Wednesday, 22 September 2010

às vezes encontram-se coisas das quais se gosta 2

In this connection Tony Smith's description of a car ride taken at night on the New Jersey Turnpike before it was finished makes compelling reading. What seems to have been revealed to Smith that night was the pictorial nature of painting—even, one might say, the conventional nature of art. And this Smith seems to have understood not as laying bare the essence of art, but as announcing its end. In comparison with the unmarked, unlit, all but unstructured turnpike— more precisely, with the turnpike as experienced from within the car, traveling on it—art appears to have struck Smith as almost absurdly small (“All art today is an art of postage stamps,” he has said), circumscribed, conventional.... There was, he seems to have felt, no way to “frame” his experience on the road, that is, no way to make sense of it in terms of art, to make art of it at least as art then was. Rather, “you just have to experience it”—as it happens, as it merely is. (The experience alone is what matters.) There is no suggestion that this is problematic in any way. The experience is clearly regarded by Smith as wholly accessible to everyone, not just in principle but in fact, and the question of whether or not one has really had it does not arise. [... ] ... What was Smith's experience on the turnpike? Or to put the same question another way, if the turnpike, airstrips, and drill ground are not works of art, what are they?—What, indeed, if not empty, or “abandoned,” situations? And what was Smith's experience if not the experience of what I have been calling theatre? It is as though the turnpike, airstrips, and drill ground reveal the theatrical character of literalist art, only without the object, that is, without the art itself—as though the object is needed only within a room (or, perhaps, in any circumstances less extreme than these). In each of the above cases the object is, so to speak, replaced by something: for example, on the turnpike by the constant onrush of the road, the simultaneous recession of new reaches of dark pavement illumined by the onrushing headlights, the sense of the turnpike itself as something enormous, abandoned, derelict, existing for Smith alone and for those in the car with him..... This last point is important. On the one hand, the turnpike, airstrips, and drill ground belong to no one; on the other, the situation established by Smith's presence is in each case felt by him to be his. Moreover, in each case being able to go on and on indefinitely is of the essence. What replaces the object—what does the same job of distancing or isolating the beholder, of making him a subject, that the object did in the closed room—is above all the endlessness, or objectlessness, of the approach or on-rush or perspective. It is the explicitness, that is to say, the sheer persistence, with which the experience presents itself as directed at him from outside (on the turnpike from outside the car) that simultaneously makes him a subject — makes him subject — and establishes the experience itself as something like that of an object, or rather, of objecthood.

in FRIED, Michael: Art and Objecthood, 1968

Monday, 12 July 2010

às vezes encontram-se coisas das quais se gosta

Cultural Terrorism Manifesto

A terrorist who hijacks an airplane or plants a bomb in a crowded shopping centre apparently doesn't care who gets hurt as long as he (sic) achieves his aim. That innocent people are turned into bloody corpses or maimed for life is not his concern. The cultural terrorist is no different. The cultural terrorist, an assassin of the future, an executioner of morality. Cultural terrorism, an attitude, a state of mind - not a set of values to be dogmatically followed. Cultural terrorism is a celebration of the power of the individual.

Our aim is to pollute the minds of the public, to sow the seeds of insanity into society. Our victims are of all ages - everybody from the cradle to the grave. Man cannot bear too much reality and as a result of this the cultural terrorist is in the business of providing a reality attack. An over exposure of reality - the dirt behind the day dream. No subject is taboo, all must be exposed. No one is sacred. Everybody as well as everything should feel the wrath of the cultural terrorist. The object of cultural terrorism is to exploit situations and people in order to cause a reaction, preferably negative. Our aim is to make money in order to finance our war which we wage upon society, The money is required so that we can purchase the technology which will tear into the heart of all that is considered normal. We are the cancerous cell that would painfully destroy all that is in contact with it. We are working to erase the conforming instinct. To prevent humanity from ever acting with a common will.

