Feb 25, 2014

Feb. 26 class: Meet at 721 Broadway (not Anthology Film Archives)

Meet at 721 Broadway, 6th floor, room 670

Wednesday • February 26
Alternative Exhibition & Achival Experimentation:
Guest speaker: archivist/artists/scholar Walter Forsberg

READ:  all of the journal issue Incite #4 (co-edited by WF)
+  DVD booklets for Orphans in Space: Forgotten Films from the Final Frontier
and Orphans 8: Made to Persuade (both 2012, both co-produced by WF).

In the first hour we will be joined by John Klacsmann. 


Walter Forsberg is a time-based medium. Born in a Saskatchewan funeral home, he works to resurrect dead media as an artist and archivist. His past media preservation projects included collaborations with artist Cory Arcangel and Bell Labs scientist Béla Julesz. His movies have screened at places such as Sundance, TIFF, Rotterdam, DOXA, Anthology Film Archives, the Academy, and others. Walter compiled and designed the monograph Starvation Years: Album de l’Atelier national du Manitoba 2005-2008, a history of the Winnipeg art collective, published in 2014. He is a contributing editor at INCITE Journal of Experimental Media, for which you should probably obtain an institutional subscription.

John Klacsmann (b. 1985, Augusta, Georgia) is Archivist at Anthology Film Archives in New York City. He manages Anthology's principle audiovisual collections including: inspecting, repairing, and cataloging film originals, prints, and tapes; supervising preservation projects; assisting researchers; and overseeing the day-to-day operations of the archives and collection vaults. He has worked on preserving films of the American avant-garde including those by Hollis Frampton, Harry Smith, and Paul Sharits, among others. Klacsmann holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Washington University in St. Louis. He graduated from the L. Jeffrey Selznick School of Film Preservation at the George Eastman House in 2008 and was a film preservation specialist and optical printing technician at Colorlab, a film laboratory in Maryland, before joining Anthology in 2012. His interests include stroboscopic cinema, antiquated Technicolor dye-transfer systems, and Unix-like operating systems.

Feb 17, 2014

Exhibition Report: Indie Essentials at the Museum of the Moving Image

by Rebecca Hernandez-Gerber

“Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games” currently occupied approximately half of the third floor of the Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria, Queens. The exhibition opened on December 14, 2013 and will close on March 2, 2014. For this report, I attended the exhibition on February 15, 2014. The exhibition was produced to coincide with IndieCade East, an independent video game festival that took place at the museum from February 14 to 16, 2014. This is the East-coast branch of a much larger and more well known, independent video game festival known as IndieCade; it is commonly referred to as “the Sundance of indie games.” Therefore, while the exhibition itself consisted of several independent video games available for interaction, this particular visit coincided with a weekend that included conference panels, virtual tournaments, performantive party-style gameplay, and demonstrations by students as well as industry representatives.
            The exhibition consisted of twenty-six separate titles. Of these, twenty-five were digital games (hence the exhibition title) and one was a board game. Eleven games in total, ten digital and one board game, were included as they were this year’s award winners at IndieCade 2013. The remaining fifteen titles are described by the Museum of the Moving Image as “a selection of games that have had great impact on game design and culture in the last decade.”[1] For further information on the individual titles, please see Appendix A for a list of all twenty-six titles available at the exhibition. For the purposes of this report, the one board game available at the exhibition will be eliminated as it contains no moving images and, therefore, is not a part of this discussion.
            While an exhaustive description of all twenty-five titles would be difficult to condense, a number of summarizations can be made about the available content. The majority of these games, twenty in total, are what are known as single-player games, or games that involve one individual’s interaction with an interface. The remaining titles, five in total, are what are known as multiplayer games and involve not only interaction with an interface but also physical and social interaction with other individuals. Specific media utilized as part of the exhibit is broken down further into displays, sound, and interaction. Overwhelmingly, the display of choice is that of slat-screen digital monitors approximately twice as large as the average laptop monitor. These monitors are horizontal in their orientation and, in all but one case, identical in size. Seventeen digital games utilized this form of display, one of which used a larger display that otherwise retained the same characteristics. Following this, the second most common form of display was that of digital projection of images directly onto a large, flat, dark-colored wall. In total, four titles used this method of display. Least common were the usages of an iPad, the display of choice for three digital games, and CRT monitors, utilized for one digital game. For sound, the most common choice was that of speakers situated beneath the flat-screen monitors, which was the method utilized for fifteen digital games. Of these, most included repetitious music or simple sound effects that lacked complexity. Of the remaining titles, those nine titles that utilized sound were accessed through noise-cancelling headphones. Generally speaking, the titles that utilized headphones contained more dramatic or emotional scores than those heard through speakers. Lastly, interaction can be divided into two forms: that of the player or that of the voyeur. In the former case, the player attempts interaction through the immersion of gameplay. If the individual utilizes noise-cancelling headphones or plays a game when there is no audience, the interaction is a more personal, visceral experience. If other visitors surround the individual, the experience becomes more focused on the social aspects of gameplay rather than the emotional or artistic aspects of the titles themselves. In the later case, that of the voyeur, visitors are invited to watch others play and often comment or discuss aspects of gameplay. Through this method, interaction is more communal and opens up a different interactive route than that of man and machine.

