Masha Tupitsyn is the author of LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film (ZerO Books, 2011), Beauty Talk & Monsters, a collection of film-based stories (Semiotext(e) Press, 2007), and co-editor of the anthology Life As We Show It: Writing on Film (City Lights, 2009), which was voted one of the best film books of 2009 by Dennis Cooper, January Magazine, Shelf Awareness, and Chicago’s New City. Her new book, Love Dog, a multi-media art book, is forthcoming with Penny-Ante Editions in May 2013. She is also working on a new collection of essays on film and culture, Screen to Screen. Her fiction and criticism has appeared in the anthologies The American Tetralogy (2013), Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology (2012), The Encyclopedia Project Volume II, F-K (2010), and Wreckage of Reason: XXperimental Women Writers Writing in the 21st Century (2008), as well as the journals The White Review, The New Inquiry, Fence, Bookforum, Berfrois, Sex Magazine, Anobium, Two Serious Ladies, the poet Ali Liebegott’s Faggot Dinosaur, Keyframe, Specter Magazine, BOMB Blog, Boing Boing, Indiewire’s Press Play, Venus Magazine, The Rumpus, 2nd Floor Projects, Animal Shelter, The Fanzine, Make/Shift, NYFA, Vertebrae, and San Francisco’s KQED’s The Writer’s Block. She has written video essays on film and culture for Ryeberg Curated Video http://ryeberg.com/search/masha+tupitsyn, which features writers like Mary Gaitskill and Sheila Heti. In 2011, she wrote a radio play for Performa 11, Time for Nothing, the New Visual Art Performance Biennial in conjunction with Frieze Magazine. She is a (ABD) PhD candidate in Philosophy and Media Studies at The European Graduate School in Switzerland.
On Love Dog:
In 2011, Masha Tupitsyn published LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film, the first book of film criticism written entirely on Twitter. LACONIA experimented with new modes of writing and criticism, updating traditional literary forms and practices like the aphorism and the fragment. Re-imagining the wound-and-quest story, the love narrative, and the female subject in love in the digital age, Love Dog is the second installment in Masha Tupitsyn’s series of immaterial writing. Written as a multi-media blog and inspired by Roland Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse and Mourning Diary—a couple in Tupitsyn’s mind—Love Dog is an art book that is part love manifesto, part philosophical notebook, part digital liturgy.
On LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film:
If the sound bite is the new order, then how do we make every word count? In today’s surplus world of communication overload and cultural clutter, writer and cultural critic Masha Tupitsyn turns to the media matrix of Twitter to explore the changing ways that we construct and consume narrative. Loosely applying the discerning aphorism—a compressed genre in itself—to a 21st century context, LACONIA: 1,200 TWEETS ON FILM _ offers meditations on film and popular culture that resonant with laconic meaning and personal insight while getting to the heart of the matter. Inspired by Chris Marker’s free-associative film impressions in _La Jetee and Sans Soleil, LACONIA is part film diary, part cultural inventory, and part mashup. Pulling from an array of film, popular culture, books, and mainstream news, it offers penetrating critical commentary on an increasingly muddled virtual world. LACONIA consists of brick by brick prose, as Tupitsyn thinks in sentences and lines that culminate in an architecture of thinking.
“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
“When I first read Masha Tupitsyn’s hybrid-genre book Beauty Talk & Monsters I was completely floored by it. So I was excited to read her new book LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film —a book of aphoristic film and media commentary written in the spirit of cultural observers like Chris Marker. There is something beautiful about Masha Tupitsyn’s 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. Tupitsyn’s recent book LACONIA reminds me of the ways in which the viewer is also a meaning-maker, a participant critic.”
“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: A Tale of Madness and Murder in Gilded Age , America, Hardboiled America: Lurid Paperbacks And The Masters Of Noir, The Phantom Empire: Movies in the Mind of the 20th Century.
“LACONIA—1200 Tweets linking everything from Fellini to Jaws—is no gimmick. It’s complex and engaging: a minimalist flaneurie, a fantastic syllabus, and a way-smart rebellion to boot. Twitter is a device, not a short-cut…LACONIA is 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 can’t stomach, scenes that illuminate politics or fashion. She drops bull’s-eye aphorisms. Everything is sharp, light-catching. By setting one dramatic observation on top of another, Tupitsyn’s using her medium—Twitter—as cleanly as possible. She’s 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 sheer number of films and books to be encountered in LACONIA: 1,200 Tweets on Film 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 & 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 & 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: 1,200 Tweets on Film continues this project, replacing the fictional framework of Beauty Talk & 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 in Laconia 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.”
-3 AM Magazine
“…to write cultural criticism is necessarily to write back to cultural memory… [LACONIA’s] 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?
