1977 : audiovisual excavating and repetition as suspect past impressions in essay filmmaking

Anderson, Maureen Jolie
Thumbnail Image
Other Contributors
High, Kathryn
Staniszewski, Mary Anne
Nideffer, Robert
Gordon, Tamar
Issue Date
Electronic arts
Terms of Use
Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 United States
This electronic version is a licensed copy owned by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Copyright of original work retained by author.
Full Citation
I explore this through an analysis of three of my essay film works. First, I analyze my compilation video work of 80 films from 1977 in the cinematic Golden Age of Porn and retrospective views of it as a lost paradise one can desire to see in passively forgotten
films. Second, I look at my single-channel work juxtaposing footage from the New York City blackout of 1977 with a contemporary science-fiction short story allegedly written by a Kremlin political advisor. I explore how the footage can serve as a suspect illustrative example of an allegory which appears to tell the personal story of a victim of a war, yet was possibly written by a perpetuator of information warfare, thus complicating how one reads political intention not only by the author, but by myself. Third, I present a dual-screen work exploring the simultaneous broadcast of the 1977 Oscars ceremony and a documentary on Rhodesia a month and a day before I was born as if I were an adult capable of authoritative memories of the two broadcast worlds.
The following dissertation is an inquiry into the use of pre-existing audiovisual media in essayistic filmmaking. I see the use if pre-existing materials as a means to address contradictions of cultural inheritance of reproducible media. This is done through an analysis of three single- and dual-screen installations of essay films in which I appropriate recordings from the year of my birth, 1977. I argue that a birth year can be understood as simultaneously personal and massively public. Audiovisual materials recorded during a birth year are globally distributed and widely received; they live on in public experience, before the birth subject’s conscious memory of such recordings and their depicted events. To claim mass-reproducible recordings from a time in one’s life of which one has no memory problematizes the concept of cultural inheritance and claims to prior and reconstructed meaning. Essay films often utilize recordings produced elsewhere and recontextualize them as narrative strategies for other purposes. This serves to destabilize any shared concept of inheritance.
August 2019
School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences
Dept. of the Arts
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
Rensselaer Theses and Dissertations Online Collection
CC BY-NC-ND. Users may download and share copies with attribution in accordance with a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License. No commercial use or derivatives are permitted without the explicit approval of the author.