Thanks for you most interesting post, and getting the discussion
of the new LC genre guide off to such a lively and interesting
I appreciate your pointing out some errors and the shortcomings
with the manner in which the Experimental category is handled
at present. In fact, the intention is to develop the area with a
number of subgenres, in the manner already done in the guide
with Advertising and Animation. I've been working on adapting
a previous guide developed for Experimental work a few years
back in conjunction with AFI's National Moving Image
Database. This project was authored by Linda Tadic, now with
the University of Georgia's Peabody Awards archive.
As I mentioned in the introductory post, this genre project is
ongoing, and will be frequently updated and corrected. Adding
the terminology developed by Tadic for cataloging types of
Experimental work did not prove possible in the draft you saw,
but will be included in the next draft.
You need have no fear on the following account. "An institution
of the US government such as the Library of Congress should do
all it can to demarginalize experimental film ...." Marginalizing
Experimental work could not be farther from our intention.
Indeed, I would like to include as many examples of
Experimental work as possible in our exemplifications of other
genres, and suggestions are welcomed. Those you have already
given are most valuable.
The inclusion of types of Experimental work will address many
of the concerns you expressed and allow inclusion of some of
the subgenres you mentioned, such as Diary and Portrait. The
only problem I would see with some of the types you mention is
that (from my experience with our Animation advisor on those
particular subdivisions), there is almost an infinite potential
number of subdivisions, and only the primary ones can be given
in a list of this sort. The most exacting and narrow kind of
categorization will always, of necessity, be that in a scholarly
book by an expert in the subject, not through an archive's
I think I would disagree with you however, on the following
This is just one example of a general problem that I think
stems from putting Fiction, Documentary and
Experimental all into the Genre list instead of the Form
list. If these were categorized as forms, then any subject,
genre or theme such as biography or war could be treated
in any form (animation, experimental, fiction,
documentary, etc..), and you would not have to specify
this form as part of the genre definition.
If I understand you correctly, I do not think putting such large
categories as Fiction and Documentary on the Form list would
be helpful. This would fundamentally change the meaning of
Form away from "the basic categories indicating a moving image
work's original exhibition and release parameters, and which are
separate from its actual content, not necessarily implying a
particular narrative construction. Form terms include Feature,
Shorts, Serials, Animation, and Television." Following your
suggestion, I'm not sure how Form could then be distinguished
from Genre, and Forms would seem to become broader terms for
Genre, rather than a separate area which complements genre but
serves its own particular purpose. Part of our mandate from the
Library as well is to develop distinctive vocabularies for both
Genre and Form terminology.
Your comments on technique were also most interesting, and
will be remembered. For the moment, we have set aside trying
to deal with matters of technique, as well as style and
movements, except insofar as they relate to specific genres.
However, the hope is to eventually also approach these issues in
a productive way.
Thank you again for all your insightful observations.
Motion Picture/Broadcasting/Recorded Sound Division
Library of Congress
Washington, D.C. 20540
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