REVIEWS & ENDORSEMENTS
"Tweet by tweet (brick by brick), LACONIA creates a web of insightful cultural criticism, it creates a bridge between the present – through its tweet form, through the films and current pop culture taken under the microscope – and the past – again through its form (the aphorism, the fragment), through the author’s nostalgia for the American cinema of the 1970s (the very cover of the book, with its 1970s blue and yellow, announces this nostalgia), nostalgia for real faces, untouched by the plastic surgeon’s knife, through a perceptiveness for actors and acting (real vs. fake, then vs. now) that echoes Robert Bresson’s concern for his models. LACONIA is a very powerful book – and you realize that later, when you’re watching a random film and something (a face, a phrase) will seem to echo fragments from LACONIA." ~ Anamaria Dobinciuc, Projectorhead Magazine
"...Upon opening the book that is Masha Tupitsyn's LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets I found myself struck by its layout as an interrogation of space, one which contains and spells out an inventory of nuance in the form of 1,200 time-stamped tweets. So rarely does one encounter 'the official' time of writing, or, the ticker, as it were, of criticism. And yet, Tupitsyn's LACONIA is both intriguing and alluring in that it is timed and timed right: it is a kind of culture bomb which implodes the space between forms, between the haiku and the tweet, between the book that you hold and the text that you scroll. Furthermore, the fall-out of Tupitsyn's bomb is carefully curated and concise...But where one might claim the instant as favored by Tupitsyn is not a palpable or rich site of theoretical and cultural inquiry, LACONIA invites the skeptic to imagine otherwise and to take seriously the nano-caesuras between times, thoughts, and insights as an urgent, dynamic, and desperately needed critical space. In this way, LACONIA's logic functions as a proposition: one which accepts the challenge as described by filmmaker Su Friedrich where 'the challenge comes in trying to push film beyond its usual narrative capacities--so that the form takes as many risks as the content.' Tupitsyn accepts the challenge and makes a mosaic out of risky critique.'" ~ Lara Mimosa Montes, Puerto del Sol Magazine
"There is a useful but not very respected mode of criticism — lets call it micro-criticism — that is made possible by the Internet," writes Girish Shambu in an entry inspired, at least in part, by the ongoing Project: New Cinephilia. "[W]hen it is practiced well, it can be valuable, insightful, and forward-looking, while working in small, daily, and humble ways. His focus, of course, is on Facebook and Twitter and the subtle yet vital differences between the kinds of critical discourse each enables, and he eventually works his way into a quote from Raymond Durgnat: "The business of criticism seems to me matters arising, and naturally varies from film to film. Id rather be wrong but open up a perspective than be right, i.e., dismiss opportunities for the full, intellectual, sensual, emotional experience of reflective hesitation." The emphasis is Girishs, and he adds, "I think theres a lesson here for Internet micro-criticism. The short, succinct form of tweets or Facebook status updates furnishes a useful freedom — to record observations, try out ideas, hazard lines of analysis, risk hypotheses, identify contradictions, think laterally rather than linearly, all in a spirit of reflective hesitation.
As examples of just a few of micro-criticisms "gifted practitioners," he points to the Twitter feeds of Michael Sicinski, Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, Steven Shaviro and Mike DAngelo, a selection I, too, will whole-heartedly endorse. And as always at Girishs place, the comments that follow are thought-provoking. Srikanth Srinivasan, for example, ventures a comparison between tweets and the aphorisms with which Godard punctuates his films, adding, "To paraphrase Dan North: Bresson would have tweeted Notes on Cinematography if he was alive. When grappling with any new form of writing (or, for that matter, any new form of art-making), theres always an impulse to feel out correlations between the new thing and whats been written (or made) before, and youll find more than a few examples in reviews of Masha Tupitsyns LACONIA: 1200 Tweets on Film, a new title out from Zer0 Books, the British publishing house thats given us Mark Fishers Capitalist Realism, Owen Hatherleys Militant Modernism and Steven Shaviros Post Cinematic Affect.
