Friday, 28 March 2008

[8] Books and Graffiti

In the last week of term, I made another video. A short piece, about the countless bits of graffiti in the Main Library at university. In the wings of the library, there are cubicles for individual study and work, and people have scratched, written or drawn their thoughts and observations during particularly dull sessions. The vast majority of them are childish, but they still retain an interesting quality, and are goldmines of opinion. Some are beautiful, such as the drawings towards the end of the video; and it is always interesting seeing graffiti in different languages (no matter how inane the inscriptions).



Sadly, the compression on Youtube makes most of the writing illegible. I have to convert my .mts to divx-encoded .avis, because my laptop cannot handle HD file formats. A great deal of my time editing is spent converting the files. Once I get a proper desktop which is more comfortable with .mts, I'll make higher-definition versions of these vids. I'm just going to have to make do for the time being.

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I am back at my parents' house for a fortnight. I'm finding it hard to work to the standard I achieve at university, but I've also been able to spend more time reading.

I managed to finish Peter Biskind's Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, which I have been reading for almost a year. It is a brilliant book. Biskind manages to find this middle ground between biography, history, political analysis, film theory and tragic narrative, all while maintaining a compelling, 'page-turning' style. He is well-served by his topic, that semi-mythological time period, between the late 1960s and early 1980s where American cinema was home to some challenging and ambitious artists; a time where film-makers and the process making of films were just as interesting as the works themselves. A monumental work of research and preparation, looking over the notes, sources and interviews reveals how much time and effort was put into such an enjoyable read. I like Biskind, he can be heavily theoretical and analytical when he wants to be (his critique of Rebel Without a Cause, from his book Seeing Is Believing, is one of my favourites), but he still manages to convey an infectious enthusiasm and love for Cinema.

I'm currently reading Vladimir Nabokov's book on Nikolai Gogol, after reading and writing about Gogol for my dissertation. However, that has been put on hold in the last day or two in favour of a book called Family Secrets: Acts of Memory and Imagination by Annette Kuhn. An interesting book about memory mediated through photographs, and how family history and conflict can be expressed through these artefacts. It was on a reading list for a module I took last term, called Memory, Space and Place. I have an exam on it in May, so I thought I would check it out. It's certainly thought-provoking, but I'll write something more on it later.

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