The cultural terrorist's weapons are anything that enables him to inflict his views upon others or make him money. Be it film, video, audio cassettes, music, photocopiers, printed words, pictures - any media whatsoever is acceptable as long as it achieves the objective. We are little concerned how violent, how perverted, how degenerate, how much our material appeals to the very lowest of emotions, or how much the material twists and pollutes fresh young minds and further warps those already in trouble. If it makes money it will eventually achieve our aim and we will use it. We believe nothing is impossible, there is no god, there is no morality so we manipulate our environment to its fullest extent. Plagiarism is not only acceptable it is welcomed with open arms. We believe that you should not be afraid to steal from anyone. Our way is that of the liar and deceptor. We also know that the bigger the lie the better the chance of people believing it. Under cover communication is enemy crime not politics.

Elaborate safeguards may be placed at airports to separate would-be terrorists from their weapons. But we the cultural terrorists are free to distribute our soul destroying weapons to whom and where we choose. The cultural terrorist is both benevolent and evil. Pull the wool over your own eyes in a call to arms. We feel very strongly that an active role of participation should be taken in this struggle by people already interested in this form of warfare. The cultural terrorist is involved in an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhuman world. Cultural terrorism is alien to this society and our technology will tear into it to open up wounds that may never again heal. Tomorrow belongs to us.Confusion as a weapon / Confusion the key word.

Healthy confusion, some call it "evil". Confusion that sparks the need to question. Confusion calling fear, the adrenalin to flow, the blood rush and the life force to sit up and take notice. Confusion making us question everything in search of some (un)sense. Everything to be probed into. Indulging into whatever subjects we feel like. Making our lives that much more interesting for ourselves. No subject should be taboo. Spewing it out in our writings, in our "artwork", in our aural pieces. Digesting and regurgitating, sometimes in almost original form and other times in unrecognisable confusion. Leading to questions from others, not sure of where we stand, their need to know, pretending not to care, yet seeking the safety of answers that fit their way, the safe way of thinking. We stand everywhere and nowhere. We wade in cool rivers / we tread in dogshit. Creating only for ourselves. Taking anything from our surroundings we desire or find necessary ... Alternative media ... Mindfuck to oblivion ... A disjointed, chaotic view of this fucked up, ever decaying globe. Gladly we take our part in the information / disinformation war in a fearless way. Ours is a wide open mouth sucking deadlife media cock. Ours is a wide open arsehole shitting out deadlife media junk food. This here is the stink and defiance of a blanket protest. A big fuckoff to "peer group pressure". No attempt is made to conform, to speak your / their words. Always the fight against those who would control our minds and our bodies. In this our weapons are our very lives.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

Log entry on the First Myth - 2 semanas depois

O Primeiro Mito.

Erro de produção, objectivo não atingido.
Problemas técnicos com a luz, o som e as marionetas. Actor doente. Maquilhagem atrasada. Prestação pobre dos operadores de câmara. Actor desmaia. Wrap up.
4 takes incompletos. Apresentação, feedback mal-direccionado - no entanto, observações curiosamente certeiras. 3 meses...

O Primeiro Mito.

Senti uma frustração desconsolada, absolutamente desconsolada. Não havia nada que pudesse ter feito, correu mal e pronto. Não desgosto do que atingimos, apenas há demasiadas coisas que correram mal. O tronco pequeno demais, o Joonatan doente, não ter podido fazer o plano de recurso, não poder sobrexpor a imagem no final. POW! Dead! 3 meses...todo o meu estômago se revolve ainda.

Em Conquest of the Useless, os diários de Herzog enquanto filmava Fitzcarraldo, pouco se fala de preocupações criativas - só produção, só logística. Um empreendimento que iguala a história do filme.
O Mito destruiu-se a si mesmo, factores humanos impediram que seguisse em frente. HA! 3 meses! Não lhe quero tocar! Canalizei tudo para ali e sinto todas as úlceras a sangrar agora. Cada passo me custa mais a voltar atrás, a continuar a dança social. Se me deixo levar torno-me melhor mas perco tudo. Calma. Altura de largar outros travões e sangrar outras úlceras.

O assunto está resolvido por agora.
Próxima jogada.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Log entry on the First Myth

O Primeiro Mito.

