Mining the Home Movie: Excavations in Histories and Memories

By Karen L. Ishizuka; Patricia R. Zimmermann | Go to book overview

Foreword

KAREN L. ISHIZUKA

This anthology began as an international symposium—which I organized and in which Patricia Zimmermann was a participant—at the Getty Center in Los Angeles during its inaugural year, 1998. Called “The Past as Present: The Home Movie as Cinema of Record,” the symposium was a result of my tenure as a visiting scholar at the Getty Research Institute for the Arts and Humanities. The Getty, of course, began as a museum based in Greek and Roman antiquities, eighteenth-century French furniture, and European paintings before becoming a modern-day Edinburgh Castle looming over the cultural landscape of Los Angeles. Bringing an anarchic and unorthodox subject such as home movies into the annals of this refined institution evidenced its capacity to transcend the traditional and break new ground.

At the Getty Scholars Program, the topic of home movies was admittedly greeted with mixed reactions. Most of the scholars—anthropologists, historians, architects, photographers, and writers—had never considered home movies to be a topic for serious, much less academic, consideration. Conventionally the terrain of birthday parties and vacation memories, the home movie was definitely the lowbrow bull in this highbrow china shop of arts and culture. As I got to know the other scholars, most were polite, some were intellectually curious, and a precious few viewed the topic critically enough to genuinely ponder and discuss if and how the study of home movies might fit into the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

All of my colleagues, especially those who were highly skeptical, contributed to a profound intellectual milieu and deepened my conviction regarding the utility and potential of this marginal genre to shed muchneeded light on overlooked corners of history and culture. The encounter resurrected my desire—first experienced while attending the conferences of the Association Européene Inédits (European Association Inédits) in 1994

-xiii-

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