After a fruitful conversation with a friend, I have a new thought to add regarding my 'recent acquisitions'. Perhaps the connection between them is related to the definition of the word 'inane'. It can carry it's common socially known meaning, being an adjective for something silly, dumb or without significance. Though it can also be a reference to a state of emptiness, or to the void of infinite space. So here there is the narrative significance of someone who is perceived to be lacking in intelligence, or behaving as such and there is also the philosophical significance of the representation of a phenomenological abstraction.
Buster Keaton's position at the unknowing center of a world in a constant state of imbalance may result in a degree inane behaviour. When he cuts a piece of wood with a saw, but sits on the end of the wood that will fall off, his behaviour is silly, without a doubt. Yet there is a powerful space created by this scenario. Why does he not know that his action will result in pain? It is absurd. So absurd in fact, that we cannot know it... it exists in a void whilst simultaneously triggering a response of laughter, that comes from our knowing the impending result of his sawing. I am not sure at the moment why this is significant.
The boy in the tree is harder to perceive as being inane, but I see the abstracted nature of his pose triggering a response from me that is lacking narrative significance, due to its inability to be reduced to a finite story. Here, I am the silly one, for my attempts at meaning making are futile. Yet I am drawn to the picture because it seems to represent so many things. Again, there is a simultaneously meaningful and meaningless nature to the engagement.
I am hopeful that these thoughts will become clearer over time.
Sunday, October 25, 2009
The above two photos represent the start of some new thinking for me, I believe. At the top we have a painting that I was lucky enough to find in a Goodwill store in Culver City. There is an art district in the area which I have started to scrape the surface of, but on this day I enjoyed second hand shopping more. I actually stood in the store holding this object for several minutes, transfixed by so many elements within the image. I find that it sits in quite a productively awkward position between portrait and abstracted narrative. On the one hand, we are given an intimate perspective that would not be accessible without some prior relationship between subject and artist - one usually does not stand below young topless boys climbing in trees without knowing them first. On the other hand, there is a sense of frozen action in the pose, suggesting that the boy is escaping from something, whether a real or imagined threat. Or maybe he's just wasting time. The Casio wrist watch is truly puzzling. On first impression, it provides such a certain sense a place and yet it really could come from anywhere. Perhaps what I am responding to is a feeling of heavily directed abstraction. And this is not to mention the expression in his face that looks like hope and fear at one and the same time. I should also say, that there is no artist name on the back of the painting, just the words 'Varnished' and 'November 95'. It was $10.
Some of you will know that the other image is of Buster Keaton. I don't have a lot of experience with Keaton films but was introduced to them in Film History the other week. I must say, he is a superb artist. There is such an exquisite grace to his acrobatics which he demonstrates in his stunts throughout a film... walls fall down, motorbikes loose their rider, houses spin around violently, water turns into snow in the blink of an eye... as the space he occupies becomes unbalanced, he repeatedly attempts to restore order. Yet Keaton's continual ambivalent not-knowing (everything happens behind his back) combined with his spontaneous ingenuity and physical competency in the face of a world that defies our predetermined understanding puts him in the position of being simultaneously clown and hero.
This is my first ever roll of film...
In one of my classes we are making a one minute film, the making of which we will be guided through, from concept to shoot to development of the actual film. I am very excited about learning how to physically cut the film during the edit process.
My first sighting of the Hollywood sign...
This was taken at the top of a rise on Reservoir St, Echo Park, where Fiona, Amy and Mike live. Echo Park is often described as being similar to Grey Lynn - vaguely bohemian with strong capitalist undercurrents. I agree to an extent, though the area is shot through with a strand of Los Angeles culture that I am, for the moment, going to call 'hyperbolic hipsterism'.
This is some rubble in Culver City...
Friday, October 9, 2009
Many people will know that there is a lot of Mexican food on offer in Los Angeles, which is fantastic because most of it is cheap as well as delicious. Of course there are varying degrees of 'authenticity', seemingly represented by the amount of money that is spent on interior decorating and menu design. But even the fast food chain versions can cobble together the necessary ingredients without butchering the meal too badly.
The above image is a still from a new work... a simple investigation of space and narrative inside a restaurant called Cabo Cabana. Sometimes I wonder why I would bother writing an explicit narrative, when an infinite number of them already exist in what we might call 'the natural world'. A fascinating story emerged right before my eyes, the mother wanting to go and pick up her other daughter from sports practice without taking the daughter who was already safe in the zone of her parents. Naturally, our young heroine in yellow wanted to go with Mommy, creating an Escape from L.A. type scenario, the mercenary matriarch needing to rescue daughter two before the daughter one bomb was detonated. It was tears before bedtime, but Dad did a wonderful job, administering plenty of hugs in a calm and reassuring manner.
The images below are from a place in Newhall, a suburb about 5min drive from campus. A group of us sampled their tacos and salsa, with pleasing results. Why do handwritten signs often indicate that the proprietor cares more about the food than the appearance of their front counter? Or is it simply economics dictating where available money needs to be spent?
On another occasion, Fiona and I ate here. We did not get high off the food...
Meanwhile, I found this on a road in Beverly Hills...
Friday, October 2, 2009
Please excuse the lack of posts recently. This week has been heavy, to say the least. I will spare you the details. Suffice to say that I am looking forward to better health and a clearer mind.
On a lighter note, I went to an artist talk at school by Miranda July, famous for her film Me And You And Everyone We Know. Of course she was utterly charming, but it was wonderful to hear her stories about starting out as a maker of things. It seemed she didn't really know if what she was doing was art because she was quite isolated from a specific art community and never went to art school. Her home was originally a music related culture, specifically the Riot Grrrl movement. It was funny to hear about her early performances in bands, getting the chance to sing her 'weird and emotional' songs in between more regular punk tunes. And yet as charming as her art is, I often find it hard to relate to someone who has always made art as a matter of course. Exposure to this way of being makes me feel like I am lacking a particular kind of history because I sense that I came to art late. Sometimes I consider it to be an extension of my philosophical inquiries, rather than being something I do because I can't do anything else. Never mind, the more I do it, the more I feel that there is nothing else I would rather do. And I still have a long way to go.
Antonioni made L'Avventura when he was 48.