Friday, January 01, 2010

Detailed interview with Michael Haneke, his White Ribbon (2009) still forthcoming in YVR.

"Q: You seem very interested in the long take. There are a number of static shots in your films, like the final image of La Pianiste. I'm also thinking of shots like that of the blank bathroom wall just before Walter rushes in for Erika, the many shots of Erika's face, the long take of the bloody living room in Funny Games, or the numerous still lifes in Der siebente Kontinent.

MICHAEL HANEKE: Perhaps I can connect this to the issue of television. Television accelerates our habits of seeing. Look, for example, at advertising in that medium. The faster something is shown, the less able you are to perceive it as an object occupying a space in physical reality, and the more it becomes something seductive. And the less real the image seems to be, the quicker you buy the commodity it seems to depict.

Of course, this type of aesthetic has gained the upper hand in commercial cinema. Television accelerates experience, but one needs time to understand what one sees, which the current media disallows. Not just understand on an intellectual level, but emotionally. The cinema can offer very little that is new; everything that is said has been said a thousand times, but cinema still has the capacity, I think, to let us experience the world anew.

The long take is an aesthetic means to accomplish this by its particular emphasis. This has long been understood. Code Unknown consists very much of static sequences, with each shot from only one perspective, precisely because I don't want to patronize or manipulate the viewer, or at least to the smallest degree possible. Of course, film is always manipulation, but if each scene is only one shot, then, I think, there is at least less of a sense of time being manipulated when one tries to stay close to a 'real time' framework. The reduction of montage to a minimum also tends to shift responsibility back to the viewer in that more contemplation is required, in my view.

Beyond this, my approach is very intuitive, without anything very programmatic. The final image of La Pianiste is simply a reassertion of the conservatory, the classical symmetry of that beautiful building in the darkness. The viewer is asked to reconsider it."

Elizabeth Zvonar, Bird in Space, 2009

"Vancouver artist Elizabeth Zvonar is currently interested in the connections between Cubism, representations of the 4th Dimension and rubber bands as metaphors for time.

'I find that at the end of a journey, which of course is neverending; that I have found things out.'

This quote by British playwright Harold Pinter, is an apt description for On Time, Zvonar's exhibition at the CAG, which includes an array of sculptures and collage that act as possible portals into implausible places."

Boxing week score: Criterion Collection edition of Peter Yates' The Friends of Eddie Coyle (1973), faithfully adapted by Yates and Paul Monash from George V. Higgins' terrific novel.

"The conditions that allowed for movies as spare and melancholy as this one are long gone—very few current American moviemakers find it possible, or even desirable, to leave their action so unadorned. It’s strange to remember that the seemingly loose, but actually rigorous, style of naturalism practiced by Yates and Monash and their brilliant cast was as tied to the modernity of its own moment in time as the CGI-driven epics of today are tied to theirs."
Thursday, December 31, 2009

Derek Liddington and Stephen Lavigne, Inappropriate Behavior: Red Brick House, 2009

"The vampire is oblivious to linear understandings of history and thus cannot fully adapt to contemporary western culture. As a result vampires confuse and conflate aesthetics derived from modernist and postmodernist visual languages. This process of ‘feeding’ results in continual slips between past and present; slips that leave their aesthetic in a constant state transition. Inappropriate Behavior uncovers the narrative of a Canadian vampire colony, currently migrating along rural Ontario highways. Typical of appropriative – appropriate – behavior, these vampires take part in a series of follies brought on by their need to ‘blend in’ with their rural Canadian surroundings.

Dependant on post-modern aesthetics for survival these rural vampires are drawn to the autonomy of the mobile home and farm; retrofitted aesthetics dependant on utopian ideals. Ranging from Donald Judd’s minimalist sculptures and Dan Graham’s theorizing on glass in urban architecture, historical and theoretical moments are conflated and displaced, re-assembled into glass barns, minimalist coffins, mobile homes, big-rigs, mac-tac, plywood and paint."
Tuesday, December 29, 2009

To Dam Mountain's summit, just behind Grouse, with Mad Owl Woman. Crown and Camel visible in their coats of white, Seymour and Runner to the east, and behind them, Judge Howay and the Cheam Range, catching the last light.

Great huge rafts of grey cloud sweeping north from Baker. Dots of light out on the Salish Sea.

Walking in the dark under the full moon, the creak and crunch of my boot spikes biting into the hard-packed styrofoam snow. Cold clear air. Silence. A good end to a stressful but fulfilling year.

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