…The crucial difference between the virtual and the material is at the heart of LACONIA. 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 (“abolish film, make it impossible to shoot in film”)—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… [LACONIA offers] 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.”
“…The walls between the novel and the notebook are falling, and some of the most interesting current writing, like Reza Negarestani’s Cyclonopedia, gleefully razes any barriers between the two. Masha Tupitsyn seems to be attempting to do the same for the barriers between the notebook and the essay. This is why her decision to make the book different from the Twitter feed, or her acceding to the inevitability of its difference, is so conceptually interesting. LACONIA: 1,200 on Tweets on Film, highlights the new limits of the material book. Further it highlights how limits are not inherent to a form, but are evoked and changed over time. The material book can only wade so far into the sea of digital information and, like any swimmer who has just come ashore, it looks a bit exposed. Many of Tupitsyn’s tweets concern this fragility, caused by overabundance. Films that slip away from popular awareness, which exist but don’t affect. And of course the very format selected, 120 minutes on screen, years of human labour off, concentrated into an 140 character observation, requiring seconds to write and seconds to read, furthers this sense of fragile super-abundance. In our historical moment, we are re-realising the fragility of writing as we simultaneously re-realise that the prevailing ideology is also a fragile actuality, created by daily human action, rather than an unchangeable fundamental of existence…LACONIA and Ai Weiwei’s Blog are early attempts to combine the two worlds, and their keen insights and great strengths point not just to our current situation, but also to the uncertainties of the future.”
-Jonathan Anderson, Glasgow Review of Books
“Masha Tupitsn’s 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.”
-The Brooklyn Rail
“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.”
-Glasgow Review of Books
On Beauty Talk & Monsters
Masha Tupitsyn’s Beauty Talk & Monsters is a debut collection of stories told through the movies. Equally influenced by Brian De Palma and Kathy Acker, Tupitsyn revisits the ruins of a childhood and youth nurtured on the fringe of the glittering lower Manhattan art world and the Atlantic haven of Provincetown in the 1980s. Moving fluidly through space, time, and a range of cinematic frameworks, Tupitsyn cuts through the cynical glamour and illusion of Hollywood to a soft, secret heart. Her narrator, a female loner and traveler, is caught in the maelstrom of films and images, where life is experienced through the eye of a camera lens and seen through the light on the screen. In a precise and elegant style, Beauty Talk & Monsters embraces and confronts a lineage of familiar myths and on- and off-screen cinematic excess in order to challenge the silver screen’s century of power over our dreams and ideals. Intimate and intellectual, Tupitsyn’s stories play with the cinema’s most popular icons and images.
“Masha Tupitsyn, a film critic and former assistant literary editor of BOMB Magazine, tosses her never-quite-named (but seemingly consistent) female narrator between ages, cities and especially men in this lovely, unconventional debut, but gives her an unalloyed solace in the form of cinema. As the book moves from vignette-like monologue to monologue, the men vary in their words and looks-one is “many versions of earth tones,” another is “sneaky and bony…the color of a sweet potato”-but almost always do the same thing: leave. The narrator’s salvation and distraction are consistently found in film: she sees one lover through the prism of Mean Streets; wonders if her neediness equates her to the shark in Jaws; and riffs on the macho pull of Jack Nicholson or potential insecurities of Tom Cruise. She’s also fascinated with the idea of beauty and societal perceptions of women, famous and not, and shares her thoughts on cultural touchstones like Nicole Kidman’s aesthetic trajectory (once “a feral garden, now a sewing kit”). Other pieces here deftly blend real and imagined Hollywood, film theory and thematic narrative, as in “Kleptomania,” where the narrator looks on as Judy Garland, Diane Keaton and Tippi Hedren’s Hitchcock character, “Marnie,” compare notes on their lives in a bar. The more experimental pieces will be buttery popcorn for silver-screen junkies, but the more traditional, detail-rich stories (like “The Ghost of Berlin”) make a narrator who’s waiting for “someone or something to stick” memorable.
“The experience of reading Beauty Talk & Monsters is humid, intimate, and juicy; like spying through a window at a neighbor’s television set, it provides both the voyeuristic pleasure of watching a stranger’s activity and the familiar flicker of a well-known film, now playing in a stranger’s psyche.”
— Michelle Tea, San Francisco Bay Chronicle
“Masha Tupitsyn is a poet of the short story, with a poet’s resources, an eye, an ear, a sense of rhythm both internal and external. Her tales have the brevity of Isak Dinesen’s, but seem somehow strategically cut off from the sense of the centuries with which we experience Dinesen’s Gothic world…Above all else Tupitsyn is a stylist and at her best a superb one.”