Though apologies for the crudeness of the drawing, this is an accurate representation of the exhibition layout. Please see Appendix A for the list of games numbered in this diagram.
            To describe the content, it should be noted that many of these digital games are best described not as what they are but instead as what they challenge. The culture of indie gaming was originally created to rebel against the standards and conventions found in mainstream video game culture. As such, the importance of this exhibition’s games is not what the games stand for, but how the mainstream conventions can be subverted. One method in which these titles accomplish this task is by attacking the mainstream focus of gameplay mechanics over narrative and atmosphere. A common argument against video games and their place as artistic or cultural items is that they focus too heavily on designing interaction than on the environment in which one interacts. Games such as Dear Esther, Flower, Kentucky Route Zero Act I and II, and Today I Die contain exceedingly simple gameplay functions. Instead, these titles focus on a larger narrative that calls into question such philosophical concepts as memory, transcendent thought, mortality, and beauty. Narrative and atmosphere become the focus of these games; therefore, these titles challenge the focus of mainstream gaming. Another method found in these games is that of locating aspects of the subculture that have been considered problematic by society at large and subverting those aspects, thus putting into question whether video games themselves are troubling as a medium or whether instead certain aspects are troubling. For example, games such as Quadrilateral Cowboy and Braid challenge the concept of the lone hero fighting for the damsel in distress by instead questioning whether such a protagonist is in fact representative of male privilege and patriarchal cultures. Flower, Everyday Shooter, and Minecraft focus on genesis and creation rather than conflict and violence. One last method commonly found in these games is a rejection of the mechanics that mainstream gaming considers of upmost importance. In more traditional games, it is assumed that players who interact more frequently will eventually gain an advantage over players who have interacted less frequently. This gives an advantage to serious players over more casual ones. Challenging this theory are games such as Spelunky and N., which contain rules that constantly change so that a player is never able to become familiar with the games. The result is that all players, regardless of their experience, become equal, attacking the hierarchal nature of mainstream gaming culture. This is merely a selection of the content available at the exhibition, and by no means representative, yet what is critical to understand here is that these titles are artifacts of resistance rather than representatives of a culture, and as such, they are artifacts whose context is critical to their comprehension.
            Four curators put together this complicated exhibition. Three of these individuals are aligned with the IndieCade festival: Stephanie Barish, IndieCade CEO as well as Aaron Isaksen and Matt Parker, IndieCade East Chairs. The remaining individual, Jason Eppinik, is associated with the Museum of the Moving Image through his institutional role as Associate Curator of Digital Media.
            According to Stephanie Barish, the goal of IndieCade was always to “create an equivalent of the Sundance Film Festival for video games.”[2] The festival’s institutional mission “encourages, publicizes, and cultivates innovation and artistry in interactive media, helping to create a public perception of games as rich, diverse, artistic, and culturally significant.”[3] “All weekend we’ll spotlight work that provokes thought and conversation, and that pushes the boundaries of interactive entertainment and how we see games.”[4] It can be inferred from these statements that the festival’s CEO considers indie games to be the true artistic legacy of the medium, and as such, she has strong ideological and marketing reasons to advance this argument.
            Partnering with the Museum of the Moving Image is an obvious choice for IndieCade, as the museum has a long reputation in regard to video games and other forms of digital media. In 1989, the museum was the first to premier an exhibition on the art of videogames with “Hot Circuits: A Video Arcade.” Museums moved into the permanent collection in 2006, as playable games were added to the central “Behind the Screen” exhibition. The museum’s mission statement “advances the public understanding and appreciation of the art, history, technique, and technology of film, television, and digital media.”[5] However, the museum’s characteristic treatment of video games is not necessarily in line with that of IndieCade. Rather than focus on the question of whether the exhibited games are or are not an art form, the museum instead chooses to focus on a broader audience. Jason Eppinik, in the aforementioned press release, stated “IndieCade East offers New Yorkers a great opportunity to dive into the world of independent games – there’s something for everyone from the casual gamer to the dedicated scholar and emerging gamemakers.”[6]
            There appear to be two groups that form the bulk of this exhibition’s intended audience. First and foremost are those involved in video games themselves: players, developers, and academic scholars of the genre. This is the audience that IndieCade appears to target most frequently and the one directly cited by the Museum of the Moving Image. Throughout the exhibit, text boxes that accompany the digital games include instructions on operation less than half of the time, further inferring that the intended audience is one already familiar with video game conventions. There is a second intended audience in family groups, though this audience is a focus of the museum rather than IndieCade. At the exhibition, a flyer was available with a checklist of appropriate video games for children along with discussion questions for parents to ask their children after they interacted with the games. The preparation of such an item indicates at least some expectation of a youth- and family-oriented audience, though the focus is certainly less than that of individuals involved in gaming communities.
            My own insight on audiences is by necessity biased, as I attended the museum during a conference weekend, which might skew the audience toward a gamer community-dominant model. In my experience, the audience was primarily that of younger adults involved in gaming communities. There were a few scattered groups of older adults, but these appeared to be, without exception, accompanying children. Those visitors attending in groups tended to congregate and discuss issues such as indie gaming in general, representation and marginalization, or the rebellious elements of the games on display. Solitary individuals tended to linger around a particular game and engage for a lengthier time, largely ignoring the more social aspects of the exhibition unless directly spoken to. Family groups, in contrast, moved quickly between games, spending less time with each title but visiting a greater total number. These groups focused on the titles found in the family-friendly flier rather than the more difficult, atmospheric titles.

