In a small number of Latin American countries - including Argentina, Colombia, Mexico, and Uruguay - modest-sized communities of practitioners and programmers who actively associate themselves with experimental cinema have been supporting and encouraging, through a variety of means, the continued use of photochemical film. In part this is notable because each group must confront, to differing degrees, a paucity of public and private funding resources, a perennial condition some have addressed by pursuing exchanges of ideas and practical information with independently-run film laboratories and collectives across the region and beyond.2 Their commitment to analogue cinema is also noteworthy because so many within the contemporary scene have consciously positioned themselves and their films in relation to not only a broad range of present-day social, political, and cultural concerns but also experimental cinema’s past, forging connections - locally and internationally - with its histories.3
In what follows, I examine a pair of films by Buenos Aires-based filmmakers, Sergio Subero's Espectro (Super 8, 2010) and Pablo Mazzolo's Fotooxidación (16mm, 2013), each of which assigns a central role to the phenomenon of filmed light. Both films attest to the continued appeal of light as, on the one hand, a vehicle for metaphoric, poetic, and symbolic meanings and, on the other, an index of a range of material, technical, and process-oriented referents. The longstanding fascination with light within the cultures of experimental cinema is at least partly rooted in the flexible and variable status of light as discursive construct and material entity, as when it can be invoked as a grand epistemological metaphor for what can and cannot be known or, more technically, as a naturally-occurring form of radiant energy that the cinema exploits, reproduces, and transforms. Espectro and Fotooxidación were each borne of a sensitive understanding of what can be accomplished with photochemical film, and the differences in their mutual focus on filmed light can be formulated schematically: Subero’s film works with the trope of the inner, placing it in relation to the film camera, while Mazzolo’s turns toward the outer, transmuting the cinema’s visualizations of the urban scene through chemical processes. Threaded throughout my discussion of each film is a consideration of where these films can be said to meet up with broader tendencies and trajectories in the traditions of experimental cinema.
«Looking and seeing are not the same thing. Looking is a grasping act. Seeing is a receiving act.... Looking is an avarice, a hostility, a problem-making. Seeing is an adventure, a discovery, an acceptance. If you only look at what is going on, you cannot participate in it. Seeing allows all one's perception to receive an experience». - James Broughton4
As the electronically processed sounds heard throughout Sergio Subero's Espectro rise and fall in volume, they seem to contain elements of reverb, oscillation, echo, and feedback. The film's soundtrack, as composed and performed by the musician Alan Courtis, includes tones and vibrations whose aural qualities elude precise verbal descriptions. That the imagery of Espectro can also be difficult to pin down is an experience noted by Subero when he states that spectators «can ask what it is that we see, what it is that appears to us» in his film. The moving forms that disrupt the black space of the frame are, in the filmmaker's words, «sparks», «ghost matter», and «fleeting instants».5
Sergio Subero, Espectro, Super 8, 2010
Initially offering fleeting glimpses of white and bluish lights within darkness, the film appears to be presenting the artifacts of camera optics because its imagery resembles magnified lens flares and semi-circular halos. Yet the lights also seem to grow and shrink like natural forms inside the apparent void of the frame, abstract shapes in motion whose mutations can be perceived in organicist terms. Additionally, the virtual space within the frame has its own qualities: larger shapes appear to occupy a foreground area; lights that are semi-opaque give the impression of being layered over each other within a middle ground; and the black areas of the frame function as an empty background.
Sergio Subero, Espectro, Super 8, 2010
Watching Espectro can be «a sort of phantasmagoric experience», as the filmmaker puts it, one that belongs to «a certain tradition within experimental film [that] approximates perception prior or subsequent to human perception». The creation of what Subero calls «a deviation» from normative perceptual experiences – similar to James Broughton's notion of receptive seeing, cited above – is an emblematic objective within experimental film: since at least the 1920s, filmmakers have been arguing for the value of experiences of cinematic spectatorship that can re-awaken visual perception in unexpected ways. The advocates of this position have consistently denigrated the instrumentalization of vision – that is to say, our tendency to use vision, to make it serve our own practical needs and desires at the expense of a more open exploration of its possibilities. Some might retrospectively refer to the cinematic images they see as momentary flashes or ghostly apparitions, but viewers can also «participate», to use Broughton's word, by suspending the prevailing tendency to perceive and understand all that they see and hear in terms of names, categories, and other conceptual frameworks.
