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Anyone who's been paying attention to my blogs will be fully aware that I am a big fan of the collage film, and in general, the use of archival material to create new works. equally as important is the sound collage, those pieces that stitch together audio, sometime from sources that should never come into contact, and create a new work. While I understand the reservations that some have with the idea, I see it as the ultimately form of synthesis. For example, to take a dozen unrelated clips and string them together is relatively easy, but the real challenge is make a new 13th meaning from the synthesis of those clips. Craig Baldwin's Sonic Outlaws is about sample artists, focusing on Negativland, who at their root are creating sound collages, and Baldwin's unmistakeable cinematic style plays perfectly. Using interviews, capturing their process, and lots of incredible archival footage, Baldwin creates the kind of document you want to see in a doc about these kinds of explorers.
And they are explorers.
They are exploring the existing world of media, recorded sound and film, and re-contextualizing/de-contextualizing them in a way that makes new meaning from old. There are only three types of collage, an art prof I had at Emerson once said - Dadaist, Literalist, and Structuralist. The Dadaist seeks to confound, the Literalist seeks to illuminate, and the Structuralist seeks to simplify. I'm not sure if Negativland's work is Dadist, but if I was thinking about it too much, I'd say not. Baldwin is certainly NOT a Dadaist, though his editing shows a touch of Kurt Schwitters. Instead, I think he is a Structuralist who works very hard to enlighten through the confounding nature of his presentation, which is ultimately what makes his films so damn good.
Klaus at Gunpoint
A Film Journal dedicated to all film.A segment of Office Supply Publishing.