9-10 June 2017/JCMS Conference: Innovations and Tensions, Italian Cinema and Media in a Global World, Rome


Italy’s ‘Expanded Cinema’: Cinema and The Electronic Arts

Cinema has, since its very origins, been a plural medium, one which encompasses theatre, photography, music and other forms. However, since the sixties, its relations with arts, media and technology have been in a state of constant flux, and what ‘cinema’ means has been transformed as cinema touches adjacent forms. Despite the evident changes in what ‘cinema’ means, research into Italian cinema still often treats films as if borders of the medium were unchanging. This panel challenges the static notion of the medium, by presenting some of the tears in its form, attempting to pinpoint some of the key moments in which it bleeds into other forms. We are interested in tracing these transformations and through them understanding what the term ‘Italian cinema’ means today. Is cinema re-totalising itself, or disintegrating?

This panel will explore the experiments, collaborations and tensions that have arisen between Italy’s cinema and its electronic arts from the sixties to the present. In particular, we will investigate three particular moments: cinema’s relationship with experimental television, with video art and with augmented reality. In doing so, we will focus attention on individuals and groups who have been actively engaged in creative boundary-crossing and on institutions and technologies which fostered or hindered it. Case studies we will consider include video artists Gianni Toti, Studio Azzurro, Fabrizio Plessi and others.

The panel will start by examining the first theoretical debates within journals such as Marcatré and the early experimentation within the RAI Servizio Programmi Sperimentali the late 1960s to early 1970s. In their double paper, Emanuela Patti and Clodagh Brook will look at the interplay between the theoretical debates in journals such as Marcatré, Cinema Nuovo, Videocritica and creative practice. Particular emphasis will be devoted to the Italian critical reception of the notion of ‘expanded cinema’ in the 1967 triple special issue of Marcatré (n. 34/35/36) and how this was negotiated with local theorists’ perspectives such as Carlo Lizzani’s ‘La quarta età dell’immagine in movimento’ (1969) and the neo-avandgardist debates of the same decade (following Eco’s ‘opera aperta’). The paper will examine how such debates gave impulse to a new era of cinematic experimentation leading to video art and how this developed in the following decades. Patti will concentrate on Gianni Toti (1924-2007), better known as the founder of poetronica, a mix of poetry and electronics. After a long experience as a journalist, poet and experimental film maker — from 1958 to 1969 he made the newsreels (cinegiornali) in collaboration with Cesare Zavattini and Jean-Luc Godard —, in the early 1980s Toti began mixing cinema, poetry text and electronic images in his video poems, giving rise to a number of derivative artefacts such as ‘Videopoemopera’, ‘videopoemetti’ and ‘videosyntheatronica’. Brook will focus on the experience of the Milanese collective, Studio Azzurro, who have been working across cinema, theatre and video since 1982. Brook’s paper will explore in particular the place of artistic collaboration in ‘expanded cinema’. In the third paper, Mirko Lino will look at how cinema intersects with augmented reality, focusing on the project Komplex, as a case study.


Clodagh Brook and Emanuela Patti – (double paper) Italy’s Expanded Cinema in Practice: Gianni Toti (Patti) and Studio Azzurro (Brook)

Mirko Lino – Interferenze intermediali: le esperienze cinematiche in Realtà Aumentata. Il caso di Komplex – Live Cinema Group 

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