~ David Hudson, Mubi.com
"Reading Masha Tupitsyn’s LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film, you make notes in the margin in the same aphoristic manner as the content. I came to LACONIA cynically and sceptically. I was suspicious of the delegation of content’s role to form; that by tweeting about film Tupitsyn was hoping that this device would hold far more than it should: the burden and necessity of argument. Because the form itself already made oblique comment on the subject at hand, the content was relieved of its obligation to be rigorously argued. Yet somehow the opposite is true, content sweeps up form, and LACONIA creates a rigor all its own, a remarkable series of tumbling thoughts through and about visual culture. At points it is quite stunning. They carry over to one another, reflect, argue with one another. The potential problems of this sort of formal construction – that each tweet would be isolated, irrelevant to anything beyond itself, a casual observation that has no particular interest or quality – dissolve as you read. Because you read. You make narratives, connections. Including Tupitsyn herself."
~ Mark West, Glasgow Review of Books
"The 1200 tweets that constitute Masha Tupitsyns LACONIA are, each one, an aphorism in a bottle set adrift into the midst of all the other crisscrossing messages that movies and the media universe have spawned and continually and more or less blindly emit. Everything is happening in real time – not recollected in tranquility but intercepted in passing – even when the messages emanate from the deep past or (perhaps) a future around the next bend. Its a collage of the present moment, a continuous and unyielding dialogue, open-ended and alert to the barrage of signals that has become our home."
~ Geoffrey O'Brien, Author of The Fall of the House of Walworth, Phantom Empire, Dream Time, and Hardboiled America.
"In Masha Tupitsyn’s extraordinary new book of cultural criticism through film criticism, LACONIA: 1200 Tweets on Film, the use of the tweet-form dramatizes the kinds of remembering and thinking at stake in contemporary social media and the culture it informs and is informed by. How can we begin today to think about the relationship between virtual memory and cultural memory; between digital memory and embodied memory? So much of what is moving in Tupitsyn’s criticism is her way of locating, animating, and mourning the loss of the material, the loss of texture, the loss of the real—where material, texture and realness are qualities as spiritual and moral as they are embodied; where fidelity to those qualities can be a way of calling out a culture of violent alienation and commodification. The idea of a radiant wholeness only elusively possible through fragments is an apt way of thinking about LACONIA. This is the the political context of both his mournful idealism and his recourse to the fragment; LACONIA‘s context is comparable. The book’s radical and engaged nostalgia is also a radical and engaged anger, indignance and grief. What has been lost? And what can be recovered?
What interests me with LACONIA’s use of the tweet-form is not only its engagement with the kind of memory storage made possible (and impossible) by such social media, but also the way in which the form itself—its immediacy, its succinctness, its outreach—can be used in thoughtful and subversive ways. Rather than respond to the corruption of brevity with a long-form book or essay, LACONIA does something more provocative; it takes brevity back. So that the wit, clarity and concision of the short form are organized around, rallied around, the kind of criticism that currently feels as sorely needed as it is sometimes sorely lacking: a deeply feminist criticism, invested in the personal and the interpersonal (and their burgeoning degradation at the hands of individualist and capitalist culture), a profound attention to how dehumanizing and exploitative gender relations and equally dehumanizing and exploitative systems of production manifest themselves in popular representation—and perhaps most of all, an attention to attention...LACONIA is testament to the daily, hourly, minute-by-minute act (each fragment time-stamped and dated) of what Susan Sontag called paying attention to the world."