—Kevin Killian, author of Impossible Princess, Little Men, and Argento Series
“This stunning book is a reckoning with what it is to have been raised with the movies, to not be able to tell the difference anymore between what we’ve fantasized or dreamt of, what we’ve been frightened of, what may have been our own or no one’s life.”
—Rebecca Brown, author of The End of Youth and The Haunted House
“Here is a festival of meaning! Masha Tupitsyn does not meditate on the movies—she reactivates them in an uproar of image, desire, and identification. Her stories are acts of discovery, written under the sign of Kathy Acker, ambitious for literature itself, the prose pitched high.”
—Robert Glück, author of Jack the Modernist and Denny Smith
“In her debut collection, Masha Tupitsyn is at her best when recalling emotional disaster, and when she aligns herself to this end, with strategies of Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus.”
— Jeanine Herman, BOMB
“Masha Tupitsyn’s debut collection is a breathtaking mixture of tall tale and autobiography, film theory and lover’s lament, traveler’s diary and gender treatise. A novel-in-parts disguised as a bootleg memoir crossed with a Hollywood tell-all, Beauty Talk & Monsters dares us to ask if there is a point to reliability when a shifty narrator can provide so much obsessive insight…. Beauty Talk & Monsters has a shimmering intimacy.”
— Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, Bookslut
“Beauty Talk & Monsters is in part a meditation on the symbiotic pleasures and impositions of intellectual exile—at once an indictment and a celebration—a poetic expression of voluntary solitude which questions what it means to hole up inside yourself, to resist the roles you’ve been assigned and the thoughts you’re conditioned to accept as your own, and to willfully separate from the disappointment of other people without losing your engagement in and appraisal of the world around you…. The one thin line Tupitsyn maintains is that between on-screen and off-screen. Pop culture is subject, theme, character, and plot in her work, which takes American media as a narrative foundation.”
—Brian Pera, The Fanzine
On Life As We Show It:
“Feminist critic and award-winning fiction writer Masha Tupitsyn and filmmaker/writer Brian Pera edit this dynamic collection of essays, short stories, and poetry that plays with the trope that life imitates art by asking: if movie-watching has become in itself a primary source of experiencing the world, what kind of movies are our lives imitating? A diverse group of acclaimed thinkers, including Lynne Tillman, Rebecca Brown, Wayne Koestenbaum, and Stephen Beachy, address topics ranging from the public death of gay porn star Joey Stefano to classic Hollywood Westerns, _ E.T., _ and Josef Von Sternberg. Life As We Show It provides a provocative and thoughtful perspective on the relationship between film and watcher and the experience of viewing life through screen-colored glasses.”
Other contributors include: Robert Gluck, Maggie Nelson, Fanny Howe, Claudia Rankine, David Trinidad, Lidia Yuknavitch, Veronica Gonzalez, Kevin Killian, Myriam Gurba, Abdellah Taïa, Tisa Bryant, and Dodie Bellamy.”
“An engrossing collection of fiction, memory, and observation that shifts the creative prerogative from the producers of cinema to the imaginative life of its consumers, from the site of spectacle to the dream life of the spectator, from the writerly to the readerly (and Roland Barthes would surely cheer)”
-Todd Haynes, director of Mildred Pierce, Velvet Goldmine, Far From Heaven, I’m Not There, and Poison
“These passionate, vibrant essays, fragments and meditations burrow energetically into a rich and underexplored subject-how movies intersect with and interfere with and alter and define and sometimes even become our autobiographies. Staking out its turf in the netherland where film criticism meets personal history, _ Life As We Show It _ is by turns poignant and raunchy, heartfelt and creepy, and almost always provocative and inspiring. You’ll leave its pages with a long list of movies to watch and rewatch, and a wealth of new ways to look at them.”
-Mark Harris, author of _Pictures at a Revolution: Five Movies and the Birth of The New Hollywood
“Even in this age of universal cool, we’re just as smitten by the movies as the kids who went to see them fifty, sixty, eighty years ago. Indeed, we may be even deeper into them than people used to be; for, as America disintegrates, and our real world(s) collapse and disappear, the movies, more and more, don’t just stand out more vividly among our other memories, but permeate those memories, merge with them, become them; so that it’s getting harder to be sure exactly where the movies stop and you begin. So how, in so bewildering a borderland, does one write truthfully about the movies? In this rapturous anthology, many writers demonstrate the possibilities, making bold forays across generic borders of all kinds. Life As We Show It offers dazzling passages of memoir, drama, poetry, fiction and film history, philosophical suggestion and delirious analysis, and other writings that defy a handy name. Thus this remarkable collection helps us see where both we and the movies are today, and where we’re going.”
-Mark Crispin Miller, Professor Media, Culture and Communication at NYU and author of Boxed In: The Culture of TV and Seeing Through Movies