09 mars 2007

The Air Is On Fire!

david K lynch

I visited the David Lynch exhibition yesterday at the Paris Fondation Cartier. Having seen some of his paintings online already, some of his photographs and most of his short films/animation, I wasn't as overwhelmed/surprised as I imagined. The scenography is rough and colossal (industrial scafolding structures) but there are only 4 rooms to cross, bathed in a semi-darkness, kinda half-night. Although some of the pieces are really impressive and worth a direct contact. Others require some explanations/guidance... You can imagine the typical Lynchian soundscape resonating in the speakers, especially certain paintings have their own sound with a pushbutton.

There are about 30 canvas, and some big ones, bigger than me. The hall they are installed in is a glassbox where the sun casts changing shadows on the painting surfaces. They are in tune with the work he did at the Art School (like the ones we see in his short films : Six Figures Getting Sick only more abstract/trash formally and more focused on sexual trauma and dreamwork). He refused to order them chronologically so it's impossible to make correlation with the evolution of his filmography... it's a shame.

With his return to the roots in INLAND EMPIRE, especially the scene towards the end, when Nikki/Grace shoots The Phantom in the face, that looks a lot like one of his large canvas titled "This Man Was Shot 0.9502 Seconds Ago" from 2004 (see e-Cahiers Feb. 2007, p. 28). I would love to see him develop this kind of experimental video-collage palimpsest in his future features, as well as playing around with non-representional sculptures like he did in The Grandmother or Eraserhead. That would create captivating atmospheres, and shake up the classicist establishment of movies.

Although among his hundreds of doodles (on post-it's, napkins, script pages, bills...) we can note the current obsession with a certain movie, either by the inclusion of names, words or special design refering to one of his film. Hey there is even one doodle with "Jonathan Rosenbaum" written on it! aint it cool? are they friends? ;)
There are also tel numbers, addresses, overheard lines, various notes incorporated under the drawing or decorated around. This guy never stops drawing everywhere he goes it seems, on any material, with any pen and with a free wheel inspiration. More than with his films, we could talk of the surrealist gameplay of automatic writing for his doodles (or canvas). "Automatic doodle". The shapes developped to fill the page with geometrical pattern carefuly avoid the usual conventions of classicism symetry, orthogonality, equilibrium, continuity. Rarely does he include ready-made recognizable shapes, sometimes diformed characters. It's a universe of texture and lighting vibration rather than a representation. It's fascinating to see his constant research for original creativity, something that doesn't look like something else, new shapes, new signs, a life of its own striking the imagination of the viewer (and Lynch himself too obviously) in unexpected ways. It's a kind of a Rorschach inkblot test Lynch imposes onto himself. Or maybe the tentative re-enactment of a nightmare peculiar atmosphere. His canvas too eschew formality, but melting a 3D amorphous character into the background of the same color. Meanwhile he likes to add letters and words as if to spell out each elements, each action, each moment.

He has blown up a few of his doodle in large serigraphies, which highlights a powerful design with the scale leap (harmonious abstract composition, simple colors, graphical dynamics). Lynch says they'd make amazing rugs and I agree, a huge thick "contemporean design" carpet or a mural Aubusson tapestry (like Cocteau used to do).

The mini drawing of a room materialized into a piece of set we can walk in is a cool experience. The carpet is made out of a handdrawn pattern and the walls with childlike paintings, even funky furniture with soft edges.

They also installed a small theatre, with black curtains and the 4th wall opened, where Lynch's experimental shorts and web animation are projected in loop. There I watched Out Younder, Six Figures Getting Sick, The Alphabet and The Grandmother.
So it's funny to stand there watching his films, surrounded by his photographic work on the walls. I really like the wall projected films in exhibitions, it adds a multimedia experience and also decontextualize the animated image. It's like watching a movie in a cinema while walking around the room, without sitting at the same place all the time.
They do that at the Cinémathèque exhibitions too. Last year they projected Renoir films on the walls (next to Auguste Renoir paintings), Almodovar clips on transluscent panes hanging from the ceiling (visible from both sides), and for the German Expressionism exhibition too, loops of silent scenes next to the wall sized posters. Films used to animate screen-walls create such an interactive theatrality within our environment.

The Photoshop doctoring of old pornographic photographs or recent nudes, dismembering their bodies into alien shapes, is among the most interesting researches. We can feel a distant influence of Max Ernst collages, Dali's soft bodies, and of course Bacon's carnal butchery. Which takes a disturbing dimension when fabricated from photos of real-life people, rather than from paintings.

15 commentaires:

John a dit…

hey harry
thanks for the review of lynch's exhibition. i'll be making a special trip to paris later this month to check it out for myself.

HarryTuttle a dit…

Hi John,
I liked your post on the Dublin festival in temple bar! I miss Dublin, I lived there 1 year a few years ago. Let me know when you're in town if you have the time for a talk.

HarryTuttle a dit…

I like how the picture in my post matches with the color scheme of my blog :)

johanna a dit…


I'm always waiting for lynch's hair to set fire. sigh. i think his movie came and went while i was away. go figure. and i'm too afraid to check to see if it's still around cuz now i'm too busy and broke! Netflix it is...

somehow, i get the feeling that this indie film pedia business is going to drive me to drink, and i don't mind saying so...perhaps i should just sit back and let the boys hash it out?

i really liked the earlier, original idea, tho'

johanna a dit…

oh, and i like how the picture in your post matches with the color scheme of your blog, too!

now i have to get back to editing...ciao

HarryTuttle a dit…

"air" is like we pronounce "hair" in France. :D
I hope you get to see INLAND EMPIRE it is a great great movie.

