Monday, December 5, 2011
Saturday, November 19, 2011
" …the world we inhabit is increasingly-as a product of man- more artificial than natural. The most common part of our environment consists of a series of artifacts called "symbols", apprehended through our senses- once processed intellectually- these condition the majority of our daily toils. In such a way these inform and determine human action-or the consequences of our collective artifice. Such artifacts are nonetheless foreign to mankind, who incorporates and adapts them for his own purpose. In any case, the "artificial" should be understood as that produced by art in place of nature - that made or fabricated by man- and that besides is distinguished from the synthetic in that the latter is constructed to embody certain desirable properties…"
-Raul Bejar Navarro
I discovered the work of the Mexican artist Gelsen Gas when I was around 11, my parents' old bank used to give out special encylopedic onthologies of Mexican art and architeqture once a year- and my parents would give them to the kids-
Although I couldn't get Amanda to scan the images out of said encyclopedia, and I hardly had any luck finding his work on the internet- I did find a little book of his work hidden in the back of the MSU arts library (it has been checked out twice before me: Mar 15 '88 & May 24 '89)
I'm not going to pretend like I had an elevated sense of aesthetic taste as a child- what I really liked about Gelsen Gas' art was that it was both lewd and colorful (his surreal paintings)- unfortunately none of what I have gathered here speaks for that side of his work. Nonetheless I was extremely excited to find that he experiemented with bauhausesque grafic design- AND ALSO PLEASANTLY SURPRISED when I found out he has worked with Alejandro Jodorowsky on BOTH comic books (Los Insoportables Borbolla) and a film(anti-climax [?!])- most of the work I have uploaded is from the 1977 book falacias...y no: ENJOY!
a lot of his work reminds me of M.C. Escher too... dunno his fonts are amazing- all the human forms are self portraits, and all the words are his initials or his name.. I'm sure that sais something- right- as you might have guessed Gelsen Gas is a psuedonym- the Gas is real but his first name is Angel.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
On Halloween I watched a film- by Derek Jarman- it is called Blue. It is about AIDS.
Its crazy how much I enjoyed it considering it visually consists of over an hours worth of palpitating blue screen- I also began watching Krzysztof Kieślowski's Blue [part of the Three Colors trilogy] earlier that day but just fazed out- to say the least in my opinion Jarman's Blue is the better of the two.
In 1986 Jarman was diagnosed HIV + and between then and his death in 1994 he suffered the loss of his sight- where he was once a very photographically oriented towards content his last film is a reflection of his vision before death- Blue nothingness.
Quite a bit of the music was done by Brian Eno- so that's cool- if you cannot find value in any thing else that should be the saving grace- there is a reason for everyone to love Blue and/or inversely hate it.
I wrote a response for my classical film theory class defending the notion that Blue is cinematic-
Mainstream media does not self scrutinize, in fact it simply replaces one type of spectacle, the grandiose westerns’ landscapes, or action explosions, with another form of spectacle: deconstruction. When films reveal themselves as constructions- be it through form or narrative - for the sake of cheapening (economically and aesthetically) the spectacle value and use deconstruction for spectacle it cannot be said that the film is functioning theoretically as the title of Nicholas Rombes’ essay (Media As Its Own Theory) implies. Postmodernism is not an “essentially democratic movement” because “its meta-narratives-its self consciousness, its parody; its pastiche; its irony- [which] always worked to make visible the codes that underlie cultural productions” (Rombes 59) only reveal themselves to a profitable extent.
Rombes incorrectly draws a parallel between the films and videos of Michel Gondry and those of the avant-garde, which he claims “are as experimental as the work of Maya Deren, Michael Snow, Hollis Frampton and others canonized in the avant-garde pantheon” (61). On one hand: yes: formally, Michel Gondry’s work is experimental, but not ideologically since the formal tendencies’ primary concern is to substantiate the narrative. Thus the formal use of experimentation does not function as in the works of Maya Deren or Michael Snow because Gondry’s work is not subversive at a more rudimentary level. Rather it is employing experimental techniques for the sake of providing spectacle, as an embellishment to the narrative. Pushing the boundaries, experimentation in and of itself is not its first concern as it is of the avant-garde artists.