My personal interaction with a single-player game that utilizes headphones.

            However, in a review of the exhibition, Matt Akker of Paste Magazine noted a more peaceful atmosphere in which adults and children both wandered quietly and interacted with the games at a less frenetic pace. As a game player, Aker noted with wonder that he “was watching them [visitors] learn a game, perhaps even learn what it means to play a game. It was intimate, peaceful, and a first for me.”[7] While I did not experience the exhibition in the same way, it is easy to see how such an interpretation is possible when the space is less crowded.
            Shaping the viewing experience were a number of multimedia elements. Perhaps the most noticeable of these is ambience. Many of those playing games were quite noisy, cheering and reacting viscerally with the titles with which they interacted. Added to this was the noise made by those watching the action; many of them were just as rambunctious as the player. There were also a variety of sounds due to discussion groups, press interviews, and the never-ending noises coming from over ten different video game machines. It was a loud, celebratory ambiance, one that contributed to the idea of communal space and social setting. Unfortunately, this sort of interaction also contributed to a more arcade-like setting than a museum, in some ways lessening the argument of video games as art and heightening their status as entertainment items. This is especially obvious when one walks to the nearby “Behind the Screen” exhibit, separated from the space by an open pathway. This exhibition is quieter, more museum-like, and lies in stark contrast to the ambience of the Indie Essentials exhibition. Viewing experience also was affected by questionable lighting choices. Throughout my many visits to video game exhibitions, it appears to be quite common that video games are presented in a dim setting. Perhaps this is meant to imitate the arcades of yore, but the result is that the screens shine out all the more brightly. They call the visitor like moths to a flame. It is a beautiful effect, but when used too heavily, it creates a disconcerting atmosphere where those not engaged in playing a game feel lost in the darkness. This turned out to be the case in the exhibition, as lighting was primarily aimed at where a player uses a game’s interfaces and not elsewhere. While players have sufficient light, visitors that merely watch are not given the same levels of visibility. One particular element that did not shape the viewing experience, but has the possibility of shaping it, was the use of text boxes. Each video game is accompanied by a text box that state’s the game’s title, creator, release date, platform, and then two short paragraphs regarding the importance of the title. These text boxes could have been used to grant some level of context and to differentiate these video games from games in general, aiding the visitor that is unfamiliar with video games. Instead, the information contained on the text boxes is lacking, focusing on what the video game accomplishes rather than whether or not those accomplishments are subversive or representational. Had these text boxes contained more contextual information, the entire exhibition would have benefitted and less game-oriented audiences would have found it to be more accessible.
