State of Cinema Address
Sunday, May 4
Landmark’s Clay Theatre
2261 Fillmore Street (at Clay)
Each year, the Film Society invites a culturally prominent public figure to address one or more of the issues facing the intersecting worlds of contemporary cinema, visual arts, technology, viewership, images and ideas. This year, the State of Cinema address will be delivered by the cofounder and currently senior maverick of Wired magazine Kevin Kelly. From his learned perspective as a digital-age authority, Kelly will speak to the thrills and hazards of our post-cinematic era in an address titled, “Beyond Moving Pictures: Possibilities for the Future of Film.”
Kevin Kelly, Ahead of Time
By Scott Kirsner
It almost seems as if Kevin Kelly has time-traveled back from the future to bring us up to speed. Beginning with his part in founding The WELL, one of the first true online communities, and Wired magazine, Kelly has assessed the merits of new technologies and plotted their impact before most of us are even vaguely aware of them.
His writings, most of them available for free online www.kk.org, read like a hybrid of E.B. White’s elegance and connectedness to things past, and H.G. Wells’s ability to imagine where the next thousand steps of scientific and technical progress will leave us.
Kelly is the kind of eclectic thinker San Francisco seems especially gifted at producing: equally happy reviewing Internet conference calling software, contributing do-it-yourself projects to a blog called Geekdad, photographing the continent of Asia for a Taschen art book and attempting to catalogue every living species on the planet.
As a younger man, he sold his belongings and rode a bicycle across America, each evening knocking on a different door to ask strangers whether he might camp in their yards. (No one, he says, ever said no.)
Kelly’s great role since the publication of his 1994 book Out of Control has been as an exponent and interpreter of the Internet. Before most of us had ventured online, Kelly was already exploring the implications of a “network culture.” “Nets have their own logic,” he wrote, “one that is out-of-kilter to our expectations. And this logic will quickly mold the culture of humans living in a networked world.”
Lately, Kelly has been explaining to artists the implications of a world where practically any work of art can be digitized and spread instantly via the Internet’s “super-distribution system.” His essay, “1,000 True Fans,” suggests the Internet is capable of mass-producing mini-Medicis and that independent animators, photographers, musicians and writers would be smart to cultivate a community of these willing patrons.
The future is often unnerving. Yet Kelly, no matter what historical moment he hails from, is gentle in bringing his readers and listeners face-to-face with the uncertainty wrought by change. His insights are helpful signposts as we hurtle ahead.
Scott Kirsner edits the blog CinemaTech and is the author, most recently, of Inventing the Movies, a technological history of Hollywood.
Previous State of Cinema Addresses
2007 Peter Sellars
2006 Tilda Swinton
2005 Brad Bird
2004 B. Ruby Rich
2003 Michel Ciment