Revolve-se-me o estômago com a aproximação das filmagens. Há algo na expectativa da performance, no caos da pré-produção, um sentimento de vertigem e de pânico latente, de esperança e de excitação, tudo junto entranhado nesta sensação brutal no estômago que me comanda. É por isto que estou nesta área - estou doentiamente apaixonada pelo processo, pelo produto, pela consequência. Coisas que não posso expressar por palavras, todas estas me soam cinzentas.

O Primeiro Mito.

A recriação de um mito ainda por ser criado, o de como a humanidade, exausta, foi naturalmente tranformada num novo ser inextinguível. Recriado por nós agora que se sente uma mudança, ou que se sente a necessidade dela - a nova sinceridade depois do sarcasmo pós-modernista, com base em conceitos de mitologia aborígene e nativo-americana que definem os papéis da humanidade e da natureza na memória social.
Um ritual perpetuado com raiva por seres naturais, tal como o Homem, por se aperceberem do estado de negligência e autodestruição a que este chegou. É um acto de autofagia, onde o rito se torna a última declaração da humanidade e a presença do novo ser pára e revela a performance.

O Primeiro Mito.

Sem música porque o primeiro composer desapareceu, o segundo não toca percussão e o percussionista desapareceu. Uma semana e dois dias até à filmagem.
Nova coreografia porque liberdade para os actores não funciona. Quatro ensaios até à filmagem.
Marionetas atrasadas, prontas apenas a tempo do último ensaio. Uma ainda por ver.
Plano de câmaras feito.
Guarda-roupa e adereços em produção. Inspecção quarta-feira.
VT e operadores de som por seleccionar. Amanhã.
Narração por gravar. Amanhã.
Reuniões com vision mixer, gallery PA, floor manager e cameramen durante a semana.
Bom ritmo de produção.

O Primeiro Mito.

I am a teller, a weaver of History. This is our story of Birth. It begins with the death of Man.

O Primeiro Mito.

Wittgenstein (Jarman)
Hitler - ein Film von Deutschland (Syberberg)
Nightwatching (Greenaway)

O Primeiro Mito.

Storytelling and Mythmaking. Frank McConnell
Myth, Symbol and Culture. Clifford Geertz
Myths of Creation.

O Primeiro Mito.

'Se pudiera abrazarte te darias cuenta de lo que digo.' FG

Monday, 31 May 2010

Escolho espremer a esponja

Amanhã faço vinte anos e hoje dormi 14 horas. Vi o Mighty Aphrodite porque hoje é feriado e Woody Allen é coisa pra se ver com almoço de restos e manta.

Há quase dois anos que sou dona dos meus dias. É a maior liberdade que posso alcançar - o que fazer com o meu tempo. Posso decidir criar qualquer outro tipo de liberdade a partir desta. Posso decidir aniquilá-la. A partir do momento em que governamos os nossos dias, o momento de emancipação do lar, temos liberdade absoluta - todas as escolhas são nossas. Voltar para o lar é um aliviar do poder de escolha, tem o mesmo papel que rezar na religião: o livre-arbítrio é renegado ao colocarmo-nos nas mãos de uma autoridade superior. Não é fácil escolher. As consequências pertencem-nos. Sabem bem, ou mal. Fazem-se sentir e não há ninguém que alivie a carga. Os dias preenchem-se, preenchemo-los nós, de vez em quando vem quem os preencha e passam. Passa a vida. Há coisas importantes, ou antes, que têm importância. Antes de tudo há a condição. E depois os outros. E depois o desejo. E depois a distância. E depois as escolhas. E depois as consequências. E depois nunca mais acaba. Prezo tanto esta liberdade que me sinto fisicamente incomodada quando é negada. É raro. Fico contente por chegar aos vinte anos e aceitar esta condição com prazer.

Vou ver as Praias de Agnès mais logo. Já raramente vejo filmes e hoje vejo dois. Amanhã junto o pessoal. Gosto muito de algumas pessoas. Quero viajar, quando acabar isto, por agora estou concentrada no First Myth. Filmamos daqui a duas semanas - mais um projecto do que agora chamo a New Sincerity.

