Display, Retry, Fail.
(by Grenzfurthner)

Cinemas are exciting. Things crash and bump. Bolts and fists are flying. It bangs and kabooms. People go to the cinemas in order to experience something.


Traditional narrative cinema finds itself in a catch-22 situation.

Who should help it?

Most definitely not me. I merely offer my thoughts on the state of, well, everything. But you shouldn't expect any more from this column than just that - some thoughts to chew on.

Cinema is about to lose its prime source of narrative, having so far lived from physical action that can be filmed. Cinema needs tempo, needs speed.
The "movement-image" (Gilles Deleuze, may he rest in peace) needs physical action onto which the cameras can point. Yet the real world of non-cinema is losing physical action day by day. It is a time of abstract, optically not presentable processes in networks and data systems. Computers are often large and black, more often than not however small and beige, that is, the case is small and beige. The cases and cables are the only visible parts on offer, and that's meagre. The visible vanishes out of technology.
And this regress of visual displayability is rather daft. Cinema has lived well from it for more than a hundred years.

It's easy to turn an attack on Fort X or a train robbery on route Y to Z into a blockbuster, same goes for a bank robbery. There's movement, things are happening. But to hack tino an ATM is filmed within 20 minutes and lasts perhaps a minute once it's edited. "Easy money" was the quote in Terminator 2 if I remember correctly.

The most important crimes perhaps take place in electronic money movements between international stock exchanges. Hollywood cinema on the other hand still hasn't thought of anything better than chases out of an Errol Flynn movie (no intention to hint at Waterloo & Robinson, whose title of their well known Hollywood song could have been used as a title to this column as well).

Following this analogy you could turn rather grim. How can we portray the stories of this new (well, not that new anymore) millennium? All those dramas and comedies? All those crimes and stories? Traditional cinema has been trying to avoid addressing this problem for some time.

In "Eraser" (USA 1996 starring Arnold Schwarzen-egger) you have a powercut in an office and the computer doesn't eject a CD-Rom anymore, one that is vital for survival. You know the problem when the eject-function is controlled by a software. What does the main character do? He shoots open the case and rips out the disc. That's how it's being done. In the same movie, Schwarzenegger throws away his mobile phone with great gestures before the showdown. From this point onwards there is no more wireless, if not formless technonology as it is replaced by pure violence. A gun that bangs and bangs and bangs.

There are more examples for such dramatic cramps. Banderas and Stallone for instance kick each other with notebooks. The culprit in the (incredibly mysogynous) "Copykill" (starring Sigourney Weaver) edits videos of his victims on a PowerMac. And Tom Cruise encounters a rather universal disc-problem in "Mission Impossible 1".

"To be Nothing, don't carry it anylonger", so goes the International. Tilman Baumgärtel, Author in Berlin, sees Schwarzenegger and all the damned of this world as a curious community of solidarity, as the very
same deindustrialisation processes, the same technology which has erased the (american) working class now takes employment away from Schwarzen-egger as well. The machines and units which have taken over from industrial workers are the very same that are now looking so damn boring in the cinema. And every Action Hero is the Last One in a struggle against the machinery of the post-industrial neoliberal society of globalisation. It's only ironic that many of the spectacular scenes of these films are only possible with digital trickery.

Baumgärtel says that "Brecht wrote in the 1920s that a picture of a Krupp plant would not show how Krupp as an enterprise functions". Well, back then you could point the camera on machines and manual labourers. If somebody wants to film the workstation of our service-oriented society has to show people on computers - and that is not exactly entertainment. The mechanisms behind it avoid displayability. Fuck.

Let's do a little autogenic visualisation training. Push together your eyebrows and speak loudly: "I want a general recognition of the vanishing of the visible, and a disengagement from the anachronistic. From cinema which has been outdated by technology." Continue often. You will soon discover that it won't help. Better still, go to the movies and count the times when discs or CD-Rs make appearances.

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