Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Notes from Giorgio Agamben "Notes on Gesture"

(In the cinema, a society that has lost its gestures seeks to re-appropriate what it has lost while simultaneously recording that loss)

An era that has lost its gestures is, for that reason, obsessed with them; for people who are bereft of all that is natural to them, every gesture becomes a fate.


For it is only as a gesture in which potential and action, nature and artifice, contingency and necessity, become indiscernible (in the final analysis, therefore, solely as theatre) that the idea of eternal return makes sense.


Gesture rather than image is the cinematic element.


Film images are neither 'timeless postures' (like the forms of the classical world) nor 'static sections' of movement, but 'moving sections', images which are themselves in motion, which Deleuze calls 'moving pictures'.


Because it is centrally located in the gesture, not the image, cinema essentially ranks with ethics and politics (and not merely with aesthetics)


What characterizes gesture is that in it there is neither production nor enactment, but undertaking and supporting.


Gesture is the display of mediation, the making visible of a means as such. It makes apparent the human state of being-in-medium and thereby opens up the ethical dimension for human beings.


In this sense, gesture is the communication of a potential to be communicated. In itself it has nothing to say, because what it shows is the being-in-language of human beings as a pure potential for mediation. But since being-in-language is not something that can be spoken of in propositions, in its essence gesture is always a gesture of a non-making of sense in language, it always a gag in the strict meaning of the term, indicating in the first instance something that is put in the mouth to hinder speech, and subsequently the actor's improvisation to make up for a memory lapse or some impossibility of speech.


The essential 'mutism' of cinema (which has nothing to do with either the presence or absence of a soundtrack) is, like the mutism of philosophy, an exposition of the human being's being-in-language: pure gesturality. The Wittgensteinian definition of mysticism as the showing of what cannot be spoken of, is a literal definition of the gag that displays language itself, being-in-language itself, as a giant memory lapse, as an incurable speech defect.


Politics is the sphere of pure means, which is to say of the absolute and total gesturality of human beings

Sunday, 24 October 2010

A flat theatre

Varro, De Lingua Latina

A person can make (facere) something and not enact (agere) it, as a poet makes a play, but does not act it (agree in the sense of playing a part); on the other hand the actor acts the play, but does not make it. So the play is made (fit) by the poet, but not acted (agitur) by him; it is acted by the actor, but not made by him. Whereas the imperator (the magistrate in whom supreme power is invested) of whom expression res gerere is used (to carry something out, in the sense of taking it upon oneself, assuming total responsibility for it), neither makes nor acts, but takes charge, in other words carries the burden of it (sustinet)

Oh what a beautiful arch! What an elegant piece of architecture!

A society that has lost its gestures seeks to re-appropriate what it has lost while simultaneously recording that loss

Gilles de la Tourette

With the leg as support, the right foot is raised from the ground in a rolling motion from the heel to the tips of the toes, which are the last part to be lifted away: the whole leg is brought forward, and the foot touches down at the heel. At this moment, the left foot, which has completed its roll and now rests only on the tips of the toes, in turn leaves the ground; the left leg is carried forward, moves closely alongside the right leg and goes past it, and the left foot touches the ground at the heel just as the right is finishing its roll forward.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Francis Alys - A story of deception

desert eats jungle
jungle eats sea
sea eats desert
desert eats man
man eats jungle
jungle eats desert

from a piece of paper at Francis Alys' show at the Tate. The gallery attendant wouldn't let me photograph a A4 piece of paper but allowed me to copy what it said on my mobile.

A story of deception :
magic / absurdity / poetic / political / loop / unfinished / never-ending / infinite / never-changing / ever-changing

Simple gestures that generate different readings.
A fascination with human labour. People carrying carts/boxes/shop-bikes/plants.

Le temps du sommeil :
Series of small oil-paintings. Echoes of the performances, gestures.

The paintings in the series Le Temps du sommeil were begun in 1996 and often worked at night. They feature visionary dreamlike scenes involving tiny suited men and women acting out strange rituals reminiscent of children's games and gymnastic experiments. Many of these images anticipate and recall the forms he has employed in his actions, but the paintings connect to his actions in other ways too since their surfaces are worked and re-worked. Like the actions, they are perpetually unfinished, and their interpretations unfold over time without resolution.
from the booklet

