I am thinking about the difference between skimming and reading and mostly what that has to do with me.
There is this Russian film maker whose name I have forgotten, who makes these hard to watch movies. In them, there are uncomfortably long tracking shots, or even still shots. There are lengthy segments where nothing seems to happen, where characters don’t seem to move or speak. Where characters don’t even seem to be thinking, faces flat, eerily vacant.
In grad school I would have made fun of these films – because I had attitude. But also because they would be close to the kind of hare-brained “smart art” that most performance art students I knew created – I used to explain : you know what is the difference between an art film and a movie? Take all the things people love movies for away – story, plot, pacing, character, cinematography, intention, being swept away … Drop all that fluff away and VIOLA – what is left ? Pure art ! none of that pandering to the audience.
Maybe try filming a dripping faucet.
Maybe lean back balancing on the back two legs of a chair until you fall. Repeat this thousands of times.
Maybe film a shadow as it melts across an empty wall – you know that sort of thing. Art, but smart.
The closer the art movie is like a “painting” the more art it is.
Way back then, the closer anything was to being described as “painterly” the better – that was the hierarchy back then , painting was king, macho / heroic, followed by sculpture – especially if you weren’t talented enough to draw something, and had to resort to making it instead. Everything else was “craft” media….
Back to the un-named Russian director. I want to get to a point that I enjoy his work. I am thinking he is what I need. I imagine what he is trying to do is play with time. Most tv, movies, etc. are about speeding up our sense of time – movies move at a brisk clip – pacing is important … I think his movies are trying to acclimatize you to SLOW.
Sort of like how ambient music works. It is not about objects, it is about the space around and in between them.
I am hoping his films are supposed to effect you, by changing your speed…sort of like how I used to explain how continental philosophy worked… If you are reading someone like Derrida, or Foucault – you have to just let it wash over you – there is no entry point to make it easier to understand – it doesn’t argue or try and convince you of how all that stuff works. There is no bridge between the way you think in the humdrum world of being a citizen to the sort of thinking that they describe. You just read it, and like a stone eroded by water, you gradually begin to think in a way that makes those books legible.
Same, I think, with these Russian films – there is no way to just go in and intellectually enjoy them before you sit through them. Sitting through them changes your sense of time. Changed your sense of action. Is there a way to change my frequency?
I am thinking about the difference between typing and handwriting and mostly what this difference has to do with me. Does the blunt, and frankly stupid, slowness of dragging a pen or pencil across a surface change what is written? What is communicated by scraping stains across a clean crisp paper. What is added to the communication? Or is hand writing really just like a dog, scraping its hind quarters across the grass?
When I was younger, learning how to write in cursive was essentially exactly like drawing. I was imitating the angles and shapes, spending more time looking at the visual concrete marks than the ghosts of what they supposedly represented. I was measuring the negative shapes against the dotted guidelines.
As an adult, when asked to sign my name on a receipt at the seven eleven, I usually just draw an x, or a squiggle instead of my name. Speed makes all else forgivable, so no one has had an issue with it. Is this how I am treating my life ?
Back about five years ago I was watching a cooking reality tv competition. One of the challenges was to create a meal that was ” Instagramable ” , that could go “viral” – something the crowds would salivate over.
I think I want to make something unsharable . Something that refuses to be quickly scaled, to be quickly passed on.