            Interpretation of the exhibition is problematic. On the one hand, the overall argument of the exhibition is clear: indie games are artistic objects, unlike games created by larger studios, because they challenge players to consider what is play and what viewpoints are currently underrepresented in the mainstream gaming industry. This argument argues for the importance of indie games as representational items with aesthetic values yet with the power to innovate and push the entire medium forward as cultural objects. On the other hand, the choice to present these video games in this particular method cannot be linked to such an argument. The layout of the exhibition is difficult to understand. When several games are placed within a room, there is no thematic link between them. In fact, much of the layout seems poorly thought out, as some small rooms contain several games with speakers that drown out the noises of the games around them. Furthermore, there is no explanation as to why some video games are projected while others are placed on variously sized screens. The lack of consistency is confusing at best. There may be a less overt argument at play, but I could not discover it through this form of presentation.
           To conclude, the exhibition succeeds in a number of respecst. It displays a number of indie games that can be considered artistic forms of cultural importance. The wide variety of aesthetics, gameplay mechanics, and genre styles chosen give a wide range of titles for the visitor to choose from. The inclusion of both single-player and multiplayer titles allows the visitor to either join in social interaction or choose a more solitary experience of engagement. However, the exhibition has several noticeable weaknesses, including a distinct lack of context and poorly planned layout and lighting. In the end, the question of curatorial success depends upon the targeted audience. To an audience familiar with gaming cultures, the exhibition succeeds in displaying video games as artistic forms, but in some ways this audience has no need for the argument. As fans of the medium, they are already predisposed to this line of thought and have no need for institutional reinforcement. To an audience unfamiliar with the games, the exhibition successfully shows several notable games, but it does not give a larger argument toward why this artistic and technological movement is one of note. “Indie Essentials” is a moving, beautiful exhibition, but in the end, there is so much more it could have accomplished.
            For more information on this exhibition, please see the official exhibition website at http://www.movingimage.us/exhibitions/2013/12/14/detail/indie-essentials-25-must-play-video-games/. 

Appendix A: Game Titles
1)    Passage, 2007, PC
2)    Canabalt, 2009, iOS
3)    World of Goo, 2008/2011, iOS
4)    Killer Queen Arcade, 2012, arcade
5)    Diner Dash, 2004, PC
6)    Minecraft, 2011, PC
7)    Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party, 2013, Wii U
8)    TowerFall Ascension, 2013, PC
9)    SlashDash, 2013, PC
10) Alien Hominid, 2002, PlayStation 2
11) Spelunky, 2009/2013, PC
12) Flower, 2009, PlayStation 3
13) Spaceteam, 2009/2013, iOS
14) Machinarium, 2009, PC
15) Braid, 2008, PC
16) N., 2004, PC
17) QWOP, 2008, PC
18) Dog Eat Dog, 2013, Board Game
19) Quadrilateral Cowboy, 2014, PC
20) The Path, 2009, pc
21) Today I Die, 2009, PC
22) Dear Esther, 2007/2012, PC
23) Perpentine’s Twine Compilation, 2012-2013, PC
24) Kentucky Route Zero Act I and II, 2013, PC
25) Gone Home, 2013, PC
26) Everyday Shooter, 2007, PlayStation 3

[1] “Indie Essentials: 25 Must-Play Video Games,” Museum of the Moving Image.
[2] Ben Fritz, “IndieCade, the Video Game Industry’s Sundance,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 1, 2009.
[3] “Mission,” IndieCade.
[4] “IndieCade East, IndieCade’s East-Coast Edition Of the Premier Independent Video Game Festival, Returns to the Museum of the Moving Image For Year Two,” IndieCade Press Release.
[5] “Mission,” Museum of the Moving Image.
[6] “IndieCade East, IndieCade’s East-Coast Edition Of the Premier Independent Video Game Festival, Returns to the Museum of the Moving Image For Year Two,” IndieCade Press Release.
[7] Matt Akers, “Indie Essentials: A Must-Play Museum Exhibit in Queens, NY,” Paste Magazine, Jan. 7, 2014.