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

On the mechanisms of expanded cinema: a close look at Dog Star Man and xx.xx.xx

I propose to analyse Stan Brakhage’s Dog Star Man (1961-1964), comprehending how his characteristic approach manifests itself specifically in this particular piece and by which mechanisms it becomes a piece of expanded cinema. My goal in doing so is to shed light into the reasoning and making of my group’s project this term, by comparing it to Brakhage’s practice. However, I will also try to explore briefly how the contrasts of our works might be a consequence of the technological and social changes occurred in the fifty years that separate them.

To facilitate the understanding of the comparisons I am going to make I shall first describe our project. It consisted of a three-screen projection of a three-minute mood portrait of London. The images are disposed in a straight line, each screen complementing each other, being more of an expansion of each other rather than having independent signifying purposes. The images are abstracted and the audience is led through the experience by sound. The project also comprises manifestations in other mediums, however they serve only as promotion to this experience. There is a webpage with a twenty-second three-screen video of a similar sort to the main production and also a mobile phone piece that consists of a written manifesto.

The will to analyse this particular piece in relation to my group's project was instigated by a passage in Gene Youngblood's Expanded Cinema where he describes the workings of the relationships between images in Brakhage's Dog Star Man (1961-1964), which stood out to me as practically identical to the system we were conceiving to construct our piece. In this passage, he defends that Dog Star Man is not:

a nonobjective experience. The images develop their own syntactical meaning and a 'narrative' line is perceived, though the meaning of any given image may change in the context of different sequences. This constitutes a creative use of the language itself, over and above any particular 'content' conveyed by that language. (1970: 90)

Our particular keenness in approaching image in this way was central to constructing and accepting our project as a piece of expanded cinema since even at the confusing beginning we felt that there needed to be a level of experience for the audience that transcended our control and manipulation. The whole enterprise of expanded cinema comes across as an intention of transforming the medium into an event that can respond more fully to the demands of contemporary human reality. In his introduction to Expanded Cinema, Buckminster Fuller points out that ‘technology is decentralizing and individualizing the communication channels of humanity’ (1970: 42) which is to say that the sphere of individual experience has grown to its fullest potential through the means of technology, admittedly being reckoned as the only possible space of communication since it even excludes the possibility of a shared experience, in its complete conception. Therefore, it would be besides the point trying to impose a strict, integral message onto the audience because that would be ignoring the basic premise of our present society that any transmission between two parts will always be altered by their idiosyncratic interchange with reality.

In addition, the appearance of the internet and the specific form and rhythms of its language has modeled the structure of thoughts in the latest generations, as it has been very recently discussed in the BBC documentary series The Virtual Revolution. Professor David Nicholas at University College London conducted a study that revealed younger generations ‘answered a question after looking at half a number of web pages – and spent only one sixth of the time viewing the information – than their elders.’[1] Further discussed on this documentary is that because of their handling of this medium during the years when their brains are still very actively creating new connections, these more recent generations have developed a tendency to associative thinking, so strong that there is almost an inability to follow linear thinking. In terms of what they might expect from a cinematic experience, we can safely predict that there will be little interest for very restricted forms of communication where undivided attention is called for and totality of meaning is provided simply because they will not know how to deal with that. Expanded cinema foresaw this and worked on liberating perhaps the audience from this suspension of disbelief that must provide one with a whole reality to sustain itself. The synaesthetic cinema that Youngblood defends seems closer to appease this new way of structuring thought, simply because ‘through synaesthetic cinema man attempts to express a total phenomenon— his own consciousness.’ (1970: 74).

