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<nettime> FW: someding zu read
Leili on Mon, 6 Aug 2001 01:48:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FW: someding zu read

from: Arthur Clay <artclay {AT} netsurfer.ch>
reply-To: lev {AT} shoko.calarts.edu
date: Sat, 04 Aug 2001 18:57:18 +0200
to: lev {AT} shoko.calarts.edu
subject: Re: someding zu read

maybe people are actually interested in
discussing art on this list. snotty comments are welcome
so do respond.


Wallpaper Slaughter Houses,


The modern artist working with what has come to be known as 'new media' is
faced with a dilemma.  Commercial veins working with the same media, but
producing what they produce, can afford the equipment and the manpower to
run it, however the modern artist wishing to work in this area can not. To
judge the art as being inferior technically compared with the products of
the industry would be a just call. Considering there is more to that what
artist produce than the technical aspect, we can then level out the
imbalance between the technological and the aesthetic by considering other
categories. Artists are not concerned, lets us say true artists here, with
producing technical fireworks, but would like to be innovative by including
the technical with the theoretical in the form of a new art work.  The
cultural hero of the 19th century has been replaced by the competitive one
in the 20th and he in return has been replaced by the machine. In the long
run, the 'inferior' human aspect is lost and replaced by the 'perfect'
machine. Without the power glove we can not play 'be' and if so we have to
put on or winter mittens as an alternative we just end up sweating on
account of indoor climates.  Have we been castrated, made inept, because we
can no longer celebrate that what we are? this short article tries to deal
with the above conflicts and suggests alternative 'domains' which we as
humans can create without the use of technology or the affordable variety
of it, by just turning our imagination back on and invoking it in others.

A Hollywood Cathedral

Lev Manovich has written that effect films are the ancient cathedrals of
the twentieth century. In a sense, this is true. Many highly skilled people
have worked for years, to create something which could only be accomplished
by group effort. But when considering the function of such a film in
comparison to a cathedral and the amount of holding interest over the years
for such a film, we come up with much less of a comparison.  A 'Chartres
II' is simply not needed, but we do need a 'Terminator II and III and IV
etc.' to keep the interest. The largest point of difference, is that action
films are taken off the market when they don't make money anymore. Making
your way through the labyrinth in Chartres is not the same as following the
bloody action of Terminator II. It is clear both do not have the same
message. We know from the newspapers and other sources that action films
have brought a high amount of violence amongst the young.  There are of
course many parallels to be drawn between an 3d graphic action film and a
ancient cathedral. The parallels have no substance and I prefer the  silent
space of a cathedral than the the wallpaper slaughter houses of twentieth
century fox.

In order to render a small part of the action films 'Terminator II',
'Jurassic Park' or any other film which utilizes modern 3d computer
graphics, it costs millions of dollars and takes over a year's time to
render just a few minutes of it. Ironically, we then get to view the
results on 2d wallpaper in a darkened room. The technical innovations far
out weigh the dramatic content and the presentation manner of the film.
One asks one self, where's the real innovation? The reality like quality,
so sought after by the film makers is also too perfect. The effects of a
badly made home video manned by an unskilled camera person invokes more
reality than any trillion dollar film. It also conveys more by simple
including the human aspect of family even with its defects.  if we look
beyond the technical, we can recognize human values that are are inherent
in the action and not tacked in to text to be politically correct so as not
to offend its backers.

An Imaginable Technology

If we analyze what a screen is and the two sided space it is made up of, we
can use this information to create ideas, although not as expensive and
time consuming, the ideas can lead to results of high artistic quality and
have interesting subject manner. There are other themes around than those
of blood, sex and fake dinosaurs.  Do we really have to exit our world,
park ourselves in some germ-infected seat of a shopping center
action-only-cinema, to ignore the world in which live, and which  is more
interesting and relevant to our lives? No.

We know that there are two sides to a screen. The one side is the viewer's
side. He or she sits in his chair and remains there until the film is
finished.  Although he or she could change his seat after having bought
popcorn, smoked a cigarette, or having gone to the toilette, he would see
the same exact thing in the new position as in the old position.  This is
one of the downfalls of the two dimensional screen.  When considering the
other side of the screen, the actor's side, we hardly notice that it
contains a similar and more extreme limitation. The actor must stay in his
or her position in order to be seen by the camera. The camera moves and not
the actor and because of this, movement is expressed in film by camera
technique.  So like the screen itself, the audience and actors remain on
fixed points and form another similarity to many ancient cathedrals:
Slavery and bondage in modern times.

The Dream Screen

Perhaps there are other parallels we can draw. The idea that we go to the
cinema to dream is a curious idea.  A dream is screenless. It takes place
in the mind in a three dimensional space. We can enter our dreams by
penetrating them in their spaces. We have the feeling of depth sensation.
This sensation we can't get from film. If we want to stick or finger in the
proverbial apple pie in a film, we just get shadows. If we do this with a
dream, we put a whole into the apple pie.

If we were to remove the screen and still be able to view the actors we
would find ourselves in the theater.  If we then continued in this manner
and removed the dividing line between stage and public, we would find
ourselves in a single three dimensional space.  Within this space many
conceptual ideas associated with virtual reality technique are possible.

It can therefore be said that the human mind possesses more cinematic
quality than film itself.  I don't think any one is even arguing this
point, but then why go through all the trouble and expense to get something
of less quality? By using the concepts of cinema it is possible to develop
ideas of multi-dimensional space, which unlike their cinema counterparts
are easily within the reach of a modern artist possibilities.

Perhaps a comparison of dreams and film is not a fair one, but the
important point being made here, is that we would like to have three
dimensional space using new media and can have it without the expense and
all those computer geeks and without giving up our lives to a computer
keyboard. We obtain this with the use of the mind and this remains the main
element of art, whether it is film, painting, theater or whatever. We use
our mind to create and that what we create invokes a similar response in
the viewers mind. The artist  invokes a third dimension  by including it
while conceiving his art. Though the abilities as an artist he or she can
then coax the viewer into new dimensions by having the viewer fabricate
that which is not present by engaging his or her imagination.  A truly
virtual reality system and in this way we can compete with George Lucas
easily by just simply thinking again.


We don't need the screen to create a virtual reality. The concept of
immersion can therefore be  based on the mental state of the viewer.  We
can use our minds to move in and out of both sides of the artist-viewer
screen in order to accomplish this. We are no longer fixed to a single
point in space. When we change locations we obtain a different perspective,
see something new and thereby change scenes.  The 'actor' is also free to
change his perspective, or even more than one actor may do this without
demanding that the camera to zoom out to catch the changes in position.
The only borders here are the imagination of the viewer or his willingness
to immerse himself into the happenings around him, and of course the
abilities of the artist to invoke a media space which can be considered to
have a cinematic effect. The four walls which contain both actor and viewer
can be seen as the inside of the media space containing, scenery, actors,
layers and the effects we are subjected to by engaging the mind. Here it
can be said, that  most movie viewers would rather be in the film acting
than sitting outside it and just passively watching.

In this manner we can experience three dimensional space  described above
as media space, which includes both sides of the screen and extrapolating
beyond it by the employment of the imaginative skills of the artists and

Art Clay
Basle 4.9.2001

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