Subero’s invocation of phantasmagorical experience points to those aspects of the film’s imagery that seem fundamentally inscrutable, especially in the absence of technical information about the filmmaker’s practice. Within the darkened theatrical situations of the phantasmagoria or the cinema, percepts whose material origins are unclear provide viewers with the opportunity to enter into states of cognitive suspension and perceptual receptiveness. Such experiences can lead viewers toward what film scholar William Wees describes as «the next step» beyond the attempted abandonment of ingrained habits of looking. In Wees’ words, an experimental cinema of the inner eye has customarily sought «to turn seeing inward, to reduce the outer world's visual stimuli so drastically that images of the inner world begin to take their place».6 The redirection of consciousness is a subject broached by Subero when he explains that Espectro was made without turning the lens outward and hence «The images exposed in the film were formed within, they are within us».
The transition inward that Espectro seeks to engender can involve the blurring of distinctions between images that arise from external sources and those which viewers imagine or hallucinate. Efforts such as Subero's, which aspire to present confounding, hybrid imagery, have often been motivated by the pursuit of a more collaborative visual experience in which the filmmaker and the viewer, positioned at different moments along a trajectory of productive acts, co-create what is seen within the theatrical viewing situation. Vision can also take on a transcendental dimension if the spectator ceases to attend to what she sees as specifically cinematic and gives herself over to modes of imaginative seeing. But for Subero, the phantasmagorical experience pertains to more than the realm of the magical because it relies upon modern technology. For example, in his statement on the film he signals that Espectro is the outcome of exploring unconventional camera techniques, and the film itself includes a visual indicator of its construction. As the filmmaker points out, the «imprint of the split image viewfinder», the «instrument used to focus», a technology with discernible physical characteristics and a product of science, eventually appears in the moving images of Espectro.
Sergio Subero, Espectro, Super 8, 2010
Crucial to the production of Espectro was Subero's process of covering the lens of his Super 8 camera and exposing his film to light via the uncommon pathway of the camera's viewfinder. In standard usage his camera diverts a small portion of light from the lens to a pellicule or beam-splitter viewfinder that helps its operator compose shots more precisely. In allowing light to be introduced into the body of the camera through an apparatus fashioned to bring lens-based images to the eye, Subero demonstrates how a technology strongly shaped by norms of standardized usage can be reconfigured with revelatory results. His method transforms a tool supporting compositional precision into an aid to chance-based image-making, and he rejects altogether the deployment of the lens to create his film’s visual content (in a sense allowing the viewfinder to function a different kind of lens). Moving the content of his film away from familiar conventions of photorealist depiction, Subero works instead with the mutable traces of the interaction of light and photochemical material inside the camera. Thus, Espectro is a film that has been «formed within», constructed through a technique whose quality of being self-referential is most clearly distinguishable in those moments when the viewfinder's microprism appears onscreen amidst the virtual space of light-induced forms. Neither “cameraless”, properly speaking, nor reliant upon standard shooting methods, Subero's viewfinder technique reflects his awareness of filmic technologies and processes, as it also retains an apparent simplicity, of the kind that might be viewed as an “amateur” mistake or a “primitive” technical experiment. As such, it contributes to a prominent trajectory within this mode of filmmaking, namely the reliance on straightforward and seemingly-inexpert gestures or methods, intended to function discursively as a canny and instructive return to first principles.
The devising of elemental modifications and adjustments to moving image machines is a practice that frequently plays a demonstrative role within experimental film culture, calling attention to the importance of continually questioning, rethinking, and altering every aspect of the cinematic apparatus and its materials. This attitude can be expressed as a dogged insistence on the importance of remaining an astute «amateur» and «discoverer», as Maya Deren once posited in an article for the magazine Home Movie Making, or, similarly, as a stance of willful naïveté, exemplified in Stan Brakhage's A Moving Picture Giving and Taking Book, a ludic quasi-manual in which the filmmaker describes a 16 mm camera, filmstrip, and editing viewer for an imagined readership of uninitiates.7 Seeking to impart the value of an approach untroubled by industrially-oriented instructions and conventions, or by what the camera cannot do, Brakhage tells his reader to «have patience for I, too, am tired of these mechanical limitations, would have us share more mysteriously in the light, am about to fool with the camera (rather than professionally fool it) and, for the sake of illumination, become the fool of the camera and all its means (being amateur-lover...at heart)».8 Such productive alignments of ingenuity and ingenuousness form the historical background of Subero's use of the viewfinder. It can also be said that, in the contemporary context of digital dominance, his repurposing conforms to a common interest among experimental filmmakers working with film, namely the illustration (through practice) of the (artistic, cultural, social) value of continuing to explore how a purportedly-outmoded analogue technology can be redirected toward novel artistic uses.
