Archive for the 'media' Category

There where I was…

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

Three lessons from the Chris Marker film, La Jetée [Google video] :

  • technique: text = movement, image = space;
  • material: The film’s media is reduced to image(s) and time (and not Deleuze’s movement-image) as distinct indicators of its narrative unfolding. Time is a malleable substance that takes on interchangeable material and immaterial qualities, depending on the context of the narrative space –ageless redwood trees, “a museum filled with ageless animals…” Time is the metaphyical fabric employed to color the world in which the man finds himself –“Then another wave of Time washes over him. The result of another injection perhaps.”
  • Parallel worlds: in La Jetée, are simultaneous contexts that can be engaged spatially, linked by the movement of a physical body between those worlds or symbolized by inanimate objects in static space. Like immersive virtual worlds, The Man experiences the different blocks one at a time, linked by a persistant memory. Inevitably, “there is no way out of time… (he could not) refuse to (his species) past the means of its survival.”

The title is also a homophone for the French phrase, “Là, j’étais”, or there where I was

“another wave of Time washes over him…”

linked by the movement of a physical body between those worlds

“there is no way out of time…”

Of objects in space or in time

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

Matthew Barney is an artist who most ostensibly uses film as his most visible expressive media, but he considers himself foremost a sculptor. This seems like a rather disproportionate statement given the panoramic scale of his films, in relation to the containment of his sculptural work. Perhaps I’m reacting to an image or memory of the sensation his films leave me with (and I’ve seen all five films from the Cremaster Cycle + Drawing Restraint) but in relation to the broad narrative spaces and profound color fields with which he films, his sculptures don’t have the same force. Nor apparently, were they intended to.

“These three-dimensional works are not cinematic relics or props, but incarnations of the characters and settings. They exist separately from the films, but carry the same content… these stories are a way of creating a narrative out of which sculpture can come… They exist independently from the films, but embody the same content—now expressed in space rather than time.” [Matthew Barney at the Babylon Theatre Transcript]

Image from Matthew Barney’s film “Cremaster 3″ showing the charactor Hiram Abiff (or the Architect) played by sculptor Richard Serra, in his atelier.

From object to project, through “Dead Ringers”

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Dead Ringers” is a film by David Cronenberg. The story-line follows the self-destruction of identical twin brothers, Bev and Elliot Mantle, renown gynecologists whose professional practice, academic responsibilities and experimental research converge into the nexus of their interchangeable lives. “In Cronenberg’s hands, Elliot and Beverly Mantle are one soul, split into two bodies and two mutually dependent minds at the point of conception.” [Chris Rodley, Dead Ringers]

But there are three aspects of this film that interest me in the context of my Avair project:

  1. the design and fabrication, by one of the doctors, of tools, in this case gynecological surgical instruments, to enable the execution of a specific surgical procedure; and, the direct and integral connection between these instruments and the development, execution and form (or act, in this case) of the project they were developed for; and,
  2. the disruptive event that inspires, and eventually destroys, everything surrounding the doctors and their work, and sets-off the transformation of these objects from utile instruments of alleged precision, to useless artifacts, and eventually into objects or artifice of art that is displayed in a gallery.

Although these points have little to do with the actual story-line of Dead Ringers, and the complex psychological landscape drawn by Cronenberg to represent the idea of “one soul, split into two bodies,” I want to highlight his insights regarding the creative, inventive process and his poignant vision of the relationship between artists, their work, and the tools, media and objects they engage to make art. It is an important concern for Cronenberg and re-emerges in many of his films –from the mutating mass media of “Videodrome,” to the bionic weapons and computational devices of “eXistenZ,” and the body transforming machinery of “Crash”…

The disruptive event in Dead Ringers is Bev’s rejection by his love interest, Claire Niveau, an actress, that provokes his progression from obsession for (a) women to obsessive drug consumption (to alleviate his neurotic symptoms), to induced psychosis, and a growing antipathy for his patients –infertile women to whom he refers to as “mutants.” This event provokes the fatal convergence between his work (treating infertile women), his relationship with his identical twin brother (symbiotic) and his psychosis (delusional) and results in the fabrication of these surgical instruments. Given his condition, it is no surprise that the resulting objects are more suited to a medieval torture chamber (to which they ostensibly refer to) than a hospital’s operating theater. The lethal misogyny symbolized by these tools, and their inevitable failure and to accomplish the task that Bev designed them for, leads him to declare, when interrogated,

“… it’s not the instrument, it’s the body… the women’s body is all wrong.”


All of this points to a new, if not counter-intuitive definition of the relationship between an object and a project engaged by the creative process. The obvious relationship could be defined as a causal one –a tool is employed to produce a specific result, atmosphere or sensation. A pencil forms lines, a brush spreads color fields, a chisel extracts material etc… The saturation of digital media as the dominant production platform, further blurred the lines between media of creation, utilization and diffusion, thus between the media-form (sound, image, sensation, installation…) and the tool(s) capable of synthesizing, energizing and sustaining the work.

This new configuration between a media and a project bares witness to their reversibility –a process capable of assuming or producing either of two statesthat of the media (the tools, instruments and representational techniques) OR that of the project (the objects, spaces and atmospheres). The tool-set necessary to represent an idea, form or action is the same one, or very close (a question of scalability, perhaps) required for its realization. Those tools, the software and the hardware, must be developed for and around its specific conceptual, logical exigences, as well as its material form, a reversible process where ideas emerge through material experimentation to reveal their force and to project their form. Proceeding through a chain of creation –from thought, to sensation, to incorporation, the realization of a project depends on both intuitive inertia, and on meticulous, methodological evaluation and examination of what the intuitive process has brought forth. The continuation of the creative process is the actualization of the project’s force.