petak, 12. svibnja 2017.

Robert Downey Sr. - Greaser’s Palace (1972)



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Nizovi i nizovi stalnih iznenađenja, s Isusom u glavnoj ambijentalnoj ulozi. Buñuel i Jodorowsky dotaknuti jurećim automobilom.








‘Nearly every event in Greaser’s Palace arrives unexpectedly and unannounced; there are few movies as totally unpredictable as this one. Jesus appears as a song-and-dance man, and has an agent. Characters get shot unexpectedly and repeatedly, and return from the dead with psychedelic stories about the afterlife. A midget and a transvestite live together in a prairie homestead as man and wife. A man tries to rape a wooden Indian. Mariachi music is used as an instrument of torture. The weirdness of this world is underplayed; none of the characters, with an important exception, acknowledge or even notice that anything is even the slightest bit off. This attitude makes some of the events come off even funnier, but it also makes the proposed comedy impure and tainted. Downey never signals to us whether he’s making a joke or not, and so we’re never sure whether we’re supposed to laugh or not. A town is assembled, quietly listening to a woman sing a song about the virtue of chastity. Suddenly, a man starts screaming in pain because a man dressed as a Halloween ghost burns him with a lit cigar. He is dragged by a gang of cowboys out into a dirt road and shot by his father for interrupting the festivities. Is this funny, or disturbing? Who can say? We don’t have a stock emotional response to that kind of scene; we have to make up our reaction on the fly.’ — G. Smalley, 366 Weird Movies






“I’ve made ‘Greaser’s Palace’ sound funnier than it ever is except in little bits and pieces, that is, in gags that have nothing to do with satire or with a send-up of Christian myth. Downey is no Bunüel. He’s not even an Alexandro Jodorowsky, although there are times when ‘Greaser’s Palace’ seems to want to be as intellectually ambitious as ‘El Topo.'”–Vincent Camby, The New York Times (contemporaneous)


“Approaching the life of Christ with a sensibility informed equally by Buñuel and Mad magazine… As a product of an unusually adventurous time in cinema history, Greaser’s Palace has perverse appeal. As a comedy, it’s virtually unwatchable.”–Nathan Rabin, The A.V. Club (DVD)


“…may well be the weirdest film you ever see about the life of Christ, but it may also be the one to which you pay the most attention.”–Chris Holland, Attack of the 50-Foot DVD (DVD)


Robert Downey Sr.’s films are ribald, socially-conscious, highly experimental works that make Richard Lester’s oeuvre seem polite and Godard’s plot-heavy. Though he achieved cult success with 1969’s Putney Swope, some of Downey’s other, more radical works from the period are arguably more interesting, and their revival by way of an Eclipse box set is exceptional news. Up All Night With Robert Downey Sr. brings together five early films which show the director at his unhinged best, and if nothing else should prove a hedge against Downey becoming a mere footnote to his more famous son’s career.
A part of New York’s avant-garde film scene in the 60s, Downey screened his works alongside underground icons Shirley Clarke, Bruce Conner and Kenneth Anger. What he shared with his contemporaries was a patent disregard for convention and an ability to make films on the cheap. He cast his friends and family, shot on available locations, and mostly avoided sync sound. The work transcends its technical and budgetary limitations however, owing to Downey’s impudent sensibility. Plot, realism, and good taste all go out the window. His narratives are instead random, surreal, and chock-a-block full of crass humor—call them post-modern picaresques. 

Downey’s first feature, Babo 73 (1964), is case in point. A sui generis political farce, it follows the whimsical adventures of Sandy Studsbury (Taylor Mead), the effete president of the “United Status,” who conducts affairs of state from a beach chair. “I’m morally committed to anyone who’ll vote for me,” he gleefully admits. With the help of his feckless cabinet, Studsbury makes quick work of assassinating prime ministers, bombing Albania, and congratulating himself on his job performance. Filmed in extremely unlikely locations—a crumbling house, a cemetery, a highway median—the picture makes a virtue of abstraction, like an Ionesco play shot through with Beatnik sensibility.
Taylor Mead in Babo 73


