Sunday, May 23, 2010
by Raul Garcia
Here's a clip of the sequence (shot starts at :57):
By combining this narrative reveal with the superbly executed long take and flow of visuals, music, sounds, and dialogue, Tarkovsky achieves that ebb and flow of action-oriented plot, pure contemplation and reflection, but also formless movement through the motif of the water. In examples like this it is more of a challenge to connect action and perception with time and sensation because the two extremes naturally remove one from the other. By condensing these opposing forces into small sequences/shots a filmmaker can really induce powerful affects in the viewer.
Password is deleuze
Here is the full video of what I showed in class regarding my project attempting to depict examples of movement-images becoming time-images and vise versa. This particular experiment is a collection of 9 frames arranged next to each other in a grid. Six of the frames I chose are examples of classical movement-images that are related not only to mobility, but also to modern transportation. I wanted to use the earliest known infatuations with movement such as distinct POV shots that embodied movement of character. In these types of shots the sense of movement is easily achieved through the changing scenery as it relates to the mobile unit; however, it can also be accomplished by showing a mobile object approaching the stationary viewer as is the case in the classical example of a distant train gradually approaching a station. These would be considered forms of perception-image, which is a subset of the movement-image.
Two of the other frames I utilized are images of household chores: a laundry machine and a sink of dirty dishes being washed. While these aren’t conventional action-images they do create a feeling of movement in the sense that the viewer/character is moving towards the completion of something (i.e. the finished load of laundry and the clean sink respectively). The final frame I used is the one most closely resembling a time-image. It begins with a close-up of leaves on a tree blowing in the wind and gradually zooms out to reveal a larger environment. Later on in the shot we see a character walk through the space where we get a sense of body as it relates to environment (a-la Antonioni), which again is a form of perception-image.
With this collection of movement-image frames I tried to morph them into one whole time-image. The key for me was to transpose the affection of the images into a cumulative experience. With the movement-images we are more concerned with perception, specifically optical perception, while with the time-image we are more concerned with sensation; a more tactile and visceral response from the viewer that evokes a feeling of time and duration.
As the piece develops and we introduce more frames I think the collection of familiar images creates a “new” image when viewed together as one. By doing this we do indeed take the movement-images of everyday perception (which we can relate to the narrative of our daily lives) and mold it into a future image (or the potential and the virtual) that allows the audience to construct some sort of meaning from them (which can be a more poetic interpretation of our routine existence).
Despite some success there were several problems with this experiment. To begin, the captured sounds required an investment of more time in the mastering of the sound to artificially smooth out the soundscape. The main problem was that some of the sounds stood out more than others and even though their audio levels were lowered accordingly, they still managed to pierce through the collective orchestra of clicking and clanging by nature of their unique timbre and high familiarity (the subway sounds were difficult to assimilate). The experiment also required more diverse environments/sounds. I think I overly used cars and trains in the different frames. I should’ve thought about using footage of boats, planes, and bicycles to provide more variation in the images.
In addition, this juxtaposition of movement-images would’ve been more successful had they been in context of a greater whole or narrative. If all the frames depicted a group a characters en route to rendezvous somewhere, I think this collection of images would’ve successfully taken the audience from an image of a sensory-motor schema to an image of pure optical and sonic sensation that lends itself to reflection and contemplation, which would’ve take the audience from an action-image to a time-image.
Password is deleuze
This is an example of one of the long take experiments I conducted for my project suggesting the interchangeability between action-image and time-image in a filmic setting. In this example I attempted to achieve this feat by seamlessly altering the audience's perspective from a vicarious viewer (through the eyes of the onscreen character) to an independent viewer. Deleuze mentions in Cinema 2 that in the time-image "the character within the film becomes a viewer".(1) This long take attempted to emphasize the vacillating perceptions/contemplations between both the viewer and the character (acting as both viewer and non-viewer). The main idea was to morph this continuous shot from a time-image (e.g. disjointed images, a contemplative character/viewer, etc.) to an action-image (e.g. the character reacting to a noise, eye line matches, etc.).
I think this particular experiment accomplishes the movement from POV perception to character perception within the space affectively. We get that sensation when the camera moves from the close-up of the book to a close-up of the character’s face looking off in the distance, which is then followed by a slow motion pan to scenery that is out of focus. I was trying to move from a action-image that directly reflects the perception of the character to a time-image where we see the character perceiving the space and also contemplating. The movement back to a quasi-POV by way of the pan was designed to visually display the change of perception as a result of the contemplative character. When our minds are meandering (or in a smooth state) we are less perceptive to detail; hence, the images become out of focus (both literally and figuratively in this case).