Monday, 19 April 2010

Pier Paolo Pasolini - The Filmmaker - Documentary

Pier Paolo Pasolini - The Filmmaker - Documentary

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Saturday, 6 February 2010

Notes from "The Future of the image" by Jacques Ranciere part II

I.The Future of the Image
The Alterity of Images

These images refer to nothing else. This does not mean, as is frequently said, that they are intransitive. It means that alterity enters into the very composition of the images, but also that such alterity attaches to something other than the material properties of the cinematic medium.
...operations : relations between a whole and parts; between a visibility and a power of signification and affect associated with it; between expectations and what happens to meet them.
Let us look at the beginning of the film (Au hasard Balthazar)[...]the screen is still dark, with the crystalline notes of a Schubert sonata. It continues, while the credits flash by against a background conjuring up a rocky wall, a wall of dry-stone or boiled cardboard, when braying has replaced the sonata. [...] a little donkey's head sucking at its mother's teat in close-up. a very white hand then descents along the dark neck of the little donkey, while the camera ascends in the opposite direction to show the little girl whose hand this is, her brother and her father. A dialogue accompanies this action ('We must have it' - 'Give it to us' - 'Children, that's impossible'), without us ever seeing the mouth that utters those words. The children address their father with their back to us; their bodies obscure his face while he answers them. A dissolve then introduces a shot that shows us the opposite of these words : from behind, in a wide-angled shot, the father and the children come back down leading the donkey. Another dissolve carries us over into the donkey's baptism - another close-up that allows us to see nothing but the head of the animal, the arm of the boy who pours the water, and the chest of the little girls who holds a cande.
In these credits and three shots we have a whole regime of 'imageness' - that is, a regime of relations between elements and between functions.
Bresson's 'images' are not a donkey, two children and an adult. [...] They are operations that couple and uncouple the visible and its signification of speech and its effect, which create and frustrate expectations.
By separating the hands from the facial expression, it reduces the action to its essence [...] By compressing the action into a sequence of perceptions and movements, and short-circuiting any explanation of the reasons, Bresson's cinema does not realize a peculiar essence of the cinema. It forms part of the novelistic tradition begun by Flaubert : an ambivalence in which the same procedures create and retract meaning, ensure and undo the link between perceptions, actions and affects.
The image is never simple reality. Cinematic images are primarily operations, relations between the sayable and the visible, ways of playing with the before and the after, cause and effect.
It is simply that when we speak of Bresson's images we are not referring to the relationship between what has happened elsewhere and what is happening before our eyes, but to operations that make up the artistic nature of that we are seeing.
'Image' therefore refers to two different things : likeness of an original / alteration of resemblance (art)
The images of art are operations that produce a discrepancy, a dissemblance. Words describe what the eye might see or express what it will never see; they deliberately clarify or obscure an idea.
But the commonest regime of the image is one that presents a relationship between the sayable and the visible, a relationship which plays on both the analogy and the dissemblance between them.

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Notes from "The Future of the image" by Jacques Ranciere

still from Au hasard Balthazar (1966) Robert Bresson

I. The Future of the Image

Let us start at the beginning. What is being spoken about, and what precisely are we being told, when it is said that there is no longer any reality, but only images? Or, conversely, that there are no more images but only a reality incessantly representing itself to itself?
If there is now nothing but images, there is nothing but the image. And if there is nothing other than the image, the very notion of the images becomes devoid of content.
Image, which refers to an Other, and the Visual, which refers to nothing but itself.
The television image has no Other by virtue of its very nature. In effect, it has its light in itself, while the cinematic image derives it from an external source. [...] "The image here has its light built-in. It reveals it self. With its source in itself, it becomes in our eyes its own cause. Spinozist definition of God or substance.
The nature of the amusement the television offers us, and of the affects it produces in us, is independent of the fact that the light derives from the apparatus. And the intrinsic nature of Bresson's images remains unchanged, whether we see the reels projected in a cinema or through a casette or disc on our television screen or a video projector. The Same is not one side, while the Other is on the other.

Sunday, 31 January 2010

Peter Campus

Peter Campus
Inflections: changes in light and colour around Ponquogue Bay, 2009

Such engagement with a broader history of the arts and in particular painting is what's particularly striking about the artist's new series of works. In Inflections: changes in light and colour around Ponquogue Bay(2009), static, slowed down videos shot on the Ponquogue Bay - on the south shore of Long Island, New York, where Campus lives - are digitally altered to create abstract landscapes. In the work we find Campus' distinctive interest in technological experimentation coupled with a strong concern for formal composition, the result being hypnotic images, suspended between painting and video, stillness and movement. The work not only confirm Campus' ongoing preoccupation with new technologies but most importantly it creates new, unexpected possibilities of painterly abstraction for video.

Three Transitions by Peter Campus