beauty to a world hell-bent on insanity

From: gregg biermann (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Feb 02 2006 - 07:49:04 PST

I remember being at a screening a few years ago of Bruce Conner's
"Crossroads" and I happened to be sitting near Ricky Leacock. He seemed
a bit agitated by the movie but I was impressed that he stayed through
the entire thing. His quarrel with the movie was precisely with what it
doesn't say or do about the content. He said that he thought the film
was a failure-- for example because he wanted to know what happened to
the people on the boats and the film never got around to letting him
know. And after 35 minutes of watching these mushroom clouds you don't
really know anything more about the facts of the atomic test (or
Hiroshima for that matter) than you did before. Aside from the issue of
objective facts it doesn't really lead us down a political road either.
How many times can you think the thought: "it is so beautiful and so
terrible that I think so"? You can think politics during this movie but
eventually through radical form you get to a point where the movie seems
to be stripped its potential for political interpretation or historical
content. We might almost look at this atomic explosion from a not-human
perspective. In that sense it might be almost ambivalent about human
beings destroying themselves.

Madison Brookshire wrote:

> Chuck wrote:
> >So some of the films are very explicitly on the subject
> >of being against the war; others were more abstract, etc. Jacobs is
> >entitled to his own opinion, which could also be taken as an example
> >of the insularity of the avant garde, or its purism.
> >I suppose the issue is what was more important: making works of
> >genius experimental art or making a statement against the Vietnam
> >War?
> Personally, I believe this: there can be no radical content without
> radical form. There's no such thing as a political t-shirt nor is any
> propaganda better than any other propaganda. If you talk down to
> people, if you appeal to their baser emotions rather than their
> intellects (or we could rephrase: if you manipulate people's emotions
> instead of appealing to their senses, their feelings) then the meaning
> of what you are saying will be devoured by the way in which you say it.
> As Mani Kaul used to say to us, his students, "Content betrays
> itself." (He was quoting a theorist whose name escapes me). If your
> film purports to be anti-war, but is in fact a slick commercial for
> yourself, this will be visible. If your film purports to be
> anti-corporate and anti-consumerist but is in fact a multi-million
> dollar investment that advertises that which it supposedly attacks (a
> la Fight Club), this will be visible.
> Anyway, For Life, Against the War (which, incidentally, I think is a
> beautiful title, almost as beautiful as Collective for Living Cinema),
> for some at least, represented a way to propose sanity and beauty to a
> world hell-bent on insanity and shit. Ken's film, AIRSHAFT, which I
> believe he showed in the program, is a marvelous protest film. For me,
> it is neither purist nor insular. It is human. If we can educate
> people on how to live in the world, on how to be sensitive and alive
> to the world itself, is this not the greatest form of protest against
> a society, as Ken would say, "addicted to endless war-after-war"?
> I believe that abstraction (and AIRSHAFT is not an abstract film. It
> is representational.) is not a form of escapism. I believe that any
> image or set of images, any experience wrought honestly and out of a
> spirit of giving (as opposed to vanity or self-aggrandizement:
> careerism) is a protest against not just A war, but the very society
> that would allows itself to systematically engage in war. Etc. Etc.
> Franz Kline said something to the effect of "However much you mean it,
> that's how much it will mean." And I think it's visible in the work.
> This is not to say that you can will all kinds of literal meaning onto
> an abstract image, but that the form of what you create will affect
> the way in which people experience it. To create a radical experience
> via a radical form, to me that is avant-garde... no, let's say
> revolutionary.
> Madison
> __________________________________________________________________ For
> info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.

For info on FrameWorks, contact Pip Chodorov at <email suppressed>.