In a somewhat questionable marketing endeavour, the Eastern Cape Region has been sign posted, ‘Frontier Country’ and indeed this is what it is. Historically it is the site of the 9 Frontier Wars and much brutal conflict and living here presently can still seem the edge of nowhere by comparison to many major South African metropols. With Grahamstown at the heart of it, it is also a cosmopolitan space not without vestiges of past pain but - like many colonial outposts in a post-colonial time - it is no longer a satellite to an absent motherland, a mere microcosm of elsewhere, but also a world unto itself.

A potential space of intellectual, debate rather than military conflict – geographically isolated from metropolitan trends – a melting pot of many places, a crucible. In more recent history, this frontier space has been a site of culture, of experiment. Home to an annual arts festival, how is it that Grahamstown with a population of just under 140 000 can command so much creative imagination in novels, plays, poetry and art? Frontier, Border, at the end of the world but not about to fall off – merely at a vantage point to observe a view to come.
- Rat Western

DISCHARGE 2012             COLOUR COLLOQUIUM 2010             SYNTHETIC DIRT 2011

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Anton Krueger: Digital Dirt – On the Raw, Rough Works of Aryan Kaganof

Aryan Kaganof works in the widest range of media imaginable – text (poetry, prose, philosophy, blog); fine art (etching, painting, photography, performance); music (blues, noise music, dub); and, predominantly, in film (feature, documentary, experimental.) As a film maker, Kaganof considers himself to be principally an editor; remixing and splicing together cultural artefacts from the detritus of the overproduced late 20th century. His pieces could be described as dirty on at least two levels – the subject matter is often crude, vulgar, offensive, sometimes involving incest, sadomasochism, suicide, urination and vomiting. Also (since most of his creations are entirely self produced in quick bursts of energy) the technical quality of his work is often rough and somewhat underproduced, i.e. “dirty” in the sense Peter Brook uses the adjective to define the Rough Theatre.

The latter has lead to a sometimes less refined product; and yet, there is certainly a case to be made for the necessity of roughage as a source of fibre in any artistic diet hoping to combat the belly- ache of white bread commercialism. With reference to the other pivotal keyword of this colloquium, “Synthetic”, Kaganof has been on the forefront of the digital revolution in cinema. He was the first film maker in the world to boost a digital feature film on video up to 35 mm – (Naar de Klote / Wasted [1996]); a process he then took to Japan when he made the first Japanese digital feature – Shabondama Elegy (1999).

Kaganof also made the world’s first cell phone feature film boosted up for screening, SMS Sugar Man (2007). It seems paradoxical that despite his manifestos on digital production – what could be more synthetic than numbers? – his themes still favour sensuality, and bodies bursting out of the confines of the great synthetic synthesizer of social mores. In this paper I’d like to consider how these two opposite elements play off each other in Kaganof’s works. Drawing on a range of examples, I would like to focus chiefly on his role as the editor of digital dirt. BIO:

Anton Krueger has published in a range of genres; including criticism, poetry, prose and drama. He teaches in the Department of Drama, Rhodes University.

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