Going back to Brakhage and Dog Star Man, this concept of expressing a consciousness is perhaps what best defines his attempts within his film-work, and that which I can connect more tightly into our project. Malcolm Le Grice has described it as ‘epitomising the direction of personal, visionary cinema, establishing, more than any other film-maker’s, the camera as heroic protagonist.’ (1977: 88) Answering Vertov, when he announces as ‘the genuine purpose of the movie-camera: the exploration of life itself’ (1984: 69), Brakhage has used the camera and the actual medium in a most active way. In ‘Prelude’ (the first installment of Dog Star Man, finished in 1961) he presents a collage of moving images that momentarily superimpose, instead of cutting from one to the other, at a fast pace for nearly twenty-five minutes. The sheer amount of shots, rhythm and some of the techniques used, like painting and scratching on the celluloid, render obsolete any attempt to establish concrete meanings in the relationships between the images. Youngblood describes it best when he says ‘we are not asked to interpret this as the creation of life or some similar dramatic notion, but rather as a perceptual experience for its own sake, in addition to the contextual relationship of this image to the rest of the film, or what Eisenstein indicated by the term intellectual montage(1970: 88). Though this is a very personal and intuitive construction of visual elements, it remains open to multiple and simultaneous readings.

Despite having limited content exploration to his own subjective experience, his practical efforts to recreate in the medium the particularities of his own visual sensations make it universally valid, for it is one of the Art’s practical goals to allow one to ‘confront oneself— but aspects of oneself previously unrecognized’ (Youngblood, 1970: 60) through 'the elaboration of ever more perfect eyes within a cosmos in which there is always something more to be seen’ (Teilhard de Chardin, 1959: 31). That Brakhage chooses to approach his work through what Le Grice calls ‘Romantic Expressionist content’ (1977: 89) is a consequence of his Surrealist influences and responds in advance to the dictatorship of the overblown individual perception that we seem to be experiencing nowadays. There was a similar concern when building our project, which was to keep ourselves at a reasonable distance not to constrict the piece in such a way that it became closed but allowing ourselves to feed personal aesthetic motives into it and to let a certain mood come through our automatic handling of the camera (in this case, filming in digital video) in response to the environment surrounding us (time, space and social context). Consequently, where Brakhage decided to act physically onto the material to make it closer to a subjective reality that he felt, we acted through the elements that the digital medium allowed us to – shutter speed, exposure, white balance, size, format, codec – to the same effect. Moreover, there were seven realities (the number of people in the group) being manifested through the different processes of the making of this piece, which extend the intersubjective plan beyond the viewing experience because it already existed during the creation of the piece. Each of these seven individual entities, though working in association, had an independent crucial moment in the process where they were able to feed their unique vantage point into it.

Another interesting point of contrast between our own work and Brakhage’s is how the narrative is built into it. From ‘Part 1’ to ‘Part 4’ in Dog Star Man, we follow an epic narrative of a man and a dog in a journey up the mountain. In an interview with Colin Still in 1996, Brakhage reckons that ‘Dog Star Man, played out on all of its mythopoetical levels, can encompass the whole of human endeavour’[2] as, on his journey, the man finds a dead tree and chops it down to use as firewood for his family. Even though he leaves the camera-work and editing to an intuitive level, he is very much concerned with constructing this poetic myth in his film so we follow a rather loose, ambiguous and generic story of a family in a wild, sort of primeval environment – one could describe it as the paradigm of a mythical epic scenario. This narrative is conveyed through his performance most of the time, in conjuction with images of a woman, a baby and a dog - still here, it is his subjective experience feeding into the film. However, through his editing technique, a kind of extra-subjectivity is yet again achieved. Le Grice elaborates on it:

At the level of image association he develops a form of Joycean stream of consciousness, using rapid intercutting to establish a ‘cluster’ of psycho-montage, an extension from Surrealist form. (...) Brakhage’s essential artistic process is one of impulsive selection and construction, never constraining himself by preconception of didactic procedure. (…) Structure or form in this kind of process is not a priori, but the result of a search for ‘a logic’ during the selection and construction process. (1977: 90)

Particularly in ‘Part 1’, the successive display of images where there is an apparent repetition of the action in an unchanging scenario delivers them not as a continuous stream of events, but instead as a harmonic multiplicity of perspectives that exist simultaneously and therefore become a more faithful portrait of reality, as it can exist intersubjectively. Youngblood describes it once again as Brakhage’s attempt to express ‘the totality of consciousness, the reality continuum of the living present’ where ‘both time and space are subsumed in the wholeness of the experience’ (1970: 88).

