Tuesday, January 1, 2013

new year's day 2013

test shot. screencube
2013, hello. 

i am glad to see you. 2012 was productive and challenging ... like, crazy. As you know, i was unspeakably happy to stage my very first immersive installation, screencube, at our MoMLA gallery in Seatlle. Seattle, btw, is an outstanding city; i could see myself visiting often. Especially fantastic was The Steelhead Diner,  Metsker Maps, and this nearly underground bar i visited with Mike, who was invited after bumping into Cheryl E. Ball just following a publisher's party. My cocktail of choice was the "Dr. Cocktail," something of a lemon-infused martini with a splash of soda. Amazing. The bar was dark, small, crowded, intimate, ... and, and this place has everything (cue Stefon).

Speaking of Cheryl, as you know, she edits the outstanding online journal for digital scholarship, Kairos: A Journal of Rhetoric, Technology, and Pedagogy. She and i have been exchanging email for the past few days because, as you know (given that the issue will be published in your time!), the installation will "appear" as a publication in the journal, along with the other gallery pieces that comprised our performance. There will be writing about this process (of converting cinematic works into webtexts). 

This writing emerges from writing i've been doing since i started making digital films in 2004 and publishing them as part of their contextualizing webtexts in 2009. Why write about it? Why not, say, make the documentary, instead? Good question, and i may do both. But so first, the book i've been working at since i started "writing" cinematically? It wants and needs to grow up. 2012 has done much to help me grow up (some of it, as you know, has been very, very shaky and rough). And but the book needs me; i've heard that the field in which i work may also want, need, and enjoy the book. So, you will likely be the lucky year that sees me cramming that plan into my life's time, teaching load and personal drama notwithstanding

More conceptually, the book is done waiting, and the 2012 drama emboldens. So beyond a straight up history -- how we have talked about film in our field -- which i will shape through the lens of affective discourses (hope, fear, etc.), the book longs to materialize as a kind of ironic play. It insists upon its own irony as a print book about what i've been calling film-composition (an aspirational and playfully, historically "serious" term that illuminates a discussion of film as a kind of writing we have longed to fully engage in our field for many years; more specifically, film production -- even if "merely video" -- in the field of rhetoric and composition). But don't worry; it doesn't languish in irony and snark because you see, there are some p-r-i-t-t-y sexy ways of thinking about the relationship between print and film (the glaringly obvious: think for one second about the allegedly "in crisis" critic/filmmaker relationship, and if this is insufficient as a prompt, read David Denby's Do The Movies Have A Future?). 

Still lost? To put it simply, my experiences resisting print in deference to cinematics unspool complex dynamics that are instructive and sometimes hilarious! The book insists (and i have argued since i shared these thoughts at a New Orleans' CCCC conference, in a presentation entitled "image.pleasure"), that this resistance is essential. However, at certain stages in the production cycle (aka "composing process"), i/we must write words, even if only minimal text files as overlays that, say, identify a person speaking in a documentary, or open a new section of a short, conceptual film. More expansively, i am called upon to write words for the webtexts i publish. And what i've lived through is a profound complexity (a euphemism), a  tension between print and film imaging that is painful, maddening, confounding. Nevertheless, the book insists that this procedurally induced tension is immensely productive, despite my long beloved agreement with Brian Massumi's assertion that in light of the intensity of affect associated with image reception, "will and consciousness is subtractive." i mean, i will agree (obvi), but i will argue, in a particular formulation, that print (as "language," as driven by "will and consciousness") is "subtractive" (29), and this may seem a fairly harsh critique that dismisses  print in favor of cinematics -- not my point, because see "subtractive" need not screen as damaged, wrong or less than. In many ways, the harsh, brightly lit damage of language (esp print, in my formulation) lights up space for reflection, pedagogy, and most importantly, revision. It does this by reducing the complexity of the imagistic intensity of cinematics, and while i/we may mourn this compression (i do), we recognize the essential language function in it. So see, even if the work of film-composition desires a less clearly defined set of guiding objectives (it does) than "writing it up," "the article," or "the book," and instead first desires pleasure (it does), the writing serves. Of course, here, i could go all groovy on you. Talk about how film-composition is writing ...  that the term "writing" as a signifier for print language (words) is outdated. Don't worry. i do all that in the book.

But i go too far. The point is that you are my time. For the book, for new projects (my remix project on the matter of privacy), for continued personal shinymaking. 

2012 gave me a little space; you, YOU, however, are immense, and i love you ...

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