Chapter 1


Collective Provenances: authorial reflexivity


My research motivation has a history that has formed the assumptions that underlay this thesis. This comes out of my experience of nine other collective sites of cultural production that I have been part of since 1968. This other history is both intertwined with the specific provenance of Exploding Cinema and provides an underlying frame for the interpretation made in this thesis. In the interests of reflexivity[1] and to show the continuum of collective activity I will outline this experience.


I have repeatedly been drawn to collective cultural production in the last thirty years. In the last ten years I have become aware of how poorly these particular British collective experiences have been recorded, documented, written about, criticised, archived and ultimately historicised. With few exceptions[2] these historicising processes have occurred very little. Of course some of these collective endeavours probably need little more than a footnote in history. The lack of historical representations of others is without doubt caused by other factors that are contingent on the formation of historical knowledges.[3] The tendency not to focus on them may be a reflection of history's fascination with leading personalities and a simple set of outcomes organised as a linear and 'readable' narrative rather than with processes, relations, discursive formations and communicative flows, networks and diffuse social contexts.[4]

During the course of this research I have been thinking about the weak historicisation of this area and have been looking at the existing records left by these collectives. [5] In the account that follows I will emphasise the aspects of the collectives that are relevant to this thesis. [6]



[1] I have considered the question of reflexivity in the introduction.


[2] The example of Hull Time Based Arts is considered in the conclusion to this chapter.


[3] One important collective history that appeared as I wrote this was a 'History of the LMC' by Clive Bell that was published in the summer edition of Variant in 1999 (Vol 2 No 8 pp12-16). This was followed by a special issue of Resonance magazine, the London Musicians Collective magazine, which was notable for including multiple accounts of LMC's history. See Resonance (Vol 8 No 2 /Vol 9 No 1 Double Issue 2000)


[4] Foucault's Archaeology of Knowledge (orig. 1969) points to this sort of complexity in the formations of all knowledge. A detailed discussion follows in the chapter, which discusses critiques of Habermas.


[5] Published records are scarce and as this chapter focuses on my own experience it is often to my own records that I am referring. It was beyond the scope of the current PhD research to fully research archival sources in all these areas.


[6] I have followed these challenges to historical truth through the works of Keith Jenkins. From Rethinking History (1991) to Why History: ethics and postmodernity (1999). This discursive field challenges the selective nature of historical method and its reductive and ideologically motivated effects. It also reveals the literary nature of historical narratives. It is these considerations that lead to the personal dimension in this text and also my choice of open-ended structure, which is intended to be more of a collage or mosaic than narrative.