L’homme orchestre (1900) - George Méliès
Multiple SIDosis (1970) - Sid Laverents
A french magician with his seven-fold exposure and an American vaudeville performer with multiple exposures and an Akai M8 , both performed a one-man band show in the light of cinema. The (mainstream)cinema is, more than ever, exploring the magic potential of moving image, playing tricks with CGI or creating spectacles with stereoscopy. While these old images are far less seamless than Brad Pitt’s head on the body of a baby, their incredible technique and a rawness remain inspiring.
Yesterday my husband sent me this video to watch. I watched it without knowing why or what to think, but of course my mind tried to fill in the blank and find out the, or a, meaning of this video. Maybe because I have been following a Chinese tv show about relationships, this animation of shapes looked like a triangle-relationship to me.
After he got home, he asked me, so? did you assign meaning to it?
Of course, I totally did.
Today, I read the following from Rudolf Arnheim’s Art and Visual Perception: A Psychology of the Creative Eye: …all properties of the objects must be “implicitly defined” by what can be seen. The objects convey no properties but the ones revealed perceptually by their behavior. A square at rest will not seem a center of attraction just because an observer, for some reason, assumes it to be such. This rule holds good even for situations in which knowledge supplements what is directly perceived. (edition 1974, p.397)
What a happy clash of knowledge.
Well, there is a difference between the video and Arnheim’s quote. Attaching a love story to the video is my consciousness at work, but it is a pure perceptual activity when we see a black square that remained still suddenly move, then we assume an inner drive. But both show that often times we get to decide what we see.
I took this picture of myself as I was enjoying the sun on the lawn outside La Cinémathèque Française. I just realized that I totally had Ron Mueck’s Drift (2009) in mind.
August and After (2012), Nathaniel Dorsky
The Dorsky program at Pompidou last night showed three films (in the screening order): August and After (2012), Song (2013), and April (2012). A Q&A followed afterwards.
As always, the screening was a love affair with cinema, and Dorsky was lovely and enlightening to listen to.
On the reason for using silent speed, 18 frames per second.
ND: because it’s the closest to the threshold of the solidity of cinema.
On movement and stillness.
ND: When there’s movement, the mind joins the movement. And when that movement suddenly arrested, or is replaced by stillness, the mind is left suspended off the edge of the cliff for a moment. So the film is actually articulating, allow the mind to join the image, to become seduced by the image, and then left hanging nowhere. In that nowhere the mind then resettles itself, like a dust. And when the mind resettles itself, you can open the mind again. So I am trying to work with a language which is very much in touch with the nature of mind.
On his own filmmaking.
ND: First of all, from my point of view, cinema is narrative. It existed in time like music, like dance. No matter how abstract it is. There is some narrative quality. Within the traditional avant-garde of cinema, it is a reaction against the narrative, in various ways. I don’t think it’s ultimately successful. I feel that the film is narrative, and it must unfold in a narrative fashion. The nature of narrative doesn’t necessarily have to represent a language-based theatrical idea. So obviously I choose the first shot. And then I allow the film itself to declare the second shot. I am more of a dog who makes the sheep move. I work with the shots. The progression happens at the needs of the shots, not my needs. I am kind of a judge. I say, ok, make your move. It’s not a chance operation. It’s chance plus intelligence. For instance, your own mind, your precious human mind, all day has to do your work for you. Worried about yourself, worried about everything, get things done. Can you imagine how boring it is for your mind to take care of your? So thank god you go to sleep, and your mind can have a good time. It’s like when you go out of your apartment, your cats go crazy. Actually I have upstair neighbors in San Francisco. Whenever they went out, they have two cats, they went crazy. I have never told on them. So this is an opportunity for the film itself to have its own needs. Not our needs, but its own needs.
On an artist and his/her place.
ND: You go to a place where you have only seen the art from that place, and suddenly you realize that that art is really of that place. For instance, when you come to France or Paris, you realize that Jacques Tati is a documentary filmmaker. It really is all that, the conflict between the extreme elegance and complete frustration. So in that sense, Jacques Tati is definitely a French filmmaker. So obviously I am from where I am. The quality of life, and everything. As far as why a particularly area of the city, I mean, why not? I go everywhere. Very very simple way, there are certain times you have a hunger to be downtown and see buildings, other times it’s the last thing you want.
ND: At this moment in the world history, the interface of what we call nature and human nature is at a very critical point. Obviously human nature is also nature. When you grow up you think you are a person, and we are people, and the rest is nature. But that’s impossible. We are nature. Nature is at a critical point now. We all know the story. I am very intrigued by the human nature and what we call nature, and how they touch each other. It’s funny when you are young, you think you are a person, and when you get old, you realize you are an animal. I am fascinated with that.
ND: These films are for you. In other words, they are not third person films where there is a character on the stage. You are the main character of these films. It’s the moment that you understand that you are the main character, the nobility (of you as a human) and everything starts to be very fruitful.
On sound and silence.
ND: If you were going to make a film without sound, the nature of the image has to be totally strong. If the screen is a representation of something, then the whole thing collapses. The screen itself must be a direct manifestation, then the sound is pushed aside, then the “is-ness” of cinema is present.
Big Joy: The Adventure of James Broughton (2013) - Stephen Silha, Eric Slade, Dawn Logsdon
Sunday Bloody Sunday (1971) - John Schlesinger
"Rien ne ressemble plus à ce qu’on appelle l’inspiration, que la joie avec laquelle l’enfant absorbe la forme et la couleur…Mais le génie n’est que l’enface retrouvée à volonté…" ( Nothing more resembles what we call inspiration than the delight with which a child absorbs form and colour…But genius is nothing more nor less than childhood reserved at will.) - Charles Baudelaire, « Le Peintre de la vie moderne » (1893)
Plant (2012) by OpenEndedGroup
Traces of thousands of images, traces of a grand urban site, traces of the past, traces of human experience.
Blue (1993) by Derek Jarman
79 minutes of blue with an incredible aural field. The last film by Derek Jarman, made when he was almost completely blind and dying of AIDS.
Possibly the film that requires the most active viewing. And possibly the film that best represents what Merleau-Ponty suggested, cinema is a phenomenological art.
L’arrivée (1997/1998) by Peter Tscherkassky
35mm cinemascope, b/w, 2:09 min
Tscherkassky’s hommage to the Lumière brothers.
The arrival of image. The arrival of love.
我11/Eleven Flowers (2012) by Wang Xiaoshuai
Zéro de conduite (1933) by Jean Vigo
As quiet, controlled and occasionally depressing as Eleven Flowers is, it reminded me of Jean Vigo’s Zéro de conduite (Zero for Conduct) and François Truffaut’s Les quatre cents coups (The 400 Blows) at multiple moments. The boy charm in Eleven Flowers is only sporadic, but to me it’s so important. It is the light that forever shines on our childhood.