I think we also get a good sense of action-image becoming time-image when the character’s reading session is suddenly interrupted by the off screen noise of a car skidding. This aural disturbance triggers an action in the character that demands a different viewing experience from the viewer. Furthermore, the noise is sandwiched between two moments of reflection as the character views text and images evoking nature, while at the same time experiencing nature firsthand through time, duration, and perception.
(1) Deleuze, Gilles Cinema 2 p.3
Saturday, May 22, 2010
And what is not happening in most of contemporary art is the content. One of its greatest embodiments is the phenomenon of a "project in process" or a "work in progress" that is never brought to an end. Moreover, never intended to be finished. And for the big majority of them, this has nothing to do with Deleuzian becoming. Good art deals with the world's illness, its symptoms and sometimes even heals it. Bad art is just another symptom of the illness. Such is this type of "work-in-progress" art. It reflects the illusion of the movement in our control society. By constantly changing the names of the positions or multiplying their numbers, it creates the illusion of the actual change in positions or of their qualities. Our contemporary world is abundant with constant insisting upon "activity" – people's working hard, people's moving fast, people's working fast, and moving, moving, moving. No digesting. It leaves us doomed to the catharsis through the Hollywood film, which is carefully controlled. You are not allowed to take a pause and contemplate – possibly to think of an observation, impression or emotion thoroughly, throughout your being and from that come up with a genuine movement. Because that way you will create a thing with a content – with a meaning, a story, an emotion – a "human" element, that has changed yourself and then may affect the others, therefore is able of provoking a change. But the system has never desired a change. So it keeps (and this "it" is made up of us – it becomes you and I as soon as we agree to become lazy) spreading the word that we are moving – what it is actually is doing is pushing to the extreme until it reaches its opposite – a numb and mute immobility that is not even aware of itself. All that while "it" keeps patting us on the back for our pseudo-movements… as long as there is no content, no essence – in a word, no threat. And try protesting for real. Sooner or later you'll realize you've been bleeding, but internally.
But to bleed with a purpose and full awareness is a choice. It is Achilles' choice understood as a rejection of a comfortable and commodified life not for the sake of the name, but of the ideal mediated through a piece of art only to be re-embedded in an interlocutor that will further reshape it, play with it and carry it into some other space, time and dimension. It is for the sake of being alive and involved in this world. Because, you're going to bleed out anyway.
The form of an artwork issues from a negotiation with the intelligible, which is bequeathed to us. Through it, the artist embarks upon a dialogue. The artistic practice thus resides in the invention of relations between consciousness. Each particular artwork is a proposal to live in a shared world, and the work of every artist is a bundle of relations with the world, giving rise to other relations and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. (1)
I felt as though this helped to explain why my initial experience was not as interesting as my second visit to the exhibit. I realized that I did not fully allow a dialogue to take place with the art itself. I was too caught up in other things to have a full encounter with the art, and forgot to uphold my part of the relational art experience, thus was not able to fully engage with the work.
I was pleasantly surprised by how much I appreciated the coverage of the exhibit on the MOMA’s website. It definitely serves as an extension of the exhibit itself. I found that I have watched the live stream of the performance from time to time, and am always immersed in footage. I appreciate how we are able to access the website in order to reunite with the relational experiences that we first encountered at the exhibit. It also made me wonder at which point the interactive aspects of the website were incorporated into the exhibit overall (was this first considered by Abramovic during the initial conception of the exhibit, or was it primarily designed by the MOMA?).
- Stephanie Class
(1) Bourriaud, Nicholas. Relational Aesthetics. Pg. 22.
Obviously there have been a lot of generalizations made here, and my thoughts are merely my constantly evolving opinions on the subject. Many of these opinions do not apply to every indie film, of course. I think that overall my issue with indie films is that they have taken on an aesthetic style that is not always necessary or relevant for each film. They often try to emulate the stylistic choices of previous independent directors, thus somewhat disregarding the greatness the indie film’s ability to have more creative freedom than studio films.
- Stephanie Class
"It's the first self-replicating cell on the planet that's parent is a computer," says Venter, referring to the fact that his team converted a cell's genome that existed as data on a computer into a living organism.Of course, the soundbyte is a drastic oversimplification of what's really happened here, but at the same time, as a proof of concept, it's a significant step towards the broader introduction of artificial, technologically derived forms into organic life.
This specific experiment only used genetic information that had been read, stored, and then reproduced chemically, without intervention into the functional content of the code. In other words, this experiment does not mean that we are any closer to developing artificial genes or in any deliberate way adding to existing, naturally evolved genomes. What it does represent is the entrance of genetic content into the circuit of digital reproducibility, and as holds true from Hansen, processes of manipulation potentialized by digitization.