Works such as Lucas with the Lid Off or Memento employ formal conventions defined by the experimental cannon but their objective is to promote a novel viewing experience- a formalistic spectacle- not a discourse: the viewer would still be required to think as a theorist to see Memento functioning as an extended metaphor for database logic, and this is not explicitly derived from the deconstructive form upon viewing. Rombes gives too much credence to the audiences’ discerning abilities by assigning to mainstream films greater intellectual investment than they elicit, precisely because he is a media theorist. Furthermore it seems inaccurate to state that “theoretical deconstruction … has now become our culture’s new lyricism” (59) since “popular culture has absorbed the logic of theory” (61) only to the extent that it employs this logic superficially to exploit the potential of confounding the mundane by breaking formal conventions- promising a different type of experience.
The mainstream being able to successfully market and sell these partially experimental films is a reflection of “the more complex dynamic of immediate and utter immersion” (61), a direct testimony that “we are media-damaged beyond recognition” (61). On the narrative level, as opposed to the formal, deconstruction does not democratize information; it simply shifts the roles of the spectators and intellectuals. Yes, these films are in subtle and specious ways revealing their own foundations but not in a ‘democratic’ way as Rombes would have it. They do so in a purely capitalist way, by magnifying the disproportionate knowledge between audience members. Mass media does not employ allusions as parodies because the allusion does not matter: there is no new meaning, or critique created, and pastiche cannot be deconstructed as irony. One could venture to suggest that what Rombes refers to, as parodies- Shrek and Wicked- are pure pastiche. When foundational knowledge has become irrelevant: parody is impossible and rendered useless. Pragmatically pastiche replaces spectacle: as a result both Be Kind Rewind and Ghost World can be enjoyed without ever seeing Rush Hour, Gumnaam, or Robocop because the pastiche functions fetishistically consolidating cinephilia and encouraging audience investment in allusions. Ultimately the spectacle elicits: nostalgia for the unknown past.
Media cannot stand on its own as theory when it reveals nothing of itself, potentially theoretical aspects become futile and sterile when they shift from functioning as social commentary or aesthetic critique to spectacle, as in pastiche or experimental formalistic deconstruction. Rombes’ fear that “our ironic sense of theory and our hunger for deconstruction robs us even of the sedate pleasures of nostalgia”(64) seems too hasty and oversimplified, with the now greater availability of media two extremes will continue to simultaneously coexist: those who accept the spectacle as its own end and those who favor nostalgia and the value of foundations (theorists, cinephiles, archivists).
Sunday, November 6, 2011
I don't remember celebrating day of the dead too much as a child. I can recall one year that we were living in Mexico we decided to make an altar for my deceased grandmother which turned out rather nicely in the end. I reminisce about flower petals and rice forming crosses on the floor, the smell of incense burning, the vibrant colors of tissue paper giving off good vibes and paying reverence to the dead. I can recall the second of November as a memorable date because in Mexican culture they tend to mystify death and all its causes and as a child I couldn't help but feel morbid just thinking of it. Also my experience living in Mexico was that this brief holiday isn't celebrated with such enthusiasm as Christmas -I say christmas because its a religious holiday and I feel like perhaps we have more holidays to celebrate in United States because of our consumer tendencies.
Dia de los muertos was last wednesday and whilst nothing really stirred up in Ontario -or anywhere else for that matter- yesterday (Nov 5) I went to a little street fair in honor of the mexican in Santa Ana, Orange County. The whole thing took place in a little strip of downtown Santa Ana known as the artists village.
The whole event is set up by the community and people volunteer to make altars for their loved ones or a cause of death (i.e. the female homicides of juarez I saw a lot of those hmmm...). Its a Californian rendition of the Mexican tradition and whilst I could sit here and make parallels between the two I would rather show you pictures.
|A homosexual tribute?|
There was all the traditional stuff and then the rest seemed a bit like an arts and crafts fair where everything was handmade and sold at ridiculous prices. I did ,however, find this one old man from Guanajuato that sold/made hand painted toys for really cheap.
|all this stuff seems very contemporary and caters to rockabilly/punk crowd|
|Pan de Muerto|
Ok so its very "California" in a sense because Mexican culture in La is some kind of new mutation that has been developing since the 70s but there was quite a bit of traditional stuff as you can see. I also experienced a little puppet show where the marionettes where brought from Cuernavaca, and the show was done in spanish which is proof that people travel to come to this event. Its always nice to see a community in unison creating something of cultural value that will hopefully continue throughout the years.