Friday, May 22, 2009

On Staring #1

The point of this blog was to post up some old film and video works and to place up works in progress as they happen. Only problem is that I've finally taken it upon myself to start the blog while I'm away from the studio and the edit suite as I try and wrestle a screenplay for a film called 'The Warmth' into shape, life and order. So, all I have are some old bits and pieces of photographs, fragments and pages from some old zines that will have to do as the blog content for the moment.

A long time ago, I made a photocopy of a great picture of JLG looking down from a building (I think it was his production offices) like some snappily dressed sniper. I made the copy on a fax machine and while the picture hung over my desk for a few years, I noticed it fade and bleed and blur over time. It was a haunting...

Around the same time, I watched a film called 'Blind Grace' by US Indie filmmaker Adam Cohen (whose brother, Jem Cohen, I had written a bit about for a local journal) Apart from being an incredible piece of filmmaking he relayed a Walker Evans quote in the titles that I had never come across. It always reminds me of the sniper/JLG photo for the reason that it seemed the longer I looked at that image hanging above my desk, the more it twisted and changed and evaded me.

Walker Evans:
"Stare. It is the only way to educate your eye and more. Stare, pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long."

This simple quote has done more to lock my mind onto a path than just about anything. When I hear someone being clever about a way of thinking, or their way of approaching their work through a particular theoretical framework, I find it very easy to be influenced, to test their ideas against my own... but almost at the same time as this happens I find myself falling slackjawed back to this mantra and mumble... "stare... it is the only way to educate... etc." Feel free to back away from my glassy eyed stare, hands raised.

But this idea, of seeing things anew by really studying them, whether it is the everyday street life of Walker Evan's photographs or the intricacies of human relationships, there is something incredibly exciting in allowing cinema to do what it does best: to transform how we experience time and allow us to stare, to pry and eavesdrop on the things that surround us. I don't want to show things that are clever or new or thrilling. I want to look at the smallest things around me until they become new, clever and thrilling because we are able to see them in their truest form. Or at least, by using the illusory form of cinema, we can approach what is real more closely. As Slavoj Zizek suggests in Sophie Fienne's brilliant documentary 'The Pervert's Guide to Cinema' through cinema we find "there is something more real in the illusion than in the reality behind it."

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