Downey’s next and more daring effort was 1966’s Chafed Elbows, the one masterpiece in the set. Composed almost entirely of still photographs, it’s a twisted formal cousin of Chris Marker’s La Jetée, the difference being that Downey’s photos wriggle, writhe and repeat to the rhythm of a bebop beat. It lends the film a cartoon-ish quality that mirrors its “story,” wherein every-doofus Walter Dinsmore (George Morgan) sleeps with his mother, gives birth to some cash, has a nervous breakdown, acts in an underground film, shoots a cop, defenestrates his cousin…and so on. Absurdity is the byword, and no one escapes Downey’s critical eye. Poets, parents, artists and cops are all variously derided as frauds.
Chafed Elbows successfully earned Downey a reputation, and after the curious docu-diversion of 1968’s No More Excuses (the less said, the better), he was able to finance the bigger budget, higher concept, Putney Swope. In it, the eponymous hero (Arnold Johnson) is the sole black employee at an advertising firm who gets promoted to Chairman of the Board by fluke. No sooner does he take over, than he replaces the white staff with black and embarks on a doomed crusade to marry his high ideals with big business. Downey’s first film to observe at least a few tenets of classical form, it’s naturally the one that went over biggest on release. It’s got a groovy, revolutionary spirit, but from a formal perspective it’s not half so daring as his previous work.
Downey went on to direct another cult favorite, the unfortunately not-included Greaser’s Palace (1972), and has had an erratic career ever since. In 1975 he made the nigh inscrutable Moment to Moment (included here in a re-cut form as Two Tons of Turquoise to Taos Tonight), then followed it in 1980 with the banal teen comedy Up the Academy. That he never found a solid industry foothold isn’t surprising; originality has never been an asset in Hollywood and Downey’s style is anything but derivative. His early works, nevertheless, retain their freshness, are still vital, and unequivocally those of an unruly American original. -    http://filmmakermagazine.com/46953-up-all-night-with-robert-downey-sr/#.WRWlxGe1vcs



ponedjeljak, 24. travnja 2017.

Isiah Medina - 88:88

88:88 (2015)

Godardovski prijevod s polifonijskog na polipiktoralni.


The elusive, elliptical 88:88 is a bold debut feature from Winnipeg-based experimental filmmaker Isiah Medina that audaciously rethinks the possibilities and language of cinematic form. Being selected for both the Locarno Film Festival and TIFF’s most immaculately curated section, Wavelengths – two of the most consistently forward-looking festival programmes – can only mean good things, and the indication is clear: a powerful and original new voice has been discovered.
The film’s narrative strands aren’t easily deciphered. 88:88 doesn’t have characters so much as late Godardian figures that, in monologue and dialogue, contribute to what feels at times like a collective diary entry in poetry. A couple in their bedroom, friends at a basketball court, people hanging out, struggling, telling stories, joking, living – what registers is a sense of life being lived and yet not bound to the confines of a film, extending beyond it.
88:88 (2015)
88:88 (2015)

Shot on the Red camera, 16mm and cameraphones, Medina fluently balances pristine digital images with pixilated frames and myriad overlays, again partly evoking late Godard. But it’s unfair to rest on any crutch of comparison here, as we’re treading in very new territory. Hip-hop is infused into the formal DNA of the movie as much as anything, setting its rapid tempo.
The title refers to the reset digits of an alarm clock as they appear after the power’s been cut off, an allusion to the poverty the film philosophically investigates as a mode of being. On the other hand the ‘8’ is also a symbol that suggests infinity. Medina chops up temporality until it feels completely suspended, hitting at the same time the pause button and fast-forward on life, thinking around and inside it. 88:88 is a journal of filmed thought that seems to form in the instant you watch it and contemplate along with it. You may not keep up with it, but the emotions are palpable even when the ideas are intangible.
88:88 (2015)
88:88 (2015)

To watch the film is to experience a milieu, an abstract plunge into Winnipeg’s young underclass. Like watching water after you toss stones into a river, 88:88 is a rippling reaction to what seems like a million ideas firing at once. Medina’s figures (friends, one would assume) are actively coping and working towards understanding, just as the film aims to do. Medina’s poetic eye finds things in unlike things, transforming realist spaces and surfaces into something else, a texture of impressions that speak to existence.
To describe 88:88 is to necessarily talk around it, as it purposely transcends words (while also using them as a tool, but one with limitations). Considered in its seemingly infinite scope (and in only 65 minutes) are issues of love, ethics, technology, race, politics and class – and none feel separate from the others. These are exciting, personally charged images concerned with solving real problems on a micro level and pondering their implications on a macro level, aiming to do what all the best films do: to break down the barriers between each other, and between thinking and feeling. It represents an important moment in ennobling filmmaking’s philosophical potential, leaving so much in the dust. With the arrival of 88:88, the cinema has a lot of catching up to do with Isiah Medina. - Adam Cook 


The Volatility Smile: A Dialog About Isiah Medina’s "88:88"

“Poetics of whispers,” Godard, modernism, and Alain Badiou: discussing a challenging, polyphonic, polypictorial movie.
Craig Keller
Craig Keller and Uncas Blythe continue our series of film dialogues. Isiah Medina's 88:88 is having its exclusive online premiere at MUBI, playing through April 17, 2016.