The film’s light leaks and lambent apparitions, lens artifacts and flashing abstractions, can be regarded as immaterial or material traces, just as they can be subjected to metaphysical, metaphorical interpretations or understood in a much more literalist fashion. Yet it is unlikely that viewers will experience the film as a random assortment of colored lights, for what Espectro exhibits quite prominently is a musical structure, within which sights and sounds gradually multiply in frequency and build in intensity. Despite the fugitive nature of its audible and visible events, the lights we are given to see follow loose patterns of repetition and variation, situated within a cumulative structure that produces, with the assistance of Courtis' soundtrack composition, a feeling of momentum, an accelerated building toward greater audiovisual density. That cumulative compositional structure, along with its layering of forms within a darkened chamber and its utilization of small-gauge film technology, are features of Espectro that link it back to another Argentine short, Claudio Caldini's Ventana (1975; revised 1989).9 The accumulating forms in Caldini's film were all created in his camera as he shot and reshot a narrow window opening in a dark room, changing the tempo and orientation of his movements with each exposure of his 8mm film; over a decade later he added a synthesizer score with aural overtones that accompany the film’s visual superimpositions. Subero's film is manifestly different from Ventana in many ways - perhaps most significantly in its use of a light source that acts as an alternative to the camera lens - and yet, nonetheless, Espectro and Ventana can be placed together on a historical continuum. Both films contain and showcase apparently-ethereal forms, realized within a delicate play of darkness and illumination, and arrayed across «compositions» that bridge the visual and the musical.10
Claudio Caldini, Ventana, Single-8, 1974
«Practically speaking cinema is: putting images together in various musical measures. Editing is the music of cinema, as music is the architecture of time. Editing gives film its form, notation, counterpoint, development, pace, syncopation and style.... To edit film is to compose eye music. When you edit do you know what key you are in, what your signature is, what your measures are?»
– James Broughton11
Like Espectro, Pablo Mazzolo's Fotooxidación begins with an unsteady light in the darkness, and about half a minute into the film's running time another score by Alan Courtis commences, with drones of varying volumes providing a sort of aural base for more dissonant tones. The first moving, colored form seen in Fotooxidación resembles a source of light, a bright, red circle that is accompanied by a darker, flickering aura or halo effect. The image has a connotational openness, equally suggestive of the concrete, such as a red sunset being eclipsed by shadows,or the abstract, perhaps calling to mind an unstable current of energy struggling against external, dampening forces. The importance of energy, in particular of the radiant kind, is more directly referenced by the film title, which invokes a process in which the presence of light causes a reaction with oxygen. In this film of reactive phenomena, the design of a single shot can be as complex as its editing structures (what Germaine Dulac referred to as the relation between «rhythm in the image» and the «rhythm of images: a chord of several harmonies»).12
Pablo Mazzolo, Fotooxidación, 16 mm, 2013
Like Subero's film, Fotooxidación has musical characteristics, but where Espectro offers one continuous line of temporal development, Mazzolo has divided his film into movements, beginning with a prelude centered on illumination and opacity. Within the prelude, multiple streaks and sources of light are soon added to the image of the unstable red shape, along with scratches on the film itself. These markings are interwoven into a matrix of the substantial and the unsubstantial, in an interplay that bears further affinities with Espectro. But with the introduction of recognizably photo-representational shots, Fotooxidación reveals itself to be a city film, presenting superimposed, panning shots of an urban skyline and the faces of pedestrians in crowded streets. Rather than recede with the end of the prelude, however, traces of light continue to invade the frame, forming white slivers and star-like shapes that add an animated, agitated quality to the activities of the urban street. As the film's light traces prevent our unobstructed visual access to the people and sites depicted in each shot, they also add another layer of dynamic movements and irregular shapes to the film's imagery.
