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These questions, particularly those of commercial film production have been discussed extensively, beginning with attempting to identify film makers as authors and artists responsible for a film’s production through Francois Truffaut’s Auteur Theory. This was further expanded upon by Andrew Sarris in the United States and continues to be discussed to this day among journalists such as Jesse J. Prinz, Chris Shackleton, Jacquelyn McBain and Armond White as well as by author Rudolf Arnheim in his book Film as Art. There are a number of journalists who have dealt written pieces on video art, Michael Zurakhinsky and James W. Yood being chief among them, however I believe the books of Michael Rush (Video Art), Stuart Comer (Film and Video Art) and Chris Meigh Andrews (A History of Video Art) to be among the most valuable and reputable resources on the subject. The works of both auteur and commercial directors as well as prominent video artists is also an excellent point of study and comparison. Comparing the methods, goals/vision and public reaction and perception to the works of Stanley Kubrick, Michael Bay and Valie Export for example offers a model of comparison that can be mapped onto the creative works of each field. With these resources at my back, the main issue I hope to explore and discuss is simply at what point video/film becomes art. I plan to first try to answer the question of whether commercial film can be classified as art in any sense or on any level and if so try to boil down and define the prerequisites and criteria for this classification. I then intend to go back and apply these requirements to existing video medium, from video art, to indie, avant garde, short films, experimental film and arthouse film, to smaller scale but well recognised auteur led projects, onto the larger budget auteur driven, definitive productions and finally onto the much more commercial, marketing, highly product focused film projects most associated with the world of Hollywood.

I can then use this comparison to further refine, add to, strip down or even scrap my prerequisites, possibly conceding that whether a specific work or even product can be considered art is not something that can be easily quantified. A particular element I also hope to explore when it comes to film, especially the more commercialised projects, is this idea of film being unparalleled as a medium in terms of the sheer number of individual works that could be classified as being less than the sum of their parts. This is an idea that is particularly pertinent to both animation and more effects driven projects, in which each frame or design could be considered a work of art in its own right, and yet the final picture these works help to comprise are not, or even objectively cannot be, regarded as artworks. The same can be said in reference to nearly all components that make up a commercial picture; an incredibly well written script can be held back by the performances of the actors cast to play its characters and conversely an astonishing acting performance can be overshadowed by the film in which it’s featured or the material the actor is given to work with. One component of this study will be reconciling the idea of an industry or medium in which so many components are involved in its creation and yet be less than the sum of these components with the idea of such a product being a work of art. This is even further emphasised when comparing these projects to video artworks, that discards a vast array of the elements that can make up a piece of video media and yet in terms of vision, pathos and artistic intent video art can be so much more rich. Ultimately I aim to define mainstream cinema’s place in the world of art, even as a basis of artistic inspiration as well as to investigate the context surrounding it and its relationship with video art and the art world before possibly establishing an artistic hierarchy of moving-image media.


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