Selected Courses on Digital Art-UOWM

17 Νοεμβρίου 2014


Filed under: UNCLASSIFIED 1,ΚΑΛΛΙΤΕΧΝΕΣ-ARTISTS — admin @ 16:35


Stan Brakhagea

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

James Stanley Brakhage (/ˈbrækə/ brak-əj; January 14, 1933 – March 9, 2003), better known as Stan Brakhage, was an American non-narrative filmmaker. He is considered to be one of the most important figures in 20th-century experimental film.
Over the course of five decades, Brakhage created a large and diverse body of work, exploring a variety of formats, approaches and techniques that included handheld cameraworkpainting directly onto celluloidfast cuttingin-camera editing, scratching on film, collage film and the use of multiple exposures. Interested in mythology and inspired by music, poetry, and visual phenomena, Brakhage sought to reveal the universal in the particular, exploring themes of birth, mortality,[1] sexuality,[2] and innocence.[2]
Brakhage’s films are often noted for their expressiveness[2][3] and lyricism.[2][4] from MAGUS OF MEMORY by Kirk Alan Winslow

Born Giorgios John Markopoulos on 12th March, 1928 in Toledo, Ohio (died 12th November, 1992 in Frieburg, Germany), he was the son of Greek immigrants from the Peloponnesus and spoke only Greek until the age of six. The ancient legends and orthodox spirituality of that tradition would prove a grounding matrix for the rest of his life. The concomitant isolation and displacement he surely felt, being homosexual and son of foreigners marooned in the vast American heartland was equally important to his aesthetic evolution. He could sense the world as a ‚heap of fragments’, intuit life as a ‚perrenial exile.’ Having produced his first 8mm film at the age of twelve, as a brilliant young high school student he considered pursuing medical training, with an eye to surgery, but applied instead to several film production schools, even one in Russia, finally enrolling at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, just at the end of WWII. There, he attended the master classes of Josef von Sternberg and was a student-observer to studio productions directed by emigrés Lang, Hitchcock, Curtiz and Korda. He also met future Sci-Fi director Curtis Harrington at this time, sharing with him an interest in the uses of exotic color and the hypnagogic literature of the ‚poetes maudits’. He was fascinated by the idea of synesthesia, the confusion and correspondence between impressions of different senses that had pre-occupied many Romantic artists, among them Wagner, Rimbaud and Scriabin.
In 1947 he completed his first important color film Psyche, inspired by an unfinished Pierre Louÿs novella of lesbianism. This and two subsequent films made on his return to Toledo, after only three semesters at USC, formed a trilogy entitled Du Sang, de la volupté, et de la mort a profound, platonic/romantic meditation on the nature of art, emotion and the enigma of homosexuality. He was no doubt painfully aware at this point that his ambitious sensibility could be entirely shut out of the commercial scene by his own high cultural standards and the unspoken barrier of the ‚gay black list’. But he had received sustenance from Californian Avant-Garde circles, where Maya Deren, Sidney Peterson, and Kenneth Anger were all flourishing in the neo-baroque post-war American atmosphere receptive to Surrealism and psychoanalysis.
The half-hour long unfinished (and later rediscovered), silent Markopoulos film The Dead Ones was shot on outdated Kodak black-and-white Nitrate stock for its special antique, dreamlike effects, and dedicated to modern French myth-master Jean Cocteau. In an orphic quest for redemption, Markopoulos would undergo, like Cocteau’s poet heroes, a symbolic ‚death in the mirror’ through the looking glass of cinema.
In 1950, after filming the oneiric Rain Black, My Love (later recut and retitled Swain)which was based on an early Nathaniel Hawthorne story and contained surprising foreshadowings of his later editing technique, he embarked on the first of many trips to Europe. (After many struggles, he would eventually settle there.) In France, he met and observed Marcel Carné at work. Returning to the U.S., he found distribution for his films but was required to abridge Swain. This ‚need’ to excise and rework elaborate cinematic projects was to become a discouraging refrain in his saga, and served as a double-edged sword, driving him on to unforeseen levels of creative compression and invention even as it consigned countless moments of great beauty to oblivion. By the mid-Fifties he had completed three more short films and held an exhibition of his abstract paintings in Toledo before leaving, undaunted, for Greece, where he would work for overs six years to bring plans to fruition for a multi-lingual, 35mm feature film of the Greek immigrant experience.
