Once upon a time, we moved with our young son from a San Francisco Mission District rental to an 1880s primitive boarding house in a former mining town in Arizona. Under the SF apartment, we left behind the skeleton of a basement venue that had been a thriving 30-seat microcinema through the mid-1990s. Tiny Bisbee, AZ, though considered an “artist town” is one-thousand miles and light years from San Francisco’s singular and voluptuous spillage of all manners of creative film activity. Operating remotely then, in the experimental film community, we used the space of the desert to question and reinvent our individual practice. Last year, dynamics changed and we found ourselves moving on to the minor metropolis of Tucson, Arizona.
While it is remarkable that people can now access an endless array of high and low troves of artist-made and rare films on the Internet, we’ve opted to design a very particular kind of public space. Over several decades, we’ve witnessed seismic changes in exhibition: As the venue-based experience of cinema is replaced by virtual online communities, appetites have weakened for the kinesthetic realm of experience unique to actual public spaces where people watch projected media together. In our own microcinema, we hope for shifting possibilities of energy exchange to remain relevant and surprising.
We love projected celluloid and if you truly witness film, you know that at one point it was fragile, cherished, and unique. Even though the community-based experience of microcinema is itself more important than any individual medium, to insist upon projecting celluloid along with other mediums in a microcinema is to keep alive the material potency of specific durational works. Moving-image art requires time, space, and consideration to be felt as exquisitely as the endangered ribbon of film running through a projector.
A small cinema devoted to screening film works in a context that dissolves the boundaries of authority between the screened image, the artist & the audience, creating an active autonomous community of discourse and experience.
Mission Statement of a Desert Microcinema
Established in 2013 in downtown Tucson, Arizona, Exploded View is a storefront microcinema and arts space supporting the exhibition and presentation of contemporary and historical visual, sonic and film arts. The Exploded View facility aims to provide a flexible space of operation that may be re-configured to encourage experimental, innovative, and challenging projects.
You can grow anything you want in the desert, especially a cactus.
The possibilities of desert materials in filmmaking…
It’s a flat bicycle town with a huge university, excellent poetry and photography centers, a good co-op, too many great musicians, and a historic downtown that’s having a “revitalization.” The low cost of living lures a lot of creative people here; there’s not much of an art market but there’s a lot of “content” being created in this town.
Tucson hasn’t yet had much exposure to experimental film. EV is a new enterprise for this time and place, making our endeavor both scary and profound in its potential. We remind ourselves that even cities with vibrant experimental film cultures have unpredictable audiences. In touring with programs, we’ve learned that venues in remote places are sometimes rewarded with robust audiences planting seeds and establishing roots for future incarnations of alternative film practice.
Reasons that filmmakers will come to Tucson and show their work at Exploded View:
- A fresh audience.
- Temperate winters.
- “Keep Tucson Shitty” tote bag.
- Unparalleled astronomical observation and bird watching.
- Hiking in the desert.
- Historic barrio neighborhoods.
- 40,000 college students.
- The Southern Pacific train route runs right behind our building—your screening will be punctuated with screaming whistles and rumbling iron.
- We’re reasonably close to…Mexico!
Lets connect and see what can happen! Visiting a retired relative? Robert Breer retired & died in Tucson! Or, traveling cross-country between Austin’s Experimental Response Cinema, Albuquerque’s Basement Films, and Echo Park Film Center in LA? Exploded View is now turning on curious poets, musicians, the neighborhood, and the world to new experiences in cinema art! Brothers and sisters, let’s share a microcinema revolution in the desert!