presented at a number of conferences, including: Framed: Delimiting the Film Image (City University New York, 10th – 11th April 2008) and 1970s British Cinema Conference, (Portsmouth University, 1st – 3rd July 2008). The publication, Expanded Cinema: Art, Performance and Film, provides the most substantial record of the project’s findings in print-form; it is a major resource in a field in which there are few comparable texts. It includes interviews with key artists as well as previously unpublished artists’ texts.
The project’s outputs provide scholars and a wider community of enthusiasts with access to key works, direct testimony and a range of historical and analytical texts. The website constitutes the most substantial source of scholarship and documentation of ‘Expanded Cinema’ on the web.
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