Entitled Serenity, it was based on a novel by Elias Venezis depicting the aftermath of the Greco-Turkish conflict of 1920-21. Revolving around the symbolic image of a rose garden, the film was to take place largely in the memory of its principal female character, the wife of an idealistic young physician exiled in the postwar diaspora. Color shooting finally began in 1958, under trying conditions (some scenes could only be filmed in one take), with a soundtrack recorded in English, Greek, German and Russian. A first version was then edited in Rome. After that a dire, truly Byzantine struggle with the film’s producers ensued that lasted over two years, exhausting and discouraging the filmmaker. During that time he continued to work on scenarios, three of which would be the bases of his major works of the 1960s. A trucated version of Serenity was finally premiered at Spoleto in 1961 and a longer edit was shown three times in the U.S. before disappearing entirely, forfeited by the director in return for his fee. It has not been seen since.
At this point work began on what is cetainly Markopoulos’s materpiece, Twice a Man (1963). A personal elaboration of the Phaedra/Hippolytos/Aesclepius myth, it brought his various concerns with psychodrama, memory, symbolic color and intensive montage to a new pitch. The modern reframing of the story focused on the Byronic melancholy of the Apollonian demi-god Aesclepius, ‚the artist-physician’ (a stand-in for the filmmaker himself) obsessed with the image of the doomed prince Hippolytos, whom he is commanded to revive by the goddess Artemis. Shot in 16mm, with two assistants, on borrowed camera equipment, with unknowns Olympia Dukakis and Paul Kilb in the lead roles, the film was a model of creative economy.
Encouraged by the response to Twice a Man (it won the Prix Lambert in Belgium in 1963), Markopoulos embarked on an even more ambitious, synoptic treatment of the Prometheus myth, entitled The Illiac Passion. He labored on it for more than three years (1964-67).
Filming with an array of artist-performers picked from the glamorous New York scene of the time, he nearly realized a spectacular, three-hour long, triple-format, concentric-image version that would have far surpassed anything he had previously attempted in richness and complexity.Again, financing and crucial time restraints forced him to revise the work at the last moment, and it was cut for its premiere to the 90 minute, 16mm version extant.
At this time, Markopoulos lectured widely and wrote extensively for Jonas Mekas’s Film Culture Magazine, publishing both film reviews and theoretical articles. He became interestd in the multiple-screen and variable speed projection concepts that would later fire the ‚expanded cinema’ movement.
In early 1966, immediately following the death of his mother, Markopoulos began using an ingenious and radically economical method to construct shorter films entirely in-camera, without subsequent editing.
A single roll of film stock was run back and forth inside the camera apparatus, while carefully selected passages of frames were laid down (exposed), sometimes alone, sometimes super-imposed or fadedin and out, at precise positions predetermined by the filmmaker. Thus, a new genre of his film work was born: the ‚portrait’. The ‚sitters’ for these likenesses could be either persons, or individual places, in whatever vicinity the camera/brain might find itself on a particular occasion. The first portrait, Ming Green, was of his own apartment and was executed in a brief time during his period of mourning. A powerful mood piece, it uses only the light and color emanating from the enclosed surroundings and selected objects of his small, elegantly decorated flat. It evokes, without the presence of a single ‚living’ being, the reality of a life or lives, passing yet present, persistent, like a fragrance, reverberating with continued expectation. Markopoulos began using the new technique more and more, making numerous portraits while continuing to seek big-budget support for his other projects. But critical and financial frustrations grew. In 1967, after an unrewarding winter as professor of cinematography at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, a stint that produced a last attempt at a peopled epic (The Divine Damnation), the artist moved definitively, with his lover Robert Beavers, to Europe. He worked on two television productions in Germany, then making his base of operations in Zürich, Switzerland.
