11 août 2006

DR9 - part deux

The Cremaster Cycle was more complex symbolically, dealing with gender, morphology, mythology, psychology.
By contrast, DR9 is rather simple. It develops a simple idea, under multiple approaches and various forms, the allegory of the muscle regeneration. The whaling tradition in Japan is only an excuse to illustrate this theory. Barney's commentary on the whaling controversy is minimal and the borrowing from Shinto traditions is incidental (yet pertinent to his concept), almost indifferent.

The artist is not an accurate historian and resorts to provocation using somebody else's social taboos. This performance functions like a surrealist collage, displacing objects from their usual place, or meanings from their usual subjects. Inversion of objects to cause confusion of senses, to generate a language free of ready-made prejudices. The action disguised with new clothes looks new and we can perceive it differently, where the essence devoid of sense takes precedence on the container. It's a simultaneous clash of concepts rather than an apparent linear history.

DR9 is not about what we see, but going beyond appearances, engages an abstract reflection on the creative condition of humanity. To create implies to destroy. Destruction implies starting over anew with a stronger base, a deeper experience.


Few notes on the directing concepts of the DR series from drawingrestraint.net :

  • 1 - Hypertrophy : The Athlete is the alchemist
  • 2 - The Athlete is the artist
  • 3 - Houdini and the body intelligence, The artist is the athlete
  • 4 - Formal Perversion and Autoerotica. Three phases of the Path : Situation, condition, production. The artist/Athlete is the masochist in the margin

The Path :

  • Situation (mouth) :
    Raw drive, undifferentiated sexual energy without discipline or direction. undifferentiated foetus sex organ. Hunger, indiscriminate consumption.
  • Condition (stomach) :
    visceral funnel. Condition disciplines the oral intake of Situation. Undifferentiated field of energy begins to take form. Condition functions like the stomach, systematically breaking down the bolus ingested by Situation, nourishing it and encouraging growth.
  • Production (anus) :
    Anal output of the path. Two-headed dumbbell (unit BOLUS). Potential to close the three-phase PATH, joining the mouth (Situation) with anus (Production), enabling a mediation on an endless loop between desire and discipline.


DR Project
Resistance as a prerequisite for development and vehicle for creativity. Barney understands that when you work against resistance, muscular growth takes place in the body. The creation of obstacles that would make the act of drawing a physical challenge.

  • DR1(1987) - artiste strapped to the thighs with an elastic band to restrain mobility during drawing
  • DR2 (1988) - variation on DR1
    meditation on the desire to make a mark, and the discipline imposed on that.
  • DR3 (1988) - Weightlifter : Olympic barbell cast in petroleum wax/jelly. First piece in the series that rendered a character of refusal. Beginning of a more narrative approach to the DR project.
  • DR4 (1988) - Blocking sled (trains the legs and the explosive strength of an athlete) and petroleum wax plates pushed through a corridor in attempt to draw a linear drawing on the floor.
  • DR5 (1989) - Only piece in the series performed for an audience.
    Ceramic skeet thrower making marks on the wall. Drawing on the wall around the marks strapped to an elastic band.
  • DR6 (1989) - Self portrait drawn on the ceiling by jumping on a trampoline.
  • DR7 (1993) - video
    Render the character of refusal that emerged in DR3. Satyrs (ram & ewe) wrestle while attempting to draw a ram horn in the condensation of the moon roof with the tip of the ram's horn. Presumption punished by flaying.
  • DR8 (2003)
    Field emblem: "pill-shaped body with a superimposed rectilinear bar positioned over its central axis. The field represents self-imposed resistance placed upon an organic body."
    Inversion of the proposal, the metaphorical bar was removed temporarily from the body, allowing for an eroticism that the system hadn't granted itself before. stored energy is sacrificed for eroticism and the body begins to atrophy.
  • DR9 (2005) "begins with a procession at a Japanese oil refinery, where a tanker truck loaded with hot petroleum jelly is paraded from the factory gates down to the local harbour. The tanker is led by oxen, horses, deer, and a wild boar and is flanked by hundreds of Japanese revellers as it arrives abreast an enormous factory ship. The hot petroleum jelly has been delivered to the ship in port, where it is pumped into a massive, open mold on the aft deck. The ship departs for the Antarctic, and over weeks the mass of petroleum jelly cools. The cured surface of the jelly casting becomes a provocative reflection of the changing conditions of the seas. Whale processing methods and tools are used to facilitate the creation of this sculpture. The story culminates with the de-moulding of the sculpture as the ship reaches the Southern Ocean, with backdrop of luminous icebergs.The evolution of the petroleum jelly sculpture on the processing deck is mirrored by a love story which is unfolding on the second deck of the factory ship. The strict choreography of a traditional Japanese tea ceremony is the backdrop for a courtship of two western guests who are falling in love as they are served green tea by the ship's host. As the voyage ensues, the tea room itself becomes the tea bowl, as it slowly fills up with warm fluid. The western guests become enveloped in the fluid and undergo a mysterious transformation." (press notes from the website)
  • DR10 (2005) - variation of DR6 - performed in Japan.
    Additional marks added with a bamboo pole while climbing on a column. Drawing : visualization of the DR9 narrative, superimposed over the bodies of two whales.
  • DR11 (2005) - climbing on three walls at the exhibition gallery (Japan) to draw the three phases of the PATH.
  • DR12 (2005) - site specific performance in Seoul Korea.
    climbing of the wall of the gallery while drawing the 3 phases of the PATH.
  • DR13 (?) n/a
  • DR14 (2006) - site specific performance at SFMoMA. Climbing and drawing dressed as General MacArthur.

