Notes written on the occasion of BASEMENT MEDIA FEST. October 25th, 2014 @ Farewell Books
The BASEMENT Media Fest is an annual traveling survey of contemporary lowfidelity experimental cinema. Founded in 2010 in response to the commercial race for higher resolutions and “true to life” image quality, BASEMENT is a celebration of the mediated experience as aesthetic experience. In its fourth year, the fest currently focuses on a short and highly curated program compiled from an open call for submissions.
From the outset of this festival, there have been two major threads in BASEMENT’s programs: the Old and the New. A number of works this year are concerned with the formal characteristics of technologies that have been abandoned by commercial producers, like celluloid film and analog video, while other works address the contemporary proliferation of digitally mediated experiences, dealing with topics of amateur media creation and the banality of media consumption. Despite an apparent divergence, all the works in this year’s program display an awareness of media as a complex of malleable forms. These works all exploit, in some way, the materiality of mediated form, and thereby problematize the use of media as seamless ideological tool.
Beginning in it’s second year, BASEMENT began to tour across the country as an experiment in de-centralization. Now, in its fourth year, the tour has grown to include international venues, and in many ways, the touring aspect is now just as important to the festival as the type of work it showcases. This year, BASEMENT has screened (and will screen) in New York City, Baltimore, Boston, Winnipeg, Toronto, Milwaukee, Chicago, Austin, and Tucson (with more to come…?). The tour may even expand next year, with some help from the local programmers who make tours like this possible. We feel that this sort of engagement, one rooted in physical spaces, is important as a way of achieving a level of communication rooted in community. And certainly, some of the mythologies of telecommunications technologies as tools to bring people together are beginning to ring hollow, as we sit alone in our homes watching Netflix or sit isolated in bars reading our Facebook feeds.
In The Question Concerning Technology, Martin Heidegger wrote, “Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral”. We like to think that interest in the sort of work we promote in this festival, as well as growing interest in physical screening spaces is a sign that, if nothing else, we are beginning as a culture to acknowledge that media technologies are anything but neutral.
BASEMENT is organized by LJ Frezza & Nick Tamburo. They founded it with no prior experience. For information on submissions, visit http://basementmediafest.com♦