Bedevil in the Details: Australian Experimental Film in the Era of New Media

Maura - beDevil_Moffatt HIGHER RES

by Maura Edmond

This podcast is of a seminar presented by Maura Edmond at UNSW Australia for SSSN on 3rd May 2017. Mahsa’s paper is followed by a question and answer session facilitated by Phoebe Macrossan and involving the audience present on the day.

Dr Maura Edmond is an academic and writer based in Melbourne. Her work on art, media and culture has been published in New Media and SocietyTelevision and New MediaArt and Australia, Un, Eyeline, Artlink, Senses of Cinema and in the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Global Cultural Policy (Routledge, 2017).

This paper presents some initial research into Australian experimental film culture in the 1990s, a decade in which experimental and avant-garde film traditions were displaced – at the level of theory, policy and practice – by the conceptual codification of new media art, and its variants: ‘media arts’, ‘digital media’, ‘intermedia’ etc. The 1994 ‘Creative Nation’ policy announced the Keating Government’s enthusiasm for innovation and digital media, including support to boost ‘multimedia production’ in Australia. Australian artists and organisations scrambled to claim ground, funds and relevance in an era marked by insistent declarations of the end of the avant-garde, the end of cinema and the inevitability of a digital future. Some two decades on and the innovation rhetoric is louder than ever, but what that might mean at the level of cultural policy is unclear. ‘New media’ and ‘media art’ remains marginal at best and there is a near vacuum of funding for experimental film practice through the film funding agencies. This paper presents a historical take on the question of where-to-now for film (and film studies) in an era of convergent screen media, by looking at a period in which those questions were considered at length by filmmakers, institutions, critics and policymakers – with uneasy results for contemporary screen culture in Australia.

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