Over the past three decades, genetic information from various sources (most notably in the 1990–2003 Human Genome Project) has been actively processed and recorded in digital databases. Nearly all of this data is still meaningless to us as the process of correlating genetic data to any form or function within an organism is supremely challenging (hence the controversy when Venter tried to patent the human genome despite having no insight into the raw data to which he was laying claim).
This particular experiment, however, allows the potential for the automated development of genetic code along the lines of the automated production of pharmaceuticals (eg. combinatorial biosynthesis) which has been successfully applied for decades. Having developed a process of effectively "stitching together [a genome] from smaller stretches of DNA synthesised in the lab" from raw data, Venter's lab has essentially created a method for producing genetic versions of Frankenstein's monster, the difference being that billions of attempts could be efficiently made in order to arrive at one that actually thrives. While this technology remains as yet unapplied, one cannot help but wonder how this engagement of the digital and the genetic has already altered our status in the universe. As Siegfried Kracauer wrote in "Boredom", "Radio likewise vaporizes beings, even before they have intercepted a single spark."
So if both of these mediums engage the body, then what really sets them apart? For me, the answer is pretty straightforward. With video games, there is always an objective involved (as with all games). While the player is indeed creating and manipulating digital images by way of their bodily input, the manipulation of the image is only a byproduct of the objective of the player, and that is to complete the game, advance to the next level, save the princess, etc. The digital art that Hansen writes about is "objectiveless" for the viewer. Everyone can interact with these pieces in their own unique way and there is no prize for the viewer who completes the interaction in the best way. I think this simple difference separates the two mediums enough for Hansen that he feels it is not even necessary to mention. If there was a video game where the player merely just controlled a character through a digital space, but there was no other goal beyond that set forth for them, then I think the digital interface would cease to be a video game.
When Beom presented his project in our final class Wednesday night, there was some confusion as to whether the "work" itself was his sculpture, or the photos of his sculptures, or his lecture referencing the photos of his sculptures. His response was that it was not important to delineate between those processes or titles, since the "work" itself was composed of all three steps.
This nebulous mutation of art – a kind of constant coming-into-being within multiple different media – seems to me to be the most important recent development in contemporary art practice. It is both indebted to and contrary to Deleuzian theory in that his writing focused on singular works of art (i.e., in a single medium format) resulting from the artist's dynamic encounter with the ever-changing percepts and affects of the world. Yet the concept of creation-as-mutation is integral to work such as Beom's and the examples of 'relational art' and participatory, affective-response works profiled by Bourriard and Hansen. The implication is that Deleuze's 'becomings and trajectories' have moved from the stage of fabrication to the stages of conception, presentation, and reception – with fabrication now relegated to a supporting role to facilitate those stages. Artists are no longer passionate material craftspeople but thoughtful stewards or choreographers shuttling an idea through its various forms and ever-expanding applications. This change can be seen in all arts, from painting to music to sculpture to film/video, and it is being grappled with in widely varying ways.
Take the works on view this year at the Whitney Biennial. If this is any indication of the state of contemporary art (and maybe it is, maybe it isn't), confusion and apathy seem to reign. There is a paucity of moving or passionately conceived work in the exhibition, and after seeing it I felt as cynical about the power and potential of art as the majority of artists represented in the show seem to be. Though I don't follow the discussion closely, I know the various Biennials are highly political, buzzy, pop-culture events within the art world, and there are intense debates concerning their rigor and credibility. Leaving that debate aside, I'll focus on the Whitney exhibition in the context of our class material.
It seems as if many artists working today are unmoored by the shifting nature of art's "body." More often than not, their response is to simply literalize that concept – usually with disappointing results.
Some works attempt this through invoking a physiological affective response in the viewer (a la Jeffrey Shaw in Hansen's New Philosophy for New Media). For example, R.H. Quaytman's optical pattern silkscreens unsettle the eyes and therefore the body for no apparent reason except to foreground the 'nature of perception' (that old standby!) and skillfully invoke the building window that inspired them. Even the artist's statement cancels out the possibility of any determined aim. (“I seek to maintain and simultaneously disrupt painting’s absolute presence.”1 ) Uh, okay. So it's about non-space or non-presence? In relation to what – interior design?
