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SUPER 8 NIGHT at Bas Fisher Invitational


SUPER 8 NIGHT. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Kuechenberg.

Last Tuesday Bas Fisher Invitational launched SUPER 8 NIGHT, an evening of Super 8 film screenings.  Hosted (on this occasion) by Barron Sherer, Clifton Childree and Kevin Arrow, the films, while interesting, took a back stage role to the actual event, which in of itself was for many the real draw.

From glimpses of Charlton Heston in 1974′s “Earthquake” and homage organ recital to the silent classic “Return of Dracula” a potpourri of range was appreciated but it was not the source of drama. All the footage screened on Tuesday was stuff that could reasonably be seen in the isolation of ones home. In that respect there was nothing particularly original about the fare, but what was new [to many] was the intimacy with something antiquated and nostalgic, either in a public setting, or in the first instance. The quirky grittiness of the old 8 mm shown and the fetish of its obsoleteness is where the farce resonated.


SUPER 8 NIGHT. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Kuechenberg.

There is something unusually pretentious about the medium. However, regardless of the over contrived nature of the beast, there is [for many] a mystified notion about it. Much like Polaroid (whom we hear are reviving their large formats for professional purposes), the appeal of Super 8 is that it represents a lot of romanticized imagery and is itself representative of a genre that sanctions obsession.

The sublime aesthetics of deterioration has been sentimentalized and will continue- just as cult-like appreciation of distorted Polaroid film grows-; yet the analog vs. digital battle becomes tiresome.  Genuine interest in this kind of retro indulgence walks a fine line as to how much it is about the imagery, the imagery of deterioration or simply the fetishized  rarity. There is libration in that multiplicity and enjoyment to be had, but it collapses easily. Although phenomenological re-signification of imagery can be rewarding this one becomes redundant, leaning hard on novelty.


SUPER 8 NIGHT. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Kuechenberg.

The intention is to turn the event into a series, a regular night similar to but less frequent than the weekly Theory Nights hosted on Thursdays at the space by MOCA’s Assistant Curator Ruba Katrib, however nothing is scheduled yet. What we would like to see, if this evening continues, would be an attempt at the demystification of the medium; a steady prolonged exposure to the mechanical process and history of the camera. More than sitting down to passively enjoy someone else’s impression of what Super 8 is or represents, a more formal course-like introduction would maybe sustain the series and add much-needed grounding to an otherwise potentially elitist niche that only those with specialized knowledge can really [claim to] enjoy.

At the end of the day, maybe the lure of Super 8 film, like any homemade film, is the event, and perhaps the way in which people unite over it and talk about it. In this regard, hopefully SUPER 8 NIGHT facilitates a richer dialog about and appreciation for the medium of film, as opposed to it being the completely digital interface that we have all grown so used to[.]


SUPER 8 NIGHT. Photo courtesy of Alexandra Kuechenberg.

This post was contributed by Angela Diaz.

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SUPER 8 NIGHT at Bas Fisher Invitational