The mandatory reading of an essay by Stefano Basilico discussed the various techniques artists or editors used to transform found footage. The complete control of what the viewer sees is in the hands of the editor and this allows the editor to create meaning through what he chooses to show and what not to show. Basilico talk about 'gestures' and the different methods artists employed to edit film. These are: to stretch, to remove, to arrange, to systemise, to erase, to repair, to continue, and to match.
24-hour Pyscho by Douglas Gordon
The iconic thriller film, Psycho, by Alfred Hitchcock is stretched by Gordon into 24 hours. This transformed the movie by diffusing the tension that was carefully constructed by Hitchcock. This is evident in the climax of the movie; the montage of stabbing and quick flashes of the knife is slowed to the point where the viewer can see the knife does not penetrate the skin at all.
Notes: The amount of editing required to create this piece was not substantial and thus I felt underwhelmed by it. However, it still shows the degree in which a small change can affect a piece of work entirely. In that sense I am able to appreciate the simplicity of how Gordon undermines the master-fully crafted thriller.
Soliloquy Trilogy by Candice Breitz
Breitz is able to create a commentary on Hollywood and the movie industry by removing all but the dialogue and scenes of an individual actor. She edited the well-known movies of iconic actors such as: Sharon Stone in Basic Instinct, Jack Nicholson in The Witches of Eastwick and Clint Eastwood in Dirty Harry. In her film, she chooses what and what not to show the audience. What is understood by the audience is that, within a 2 hour movie, these actors only appear in no more than 8-10 minutes. We are left with disappointing fragments of a brilliant movie. This then begs the question: 'why do we glorify and worship these so called "Hollywood stars" '. It becomes apparent that these actors are accredited with stardom, while the hundreds of editors, cinematographers, screen-writers and other creators are underappreciated. In further criticism of Hollywood culture, Breitz creates a narrative through these actors which highlight the repetitive archetypes that actors are placed into; the seductive and attractive dame, the masculine action man and the devious devil.
Notes: I was heavily inspired by how Breitz used Hollywood to discredit Hollywood. In addition, she creates a new narrative out of the footage through her editing, this feels more intentional and thought out than Gordon's 24-hour Psycho. By exposing the flaws of Hollywood and the massive movie industry, she urges viewers to rethink their attitude towards mainstream media, which is something I've tried to incorporate into my own work.
CNN Concatenated by Omer Fast
Fast edits footage from CNN by stringing individual words, spoken by news anchors, presenters and reporters, into a seven different monologues. These monologues are more personal, emotive and intimate in contrast to the serious tenor of news broadcasters. This can be interpreted in many ways, one may see Fast's re-contextualization of CNN newscasters akin to how news stations often places incidents out of context or manipulate the news in order to evoke an emotional response. The quick succession of flashing images also creates a sense of urgency that is often seen on news channels as breaking news or news flash. Another interpretation may suggest a criticism of the false intimacy created by television personalities and viewers. Whether CNN concatenated is meant to contain satirical undertones or not, Fast is able to create new meaning through a careful arrangement of found footage, testifying that meaning is not only in the hands of the person being filmed but more so in the hands of the editor.
Learning from Las Vegas by Jennifer and Kevin McCoy
By cutting and categorizing movie scenes set in Las Vegas, the McCoys create a collection of 120 different films. It attempts to teach you lessons about 120 different things through these collections of things. For example, 'learning to smoke' or 'learning from art'. These films would take scenes with characters smoking or scenes where a painting is framed out of their original context and create 'lessons'. This quick compilation of similar images reminds the audience that movie scenes are often indistinguishable when taken out of context, allowing us to appreciate how carefully movies are timed, edited and constructed. Using this systematic method of creating art interests me and is something I would like to try to apply to my own art. This technique of quasi-programming allows the artist to step back and indirectly create something unique.
The gesture 'to systematize' is closely linked to Gustav Metzger's concept of 'Auto-creative Art'. Metzger originally wrote his manifesto on 'Auto-destructive Art', discussing how artwork can decay overtime. Later on, he publish another manifesto called 'Auto-creative art' that suggests decomposition and destruction can be a foundation for growth and creation. This is embodied in his work 'Liquid Crystal Environment' on display at The Doris and Donald Fisher Gallery in Tate Modern. Light is projected through liquid crystals that are in an ever-changing chemical state. This piece immerses the viewer in a room of colour that constantly changes. The idea of an artwork constantly changing and growing is fascinating and is perhaps more relevant in modern society where people's attentions are so fragmented.
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