The following paper will be presented on the Political Engagements: Resistance and Activism in Film and Media panel at the 55th annual Society for Cinema & Media Studies (SCMS) conference, spring 2015
“The Politics of Anonymity: Aldo Tambellini, Third Cinema, and Black Mask”
Aldo Tambellini, Italian American filmmaker and multimedia artist, chose the color black to act as a base concept and metaphor for hundreds of political and aesthetic projects in the 1960′s and 70′s, including mediums as various as sculpture, poetry, film, and television. By mixing televisual technologies with site-specific performance, Tambellini’s aesthetic influenced political collectives like the 1960′s Manhattan-based Black Mask as well as the expanded cinema movement abroad. In the same decade, Fernando Solanas and Octavio Getino wrote their polemic Towards a Third Cinema, an anti-colonial manifesto that pairs film production techniques with the anonymous organization of guerrilla warfare. In this presentation I situate Tambellini’s work as a historical and theoretical analog to Third Cinema, charting a political lineage of media production that informs the realization of novel political forms.
I situate Tambellini’s work in this way as I am particularly concerned with the theorization of politically mediated subjects and the extension of Tambellini’s “black metaphor” into the production of technologically mediated anonymity. Where Third Cinema gives a cinematic account of the political uses of anonymity in and as a form of guerrilla warfare, Tambellini moves this discourse into a multisensory framework, mobilizing the ‘black aesthetic’ as a means of subjective recreation and political reformation. This paper concludes with an analysis of Tambellini’s relation to Black Mask, ultimately underscoring the political and organizational parallels between Third Cinema and the adoption of guerrilla discourse and politics in the USA.