Alice Gage created and edits Ampersand, a biannual literary journal deeply informed by visual art. I’ve always been interested in these intersections of text and image. Cinema’s moving images have fundamentally altered the literary medium, making it essentially cinematic. Narrative structures have taken on sequences and rhythms from film. Visual art has also been responsive to the same cinematic influence. But cinema itself is deeply influenced by the theatre that continually makes it to screens, from film adaptations of novels, from photography and art influencing aesthetic possibilities and choices. There’s a constant reference between all the senses and their artistic expressions. A magazine like Ampersand (My Review of Issue #2) stands in the Niagara confluence of these mediums. How deliberate was this positioning and what are your thoughts on these intersections of image, thought, and expression?
There is nothing and everything deliberate about Ampersand’s positioning at a ‘confluence’ of mediums. Its placement there was as instinctive as eating and as conscious as eating at a good restaurant. I don’t think we have much control over our influences and I don’t think we have any control over our passions (and when I say passions here I mean the kind of art we love). The result of this Tetris is what we create. My love of stories – which is what I personally look for and respond to most in regarding any artform, beit novel or article or painting or film – is the common thread running through all that is published in Ampersand.
Cinema is a medium that does indeed lend itself particularly well to intersections with other mediums, but it follows the same path as any other, that is, conceptualisation, influence and expression. Half of cinema is text so of course it will be influenced by literature. And half of literature is images so of course it will be influenced by cinema. I don’t agree when you say that ‘Cinema’s moving images have fundamentally altered the literary medium, making it essentially cinematic’. In some cases the intersection will be profound and in others, negligible. The painter, the writer, the musician and the cinematographer all describe a scene, so who “fundamentally” influences whom? There are also many examples of literature that pre-dates cinema that could be described as ‘cinematic’.
I think the intersections between artistic forms are as natural as blood and bone and any artistically minded person is going to have influences from a range of mediums. Like our senses, nothing lives in isolation, especially not imagination. I don’t think it is possible to eliminate the intersection of mediums. Ampersand’s content can be so varied because I am of the conviction that smart, creative people are into pretty much anything. They want to read a self-written eulogy as much as they want to read an essay on the history of Tamarama Gully as much as they want to laugh at a comic as much as they want to watch a DVD of a performance piece as much as they want to look at photographs. As long as all those things are top-shelf quality, of course. That’s pretty much the definition of a magazine, anyway. A curated collection.
I think that rather than looking at mediums and their constructive or opposing relationships, look more to the essence of why we create as artists, or bring together as editors: sympathy, love, humour, pride, sacrifice, skill and knowledge. You know, that kind of shit.