The key work of this liminal phase of Markopoulos’s career is the severe, sublime Gammelion (1968). In an extension of the portrait film method, it explored the ‚genius loci’ of a single site, an Italian castello and its environs in Rieti which Markopoulos had intended from early in the decade to be the setting for his feature-length adaptation of Julien Graq’s Surrealist thriller, ‚Le Chateau d’Argol’. Again, necessity required the filmmaker to invent a new form from existng material (in this case his visual ‚location scouting’ notes: short frame ‚snaps’ of the palace and its decor). By the use of fades of varying lengths, the original 200 feet (five minutes) of 16mm were expanded to fill nearly an hour of film time. The paced winking or pulsing of images that had been employed in the brief in-camera films was copiously varied in the work, as the motionless- or barely sturring- image clusters are suspended in widening galaxies of black or white leader. Fragments of music, poetic text (Rilke, read by the filmmaker) and location sound were mixed to reinforce the impression that elements were both moving away and gathering towards each other in time. As P. Adams Sitney writes, in his towering 1974 study of the American Avant-Garde, ‚Visionary Film’ the new style ‘creates the aura of fiction without elaborating any specific fiction.’
Markopoulos continued in this vein of rich austerity, in such films as The Olympian(1969), a portrait of novelist Alberto Moravia, and the fragmentary Hagiographia(1970), filmed around the old Byzantine monastic churches at Mistra. Single morsels of frames float rhythmically, on the border of legibility, in the vast oceans of black. Time seems to collapse to an edge. Sitney again: ‚…in these later works the filmmaker continues to regard cinematic structures as a model of the human mind, but he no longer accords privileged place to the category of memory within that model.’
In the last ten years of his life, Markopoulos toiled over Eniaios, another, and the ultimate, reworking of his entire earlier film output. It was fully edited and notated, but left unprinted, at the time of his death. A completely silent eighty-hour long, epic re-configuration of his previous works, it contains 100 individual titles arranged in 22 cycles. Edited in the manner of the later, black-leader, films, it is to be seen ideally over several weeks, in a yearly summer-fetival held at the Temenos, a special open-air cinema theatre dedicated to Markopoulos’s works and those of Robert Beavers. 
Markopoulos endeavored to remain and transcend himself, attempting to balance a legion of antithetical forces: the rich hallucinatory allusiveness of Romanticism vs. the unadorned factualness and concrete immediacy of the Modern; the classical ideals of the eternal and archetypical vs. the practical discoveries of the surprising, eccentric and exceptional; the severe nurture of the natural vs. the shielding articifice of the urbane; the archaic magic of theater vs. the ‚futuristic’ science of media. Both bound and redeemed by the terms of a fragile, fugitive, mechanical medium Markopoulos bids us free him and ourselves by intuiting wholeness in the midst of mere instants, held fast by the charm of film time. An encounter with this process is often disconcerting – because one’s unconscious workings are exposed. But it is also bracing, exhilarating- because one at some point takes a leap of faith in the destination of the work. The conundrum of the image- as cipher, snare, mirage or narcotic trap for desire; as mute witness, dead document, or mere token trace- cedes ultimately to the ideals of vision as seed, of perception as illumination, of light as pure joy- a revival of the moment when we are first surprised by beauty:
‚A soul, rubbing its eyes in the next world’ Wedekind
‚Color is Eros’ Markopoulos
(The complete text was originally published in the European Media Art Festival catalogue, Osnabrück 1999.)
Here, Markopoulos uses fragmentary editing and intercuts between claustrophobic and mundane scenes of domestic life — shaving, vacuuming, setting the table — and images of the carnivalesque, the mysterious, the magical. While a young man gets ready for the day and interacts with his family, Markopoulos cuts in shots of carnival rides, a mysterious ritual taking place in the woods, and a strange dream-like scene in which the man gets out of the bath to encounter a creepy moving toy. The theme seems to be the discovery of the fantastic and the wondrous amid the trappings of the everyday.