Read also the other posts on DR9 :
- 1 (Introduction)
- 3 (Whaling Imagery)
- 4 (Field Emblem sequence choreography)

7 commentaires:

Filmbrain a dit…

This performance functions like a surrealist collage, displacing objects from their usual place, or meanings from their usual subjects.

Interesting idea. However, if there is no connection, no significance, no fundamental understanding of the source (material/object/ritual/etc.), then you're left with shallow, meaningless superficialities.

This is precisely my problem with Barney and DR9.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I mean Barney doesn't need Shinto to create, his ideas precede his (recent) familiarity with Japanese culture. "Stealing" isn't necessary to the depth of his work, he already developped his own rich personal mythology.
Maybe you'd expect a faithful/respectful image whereas "documentation" isn't his purpose. This representation of Shinto could be shallow from this point of view, but I doubt Barney's intention was to show how well he grasps Japanese culture, much the contrary. He borrows signs not meanings (or spirituality). He's a formal craftman, not a philosopher. He's got his own ideology (which is not superfial, not religious either).

Take Dali for example, who was largely inspired by catholic imagery (Gala as the virgin Mary), which could be shallow blasphemy by religious standards... (I'm just comparing the appropriation not the genius)

I'm not specialist of Shinto (neither is Barney) so maybe you could help me to decypher the cultural transgression there.

Filmbrain a dit…

Yet Dali understood the significance of what he was doing. Blasphemous it may be, but these images -- Christ, Mary, cross, etc -- are not only familiar to him, but are part of his own culture.

I don't want/expect faithful representation, not at all. However, I see Barney's use of Japanese folk culture and tradition as silly as people who get tattoos of Chinese characters. It looks cool, and most people won't get it.

If you're going to borrow/steal/mock/interpret/modify/parody something, there should be an understanding of the source first. Some sort of connection. I accuse Barney of filling DR9 with these images simply to keep us interested -- representations of "the other", exotica, things we're not accustomed to as a means of holding our interest.

Girish and I discussed this very subject after we saw the film together. I asked him at the time if he would feel the same way about it had Barney co-opted Indian mythology, culture, traditional iconography, etc. It gave him pause. (I'll allow him to comment on it, if he desires.)

I'll admit -- I've never been a big fan of Barney, and DR9 did nothing to persuade me otherwise. His pieces/films are fascinating to look at, but I've yet to find any depth in them, nor have they caused any sort of emotional response in me.

As I said on your last post, perhaps your multi-part analysis will help sway my opinion.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Ok, I got it wrong. I guess I don't see very well where you stand on the issue. I thought it was the sacrilegious appropriation of a religion.

I don't think DR9 is meant to be a parody, mockery or interpretation. Barney doesn't offer HIS opinion on the borrowed material (he doesn't comment on Shinto like a satire would), he uses an out-of-context snipet to serve his pre-established discourse (the DR theory invented in 1987, that had nothing to do with Japan).
He could export his DR theory in any culture, because this principle of borrowing in art is interchangeable.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I don't know if Barney consciously incorporate psychology in his theory or if it was only a medical concern he got during his medicine studies, but there is Freud all over The Path rationalization.

The freudian terminology of infant psychosexual construction is there almost verbatim :
Oral stage (Mouth), Anal stage (Anus), Phallic stage (Cremaster cycle).
Conflicts at the Anal stage might cause anal-retentive fixations (Restraint).

From Wikipedia :
"The child discovers the pleasure which comes from the exercise of power (in this instance the power to hold on or let go.) The retentive character takes pleasure in holding in the faeces."

HarryTuttle a dit…

There is a scene I couldn't quite connect with the rest of the film : a japanese child, sick, laid on the bed of the medic's cabin (where Barney got shaved previously I think), and throws up endlessly in a bucket. But I hadn't researched the DR theory of The Path when I watched the film. So now it would make more sense in retrospect.
This child could very well be a projected image of Barney's own childhood. And his sick stomach is a failure of the digestive restraint, a backfire of the oral fixation.

Now that I think of it I wonder if it isn't the same bucket used by the white-clothed children who rebuild the crossbar of the Field Emblem mold, to stick shrimp under the ambegris log. If someone wants to check out the scenes continuity...

HarryTuttle a dit…

Actually, I wonder if this wooden bucket isn't the one used by fisherwomen to collect oysters at the beguining. There might be a thread now linking the gastric regeneration theme (oyster, human stomach, ambergris).