Pablo Mazzolo, Fotooxidación, 16 mm, 2013
Mazzolo directs our attention to behaviors, locations, and objects that would be recognized locally as features of the street life of the commercial microcentro of Buenos Aires, and he does so by seizing upon sunlight shining off the surfaces of fake watches, a customer trying on sunglasses, a shop employee cleaning a window, chorizo cooking on a grill - in other words, details related to buying and selling, the area’s primary activities. Shot during daylight hours, the footage shown in this movement offers a diverse array of reflections and refractions, originating in glass windows, metal objects, and other materials that bring yet more light-based movement into the image in striking and unexpected ways. Also including shots that have been sped up and superimposed, often punctuated by jump cuts, Mazzolo's film creates a frenetic rhythm, and when it resists depictive transparency and represents the urban scene as a space of clashing and fragmented visual phenomena, it intimates a troubled vision of the city. The microcentro is an urban area that must accommodate, on the one hand, incessant movement and migration and, on the other, various forms of transitory settlement and occupation, and it is notable that within this zone Mazzolo directs his camera at a few marginalized subjects, including African vendors in conversation and aged, destitute residents inhabiting the sidewalks. The restlessness and discord of this section take on a deeper social resonance with the inclusion of the urban underclass, those figures who cannot be integrated harmoniously into the public spectacle of downtown Buenos Aires.
Pablo Mazzolo, Fotooxidación, 16 mm, 2013
The microcentro section ceases abruptly with a close-up of another outsider, a young blind boy whose eyes do not blink.Appearing onscreen for much longer than any other previously-seen image, the boy functions as an indicator of the significance of vision in the film. Moreover, the duration of the close-ups that present him from such a proximate visual perspective are designed to affect – even to unsettle – the audience's viewing experience. The camera's sustained depiction of the boy will likely make some viewers aware of their participation, willing or otherwise, in an act of looking that resembles a fixed stare. With the image of the boy, the film shifts from Mazzolo's own views of the street and turns toward the viewer, who might find herself asking what separates the «grasping act» of looking from the «receiving act» of seeing within this particular charged encounter. The boy can be ascribed a symbolic function in the film, but if he is a symbol, he is never explicitly linked to a single conceptual or metaphorical referent. More generally, when this film that is so evidently concerned with the representation and solicitation of intensified modes of seeing seems to pause in order to focus on someone deprived of sight, the question of what cannot be seen is introduced. Indeed, Fotooxidación might be asking whether its mode of seeing the city - through perceptual distortions and optical aberrations - reflects a larger epistemic failure, an inability to adequately comprehend this urban sphere or integrate its fragments into a body of knowledge.
Pablo Mazzolo, Fotooxidación, 16 mm, 2013
The view of the boy is followed by a more tranquil shot of waves, over which chemical-structure diagrams related to photooxidation are briefly superimposed. Another movement begins, one that combines images of natural and man-made entities: the sun behind clouds, an indigent resident of the street, moving cellular matter shot through a microscope, and more superimposed diagrams. The film's subsequent movement adds yet more visual complexity by displaying 8mm footage transferred to 16mm, creating internal frames of moving images. It is also a section focused on night footage, with the motif of light traces being expanded to include colored neon and welder's sparks, phenomena from everyday life that also possess the qualities of abstract imagery when shot in dark settings. Finally, in a reprise and diminuendo, Fotooxidación winds down: it returns to the boy briefly, shows a solitary black man in an empty streetscape (not shot in Buenos Aires), and ends in nature, amidst trees and a field.
Even in the film's final passage, set outside of the metropolis, Mazzolo creates mattes with shadows in order to manipulate lighter and darker shapes within natural landscapes. Through techniques such as multiple-exposure shooting and the near-constant presence of movement in the frame, the film's visuals take on a high degree of variability and elasticity – as if, in the sites of contact between the city and Mazzolo’s filmic materials, the contents of the filmstrip had been transformed by a volatile admixture of urban energies and photochemical agents. Hence, the varied forms of image «noise» or optical opacity in the film can be viewed, equally, as the visual correlative of a psychological perspective on the city and as the apparent marker of a transformative process strongly impacted by material properties. If this image of Buenos Aires seems distinctly personal, it is not merely subjective and expressivist. Some aspects of its visual content (sparks, streaks, refractions, and flashes) have been produced by reactive substances coming into contact with the film itself, and they altered Mazzolo’s camera-based images to a degree that the filmmaker as creative agent did not attempt to control entirely. Exploiting and plumbing the resources of photochemical cinema, the filmmaker positions visual traces of his work with the medium throughout Fotooxidación, allowing his agency as a filmmaker to be tempered, to a degree, by the exactions and limitations of his chosen materials.
