Archive for Film

Shallow Experiences and Imagined Communities

Posted in Anthropology, Art, Criticism, Pop-culture, Social Science with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 5 January, 2010 by endlessslug

How do we define the difference between rich or deep experiences and those experiences which have little to no direct impact on our lives?  Secondly, how do we make another understand that there is, in fact,  a distinct difference?  And further, how do we explain that these richer, fuller experiences do not have to have anything to do with religion although people often immediately point at some sort of spiritual or religious explanation when having a meaningful relaitonship with an experience.

These are some thoughts which keep me sleepless sometimes.

It occurred to me one day that these new generations of people are very ignorant with no change in behavior in sight.  We are constructing a culture of pure ‘stupid’ in the full definition of that word – I do not mean it as a slight but as an observation.  I consider myself rather stupid when it comes to using Adobe Illustrator, for instance.  But the difference between me and the rest of the society I seem to find myself in, is that I strive to improve on that stupidity, at least when I am aware of it.  And thus, my epiphany: When unaware, the public continues as if there are no problems in the world at all – which relatively, there are not.  We cannot argue.  The cell-phone and text-message phase of human evolution is a dangerous step towards extinction.  I don’t mean extinction of the species, but of something else: extensively shared meaning.

Sit in a Wal-Mart sometime and watch the teens walk around with their cells.  Try not to be creepy, please.  You’ll observe that the act of being with friends at the store, the act of being at the store at all, and the act of meeting people is far outweighed with the personal interest involved in the text messages which will erupt on their phones every few seconds.  This is because there is a much more intensively personal imagined community occurring in their minds (cf Benedict Andersen).  Why would anyone pay attention to the world they are currently walking around in when much more important things are happening between the space constructed mentally between texts – the text-web, as I sometimes call it.  So many experiences of life are being completely ignored – so many social skills are going unlearned, undeveloped, as people Twitter, ironically, about what they are currently doing, sometimes so quickly that the Twit is posted before the action even occurs.

One might argue that with new technologies and innovations, new behaviors and identities will form.  Sure, I cannot disagree.  I also text message, use Facebook, obviously blog, and have occasional public conversations on my cellphone.  But with the use of these handy tools, I understand a certain context for them.  I have had life experiences which did not include these things.  I have had many experiences which were deep to the core of my character and have developed me in much more rich and powerful ways than I expect any of these kids on celly’s will ever in their lives – and I am sad for them.

-To a point.  Instead, I look elsewhere, for others like me.  I thought I could find them in the art world, where they used to be, but the art world now is ridiculously involved with itself and its little shallow messages to itself.  Fine art today is like a sad kid who sends himself text messages in a language he does not understand, but up high so all can see.  Bravo.

Moral: Get off your damn phone and talk to a human you don’t yet know.  Then, get their number.  You are not anywhere near as important as the act of direct interaction between people is.

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Bottom-feeders of the Art World

Posted in Anthropology, Art, Artists, Contemorary Art, Criticism, Film, Gallery Talk, Pop-culture, Social Science, Technology, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 17 November, 2009 by endlessslug

I often check ARTINFO‘s website for new gallery exhibition calls, jobs, and news.  It’s a hip site.  Today, I happened upon this:

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tactileBOSCH Gallery & Studio, Cardiff, Cardiff, United Kingdom

Call For Submissions – Reduplication of the Real
An exhibition of photographic Performance Art documentation
Deadline: 1st December 2009

During the last decade a curatorial style has arisen that gives greater significance to the soiled, worn, damaged and defaced props left at the conclusion of a Live Art performance. Often these objects are considered Art in its own right and have been showcased in various stand-alone exhibitions. Yet the other significant permanent Live Art by-product: photographic documentation is often simply understood as a prosaic method of documenting the act for future reference and so its strengths as a stand-alone Art form has yet to be fully tested.
However, the photographic documentation of a performance is often fascinating, poignant and even humorous in its own right. It is a montage of esoterically linked everyday objects juxtaposed with a performer, focused in their entirety on a single, ultimately pointless, action; all frozen in a single frame. The photographs, with their distorted quotidian actions and objects, can come across as a scene anywhere between an uncanny distortion of the everyday and a gross and disturbing dream-like sequence
Reduplication of the Real will showcase a diversity of photographs that document Live Art Actions by both established and emerging artists from both national and international backgrounds. Some images will stand-alone while others will form small sets covering an individual performance. The exhibition will highlight the strengths of performance Art documentation and will lead the way towards further dialogue about the images as standalone works.

The exhibition aims to showcase a broad and diverse selection of images and as such, will work on an open submission basis. The curator will review all submitted work and choose a selection of work based upon their strength as standalone images. In order to keep the exhibitions presentation clear and cohesive the curator will request an electronic copy of all selected images which will be printed in sizes to compliment the galleries layout and mounted in a uniform manner.

Images will be valued at a price that will be discussed with selected artists and sold at 30% commission. All unsold work can be brought by the person who submitted it at the price of its creation.