However, in our own piece, narrative is explored through sound, an element that Brakhage decided to ignore in the making of Dog Star Man and in most of his work. Maureem Cheryn Turim sees Brakhage’s use of silence ‘as not only signifying interiority of vision, but also as functioning to emphasise the exploration of the physical properties of cinematographic registration.’ (1978: 30). This perspective did not interest us as we feel we must stimulate as many senses as the medium is supposed to reach since in our information overloaded current existence, an only partially explored experience is easily disregarded. Furthermore, we were interested in the paradoxical process of manipulation of sound, which allows us to create a concrete narrative through abstracting recordings in foley. That is to say that we could play around with the elements of the medium – speed, volume and depth – but construct sounds that would appear real. So, the narrative in our case was not as identifiable as in Dog Star Man, it was more of a realist construction of the city’s cycle, therefore narrative because the audience could identify specific sounds that are very closely related to their reality and create relations between them, through their own personal bank of data (like the informative voice in the bus, the breathing of a human being and ethnic music picked up in the middle of a market). It is an intrinsically different concept of narrative, which completely depends on the audience’s experience and perhaps it should even be considered as non-narrative.

This idea, which I think links both Brakhage’s and our projects, that the piece completes itself in the experience of the audience, possibly not even during the viewing nor immediately after, but at a simultaneous moment when the making and the impact of the piece overlap and reveal an aspect of (or even a full) reality in the viewer’s experience – that is when the viewer becomes a participant and Youngblood’s words transcend themselves:

We're in direct contact with the human condition; there's no longer any need to represent it through art. Not only does this release cinema; it virtually forces cinema to move beyond the objective human condition into newer extra-objective territory. (1970: 88)


Cheryn Turim, M. (1978) Abstraction in Avant-Garde Films. Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI Reasearch Press.

Hein, B. ‘The Structural Film’ in Hayward Gallery’s catalogue (1979), Film as film: formal experiment in film 1910-1975. London: the Arts Council of Great Britain

Le Grice, M. (1977) Abstract film and beyond. London: Cassell & Collier Macmillan Publishers Ltd.

Michelson, A (1984) Kino-Eye: the writings of Dziga Vertov. Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: University of California Press Ltd.

Rees, A. L. (1999) A History of Experimental Film and Video. London: BFI Publishing

Teilhard de Chardin, P. (1959) The Phenomenon of Man. New York: Harper & Row

Youngblood, G. (1970) Expanded Cinema. New York: P. Dutton & Co., Inc.


Dog Star Man. Dir. Stan Brakhage (1961-1964)

by Brakhage: an anthology. The Criterion Collection. (2003)

The Virtual Revolution: ‘Homo Interneticus’. BBC Television, dir. Molly Milton, coordinated and presented by Aleks Krotoski, transmitted March 3, 2010, 60 minutes.

Other resources

Daily Mail online article, ‘Internet ‘rewires our brains’ and makes teenagers vulnerable to mental illness’.

Retrieved March 10, 2010 from

[1] transcribed from online Daily Mail article, ‘Internet ‘rewires our brains’ and makes teenagers vulnerable to mental illness’. Retrieved March 10, 2010 from

[2] transcribed from an audio commentary in by Brakhage: an anthology. The Criterion Collection (2003).

Monday, 8 February 2010

Cinephilia 16

quien se va?
quien se queda?
quien le doele mas la soledad?
quien le doele mas la soledad?
todos los rincones de mi vida
tienen algo tuyo
qual e tu camino?
qual e el meo?
donde se encontraran?
donde se han ido?
deja que te acompaña
que no e momento de andar sola

lo pequeño que e el tiempo
quien recoge el perdido?
se tu me cuidas
yo me curo
mi cura es tu compañia
deja que te cuide las alas
tu alas
deja que te acompaña
que no e momento de andar sola

mi cinco sentidos son p'a ti
mi tiempo p'a ti
mi mano p'a sujetar te a ti
y mi alegria p'a que la bebas toda tu
deja que te acompaña
que no e momento de andar sola
deja que te acompaña
que no e momento de andar sola

deja que te acompaña

'tiempo perdido' de bebe