Re: DVD Cometh

Mark Freed (
Mon, 15 Nov 1999 12:27:28 -0800 (PST)

Hello everyone, I just got this from one of my listserves. Food for thought.


At 12:13 PM 11/15/99 -0800, you wrote:
>As a video publisher of experimental films, I find DVD to have serious
>drawbacks and shortcomings.
>DVD technology relies heavily on compression. The different forms of
>compression that exist were developed for commercial films, such as
>films, films in which the consecutive frames have what Peter Kubelka calls
>weak articulations between them. In this way, a background can be conserved
>on the disk as if it were a slide, while only a character moving in the
>foreground is updated. Like limited animation, this is an economical
>at the cost of aesthetic quality. Few keyframes are needed. And though 30%
>the viewers can see the difference and complain about it, this is not a
>significant factor in terms of the commercial market. People will just have
>to lower their standards.
>Experimental films in most cases cannot be compressed. Stan Brakhage's
>hand-painting, Len Lye's scratching, Rose Lowder's frame-to-frame
>interweaving of different shots, and hundreds of other practices simply
>cannot be compressed. Every frame must be a key frame. And from what I
>understand, a DVD can currently only hold approximately 4 minutes of
>non-compressed video information, if indeed it is possible to encode
>non-compressed video information at all. (Any knowledgeable techies out
>The general move is to do away with video and VCRs - department stores will
>clear shelf space away from tape to make room for disk, magazines will only
>review new releases on disk... universities and institutions will replace
>their tapes with disks... experimental film will once again fall through the
>In 1961, Marcel Duchamp said "the artist of tomorrow will have to go
>underground." This spurned the whole notion of underground art and
>underground film. In the wake of the move towards DVD and streaming, the
>film artist whose work is dependent on its own format, like a site-specific
>installation, will once again have to dig deeper down, will be even further
>But then it is Gilles Deleuze who said that a work of art is not an act of
>communication; a work of art can communicate nothing, yet as an act of
>resistance, yes, every work of art is an act of resistance, and that in
>itself speaks volumes.