~ Elaine Castillo, Big Other
"Masha Tupitsyns LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film considers the question of intimacy and visual culture at large through the private/public sphere of the internet. LACONIA is a fascinating experiment in both form and thought, creating what cultural theorist Lauren Berlant would call an intimate public: What makes a public sphere intimate is an expectation that the consumers of its particular stuff already share a worldview and emotional knowledge that they have derived from a broadly common historical experience. A certain circularity structures an intimate public. LACONIA, written entirely on Twitter between April 2009 and June 2010, uses popular culture to a create a personal world. It stays focused and intimate; personal albeit public. Tupitsyn seeks to do what seems almost impossible--inhabiting the present moment to its fullest. The book calls to mind Blaise Pascal’s Pensées or Simone Weil’s Gravity and Grace, fragmented texts or aphorisms that are innately spiritual and political in nature. LACONIA, however, is not so much steeped in religious mysticism as much as it is a demystification of image, celebrity, and consumerism. It is at once diary, film criticism, and cultural collage. In a time when self-expression is a form of entertainment ready to be monetized by social networks, Tupitsyn asks: “In a performance culture like America, what happens if you’re not seen performing? Are you as good as dead?” Yet Tupitsyn is not performing for others; instead, she is draining the socialness out of Twitter, using these “small gestures” as a means to navigate her own poetic investigations."
~ Christine Hou, The Brooklyn Rail
"There was a time when the Duc de La Rochefoucaulds book of Reflections or Sentences and Moral Maxims accompanied me wherever I went. If the Duc were alive today, there is a very high likelihood he would be tweeting, his maxims anticipate Twitter...Ive read a couple of books consisting of email exchanges, both were dire, and I expected little from a collection of tweets published in book form. Masha Tupitsyns LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film is remarkable. Ostensibly a series of condensed thoughts on film and gender, Tupitsyns literary experiment expands into extended cultural commentary and diary. Masha Tupitsyn, like Geoff Dyer, writes with that tender attentiveness, and perceptive humour, that reveals truths."
~ Anthony Brown, Time's Flow Stemmed
"The first time I read Masha Tupitsyn’s name was on a book, Beauty Talk and Monsters, at Spoonbill and Sugartown in New York -- its cover was all white, red text, save a rainbow stare-you-down photo of lips and a nose, bound in crystals and washed in paint and light. How did it stare me down if it didn’t have eyes? I don’t know! But it did. I got a crush like I was in seventh grade and it was the cool girl in eighth. I got a crush on the prose, too. That look, that light at once sensitive and unflinching -- it turned out to be what I’ve loved first about all Tupitsyn’s books so far. Sure, it’s the spotlight and soft light of movie stars (she writes a lot about film, and feminism, fame and nostalgia), but it’s also one of rhetoric, and love, and what comes of being driven towards obsessions till you see their bones. Her “I” is at once intimate and everyone, vibrating and rooted and glitchy. Tupitsyn dedicated her latest book, LACONIA: 1200 Tweets on Film, to the film critic Robin Wood, a writer known for elegantly lasered analysis, as well as his refusal to split that analysis from the personal and political. LACONIA is of a feather, and not gimmickly so at all -- it’s a prismatic mix of head and heart, love and death, onscreen and off, plus the gem notes of Joubert, the tightness of LeWitt’s geometry. It’s so chiseled that at first I wished Tupitsyn’d let herself laugh a little more (so what if Hot Tub Time Machine’s a little goofball?) but then I realized she just wasn’t wasting any of her 140 characters, just wasn’t using any to waffle or acquiesce, as folks so often do on the Internet. I finished it in a rush, with a rush, then got to ask her a few questions by e-mail, from Chicago to New York."
~ Mairead Case, Bookslut
"...Heres a great example of good mini-criticism from Masha Tupitsyns book, LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film: Eastern Promises & A History Violence are twin parables: one film looks at violence from the outside in and the other from the inside out. Thats something worth thinking about as you examine how the two films work."
