Unreproducible: Cinema as Event – Erika Balsom

Friday, October 07th 2016 – 10:30-11:30

Film and video tend to be understood as reproducible media, grounded in an economy of the copy. Questioning this common assumption, this presentation will examine the relationship between cinema and the singularity of the live event, with particular attention to the traditions of experimental and artists’ film. Turning to Nelson Goodman’s categories of allographic and autographic arts, I will probe the implications of this shift in perspective, exploring how the event functions equally as an admission of variability and as the site of a possible reinscription of authorial control. I will consider paradigms of cinematic liveness such as the filmmaker’s presence at screenings and overtly performative practices, but will also propose that liveness can function as a critical method by which one can approach any work, even those that appear to exist beyond the domain of “live cinema.”

Erika Balsom is senior lecturer in Film Studies and Liberal Arts at King’s College London, specializing in the study of the moving image in art. She is the author of Exhibiting Cinema in Contemporary Art (2013) and the co-editor of Documentary Across Disciplines (2016). Her next book, After Uniqueness: A History of Film and Video Art in Circulation, is forthcoming from Columbia University Press in 2017. She is a frequent contributor to Artforum and Sight and Sound, and has published widely in academic journals and exhibition catalogues, with recent texts on Pere Portabella, Candice Breitz, and the figure of the grid in digital art.