Surprisingly, Argentine experimental cinema has not turned its cameras on Buenos Aires with enough consistency to produce many films of note about its urban areas (although it has generated many films set in the city), and Fotooxidación belongs on a relatively short list that includes Pablo Marín's sin título (Focus) (2008) and Melisa Aller’s Constitución (2013).13 If we widen our purview, however, to take into account work made outside of Argentina, Fotooxidación gains a more amply populated context within the representation of the urban environment in experimental cinema. Within the loose taxonomy of urban films devised by film scholar Paul Arthur, two cinematic approaches to urban representation seem especially relevant to Mazzolo's film: the rapid tour, which offers an itinerant selection of views within a condensed span of time, and the catalogue, a collection whose «primary symbolic thrust...is that of infinite variation».14 In both, visual heterogeneity occupies a privileged place, and, as we have noted, in Fotooxidación this diversity of visualizations is combined with a highly fragmentary form to generate an idiosyncratic treatment of the city. Additionally, because the film develops darker tonal registers, connoting agitation, tension, and instability, it can be affiliated with comparably uneasy city films within the tradition of experimental cinema such as Tom DeWitt's Atmosfear (1966) and Pat O’Neill's Horizontal Boundaries (2012), although it lacks their ecological themes.
Melisa Aller, Constitución, Super 8, 2013 / Pat O’Neill, Horizontal Boundaries, 35 mm, 2012
A final remark about Mazzolo’s city film can bring us back to the local. Fotooxidación allows a high degree of semantic indeterminacy, in the tradition of the poetic avant-garde film, as it also brings the peripheral and marginalized into view, in keeping with some of the typical concerns of the city film. Elaborating upon the latter, we can say that there is a provocation in the way that Fotooxidación combines a general air of uneasiness, disquiet, or restiveness with depictions of those subaltern subjects - impoverished, disabled, non-white - who have no place within the hegemonic visual culture promoted within Buenos Aires. Even six years after its completion, the dissonances and noises of Mazzolo’s tour, or catalogue, contrast sharply with the stock imagery of metropolitan renewal and improvement that still characterizes the municipal government’s ongoing embrace of “city branding.” What Mazzolo has constructed is a film whose kinetic configuration of audiovisual conflicts and collisions does more than ask us to see the city poetically - it also intervenes, cinematically, within the contested terrain of urban representation.
Writing in 1960, Maya Deren proposed that cinematic works of the sort she had long been making and endorsing could be called chamber films. She further offered that the chamber film be recognized as «analogous to chamber music, which is not a minor or tributary form», as a type of work that avoids «the operational gigantism» of industrial cinema («as irrelevant and superfluous to such chamber films as the presence of a 90-piece orchestra is to chamber music») and which is distinguished by its «economy of means».15 Deren’s analogy was based in her notion of chamber music as «more than a form; it is a concept of artistic values and methods…dependent upon a meticulous exploitation of the virtuosity of the selected instrument».16 Encapsulated in her term, then, are shared ideals or principles, particular ways of making films, and, we can assume, screenings akin to recitals.
When attempting to characterize experimental cinema to journalists in Buenos Aires in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the German-Argentine filmmaker Narcisa Hirsch also put forward chamber music as a useful point of reference (unwittingly echoing Deren’s earlier usage, of which Hirsch was unaware), but her comparison did not become widely adopted by filmmakers or critics. All the same, I want to suggest here, in conclusion, that the idea of the chamber film has a contemporary relevance that is demonstrated by Espectro and Fotooxidación.Various of their qualities - formal complexity and technical resourcefulness, a pronounced musicality and a sustained engagement with the filmic - build upon earlier developments in the history of both Argentine and global experimental cinema. Their differences are indicative of a diversity of output in Buenos Aires that should serve to frustrate those who would characterize the local scene as either predominantly formalist or oriented toward social issues. Perhaps most important, for the filmmakers and the cultural communities in which they participate, is the notion, hinted at by Deren’s and Hirsch’s chosen term, that small-scale filmmaking thrives within more intimate venues. In my estimation, the effect of experiential intensity that Subero’s and Mazzolo’s films seek to generate is closely linked to their preferred screening situations. Those events are, perhaps not coincidentally, projections in which the light that is thematized onscreen is also experienced quite directly in the screening space. They form yet another way in which these filmmakers are extending and renewing the aesthetic, conceptual, and practical tendencies of experimental cinema.
1 This essay is a revised and expanded version of a text originally published in a Czech anthology in 2017. The previous, shorter text was altered without my approval, to the great detriment of the legibility and coherence of certain passages. I thank Andrea Franco and La Furia Umana for the opportunity to publish a new essay whose likely errors can now be attributed entirely to the author.
2 In September 2018, three members of Mexico City’s Laboratorio Experimental de Cine (LEC) - Elena Pardo, Tzutzumatzin Soto, and Walter Forsberg - organized Hazlo tú mismo: Encuentro de laboratorios independientes de cine analógico (Do It Yourself: Meeting of Independent Analogue Film Laboratories), an international gathering with representatives of independent film labs from Latin America, the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Europe in attendance.
