Critical Writing Index

Masters of Ceremony: Media Demonstration as Performance in Three Instances of Expanded Cinema

by Roy Grundmann

The Velvet Light Trap, Fall 2004, no. 54, pp. 48-64

In the mid to late 1960s, a new style known as expanded cinema emerged as new technologies such as computers and video became popularized. The role of the artist and of the spectator were also challenged and changed by the advent of expanded cinema. This article focuses on three films - John Whitney's Experiments in Motion Graphics, Stan Vandebeek's TV Interview and Andy Warhol's Outer and Inner Space - in order to shed light on the role of the artist and the challenges of technology in expanded cinema. The author argues that in these films, the artists took on an "emcee" role in which they demonstrated a performative stance towards the new technologies they were working with. This style may bear some similarities to earlier self-conscious film works, however the technologies at hand were so new and different that artists such as Whitney, Vanderbeek and Warhol were faced with brand new complexities. These artists as emcees of the 1960s were mediators who wore many different hats - bringing together their artistic sensibilities, their technological expertise, their role as spokespeople for the new technologies and the negotiation of corporate sponsorship. Whitney, a pioneer of computer graphics, became IBM's first artist in residence. Vanderbeek took up multiple residencies, and became a lead "emcee" for expanded cinema, creating new computer and video generated images. Warhol's film, Outer and Inner Space, focuses on video images of Edie Sedgewick and utilizes multiple projections of both film and video. All three artists took on the "emcee" role in order to negotiate their positions as artists, experts, and spokespeople while losing themselves in the ultimate spectacle of new multi media technologies.

ITEM 2004.166 – available for viewing in the Research Centre

Videos, Artworks and Artists Cited

Experiments in Motion GraphicsJohn Whitney

TV InterviewStan Vanderbeek

Outer and Inner SpaceAndy Warhol