By Susan Bonicillo
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, December 7, 2005
In slang, 86 is the term that waitresses use to nix an order, or that jazz musicians to scrap a bad sound recording.
For students in media arts 313: Experimental Production this term, referring to cancellation or deletion was the perfect metaphor for their adventures in the film world.
The invisible and on-the-margins genre of experimental film is celebrated in "Cinema 86: A Night of Forbidden Cinema," a presentation of media arts 313 students' final projects.
Assistant media arts professor Nicole Koschmann wanted to use this class to broaden the minds of her students as to what film could become.
"Experimental cinema has a long tradition in the film world, though it's not the most visible cinema out there," Koschmann said.
The theme for the final projects was forbidden territory, and the only requirement was that the students use this project to examine things they fear. With fear being subjective, the topics included a wide range of things from eating red meat to dealing with border issues, while one student examined death.
Whether it involved manipulating film via scratching or painting or using digital techniques, the class allowed students a breadth of space uncommon to them in other classes.
"It's very open. It's kind of like the film major's equivalent of finger painting," said media arts junior Dan Hart. "Anything that you can think of that you think is interesting to play around with on film, whether or not people will like it or keeping in context with a story line - it's a wide open field."
One film technique that is used involves manually painting on the film, a technique that brings a completely different aesthetic to this art form, according to Koschmann.
"They look like animated abstract paintings, like a Kandinsky or Rothko or other abstract painters like Jackson Pollock," Koschmann said. "It's really painting on film. The frame that you are on is only 16 millimeters wide and when you project it the screen can be 6 feet tall. It looks like moving paint and color."
"Film is being used in different ways. It can be compared to what deejays did to the early '90s with record albums," Koschmann said. "When CDs came in, record albums didn't disappear. They just became tools to become different kinds of music."
Hart's final project, "Where There's Smoke...," chronicled his attempts to quit smoking.
A combination of original footage and found images that he later edited, Hart's roughly four-minute film took a little over two weeks to shoot and about four days to edit.
"I, like a lot of people, tried to do subject matter that was uncomfortable," Hart said. "However, I couldn't find anything that I really felt uncomfortable about. So rather than that, I thought I could film something that I was uncomfortable about doing."
Though Hart didn't succeed in kicking the habit, the film is more about the self-realization on how difficult beating addiction can be, Hart said.
"I always thought it was boring to watch, but now that I have participated in making them it's a lot more interesting," Hart said in regard to experimental cinema.
Anthropology junior Megan Dragony's project took a broader approach to her topic.
In a group with three other students, she made a film tentatively named "Tucson."
The film, which experiments in nonlinear editing techniques with little regard for sequential and chronological events, deals with the class divide in Tucson.
"We decided to do a portrait of Tucson and the economic divide that people don't like to acknowledge," Dragony said. "There is a huge disparity between the Foothills and South Tucson, and there isn't a whole lot of common ground where everyone is welcome."
The film has an original score composed by a fellow group member. Dragony and the rest of her group decided not to manipulate the film to reflect Tucson in its real light.
"Cinema 86: A Night of Forbidden Cinema" will premiere student films Friday at 7 p.m. at the Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering building, Room 202. Admission is free, and homemade treats will be available.