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Death of a camera: is the era of analogue filmmaking over?

by Ben East.

Stroll into the cavernous Turbine Hall, the huge space in London’s Tate Modern reserved for some of the most grand artistic statements of our times, and you’d be forgiven for mistaking it for a cinema. The film which lights up this darkened room might not win any Oscars for its creator, the artist Tacita Dean, but in its own way it’s far more important than the latest blockbuster. The 11-minute short, projected on to a 13 metre-high monolith, is a homage to the dying art of making movies using 35mm analogue film, as digital becomes the medium of choice.

Dean’s piece is called, simply, Film. It’s an apt title, as this is probably the most literal of all the Tate artworks which have attracted more than 26 million people to see the likes of Olafur Eliasson’s giant disc of yellow light or Ai Weiwei’s porcelain sunflower seeds. In Film, the viewer not only sees the sprocket holes which are a visual shorthand for a reel, but the imperfections of the analogue filmmaking process itself.

Naturally, there is no digital post-production – because part of Dean’s argument is that the limitations of the analogue form, of cutting and splicing film together, encourages a much greater sense of creativity, immediacy and urgency. And although she’s been keen not to be cast as an anti-digital stick-in-the-mud, Dean is convinced that the ever-diminishing levels of film stock and the closure of labs that print film points towards only one outcome. Extinction.

Read the rest of this article from The National.

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