~ Jim Emerson, Scanners/Suntimes.com
"When I first read Masha Tupitsyn’s hybrid-genre book Beauty Talk & Monsters (Semiotexte, 2007), I was completely floored by it. So I was excited to read her new book LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film (ZerO Books)—a book of aphoristic film and media commentary written in the spirit of cultural observers like Chris Marker. There is something beautiful about Masha Tupitsyns way of “reading” culture, how she honors the connections and resonances of the media she encounters, the way it is processed, assimilated and re-invented when it is filtered through her perception; intermingling with specific memories and preoccupations. Tupitsyn integrates the subjective and the critical in a way that demonstrates the specificity of our encounters with media. Both Beauty Talk and LACONIA could be described as a literary approach to film criticism, but it’s also fitting to describe the works as a cinematic approach to literary writing. In Beauty Talk, narrative and a criticism are tightly interwoven. As stories, the essays are stunning; as critical analysis, sharp. Tupitsyns recent book LACONIA reminds me of the ways in which the viewer is also a meaning-maker, a participant critic...Good cultural criticism is difficult to do. On one hand, you don’t want to sound like a dogmatic Frankfurt School elitist decrying the baseness of all things popular. But you also don’t want to lapse into a mindless valorization of capitalism-guised-as-subversion. Both types of readings use a highly “motivated” (dare I say, ideologically-driven) lens to look at culture in ways that reduce, schematize, and mold texts, allowing for the loss of nuance or the jamming of media into certain theoretical frameworks. It’s true—there are no unmotivated readings, but there are readings that are more thoughtful than others, and I strongly feel that Masha Tupitsyns commentary on film accomplishes what a lot of contemporary cultural criticism fails to do— it’s accessible while still being complex, philosophical while being specific; it strikes a balance between the subjective and the social in its approach. Her perspective is totally singular and specific to her way of looking without making you feel bludgeoned by some kind of Critic Ego. By the end of the book, you actually do get a feel for the architecture of Masha Tupitsyns thinking...The only criticism I find really compelling is the kind that incorporates subjectivity, the kind that is built around the idea that the reader-writer of culture is a conduit through which media is filtered. The body that the media travels through, the marvelous specificity of Tupitsyns entire being and the sum of her lived experiences, cannot be ignored. What is to be gained from disregarding the relationship between the artist and their art?"
~ Jackie Wang, HTML Giant
"I admire Masha Tupitsyns LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film, which as far as I know is the first book of film criticism composed entirely on Twitter. Not the novelty stunt some might suspect it of being, the book shows Tupitsyn engaging in earnest with the platform, seeing how far and deep she can take the quality of movie writing in 140 characters or less (at times breaking that limit with reflections spanning several tweets)...Pointedly, Tupitsyn’s project is utterly solitary, even while conducted in a public sphere. It seeks to renegotiate the boundaries of public and private that social media has left in utter disarray. There are plenty of nuggets to be found among this virtual micro-film journal spanning from April 2009 to June 2010. LACONIA is not only a chronicle of film viewings but of film culture itself, which Tupitsyn tears into for its promulgation of utter superficiality – pretty damn ironic given the medium she’s using for her message...LACONIA is as much a documentary snapshot of the symptoms of our lives and times as it is a genuine effort to elevate them to a plane of true reflection."
~ Kevin B. Lee, Fandor.com
In LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Films, Masha Tupitsyn explores the curious intersection of the print tradition of books and the micronarrative model of Twitter. The project is essentially an experiment that appropriates the forms of social media — soundbites, fragmented commentary, quotes, condensed reactions — in a work of film criticism that preserves the cultural purpose of the genre but divorces it from its traditional medium of essayistic narrative. What makes Tupitsyn’s project exceptional, however, is that it reverse-engineers the now-familiar frameworks of Twitter anthologies — unlike Tweets from Tahrir, for instance, which sought to capture of a slice of the social narrative about the Egyptian revolution by culling tweets after the fact, Tupitsyn’s approach put the intention of the book before the composition of each tweet, so that every tweet was deliberately crafted with the larger narrative in mind. Rather than a cohesive analysis of one idea at length, however, that narrative instead connects dots across diverse sources and constructs a mosaic of cultural patterns that explore the relationships between films. At its heart, the book is as much about film itself as it is about how Tupitsyn thinks about film in the age of infinite connectivity and on a platform that has more in common with poetry than with prose. LACONIA is an ingenious experiment in fragmented film criticism."
