"Sonic Outlaws, a fragmented, gleefully anarchic documentary by Craig Baldwin, approaches this incident from several directions. Some of the film is about the legal nightmare that ensued from Negativland's little joke. In a highly publicized case, U2's label, Island Records, charged Negativland with copyright and trademark infringement for appropriating the letter U and the number 2, even though U2 had in turn borrowed its name from the Central Intelligence Agency. SST then dropped Negativland, suppressed the record and demanded that the group pay legal fees. Trying to remain solvent, Negativland sent out a barrage of letters and legal documents that are now collected in 'Fair Use', an exhaustive, weirdly fascinating scrapbook about the case.
Sonic Outlaws covers some of the same territory while also expanding upon the ideas behind Negativland's guerilla recording tactics. Guerilla is indeed the word, since these and other appropriation artists see themselves as engaged in real warfare, inundated by the commercial airwaves, infuriated by the propaganda content of much of what they hear and see, these artists strike back by rearranging contexts as irreverently as possible. Their technological capabilities are awesome enough to mean no sound or image is tamper-proof today."
"Download Finished was an online ressource which transformed and re-published films from P2P networks and online archives. Found footage became the rough material for the transformation machine, which translated the underlying data structure of the films onto the surface of the screen. The original images dissolved into pixels, thus making the hidden data structure visible. Through Download Finished, file sharers became authors by re-interpreting their most beloved films. ...
Download Finished questions the relationship between the original and its copy in a digital environment. It deals with questions arising from the cultural practice of file sharing (and the breakages and voids it makes evident within the copyright system)."
"Standard Gauge is an autobiographical account of a few years in the film career of its maker. Such, at least, is its ostensible form and purpose. The material from which the film is composed is pieces of 35mm motion picture film, a width known in former times as standard gauge, that its maker collected while working in and around the commercial motion picture industry. The pieces are a miscellaneous assortment, and include narrative features, trailers, newsreels, commercials, and pieces of head and tail leader. ...
By examining the shards of the industry frame by frame, it discovers some of the means and themes of experimental film living, so to speak, in Hollywood. And at the same time, the film engulfs and usurps the material of the commercial motion picture industry, turning it into its subject. Thus Standard Gauge proposes a kind of mutuality or interdependence between two kinds of filmmaking that by conventional standards are thought to be divided by an unbridgeable chasm. By means of a mutual interrogation between 35mm, the gauge of the industry, and 16mm, the gauge of the independent and amateur, Standard Gauge proposes to unify film of every kind."
"Debord's mode of cinematic situation construction owes much to Marx's understanding of the relationship between production and alienation, especially as articulated in the Economico-Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844. For Marx, the commodification of labour in a capitalist society means the loss of reality for the worker; in turn, the subsequently produced commodity ensures her simultaneous loss of and bondage to the object produced. Situationist cinema reverses this trend by refusing to produce any new filmic 'work', any reified artifact for consumption whose potential exchange value might negate the use-value acquired in its spatio-temporal projection and the subsequent construction of an indeterminately meaningful event.
Debord picks up Marxian concepts that the Marxist tradition hitherto had all but ignored, frequently echoing Marx's conclusion that alienation appears as the true induction into civil life, and, even more significantly, his observation and critique of 'commodity fetishism' in capitalist society. (3) The spectacle, Debord argues, thrives on the repetition of commodity form, reinvesting the structure with seemingly new products and images. By compiling image after image of the commodification of life by consumer capitalism (female bodies, political figures, product advertisements, popular films, and so on), his films expose this oppressive repetition and artificial sense of the new, and, as if to help along one of the most problematic concepts in Marx's work, Society of the Spectacle (1973) ponders the commodity's 'metaphysical subtleties' while sequentially imaging automobile showrooms and naked cover girls."
(Ricky Crano, 2007)
Crano, R. (2007). "Guy Debord and the Aesthetics of Cine-Sabotage." Senses of Cinema.
"Like many experimental filmmakers, [Bill] Morrison is fascinated more by the physical properties of film than its use as a transparent medium for the projection of images, an orientation he chalks up to his background in painting. In its pristine state, celluloid is a flat, smooth strip which passes effortlessly through a projector. But as it begins to decay, the celluloid buckles and shrinks and the image–fixing emulsion disintegrates — spectacularly in the case of volatile nitrate stock, which was the industry standard until 1951. Such decomposition is a preservationist's worst nightmare, but for Morrison, it represents a way of disrupting the smooth transfer between images which, 24 times a second, characterises traditional narrative film."
Sam Adams (Philadelphia City Paper)