Feb 16, 2014

'The Ethical Presenter'

 Marissa Hicks-Alcaraz

As an undergrad in Middle Eastern and North African Studies it was major part of our program's curriculum to understand the ways in which the Middle East has been represented by the West, both in the past and in the present. As Charlotte Banks in “The Constant Dilemma: Curating the 'Middle East'” explains “the Arab world has been presented for so long, it has been described, studied, mapped, put into museums, [and] objectified in so many ways...” The phenomena of Orientalist paintings in the nineteenth century is but one example in a long tradition of the West's misrepresentation of the Arab world. In thinking about curating a film series featuring films by Arab and/or Arab American filmmakers as a possibility for our final project, my responsibility to the artists, their works and the audience is foremost, in my opinion, to not fall into the same old traps as Banks warns in her essay.

So, how does a responsible curator make decisions that are just to the artists, their work and the audience? Laura U. Marks' “The Ethical Presenter: Or How to Have Good Arguments over Dinner” is useful in that it offers a model of a program that is carefully prepared, but does not try to control the interaction between the work and the audience. She argues that the ethical presenter frames a program with an argument. A concise argument allows the curator to fulfill their responsibilities to both its artists and audiences and makes clear the criteria of quality, pleasure and a broader significance. Banks also makes an important argument regarding the responsibility of curating non-Western and especially Middle Eastern art, asserting that a “solid basis of historical, art historical and cultural knowledge related to the specific region on the side of the curator” is crucial. This knowledge should be used to present a well-grounded project to the audience, while allowing the latter to interact freely with the work.

There's validity to both approaches, and I believe that my project calls for the use of both. An ethically responsible program would necessitate a clear defendable argument regarding the quality and significance of the films I were to choose, as well as a solid understanding of the broader issues that surround the works. And of course, as Marks emphasizes, an argument with feeling and heart.

Feb 13, 2014

Film Festivals as 'Performance' Art

by Amani Jordan

In the essay, "Film Festival Networks" Thomas Elsaesser stated that film festivals are a new form of "democracy."(103) How can this be true if film festivals  such Cannes, Venice, and Berlin continue to utilize elitist forms of press coverage to emphasize ritzy public performance. Indeed, aspects of 'high culture' seem to take precedence over the appreciation of the actual films themselves. At Cannes, an atmosphere of bourgeoisie art culture is found: "organizers insisted that evening screenings were to be attended in formal attire by guests and reporters alike"(72).  Although these highly organized and sponsored events provide a space for colloquial/professional discourse amongst those in the global industry, they still further classist distinctions. This is preposterous:  If film is truly the  "universal art" as Bazin believes it to be (Rhyne 11)  then why is there this insistence upon certain  film festivals(those following the Cannes model) to make cinema to be something elite and out of reach? 

Festivals themselves have been heralded as great luxurious business events. For instance, in Chapter 1 of  Lee's dissertation("Publics), a  most peculiar phenomenon occurred at the Thessaloniki film festival: "I realized...many of the people that had been frantically trying to get past the guards...had been motivated not by a desire to see the opening film, but rather by a desire to be a part of the opening night spectacle"(emphasis mine, 66). And still, the 'authenticviewing audiences  made their way to the festivals' screenings. This "second wave audience" were knowledgeable and critical of   unnecessarily extravagant elements of the space; they were not present in the audience for the sake of their self-image or 'glamouria'(67). 

Evidently, there are spectators that come purposely for the screening  and for any  political/commercial/ reputable gain. Mostly,  I agree with the view of Lee: "the festival addresses multiple and even radically different publics"( 69);  those festivals organizers following the older Cannes traditions  utilize the space for a celebration of extra-cinematic elements whilst simultaneously inviting those folks that come to simply watch partake in major presentation of the next great independent filmmakers.  Of course, these cinematic events  must   be tied to the industry in order to continue their mission(s) of art continuation but perhaps there is more to film's reality than  commodified art product. 