~ Maria Popova, Brain Pickings
"More and more, I read in pieces. So do you. Digital media, in all its forms, is fragmentary. Even the longest stretches of text online are broken up with hyperlinks or other interactive elements (or even ads). This is neither a good nor bad thing, necessarily — it is simply a part of modern reading. And because of that, works that deal with fragmentation, that eschew not only a traditional narrative structure but the very idea of a work comprising a single, linear whole — take on a special kind of relevance. Fragmentary writing is (or at least feels) like the one avant-garde literary approach that best fits our particular moment. It’s not that it’s the only form of writing that matters of course, just that it captures the tension between “digital” and “analog” reading better than anything else out there. And that tension, in many ways, is the defining feature of the contemporary reading experience...The most interesting use of the digital platform that I’ve seen is Masha Tupitsyns (print) book Laconia: 1,200 Tweets on Film, which she composed entirely on Twitter. The end result, however, is presented not as a mere assembly of Tweets, but as an experiment in form. As she explains in the introduction, “I avoided tweeting arbitrarily or simply churning out a collection of tweets that would result in a book. Instead, I wrote and crafted each entry as though it was for and part of a book, rather than the other way around.” One of Nicholas Carr’s great worries about the digital realm is the way it appropriates and changes print forms. As he explains [in The Shallows], “When the Net absorbs a medium, it re-creates that medium in its own image.” With Laconia, Tupitsyn attempts the reverse, re-creating a digital medium (Twitter) in an “analog” space. In a sense, Tupitsyn is appropriating a digital space into print.
What’s especially interesting about that appropriation is the way she toys with Twitter’s 140-character limit. Often, she will break multi-tweet passages abruptly, calling attention to the platform’s tendency toward fragmentation. But by breaking them so abruptly, by taking Twitter’s “hard” character count so literally and writing right up until it is reached, Tupitsyn underlines the digital origin of the project....Tupitsyn plays a similar trick with the book’s content. Though the book is ostensibly a work of film criticism, it does not contain anything that resembles a conventional movie review. Instead, it appropriates what social media specializes in — quotations, personal reactions, biographical revelations, and commentary about pop culture — and turns them into something more ambitious. The different fragments are not so much about film as they are about how Tupitsyn watches film. As she puts it, the book dramatizes the act of thinking through film…"
~ Guy Patrick Cunningham , The Millions
"LACONIA--1200 tweets linking everything from Fellini to Jaws--is no gimmick. Its complex and engaging: a minimalist flaneurie, a fantastic syllabus, and a way-smart rebellion to boot. Twitter is a device, not a short-cut--if Tupitsyn wants to say something wordier than 140 characters, she continues the thought in her next tweet, sometimes deliciously: "...and the media is the/shark." While Tupitsyn loops back to certain people and places--John Cusack, the 1980s, Oprah, New York--she doesnt use hash-tags or acronyms, and the tweets are reordered to read chronologically. So its a smooth read. And a beautiful book--about movies, sure, but also about privacy, feminism, and industry, all linked by an encyclopedic knowledge (covering not just films but cities, soundtracks, bodies) and a deep, un-syrupy nostalgia. Tupitsyn writes about movies she repeat-watches or just cant stomach, scenes that illuminate politics or fashion. She tells us about the time she spotted Monica Lewinsky waiting in line to see Secretary. She drops bulls-eye aphorisms. Everything is sharp, light-catching. By setting one dramatic observation on top of another, Tupitsyns using her medium--Twitter--as cleanly as possible. Shes building not a book, but a model, a solid matrix standing out against all the unedited online hullabaloo. In the end, the shape the dots make is dazzling. I read it twice, then went to the movies."