Eija-Liisa Ahtila (b. 1959 in Hämeenlinna, Finland. Lives and works in Helsinki.) 
Eija-Liisa Ahtila studied filmmaking at the London College of Printing, UCLA, and at the American Film Institute in Los Angeles. In 1990 she received the Young Artist of the Year Award, Tampere, Finland. Since then, she has received numerous grants and awards, including an AVEK-award for important achievements in the field of audio-visual culture (1997), the Edstrand Art Price (1998), a DAAD fellowship (1999), honorary mention at the 48th Venice Biennale (1999), the Vincent Van Gogh Bi-annual Award for Contemporary Art in Europe (2000), and a five-year grant from the Central Committee for the Arts (2001), as well as the Artes Mundi Prize (2006). She also exhibited in Documenta XI (2002) and the 50th Venice Biennale (2005). 

Despite the fact that Eija-Liisa Ahtila would most likely label herself an artist as opposed to a filmmaker and the situation whereby many of the titles present on this disc also exist as installation pieces, the collective term of “cinematic works” is undoubtedly apt. For Ahtila isn’t merely an artist slumming it in the world of filmmaking – as has been known in the past – but rather one who comes to the medium with a full understanding of its syntax and, more importantly, its powers. Certainly, her approach and thematic concerns mean that we shouldn’t necessarily deem her as someone who is making films for mainstream consumption, yet at the same time it is also true that her efforts don’t prove themselves entirely alien. After all, hers is a body of work told through audacious crane and dolly shots, special effects, and the kind of succinct editorial control we’d expect of a seasoned professional. 

What’s particularly interesting about Ahtila is the fact that she’s built up this body of work – and a highly distinctive one – so soon. The Cinematic Works compiles seven efforts made between 1993 and 2002, and through these we are able to witness the same methods and concerns materialising again and again. Stylistically, she interweaves dense, often rapid fire, voice-overs into her highly cinematic style, the results being works which feel incredibly rich despite their brief durations. In thematic terms we find returning time and again to close knit units (families and couples) as well as the female experience, most notably that of adolescent girls. Indeed, it’s easy to tell that the maker of Me/We, Okay and Gray – the disc’s opening triptych – is the same as the one who produced Love is a Treasure, the set’s concluding offering. In fact, such are the ostensible similarities that each short could serve as a prequel/sequel to those which precede and follow it. 

It’s an aspect which stands out most forcibly when we consider the individual films’ structure. The opening shorts are barely 90 seconds long; meanwhile Love is a Treasure extends to a comparatively epic 55 minutes. Yet Ahtila repeatedly divides her films into vignettes and episodes, thus creating a situation whereby even the longer pieces still effectively feel the same as those earliest efforts. If 6 Was 9, for example, takes a number of teenage girls and gives their own segment of the narrative. Likewise Today and Consolation Service, each of which is succinctly broken up into pieces which could be considered shorts in their own right. Of course, such a structure explains who each of these (excepting Love is a Treasure) was transposed into installation form; the only real difference is that on DVD we find the episodes presented in linear form. 

Yet whilst Ahtila’s work easily creates its own distinctive world (in addition to elements already mentioned we also find a sober visual approach and a flirtation with the supernatural), some of the shorts do work better than others. If 6 Was 9 is the standout, and a sharp alternative to Tracy Emin’s Top Spot. Here we find five girls in their early teens from Helsinki discussing their lives and experiences thus far in a candid fashion whilst the screen – split into three – contrasts their words with a banal, yet very precise visual counterpoint. It’s worth noting that the film – and all of Ahtila’s work for that matter – is not a documentary, but it does draw heavily on interviews and research material which is then reconfigured into the mini-/meta-fictions. Love is a Treasure does much the same with schizophrenia whilst the rest of the disc’s films take on a similar approach. Indeed, this may very well hold the key to the success of Ahtila’s output to date: she cherry picks from various modes and expressions – the documentary film, the fiction film, cinema as a whole – and adopts them to her own distinctive means. The results, as said, are a clear and cogent body of work.
If 6 was 9 (1995), presented both as a ten-minute video installation with triple projection and sound and as a 35mm-film installation. The work takes its title from a Jimi Hendrix song but deals with a group of five young girls, focusing on sexuality as a way of exploring the world. The monologue, though fictional and spoken by actors, was based on Ahtila’s own experiences and research. The curious blend of documentary and dramatic narrative is underlined by the syncopated montage and an intense, often overbearing use of sound.