The Various Methods of Film Festival Research

By Diana Ritter

After listening to Toby Lee speak about her experience with the Thessaloniki Film Festival, I was struck by the difference between her research and that of Vanessa Schwartz who wrote the essay, “The Cannes Film Festival and the Marketing of Cosmopolitan”.  Lee touched on this in class, stating that Schwartz’s research was primarily archival based, if not totally, and did not involve the “on-the-scene” type research that Lee did.  I got that sense while reading Schwartz’s essay, and Lee’s lecture proved it to be true.

The two words that came to mind after reading Schwartz’s essay were “puff piece.”  Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoyed it and thought the way she traced the paparazzi’s “unauthorized image” to the Cannes film festival was very interesting.  But in the end, her description of the South of France, the atmosphere at Cannes during the festival, and the movie star glamour acted as a marketing campaign for me, leaving me with a strong desire to go to the festival and partake in this “cosmopolitan” environment.  It felt like Schwartz was having a love affair with Cannes and after putting her article down, I wondered, “What was, and is, really going on beneath the surface of this festival, politically and socially, and where was that information?”

In contrast, Lee’s lecture brought those issues to the surface right away, and I think the only way it is possible to get that information is to be there, interviewing the people, observing the action, and partaking in the festival.  I was awed and impressed by how Lee left no stone unturned. She studied the background, interviewing people who had been there in the early days, she knew about the other festivals in the area, she uncovered the festival’s financial woes, and when the political environment changed, she went with it and altered her research to include that aspect.  For every question we asked, Lee had an informed answer.

Comparing the two research methods helps me see the different approach I can take in my research and what I like or dislike about each.  I find Lee’s method more credible because she was a first-hand witness and shared both the positive and negative aspects, but it obviously took her a lot of time and hard work to write her dissertation.  Unfortunately, I think Schwartz’s method is the one we typically go with because it takes less time, the resources are available to us “at home” versus having to travel to get them, and we don’t have enough time to spend researching “first-hand.”  Lee’s lecture really inspired me to find something that interests me that much and dig into it on the level she did because as she talked about, it seemed to still light a fire under her and excite her.  I am just grateful for all those who do and can dedicate themselves to topics, especially in the cinematic world, and share them with us who can not.

--Diana Ritter

Feb 9, 2014

"Discovering Form, Inferring Meaning"

by Rebecca Hernandez-Gerber

"’For us’ is the caveat that allows for a level of authenticity, to use that existential vocabulary, at the same moment as it guarantees a lack of finality. To what extent does the humanist framework encouraged by film festivals and the popular press not only steer our readings in selected directions but also obscure alternative readings or discourage their active pursuit?”
            Bill Nichols' "Discovering Form, Inferring Meaning" is focused on Iranian cinema, but many of the lessons taken from the piece apply equally to all forms of cinema foreign to us. Oftentimes, I have found it difficult to relate to the works of Western writers commenting on cinemas outside their own views. This is simply not my world, and the attitudes within it as as foreign to me as Iranian cinema is to Nichols. However, I was pleased and intrigued to find that Nichols’ worked posed a series of fascinating questions on how interpretation crosses borders, and I found myself attempting to answer these difficult questions.
            What first struck me was the question of a humanist framework. Can we say that all film festivals and the popular press steer the viewer in a particular direction? I’m unsure I agree with this framework. Within the press are a range of opinions and emotions that, while unified in their overall Western-viewpoint, remains fragmented in their own unique experiences. It is possible that this framework draws the viewer in a particular direction, but I would argue that they do not discourage active pursuit. Quite the contrary, when the viewer encounters a viewpoint contrary to their own, they are given pause and consider how their own viewpoints relates to this dominant theory. The dissonance creates the possibility of difference, one that all viewers may not choose to utilize but which nonetheless remains open to all.
            Looking at this question in a different light, I begin to wonder at what, exactly, we define as a level of authenticity. Interpretation of art never carries authenticity, no matter how certain critics or institutions may attempt to stamp their own opinion as such. It is fluid, transformative, influenced by culture and the moments that shape our artistic temperament. To be confronted by festivals and press that attempt to teach us what is or is not authentic, my response is never to take such authenticity at face value. It is, instead, to question, to wonder, and to search for a new truth that is only true for myself.

            Perhaps this is the purpose of divering form and inferring meaning from those cultural cinemas so foreign to us. It is not a question of interpreting differences but at discovering commonality, yet always reminding ourselves that this commonality holds only as much authenticity as our own opinions: that is, paradoxically, both everything and nothing at all.