~ , Make/Shift Magazine: Feminisms in Motion
"The two towers under construction on the cover of Masha Tupitsyn’s latest book of and on film criticism are an explicit homage to Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, whose famous declaration that ‘architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together’ serves as the fittingly aphoristic model for Tupitsyn’s approach to constructing the book. Each of the 1,200 tweets that make up the edifice of LACONIA is a carefully placed brick, and the book itself, the authors explains, is ‘in essence, an architecture of thinking’...I’ve come to view those theoretical statements as the necessary foundations of LACONIA, the key to its becoming an object to think with...To evaluate Tupitsyn’s work solely as a printed book, with its comforting physicality and its rough edges, would be limiting, for LACONIA as a rhetorical experiment does indeed exist between media, in an interstice from where it interrogates writing, and writing about film more specifically, as a heuristic process...The practice of daily writing and the platform that enabled this sustained process (criticism as a form of living, as Tupitsyn calls it in the dedication to film critic Robin Wood) is the book’s true subject, and LACONIAs economy of expression – itself a counterpoint to the ritual complaints that the web in general and Twitter in particular are primary producers of meaningless chatter – becomes the lens through which to observe other acts of making culture. ‘What is it that we need to say and what is it that we don’t,’ asks Tupitsyn, and ‘how much “art” do we really need’ (2)? Regular readers will now just how fond I am of both of these questions."
~ Giovanni Tiso , A Weblog on Memory and Technology, May, 2011
"The sheer number of films and books to be encountered in Laconia is remarkable: 421, as indexed in order of appearance at the back of what is an extraordinary (and somehow unlikely) book: ‘1,200 Tweets on Film’ by film critic, cultural theorist and fiction writer Masha Tupitsyn. Tupitsyn’s 2007 book Beauty Talk and Monsters blended film criticism with fiction and memoir, not getting into any of those categorical wardrobes, but leaving them all wide open with the contents disturbed. Movies in Beauty Talk and Monsters are a part of the experience of reality, and reality as full of special effects and elaborate Hollywood trickery as any movie; both above all potent arenas for feminist critique and politics.
In many ways, Laconia continues this project, replacing the fictional framework of Beauty Talk and Monsters‘ with the structural scaffolding provided by Twitter. And the importance of their origin on Twitter makes itself strongly felt throughout the text; it’s a very different book to what 1,200 Aphorisms on Film would have been, for example. It’s impossible inLaconia to get away from the fact that this book forms just a part of the long stream-like text that Twitter users compose everyday, and beyond that the long text we’re all always writing with every utterance, every email etc, etc. There’s an awareness that the text is in the broadest sense a part of the culture it’s critiquing...With Laconia, Tupitsyn does for Twitter what Kevin Killian did for the Amazon review in his two-volume Selected Amazon Reviews. They’ve taken the structures and conventions of networking features on internet mega-sites and attuned and altered them into art forms and vehicles for their particular, nuanced, extraordinary artistic intelligences."
~ Colin Herd, 3 AM Magazine
"The 1200 tweets that constitute Masha Tupitsyn's LACONIA are, each one, an aphorism in a bottle set adrift into the midst of all the other crisscrossing messages that movies and the media universe have spawned and continually and more or less blindly emit. Everything is happening in real time – not recollected in tranquility but intercepted in passing – even when the messages emanate from the deep past or (perhaps) a future around the next bend. It's a collage of the present moment, a continuous and unyielding dialogue, open-ended and alert to the barrage of signals that has become our home." ~ Geoffrey O'Brien, Author of The Fall of the House of Walworth, Phantom Empire, Dream Time, and Hardboiled America.
"There's something about the way Masha Tupitsyn's mind works when she addresses gender and film. It's different from how pretty much all other contemporary feminist theorists do it. Amid so much detached deconstruction, Tupitsyn's criticism is refreshingly full of life. LACONIA, a document of Tupitsyn's public thoughts on film, is a stream of intimate, immediate, and specific reflections on movies, as well as a broad and sustained interrogation of things like whether we can any longer truly see corporatized cities like LA and NY other than in old movies, how to understand David Lynch's women, and whether there is any real possibility for connection in social media, or for that matter, in watching films." ~ Jessica Hoffman, Writer and co-editor, Make/Shift Magazine