Sunday, December 23, 2012

Expanded Cinema. Cybernetic Cinema. Avant-Garde in the Digital Age.

Stan Vanderbeek, Science Friction, 1959 (9 min)

The, what we would now call Monty Python style of animation, combined with computer generated visuals calls attention to the political nature of this film. Many things, including majour landmarks turn into missiles. The audio becomes automated and mechanical.

John Whitney, Permutations, 1966 (7 min)

A hypnotic almost trance like animation in sections, Whitney uses a new technology to advance the world of animation. While the animation is not necessarily synced with the music, which sounds like the late Ravi Shankar but I cannot confirm such a claim, the visuals seem like an interpretation of the music, like interpretive dance. Computer art of this nature transformed mathematics into a visually beautiful creation.

Woody Vasulka & Brian O’Reilly, Scan Processor Studies, 1973, 2009 (8 min)

No. 18 was like watching a badly distorted hologram message sent by some distant culture. The audio added to this feeling and wanted someone to run it through filters to decipher any language components. The whole image looked as though it was created with a set of programmable strings blowing in the wind. No. 20 reminded me of a SciFi movie where they find some object they do not know what it is and they scan it for chemical composition. They would then find that the object was not as solid as as originally thought. No. 25 looked like a topographical map on a monitor as a ship was coming in and experiencing interference. 

David Rokeby, Watch, 1995/2003 (5 min)

After watching this documentation of an installation, I was glad more information was added as we watched. The street corner from 1995 was most impressive, with the exception of the now slightly cheesy "glowing edges" filter. Again another example of how integral mathematics can be in video work; something that for me has become elusive. In both corners, I especially enjoyed the moments of capturing a still shot where both screens flashed and the sound of the camera blasted.

David Rokeby, Cheap Imitation, 2002 (2 min)

Rokeby used Marcel Duchamp's Nu descendant un escalier n° 2 (1912) [Nude Descending a Staircase No.2] as a template and transformed it into a moving video installation. From what I read and heard elsewhere, he programmed the image to move with the visitors to the museum/gallery where this was installed. I think the title is humourous but not the piece itself; that is brilliant.

Douglas Gordon, Making Eyes, 2010 (3 min)

The first thing I thought of when this video started was Grandma's Reading Glass (1900). Then the eyes became flower-like and it was as though watching a venus flytrap open a close in slow motion --- the only disturbing part of this was the eyeball in the center. The best part was the largest eye opening and the teardrop spilling out and staying suspended on the lash.

Bruce Conner,  A MOVIE, 1958 (11 min)

With a series of found footage clips, Conner kept repeating "A Movie" and that it was by him as though to keep reminding the viewer that, even though he did not shoot the actually footage, this is his interpretation, his arrangement of the material. His use of juxtapositions and editing created unusual variety of meanings or suggested meaning. The music started of as zany and slowly turned into an almost death march, macabre, but just as death emerges the feel of the music livens, like some sort of strange conquest was won. 

Brothers Quay, Street of Crocodiles, 1987 (20 min) 

This maybe my ultimate favourite stop-motion animation of all time and was inspired by a short novel, The Street of Crocodiles, appearing in Sklepy cynamonowe by Bruno Schulz, a Polish writer (note the map of Poland on the table). The darkness, harsh shadows, rack focus and many instances of shallow depth of field make this film delightful and yet melancholic. The subtle SFX of the ticking meat filled watch is just one example of diegetic sound adding to the over all sound experience. The main character, a gaunt puppet carries a box similar to that appearing in Un Chien Andalou (1929). The last quote, repeated over and over in Polish: "Obviously, we were unable to afford anything better."

1 comment:

  1. Jess,
    I appreciate the parallel that you drew in calling forth the box reference from 'Un Chien'; i need to see that again. I agree with your estimation of the quality of this animated short film. I recently learned about the connections to Poland and the wrting of Schulz; apparently he has been referred to as the 'Polish Kafka'. I did my research paper on this film in relation to my art practice and am really happy to have been exposed to these brilliant filmmakers.