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Seriously?  I was reading this and asked myself, “where do I begin?”  Not only is Live Art a massive waste of anyone’s time (please learn from the DaDa movement), but to profit on and exhibit the leftovers from such performances as art itself?  Have we gone to such a pseudo-refined degree that what we produce from a pre-planned arts demonstrative performance is in itself some sort of communication?  What exactly is this particular form of trash telling an audience that the trash after my last Stop Making Sense party did not?  Yes, “something happened,” I get it, but who cares?

There is a sense of archaeology about such a processual art display.  I keep using the word “art,” by the by, but I hesitate greatly to use it.  I once created a 35 minute powerpoint mini-movie on the archaeology of trash receptacles around my college campus for a contemporary archaeology course – so I do know a few things about trash and leftovers and how people generally feel about it.  People care little for it.  There is no good art-style “shock” about “what remains”.  Few people really care at all.  As the exhibition description says above, these are wastes of time.  Folks that travel the Live Art scene may pick up something from the leftovers and sometimes can swap stories, but what we have here is something more pedantic and certainly post-modernly selfish.  We have forcibly created storytelling among a very small imagined community for the purpose, I believe, in maintaining the ties and ideology – namely the life – of that small group.  People who have been to the performances can see references to what they saw, what they didn’t see but what other’s must have seen, and things no one should see.  We don’t have art for art’s sake, not art for artist’s sake, but art for ‘this guy”s sake.  What have we become?

I read a number of published theses from the grad students of the Art Institute of Chicago.  A number of them claimed that painting was dead and film was the murderer.  I’d say, rather, that painting is sleeping, and waiting for the confusion of the contemporary western art state to kill itself so that we may move on to making beautiful, mass-meaningful things again, and not waste our high-interest lease on time.

Don’t Watch Shitty Movies Just Because They Are Shitty

Posted in Art, Film, New Movies, Pop-culture with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20 September, 2009 by endlessslug

This Friday, I was getting ready to engage in one of my favorite pastimes/sports/recreational activities, fencing.  I was sitting at the local university’s recreation center pleasantly directing our new fencers to the place where they shall be trained.   A small group of obvious geeks were leaving the tennis court area and discussing the evening’s movie plans.  One nerd suggested, “I know, Episode I! <pause for social props/reactions from friends/peers>  Or, maybe Battlefield Earth!”  I was at once shocked and horrified.  I thought briefly that these dorks were planning to watch something they felt was good science fiction, but realized quickly that their goal was to watch terrible sci-fi.

Now, this blog entry is not about establishing a criticism of film, science-fiction, or whatever, but to gently remind my dear readers that we ought not to waste our precious time watching shit.  Although it might be funny or socially responsible of us to hold public conversations about the absolute devastation of humanity that are movies such as Episode I, Transformers, Wolverine, and the new Star Trek train-wreck, but we should not actually spend any of our capital, monetarily, psychologically, or culturally in viewing them.  Recently, I was watching an episode of Attack of the Show on G4.  Devin Faraci of www.CHUD.com was reviewing DVD’s in lieu of Chris Gore’s usual reviews in the DVDoucheday, excuse me, DVDuesday segment of the show.  I have really grown to enjoy and respect Faraci’s reviews over the past few months – huzzah!  But at one point during his review of Wolverine, he suggested that this would be a movie he might one day watch with some friends and a lot of beer and laugh at due to the complete ridiculousness of it.  I was a bit surprised at such a comment and can’t help but think he was contractually required to say something nice about it.  Seriously, this is not even a cult-bad style of film, but just outright a travesty of humanity.  And therein is my point – don’t waste your time or give the machine of entertainment media capitalism your money.  It’s just nuts.  When you give them money, they’ll just make more.  I’d much rather watch less of awesome than more of shit any day.

So, nerds, I speak to you:  Waste not yourselves on pseudo-cult “new classics” which are not classics but crap.  Waste not your time on anything anime.  Read some old books written before 1970; the pre-post-modern era.  Watch episodes 4-6 again, over and over.  Re-visit old film literature because as with all literature, the film will grow with you.  I recently had a small discussion with a friend of mine obsessed with the new Transformers franchise.  She had never seen the Star Wars trilogy.   I stopped right there and said, “Star Wars will become a better movie the older you get.  Transformers, if you like it now for some god-forsaken reason, ok, but it will get worse and really stupid as you age resulting in you wondering what sort of an idiot you were in ever caring about it.  It’s not that the movies themselves are any different, but with the accumulation of life experience that you will have, you will understand with more depth of knowing, the experiences of the characters and the story and thus will achieve more from viewing Star Wars over time.  It enriches you.  Transformers damages you by giving you unrealistic experiences which have no impact or meaning to anyone’s experience and is really very two-sided and shallow.”

And remember artists, the public/viewer cares nothing about you.  Don’t masturbate at them when you could instead offer a diachronic dialog.