A conversation between two brilliant minds, LAURA POITRAS and HITO STEYERL, in the pages of Art Forum May 2015
A few excerpts:
LP: The limits of my imagination are much less interesting than what I encounter going into the field and filming. So yes, it obviously changed the narrative. But part of vérité filmmaking, and documenting in the present tense as things unfold, is going where the story leads. It’s uncertain and scary at times, but that is why there is drama.
HS: What kind of storytelling can adapt to the technological novelty and also to the vastness of the database as an archive?
….how does the editor work in the twenty-first century? Especially if, as in your case, the editor is also the person with the movie camera and the Soundbeam and the encrypted hard drive; she is a writer who designs a whole infrastructure of communication.
HS on Editing:
… And I think that editing, not only in filmmaking but in a lot of different activities, is a crucial activity. Postproduction is not working on content in retrospect but creating the content. Editing is where the meaning is created.
Godard said an edit could be an “and” or an “or.” That is how traditional film or video editing works. But now editing, with newer media and with physical reality becoming mediatized to a large extent, becomes a much more expanded activity, being able to channel and process information and to put together meaning in a much more expanded field.
Now instead of expanded cinema, it’s expanded editing, expanded postproduction, and circulation across different platforms and formats. I think it’s one of the crucial lenses through which to analyze contemporary activities.
LP: I think in the art world, duration is often seen as transgressive because it’s somehow forcing the audience to go beyond their comfort level, to subject them to an endurance test. And yet duration is absolutely accepted within mainstream cinema. So duration is perceived very differently in those two domains. Warhol, of course, was the supreme example of really pushing that in beautiful ways.
“Hito Steyerl” is on view at Artists Space, New York, through May 24. “Laura Poitras” will be on view at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, Feb. 5–May 15, 2016.