Courage for your editing and we'll see what happens with the indiepedia.

johanna a dit…

yes, we'll see...

I will get around to seeing the Lynch film at some time. I always do, haven't missed one yet.

But I think the only ones I ever saw in a theatre were Mulholland Drive and The Straight Story. Ah, those were the days : )

I honestly don't know how I feel about the Turks joining the E.U. Why would they want to?

Would it just be to boost their economy?

HarryTuttle a dit…

One of the reason their application is put on hold, is because they refuse to recognize the independence of Cyprius, which is part of the E.U. Greece and Turkey have been fighting over this island for years.
Turkey is not so much welcomed among Europeans, but Greece is right nextdoor so they are probably the most concerned about the free circulation through their borders.
Turkey is a populous country (so they would change the equilibrium of the union more than the recent members of the ex-communist block), and also happens to be an muslim state, which is odd in the christian club of old Europe.
They are working on making some changes to their constitution to comply to European standards, so they will eventually join the E.U.

johanna a dit…

I wish I had known all of that earlier.

When I first set out on this trip, I was looking mostly at the environmental factors in Greece, and had done a bit of research online to point me in the right direction, but when I got there it became stunningly obvious that between the Kyoto Accord compliance and their own efforts both on land and sea that they are doing everything in their power to reverse the ill effects of shipping and autos*...which seems more than many other countries are doing (Denmark, I know, is simply brilliant; but, of course, they're socialist...)

So I widened the scope to look at where they are with themselves, essentially...and missed out on a very important point, I think. I really would've liked to have been able to follow that while I was still there. (And I know that my brother, who is finally home from Iraq, dislikes the Turks even more than he dislikes Iraqis with guns.)

*An interesting shared tactic that surfaced in my other environmental doc is odd and even numbers. In Greece, traffic into Athens' center is limited every other day to cars with matching plates: odd plate numbers on odd days and so forth. In Butte, Montana where drinkable water is increasing in value, people may only water their lawns or wash their cars by house number.

HarryTuttle a dit…

hey I'm not saying Turks are evil people. Our beloved Nuri Bilge Ceylan is one of them.
Of course there are political issues with their government (notably the non-recognition of the Armenian genocide, or the oppression of Kurds), but its mainly a cultural and geo-political situation that sets Turkey outisde the traditional european limits.

Yeah I guess polution is a major problem in Greece. Athens accomodates on its own 10% (if not more) of the national population. I'm not aware of the recent environmental policy over there though. It used to be one of the most polluted city in Europe.
Denmark and Scandinavian countries have remarkable progressive governments environment-wise.
Roma also has this circulation by plate number system (because of polution and traffic jam issues too)
London imposes fees to drive in the city center (poor people use transportations)

johanna a dit…

My dear mentor in college in the early '90s, Yesho Atil, was a Turk. We called her The Mad Turk affectionately. I have no personal bad experiences with them, but it just keeps popping up. My brother once loved everybody equally and then suddenly developed this hatred. It must have come from somewhere, but it may be mostly an overall combination of things he's experiencing.

That's interesting about Rome and London. I'll keep that in mind. This thing may go global yet!

The thing about Athens is that it only had thirty thousand people until 1834, I think, when it became the capital and swelled to its present-day population of 5 million. Talk about your infrastructure problems. And it's still very smoggy. Families who can afford two or more cars simply drive the legal one on the appropriate days, so that plan isn't failproof, but the smog's improved.

What I'm loving are the solar cells on the tiled rooves of nearly every house in Greece (that I saw, outside of the city.) And the windmills on the mountain ranges. Windmills are catching on a bit in the states thanks in no small part to NCAT, but not nearly as much as they should.

Qui est Nuri Bilge Ceylan? Oh, wait, Google works. Ah, it looks like I'll be finding out the answer to that question when I finally get around to watching Climats...

HarryTuttle a dit…

Oops, I mixed up the figure. It was 30% of the total population living in Athens. Obviously more today.
What I remember from my trip (in 1991) was lots of houses under cosntruction outside Athens, abandonned with a 1st floor and no roof. Because they received state subsidies for building houses only when the construction reached the 1st floor, and then they ran away with the money. :D

Nuri Bilge Ceylan on my blog!

Did you watch some films by Angelopoulos? He often deals with the problems of immigration.

johanna a dit…

Ha ha...yes, the country's mostly (i think) zoned for only so many floors...(perhaps you already know this, sorry if you do...) up to three and so instead of putting rooves on after the first, and often even after the second, the family will wait until they're sure they're done building. I saw a lot of abandoned houses, too, but not so many as were under renovation.

'91, eh? So you were there before the metro construction. I can't wait to use some of the footage I took from that, especially. An exhibit of ancient ruins in every train stop. The juxtaposition was wild.

Thanks for the tip on Angelopoulus; I only saw the interviews that Marina posted so far. Could you perhaps recommend one or two?

I have really strong feelings about the matter of immigration myself. I see it as a largely unnecessary national means of control. It makes little sense beyond the prevention of traveling diseases, etc., but I'd like to study...

johanna a dit…

Sorry, Harry...you have one of the few blogs around that I don't read linearly: I jump around. This is quite something, really: it kinda makes you the David Lynch of film bloggers ; )

I've earmarked the Ceylan post for reading tomorrow.

HarryTuttle a dit…

It's ok I don't think there is such a thing as a regular reader on my blog, the absence of comments is telling. ;) But then again, I don't update it very often either... mea culpa.

I've only seen 3 Angelopoulos films, but you should check out acquarello's website