Notes from

Globalization; or the logic of cultural hybridization: the case of the Korean wave. (Woongjae Ryoo 2009)

The article states: ‘… that local cultures are now thoroughly interfused with the global’. (p138) – this is a good starting assumption to premise the need for change in Australian film aesthetic and production. The argument will also need to refine the idea that globalisation – global culture – somehow homogenizes local values. There is a pervasive fear in the discourse – as i’ve encountered it thus far – that minority voices and values somehow get lost under the weight of (or be transcended by) a ‘mainstream’ grand narrative. This is post-colonial/postmodern theory.

Article is otherwise narrow and provides not much insight into structures of cultural/economic development in Korea. It has an anti-capitalist tone and doesn’t fully engage the positive aspects of competition and a creative economic drive.


Korean State Cultural Policy

“The government, for example, brought in a registration system for film producers between the early 1960s and the early 1980s. Only registered film producers could produce motion pictures and import foreign films” (Dal Yong Jin citing Korean Film Commission Research Report, 2002) This created a monopoly which stifled growth.

Q: to extent does Australia’s funding processes replicate such a control over the means of production and in turn to extent is there a monopoly, government or otherwise, over the film industry.

The impact of direct distribution from Hollywood – distribution and trade practices.

transnationalization of the Korean film industry – active foreign investment in the domestic market – i.e. Hollywood distributing directly into the Korean market without a domestic go-between.

What was the structure of the relationship between foreign forces and domestic forces in the growth of the national film industry?

” … the government enacted the Motion Picture Promotion Law in 1995 … ” to provide incentives for cooperate capital to enter the film industry.

“The government reclassified the movie business from a service industry to a manufacturing industry in 1994. As a result, for the first time in decades, Korean film producers could easily finance their films by borrowing from banks.”

The question of cultural identity in film

Rather than a policy of cultural identity, a screen quota system is essential to maintaining cultural sovereignty:

‘ … the government did not want to change the screen quota system on the grounds that films should be excluded from free trade principles because protecting the Korean film industry is tantamount to maintaining Korea’s cultural identity.’

The issue needs to be framed not as an ideological and cultural issue but as an economic issue.

“The Wall Street Journal observed that the Korean government acknowledged that cultural industries, including films, could boost the economy in the late 1990s”

Wilhelm Worringer posits a spectrum for the impulse behind art – the extremities of which can be defined as an impulse towards empathy at one end and an impulse towards abstraction at the other.

The fundamental notion at the heart of Worringer’s thesis is that beauty derives from our sense of being able to identify with an object; empathy. This has clear relationships with phenomenology and is a starting point for further research. Worringer is looking to understand the reasons behind how and why a human being is driven or drawn towards a work of art. This will inevitably have to include psychology – the level of the individual – and zeitgeist – the level of the broader culture.

Worringer argues that representational art produces satisfaction from our objectified delight in the self, reflecting a confidence in the world as it is as in Renaissance art. By contrast, the urge to abstraction, as exemplified by Egyptian, Byzantine, primitive, or modern expressionist art, articulates a totally different response to the world: it expresses man s insecurity. Thus in historical periods of anxiety and uncertainty, man seeks to abstract objects from their unpredictable state and transform them into absolute, transcendental forms. Abstraction and Empathy also has a sociological dimension, in that the urge to create fixed, abstract, and geometric forms is a response to the modern experience of industrialization and the sense that individual identity is threatened by a hostile mass society.


Abstraction and Empathy: A Contribution to the Psychology of Style


Marxist thought – the dialectic approach to ‘knowing’ history. Criticism of capitalist culture to reduce the past to a series of stylistic effects (Frederic Jameson). First, the inherent arrogance in claiming to ‘know’ history by a simple arithmetic sum. Capitalism does not claim to know history and in so doing allows the space within the cultural consciousness to come up with multiple histories. There are multiple histories, just as there are multiple futures.


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September 18, 2014 — Leave a comment

‘Through a photograph you can make people believe anything. It’s not really the camera’s doing, it’s the person behind it. Figuring out ways to tell lies through the camera … it’s more interesting to show perhaps what you might never see.’

Cindy Sherman

‘Glasgow is a magnificent city,’ said Thaw.’ … Think of Florence, Paris, London, New York. Nobody visiting them for the first time is a stranger, because he’s already visited them in paintings, novels, history books, and films. But if a city hasn’t been used by an artist not even the inhabitants live there imaginatively.’

(Gray, 1981; 243)

taken from Alasdair Gray’s novel Lanark

A city’s discourse, as framed by artists, by newspapers, by demography or any other official report determines popular attitudes towards that city and hence shapes subsequent narratives about it. The inhabitants of that place live an imagined life there along side their real life and this imagined life is caught in a feedback loop with the city’s discourse. One could define a genre for the discourse of a place and its influence on the aesthetic of the narratives that flow through it. In the case of my home city Melbourne, it is hard for any one in the film industry to go past the recent mythology attributed to organised crime as seen in films such as Animal Kingdom or TV dramas such as Underbelly. As an artist is it not completely unexciting to conform to a status quo such as the accepted genre of the representation of a city’s spirit? It’s inner life? Not to say there’s anything wrong with previous expressions of this place but more to say that discourse implies an evolving to and fro. It is hard to see where the change in conversation is happening in our arts and in our imaginations. The political dimension stays consistent, the entertainment invokes the same sets of signs and signifiers and the so-called discourse stays as it was perhaps even 20 years ago.

By living imaginatively I mean to say attributing a framework of myth and history, fiction and fact to the very heartbeat of the urban landscape – the eb and flow of the population day to day through the CBD; the police presence found on the city street corners on a Saturday night; the back streets and alley ways so teeming with nightlife.

‘[…] cities (and, indeed, all urban spaces and even ‘natural’ landscapes) are always already social and ideological, immersed in narrative, constantly moving chess pieces in the game of defining and redefining utopias and dystopias.’

Colin McArthur in The Cinematic City

The meaning that a city has, and the imaginative characterisations attributed to it have no fixed or absolute meaning.

I see mobile videography as a way to explore and see the city with fresh eyes – to re-imagine it. This is the goal of my mobile videography sketches and project. The goal of my film practice┬áis also framed in such a light – to redefine and redefine again and again possible utopias and dystopias and not just of the city we find ourselves living in but also of the human mind and soul itself.

“Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive.”

Karl Marx

Why the mobile? A different tool for a different vision.


August 28, 2014 — Leave a comment

“Light is meaningful only in relation to darkness, and truth presupposes error. It is these mingled opposites which people our life, which make it pungent, intoxicating. We only exist in terms of this conflict, in the zone where black and white clash…”

Louis Aragon, Paris Peasant