3 Irrespective of the enthusiasm with which it has been undertaken, much of what has been produced by various like-minded filmmakers reproduces (and frequently creates hybrids of) the generic types and templates often associated with experimental cinema, from found-footage collages to artisanal animations, lyrical portraits to ethnographic trance films, formal/structural/materialist films to multiple-projector performances, and so on. Filmmakers usually bristle at this characterization or, if they agree with it, lament that communities of cultural practitioners working with the moving image can display a tendency toward uniformity and homogeneity in the works they produce. This is not to deny, however, that the films themselves can be full of locally-produced imagery that has emerged out of specific cultural contexts. The activities of making and screening associated with this type of cinema also have a cultural significance and impact that goes beyond any individual work’s visual content.
4 James Broughton, «Film as a Way of Seeing», Film Culture, 29, Summer 1963, pp. 19.
5 Sergio Subero, «Specter»,in Leandro Villaro (ed.), Dialéctica en suspenso: Argentine Experimental Film & Video (DVD booklet), antennae collection, New York 2011, pp. 90. All subsequent quotations of Subero are taken from this text.
6 William C. Wees, Light Moving in Time: Studies in the Visual Aesthetics of Avant-Garde Film, University of California Press, Berkeley, 1992, pp. 126.
7 Maya Deren, «Adventures in Creative Film-making» (1960), in Bruce R. McPherson (ed.), Essential Deren: Collected Writings on Film, Documentext, Kingston, NY 2005, pp. 165.
8 Stan Brakhage, A Moving Picture Giving and Taking Book, Frontier Press, West Newbury, MA 1971, pp. 52.
9 Included among Caldini’s early viewings of experimental cinema in Buenos Aires were James Whitney’s Lapis (1966) and possibly a film by Jordan Belson. (According to my research, Lapis and Belson’s Cosmos  were shown at Museo de Bellas Artes in May 1975. Caldini mentions Whitney and Belson in Miguel Blanco Hortas and Félix García, «Número tres. Entrevista con Claudio Caldini», Lumière, 8, January 2015, pp. 106.) As Wees notes, even when linked to an impulse to bridge the inner and the outer, «the meditative inner eye always serves as the ultimate reference point and shaping influence on the overall form and content of the films» of Belson. Wees interprets Whitney similarly. (Wees, Light Moving in Time, pp. 131.)
10 Both films also belong to a tradition of small-gauge filmmaking in Latin America surveyed in Jesse Lerner and Luciano Piazza (eds.), Ism, Ism, Ism: Experimental Cinema in Latin America / Ismo, Ismo, Ismo: Cine experimental en América Latina, University of California Press, London 2017.
11 James Broughton, Seeing the Light,City Lights Books, San Francisco, 1977, pp. 64.
12 Germaine Dulac, «Rythme et technique» (1928), Écrits sur le cinéma (1919–1937), Paris expérimental, Paris 1994, pp. 112.
13 I mention here a recent exceptional case. In April 2018, Paolo Davanzo and Lisa Marr of Echo Park Film Center in Los Angeles took their global filmmaking project, The Sound We See, to Buenos Aires. Working with nine filmmakers who live in the city, they produced a collective film titled The Sound We See: A Buenos Aires City Symphony. The Echo Park project advocates for the cultural relevance of analogue filmmaking and for the use of «slow film» techniques in the updating of a genre traditionally associated with experimental cinema (in this case, the city symphony). Dissenting from a prevalent form of skepticism, according to which both medium specificity and the very idea of «experimental film» are seen as overly constraining and ideologically démodé, a number of filmmakers in Buenos Aires who began making films after 2000 are in accord with the project’s guiding ideals. Notably, some of the older Argentine filmmakers associated with Super 8 filmmaking of the 1970s and 1980s are, while generally supportive of the younger community, much more ambivalent about the prospect of working in analogue formats. Their attitude is due, in part, to the persistence of various financial and technical obstacles in the use of Super 8, but also to a sense that contemporary filmmakers and audiences ascribe to the medium certain ideas about the past (perhaps nostalgic) that they find suspect.
14 Paul Arthur, «The Redemption of the City», A Line of Sight: American Avant-garde Film Since 1965, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis1995, pp. 52.
15 Maya Deren, «August 25, 1960», in Essential Deren, pp. 241.
16 Maya Deren, «Chamber Films», ibid., pp. 250-51.