10.0b Programme Texts: 1992 - 1997

The programmes are the most important trace left by the Exploding Cinema events, and their visual content has been discussed in a separate chapter. The graphic content was classified and a sample analysed with a theoretically framed semiotic approach. The semiotic analysis also contained a historical/ cultural contextualisation of the chapbook A6 format that has a long history in European popular publishing.

Apart from the first six months, for which I have seen only two programmes, very few programmes have been lost. The surviving set of over 70 programmes up to June 1998 has been scanned and transferred to a set of 8 CDRs.

The films and filmmakers are covered in other chapters so this section will catalogue and comment on the remaining contents of the programmes: the texts.

Texts in the Illustrated Programmes.

I have classified the texts found in the programmes up to May 1997[1] under the headings[2]:


Pop diversions (1992 only);

Self descriptions and reports;

Lists & glossaries;


Intervention reports;

Rants and polemics;

Quotes and reprints;

Satirical and propaganda graphic texts;

Adverts for political events or other film groups.

I will only discuss the first four categories here. The following six types of text are covered by the discussion in this chapter (Section C) on 'Politics and Policies'.

Reviews: From June 1992 to June 1993 very short reviews of work from the previous shows were included in every programme. There are fifteen of these short review sections in all which review about 50 movies. After this the review sections become sporadic.[3] 

It should be emphasised that after June 1993 the individual works shown at Exploding Cinema is rarely reviewed anywhere. The media coverage of Exploding Cinema that does appear is of a general nature, so although the reviews in the programmes are slight they are important due to the absence of any other critical literature. A selection from these reviews is included in the Appendix.

Pop diversions: These die out after 1992. There is a series of four mini articles called 'Ripley's Believe it or Not' that include stuff on Bette Davis and John Cage. These show how people were keen to use popular magazine rather than more literary idioms to produce written material. Which we can assume was an effort to avoid the studious tone of establishment film discourse and to align written texts with oral culture.

Self-descriptions and reports: Nearly every programme has an, often jokey or poetic, introduction, which will often include elements of self-description. [4] (See illustration 14)

Lists and glossaries: This is another format from popular publishing. These range from a 'definition of underground' [5] , to satires of independent film and the avant-garde. [6]   They include a satire of aesthetics with a 'We Love / We Hate' list by Donal Ruane, [7] and a seven point guide on 'How to Be a Successful Spectator'. [8] There is an Exploding Manifesto [9] (see illustration 15) and a satirical glossary. [10]

There are programmes that mark the seasons, such as the 'Up Your May pole with the EXPLODING SINEMA' in the programme of 2nd April 1994. That text is on the front cover. The back cover has a blasphemous anti-Christ graphic. Part of the counter cultural stance is to be pagan and generally anti Christian. The tendency to mark seasonal holidays is quite strong.

The content of the texts does give a very good idea of the concerns of the Exploding Cinema and the range of their counter cultural ideas. The literary forms used also give us clues as to the broader cultural forms that they wish to relate to. Basically they are 'inferior' literary forms such as the list, the satire, the report, the rant, the quotation, the graphic proclamation, the cheap advert, the comic. There are no poems and the very format itself makes any extended prose style difficult. The rant polemics are the most common forms that approach what would be defined as prose in the literary world. I will discuss the polemics in the section on politics. These stylistic forms do have precedents in the early chapbooks and penny books.[11] They are signifiers of forms that emerge from and address oral culture and create links with a wider counter culture.



[1] I stopped listing in May 1997 as after that date some of the texts were written by me as participant in the group.


[2] Singular texts include: Portrait of Rosalind Grainger (11-9-93); a noticeboard (22-12-94); a comic spread on 'how to make a film' (22-12-94); Andy Lowe on singing (1-5-94); a video distribution announcement (19-3-94).

[3] Further reviews can be found only in the programmes  of 19-3-94, 2-4-94 & 1-5-94


[4] For descriptive introductions see programmes from; 13-2-93, 1-5-93, 11-9-93, 2-10-93, 11-12-93, 19-3-95 & 9-11-96.


[5] IP 18-6-92


[6] 'Independent Film A to Z', a glossary of eleven terms (IP 10-9-92); Avant-Guarde / Underground (15-5-93)


[7] IP 11-9-93


[8] IP 29-10-94


[9] IP 29-10-94


[10] IP 19-3-95


[11] See Tessa Watt's Cheap Print and Popular Piety (1550 - 1640) (Cambridge UP 1991)