The other common approach to literalizing art's shifting mediations is to obscure the work's affiliation to any particular medium. Because everything is art nowadays, nothing is – it is all derived from other areas of visual reproduction, and curators seem reluctant to draw hard lines between genres for fear of seeming conservative or limited in their thinking. Several works at the Whitney capitalize on that confusion and "inclusiveness." Pae White's smoke tapestry, Charles Ray's willowy flowers, and Aurel Schmidt's detritus-as-beauty drawings are primarily works of graphic design, illustration and political cartooning, respectively, that seem to have talked their way into the art exhibition circuit. The documentary photographs of Stephanie Sinclair and Nina Berman are powerful examples of photojournalism at its best, but they have nothing to do with the plane of immanence into which an artist, according to Deleuze, must enter in order to construct something new from the world.
To be fair, this confusion does not necessarily originate in the artists, as art institutions dictate to some degree the playing field. Case in point, the Whitney's description of this year's Biennial is totally noncommittal ("…simply titled 2010 [it] embodies a cross section of contemporary art production rather than a specific theme" 2 ….to which I'm tempted to ask, "Then what are we paying you for?"). It's true there isn't much of a theme among the new works, except perhaps "creepy suburbia" (e.g., Josephine Meckseper's "Mall of America," James Casebere's "Landscape with Houses", Duane Hanson's lifelike sculpture of a middle-aged housewife).
Rather than simplistically literalizing or trivializing the process by which art is shifting form, blurring genre boundaries, and engaging viewers in disorienting ways, some artists are attempting to engage with this ambiguity in genuinely risky ways. Duane Hanson's sculptures are rigorous in their conception and execution; their careful fabrication process seems to require the artist's personal engagement with the affects and percepts of human figuration, while forcing him (and us) to grapple with figurative sculpture's transition from idealized portraiture to arbiter of decaying social relations.
Among the video works, Sharon Hayes' "Parole" applies skillful filmmaking techniques to portray moments defined by body language and movement (e.g., interviews, interrogations, and dance) and creates an immersive environment for the viewer in which screens and sounds layer upon one another, building in relation to the timing of the viewer's entrance into the space. Like the immersive projection environments of Aernout Mik, this work is passionately political yet nebulous in its aesthetic footing and genre classification. There is a sense we are on a journey with the artist through the works' multiple permutations – as if the images' independent juxtapositions and interactions (the "something that goes beyond testimony to the photographer's art" described by Walter Benjamin3) determines the outcome. The work does not exist solely inside the frame of the images, but in the conflagration of all the screens interacting at once, through and without the viewer – who may be a witness or a participant to the videos' content.
Whether successful or not, today's questioning, unsettled art works show that we are grappling with a new kind of practice whose trajectory must cross not only different media forms but different states of being, in order to become whole. With regards to my own web-based and film/video projects, which feed into and grow out of one another in various shifting ways, I am discovering that the creative process is a kind of constant reconfiguration (Bergson's 'kaleidoscopic' assemblage of images in relation to "the privileged image" of the body4). With no fixed entry or end points, this process unfolds within the germinating pool of ideas or images that I find myself constantly revisiting in one form or another.
Thanks, Sam and everyone, for a great class. Happy summer...
Tarkovsky would probably argue that when making a period piece, the filmmaker should be emphasizing the likeness between the film and the viewer instead of the difference. This would be the only way to enable the audience to endure time through the cinema. By magnifying the minute details of the period, the cinema becomes more of a museum hall than a proper theater. The material is instantly frozen in time and made into a relic, inaccessible by the audience. The viewer is distanced from anything the filmmaker might be trying to convey.
In Andrei Rublyov, while the art direction is appropriate for the times, it isn't beaten over the viewer's head. The audience is able to experience the characters more closely and the long takes become more contemplative and visceral as opposed to simply visual. I'm actually trying to achieve the same thing in my graduate film, which takes place in an unspecified time and place circa war torn Europe in the early twentieth century. I was undaunted by the difficulty in shooting a period piece on a low student budget, because of the notion that I could establish a better sense of time without emphasizing the era, but how I believe that time was experienced by the characters. Just because a film is made in a classical period does not mean it must be made classically; one can make full use of the more modern time-image, which Deleuze speaks of. As he also states, the time-image creates a sense of present/pastness. The films that focus on capturing historically accurate details are only considering the past, and are not merging it with the present viewing, which is necessary for the time-image. This historical-image is fully crystallized in that it has already achieved everything it can; there is no more virtual and there is no more connection to the body. The historical-image has become all it can before it is even viewed by an audience. The affect for the viewer would only be one of an academic appreciation at best, but not new though process would be generated. With the time-image, the image is still alive and can continue to become.
