5 Expanded Cinema

Expanded Cinema is a term coined by Gene Youngblood in the 1970s to acknowledge an expanding realm of cinematic production and presentation.  Opened to amateurs, and used for a myriad of artistic, educational, commercial and personal purposes, cinema was becoming a more common form of communication-and found in a wide range of public and private settings.  Youngblood celebrated the democratizing possibilities of such expansion and anticipated novel and revolutionary application in artistic and political practice.  In particular, he looked to a new generation of filmmakers, avant-garde artists and experiments with media (such as those seen at Expo ’67) for examples of this changing media landscape.  Simultaneously, there was an experimental film movement in Britain identified in similar terms, concerned with the relationship between the mechanisms of cinema and the audience. Research on the subject will outline Youngblood’s argument and discuss the political, social and artistic dimensions of expanding cinema and look at the other, later and recent manifestions of expanded cinema in the arts and popular realms.


On-line Materials + PDFs

Expanded Cinema Wiki

The Tate Museum has a video about this work and there is some writing about it on the following blog: Film Studies for Free. 

Expanded Cinemas of historical significance: Andy Warhol’s Exploding Plastic Inevitable, Stan Van der Beek’s Death Breath, Stan Brackage’s Dog Star Man.

Documentary on Expanded Cinema on Youtube:  Youngblood

Some works that could be said to represent contemporary modes of ‘expanded cinema’ would include those by Doug Aitken:  – Documentation of ‘Sleepwalkers’Documentation of ‘Electric Earth‘; Documentation of ‘Migration Installation’ or Shirin Neshat – TurbulentTED Talk; an Interview

Preview of September – December 2012 exhibition of Expanded Cinema in the Netherlands

Discussion Prompts

  • From Youngblood’s  perspective, ‘Expanded Cinema’ held the potential of expanding human consciousness by exhibiting media content aimed at opening new psychic horizons.   But how might such psychological expansion change human experience more broadly speaking?  How could expanded cinema change the social world?
  • Since the 1970s we’ve witnessed the unprecedented expansion of media practice.  Screen culture surrounds us. We now encounter media  everywhere.  Has Youngblood’s dream of expanding consciousness been realized?  How do experiments with expanded cinema from the 70s compare with new media experiments today?