(pre-credit prolog) : Fade from black. Shape of an eye in a melon-sized fossile rock. The rock is shaking, a transparent fluid leaks out to the floor. Frame widens showing the stone stored under layers of papers. This is an abstract symbolic reminder of the subterranean elevating tracking shot through layers of earth in the opening of Cremaster 3.
-- Giftwarpping sequence, to send a prehistoric krill fossile to General MacArthur to thank his decision to end the anti-whaling moratorium, accompanied by the sung letter wrote on 13 july 1946.
(CGI Credits) : a CGI whale is sliced in the sea in a stylized fashion. Flensing knife-shapped letters assemble the words : Drawing Restraint 9.
-- Cut to a flyover shot over Nagasaki waterfront. Then a construction site on the beach where the mold for a petroleum jelly pier (holographic entry point) is built to the image of a land flensing ramp of ancestral whaling tradition.
Avant Garde cinema is less accessible immediately, but takes us closer to the unspoiled essence of an artist's mind.
Body-art developped in the 70ies, the artist and his own motion is the work of art itself, video serving as an objective recording of reality. These happenings are spontaneous events with a physiological mise-en-scene. The body might be pushed to the limit of physical tolerance or subjected to a trivial/repetitive routine.
Drawing Restraint series (1987-2005)
A comprehensive survey of Drawing Restraint projects is currently exhibited at the San Fransisco MoMA. June 23rd - September 17th, 2006. Before it has been exhibited at Kanazawa, Japan (2005) and Seoul, South Korea (2006)
The organizing principle of this Drawing Restraint series comes from Barney's original combination of sport, medicine and art. To build stronger the athlete shall constrain his muscles, they would grow bigger. Thus the athlete is a masochistic alchemist who creates matter with self-imposed discipline and exercise. The cycle of muscular regeneration is compared to the digestive process in a ternary Path :
DR9 : Matthew Barney's Cinema
As odd as it sounds, there is no fundamental difference between the installments he performs alone in his studio, strapped to an elastic band (DR1 to 6), and the making of this grandiloquent movie, only the scale differs. And it's impressive to see an artist develop his one idea through many different ways, indifferently. Here adaptated or transposed to the japanese tradition of whaling, the Drawing Restraint concept develops along the same "Path".
DR9 is the most narrative and explicit piece in the series, yet is hardly a narrative movie by cinema standards. This is mainly the cinematic recording of one of his sophisticated performances. Unlike narrative directors, Barney fully enjoys the multimedia potential of cinema. His use of cinema is free of prejudice and conventions, opening a fresh field of experimentation because he's not beholden to professionalism. Cinema isn't his only medium of expression, so his films aren't formated by distribution necessity or audience expectations.
The first event, articulating the rhythm of the entire film, is the processing of a Field Emblem sculpture made of petroleum jelly on the aft deck.
The other event is a wedding between two Occidental Guests inspired by Shinto ceremonial protocols. The petrolatum mold is the pulse of this happening, regulating at the slow pace of chemical solidification the protocol of everybody on this ship (and on the shore).
The Occidental Guests seem to come to this peculiar ceremony without knowing eachother, like an arranged marriage. Their first encounter is anti-climactic, as it takes place in a quiet waiting corridor. Meeting wasn't a purpose of theirs apparently, unless their inner emotion is measured by the overwhelming etiquette. Then finaly unite after an erotical anthropophagic ritual.
The linear timeline goes: separation, transfiguration, union, mutation
- Separation. Barney and Bjork are isolated, they are two dissociated halves (like in Plato's soulmate myth)
- The petrolatum filling the two halves of the Field Emblem mold allows their reunion (chemical reaction)
- Transformation with ablution and new costumes
- The tea ceremony is a social restraint preventing contact
- A storm breaks out when the cross bar (restraint) of the Field Emblem is removed at night
- Chaos releases sexual energy drawing Barney and Bjork together
- This is the opportunity for creativity and production. Like the blubber from the symbolic whale is flensed out and burnt in the boiler, the flesh of humans is mutilated and consumed, to give birth to a new hybrid.
(s) ++ (w) +++ (m) +++ (i) ++++ (c) +++
* * *Following up in the next post(s) :
- 2 (Drawing Restraint series)
- 3 (Whaling Imagery)
- 4 (Field Emblem sequence choreography)
- Cultural Transgression & Political subtext
- Symbolism & Conceptual interpretation
* * *This post is a contribution to the Avant Garde blogathon organised by Girish, check out the other participants:
- Joseph Cornell (Girish)
- Ganeden, 2003, Maurice Lemaître (acquarello at Strictly Film School)
- Arthur Lipsett (Mubarak Ali at Supposed Aura)
- Sequence 18 - Pink Elephants on Parade (Brendon Bouzard at My Five Year Plan)
- Chris Cagle at Category D
- Christopher Maclaine (Zach Campbell at Elusive Lucidity)
- The Cinema of Jean-Pierre Gorin Pt. 2 & Part 1 (Matthew Clayfield at Esoteric Rabbit)
- Egoyan's Calendar, opening shot (Culture Snob)
- Bruce Conner's Permian Strata (Brian Darr at Hell On Frisco Bay)
- Shuji Terayama's Emperor Tomato Ketchup (Filmbrain at Like Anna Karina's Sweater)
- Dutch Masters: Sometimes a Camera is Just a Cigar (Jim Flannery at A Placid Island of Ignorance)
- Kenneth Anger’s Lucifer Rising (Flickhead)
- Pressburger's A Canterbury Tale (Richard Gibson)
- Jean Epstein's The Fall of the House of Usher (Ed Gonzalez at Slant)
- Interview With Jenni Olson & Dominic Angerame (Michael Guillen at The Evening Class)
- Claire Denis' L'Intrus (Tom Hall at The Back Row Manifesto)
- Peter Greenaway (Ian W. Hill at Collisionwork)
- This Post Is, Er... "Experimental" (Andy Horbal at No More Marriages!)
- Rybczynski's Screen Test: Helmut (David Hudson at Greencine Daily)
- Phil Collins' they shoot horses & Jon Jost's Plain Talk and Common Sense (Uncommon Senses) (Darren Hughes at Long Pauses)
- Interview with Joel Schlemowitz (Jennifer Macmillan at Invisible Cinema)
- The Avant Garde Blog-a-thon: A School of Filmmakers (Peter Nellhaus at Coffee Coffee and More Coffee)
- Avant-garde Nature Films (David Pratt-Robson at Videoarcadia)
- Liquid Crystal Films (Seadot at An Astronomer in Hollywood)
- Bruce Baillie's Castro Street & Ernie Gehr's Side / Walk / Shuttle (Michael Sicinski at The Academic Hack)
- Buñuel's The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie (Michael S. Smith at Culturespace)
- Avant-Garde - Why is it so pretentious? (Squish at The Film Vituperatum)
- A Post on Avant-Garde Cinema in America (Tom Sutpen at If Charlie Parker Was a Gunslinger)
- On music video (That Little Round-Headed Boy)
- Porter's Dream of a Rarebit Fiend (Thom at Film Of The Year)
- Marking Time (Chuck Tryon at The Chutry Experiment)
- Quay Bros' Street of Crocodiles (Walter at Quiet Bubble)