(1) Tarkovsky, Andrei Sculpting in Time, p.78
(2) Tarkovsky, Andrei Sculpting in Time, p.57
by Raul Garcia
An example of this is the last and third groping of the HD, digital photo, and 16mm section. I started with the moving HD image of the intersection in Little Italy, which ends on the restaurant UMBERTO’S CLAM HOUSE. I really like the pacing and movement of the CLAM HOUSE image but could not come up with a photograph that somehow connected with it. I sat and looked at my computer and tried many combinations of the material. Nothing looked or felt right, I was stuck! I took food breaks, went back to final cut, I shopped online, went back to final cut, I checked my e-mails but nothing seemed to work. I decided to look at the image and try to hear what it was saying to me and all of a sudden I heard the word blue. Then it came to me, the Yankee boy in the blue hat. I put the two images together and they worked perfectly. Originally I had decided that the Yankee boy photograph was to posed but when I put it next to the moving “blue” HD footage it took on a new meaning and I began to see the mapping of this boy’s brash bravado and my Manhattan Rhizome.
After this experience listening to the footage became much easier. Next I decided that my groups of three were finished and I would start building the climax of the piece. This kind of flew and I had very little trouble putting the material together. I decided on a 2,3,3,1,1, combination. Basically this translates into 2 digital photographs, next (3) 16 mm static shots, (2) more photos and ( 1) 16 mm shot ending with a long take in HD Footage. I was satisfied with the rhythm and movement of the piece and felt good about the work.
In conclusion, taking this class and creating MANHATTAN RHIZOME has been a very enlightening and interesting process. Never before have I created a piece without a huge tracing of work looming and impregnating the process. Also this was the first time that I consciously chose to practice my art infused with film theory and thought. I can honestly say that this piece is truly alive and still is a work in progress. My rhizome of Manhattan still has many more entry and exists points to be discovered.
 Henri Bergson, Matter and Memory, pg 24
Friday, May 21, 2010
Here are the links to the majority of Mabel's breakdown scene (my apologies for having to navigate away from the page, but uploading was not possible due to the size of the two clips):
- Stephanie Class
Frampton states that film offers philosophy, rather than validating philosophical concepts. I see no problem in philosophers using film for philosophical discourse. Films can reveal the intricacies of debates like cloning and the sanctity of identity, or the instability of judicial meaning in particular legal situations. Besides, some narratives express philosophical issues by their very construction: story and character. If academic writing takes the position of philosophy offering its services to film, then it is the filmind that does this in its form of thinking.
Frampton also implies a general definition for or identification of cinema. An aspect of the filmind is “the creation of the basic film-world of recognisable people and objects” (6). Thus, as long as representations of reality are perceived, then the filmind is a legitimate being. Otherwise, nonrepresentational images have no existence. Since this concept is intended for the moviegoer, then he or she will accept narrative films as cinema. Abstract films do not any “film-thinking,” for there is no designing and figuring of the film-world. If films are to be treated as autonomous beings, then experimental/abstract films should garner the equality that standardized films have, in their recognition as filminds.
By Raul Garcia
Affective Relations with Computation: the problem of HCI:
There is currently a problem of transparency in the affective process of creation involving computed media. The process of computed media is generally obscured by perfect emulation of other forms of media. Lev Manovich’s critique of HCI (Human Computer Interaction) is merely a limited form of this issue.[i] The issue of HCI is not as Manovich states that it is bound to a cinematic mode but that HCI is a layer of mediation that obscures the procedural essence of computation. This layer of mediation draws on many different forms of media and epistemological organizations work to mask the procedural relation between artists and computation. In order for computed media and concepts to express and implicate truly new affects and concepts it will be necessary for those engaged to have a intimate and honest relation to the processes in which they explore.
An artist or thinker who wants to approach computed media on its own plane of immanence is to engage with the procedures that computation makes possible. This is not to say that the ability for an HCI to adequately emulate processes of previous media is bad. It is the mutability of computation that is its tremendously useful power. Yet for computed media to implicate something new, practitioners must engage with it on a much more intimate level.
This of course occurs in most experimental media in which the line between artist and engineer is largely extinct. There is however often a barrier to communicability of the experience of these practitioners and those who would be affected by their creations. It is fortunate that to experience a sculpture, painting, or even film can connect a viewer to the process by which the artist and medium are engaged. One can see and feel the artists brush strokes, chisel marks and imagine the directors splice at each cut. Computed media does not provide us with this kind of connection as long as it is used to emulate other media. For example, if digital-cinema is to critically approach computation it should impart to a high level of procedural transparency in which the viewer can be actively aware of the computed sequence that produces the images before their eyes.
[i] Manovich, Lev, "The Language of New Media," MIT Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts: 2001. pp. 88-93.
Here is a link to the full essay for those interested.