The film tells five different stories about women who have developed psychoses. It consists of five episodes each telling the story of one woman. In the first a woman prefers to stay underneath her bed because of the imaginary killers hunting around her. In the second a teenage girl becomes the assistant of UFOs controlling sounds heard on earth. In the third episode a woman crawls over a bridge because things have become unstable due to the emergence of past events. The fourth part depicts how anger takes the form of a wind in a woman’s apartment. In the last episode a woman starts to hear the sounds of other places, and shuts out all images by covering the windows of her house so as to be able to be in the space where the sounds are. The script links the episodes together by using various spaces and surroundings, and through the treatment of images.

Measures of Disatnce (1988)

This early piece of Mona Hatoum is jarring. The raw directness of the relationship between a mother and daughter is almost too much to handle. The video starts with close-up images of what appears to be body parts, behind a translucent drop, covered with Arabic script. Visually, these images are threatening to a Western observer viewing this video after 9/11. Arabic is associated with terror, the Other, the unknown. The juxtaposition of the intimacy of another person’s body and the ominous nature of the script is puzzling. The combination is further complicated by the image of the female voice and body with Arabic. In our common perception, women of Islam, women associated with Arabic are behind veils, they do not speak out and nor show their body, they are not self-expressive yet the viewer is en face with a very intimate portrait of a woman. At the beginning of the video, there are two women talking in the background in what appears to be Arabic while the viewer is confronted with the images of the body and the script. A woman’s voice takes over, reading letters. The letters are from Mona Hatoum’s mother to Mona and the age of the voice identifies the reader as the artist herself. Hatoum reads the letters, slowly, clearly, without a trace of emotion. 

The letters mention the war, the longing of the mother for Hatoum, sexuality, marriage and the father. The letters are not monotonous and are very layered in meaning. The mother misses Hatoum yet she is pleased by their newfound relationship through Hatoum photographing her and using the mother’s videotapes in her work. The mother feels a guilty pleasure in sharing something with her daughter that her husband can’t. The sisterhood achieved through their nakedness together is not comprehensible to the father and the mother acknowledges that he seems to feel that Hatoum has trespassed into his territory, claiming his object, as the nakedness of the woman belongs to the husband. Somehow, to the father, the bond between the husband the wife is more private, intimate and sacred than the bond between the two women. 

The mother’s tone borders on frivolous without ever losing the genuine love and care she has for her daughter. She acknowledges the “fun” in sexuality, claiming that this is one of the primary reasons she wants her daughter to get married. She wants her daughter to cherish her sexuality as men need to prove their manhood every day and a woman is reminded of her sexuality only once a month. These thoughts are obviously affected by the cultural background of the mother and yet do not fit a stereotypical representation of the Muslim female: the mother is outspoken, sincere, and articulate. 

It is impossible not to think about Shirin Neshat’s images, with provocative, posed portraits of women, juxtaposed with Persian script. I believe that Hatoum’s work is visually in dialogue with Neshat’s work and yet there is something about Hatoum’s work that troubles me and attracts me in a way that Neshat’s work does not. The immaculate aesthetic of Neshat’s images does not leave room for me. Hatoum’s work, on the other hand, turns the mirror to me, showing me what I think and believe through secretly sharing the intimate world between herself and her mother. There is something timeless, universal and beautiful about this gesture and I cannot help but think that the video becomes a means to close the distances, between Hatoum and her mother and between me and the work, rather than measuring those distances



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