CRAIG KELLER: We're going to talk about Isiah Medina's 66-minute film from 2015, 88:88. It's a challenging movie: polyphonic, polypictorial, but not confrontational, in fact pretty chilled-out; if it were featured on Top Gear the hosts might praise its speed, dynamic facility, and stability of suspension. 88:88 presents Medina himself and a group of friends or characters from university in and around the neighborhoods of Winnipeg.
Now I'll refrain from synopsizing any more. I had a hard time with the film, but like any complicated work revisitations in whole and in part yield stronger comprehension; accordingly, new insights rise to the surface. Going back through it again the other day I started by watching only the first ten minutes, which provide an overture, that is, a 'synopsis of intent.'
The picture seems to me a kind of diary film, but in the sense of a record, a set of biographies; the record of something or some time (academic terms, certain relationships) nearing an end. Insofar as multiple cameras capture multiple glimpses of 'quotidiana,' 88:88 sets itself apart from the diary films of say Jonas Mekas or Jean-Daniel Pollet's and Jean-Paul Fargier's Jour après jour [Day After Day, 2007] where temporality gets considered serially. Medina moves in layers, more like Brakhage, forward and backward, in irruptions and resets: power-outages, "88:88" an end, a stop, but a chance to recalibrate, remix, or reprogram.
Sonic blasts arc across the image track like breaks, aural equivalent of a warp attempt. At once an archiving and a refresh, 88:88 wants to be Googled. And so after winding down from a basketball game in a weedy court, Medina and his buddy take a seat on the opposite end of the lot to crack open an analysis of "Badiou's Platonics." From there we get Emily Dickinson's "He lived that Life of Ambush" and "Who has not found the Heaven — below —," alongside a text by Badiou in voice-over: "The unrepresentable is inextensible and therefore in-different," from Oliver Feltenham's translation of L’Être et l’Événement [Being and Event, 1988] from the chapter titled "The Mark ∅" (empty-set / void-set). Sets, or "multiples," figure as prominently in Badiou's book as they do in Medina's film, from couples to the aforementioned polypictoriality / polyphony+interruptus.
There's a very beautiful phrase in Badiou's preface: "The subject is the militant of truth.”
UNCAS BLYTHE: The other day I made a joke about creating something called the Gnostic Ethnography Lab and now it seems like it's a good genre for Medina's film. This seems like "ethnographic" film that is made by a meaningfully conflicted participant observer; conflicted because he is both of this world and not. I agree—I think the Brakhage thing is right—it's what I was thinking too, at least off the bat. Are Brakhage's films ethnography? Family ethnography? Do they aspire to science? Does 88:88? Obviously the soundtrack is more(?) important here. The images to me have a beautiful natural flow—I don't see them as jarring or stuttery—and the soundtrack, like in a lot of films, at least initially seems like an afterthought. I think that obviously this is the sort of film that we are invited to re-watch/re-listen to.
If you held a gun to my head and I had to say this film was about one thing—I'd say that it was about trying to represent the spiritual effects—the disorientation—of hybrid identity. That's where the Gnostic Ethnography comes in. Does that sound crazy?
I'm glad you tracked down some of the textual allusions, Craig, that is the sort of thing that does nothing for me. When I'm watching the film I'm not really listening to all that stuff, more like waiting for synch points or effective symmetries or rhymes. I also wanted to maybe listen to the soundtrack without the images. (That's allowed, right?)
Another thing I scribbled down: "Poetics of whispers." I forget how powerful a whisper can be as a sign. Medina obviously doesn't. This seems weird. Is the whispering a guarantee or loving mockery of documentary truth? Is it like shaky cam? Is he directing people to whisper? The introduction of whispering comes along with a section that seems micro-narrative, oblique, secret stories about couples that are trying to exist intimately inside of contexts that don't seem to allow much of that, à la Alphaville. This is the section that seems to bleed a sort of tenderness for me. Again, very obliquely. And this leads "dialectically" into the next section that is about "screen-life"—people representing life to themselves through screens. Which then makes me go back to the couples and think about how strange it is that they aren't mugging for the camera. Are they actors? Are they natives of visual culture? Do they notice the mystic/scientist filming them? Is the film made by a ghost?
KELLER: Sure, I'd call Brakhage films ethnography, I'd call them family ethnography, I'd call them science. I'd call them an ethnography of the self. (Dog Star Man is an obvious example.) His Brand Was Ophthalmology. What you say about a "gnostic ethnography" is, then, spot-on. It's strange though—why do I think of Medina's film as more removed (i.e. 'fly-on-the-wall') in its self-ethnography than I do Brakhage? Again, not to equate the filmmakers or put too fine a point on their similarities... Is it just that Medina feels colder, on the basis that the "family" of the film feels, in a sense, surrogate? (Whereas in Brakhage, the family is quite literally nuclear + all-embracingly positioned within a cosmic lineage.)
BLYTHE: I think that you can’t “family” in that romantic, Freudian, heroic way anymore. Family life is really more alienated now. It’s telescopic rather than ophthalmic. Whereas in the past families were absolutely bound by parallel circumstance, care, shared affection and tribal hatreds, persecution—now family is elective, utopian. New-agey. People sitting across from each other but enlivened, enraged by their screens. La vida truly es sueño. I always find it incredibly moving when you catch someone in the middle of some oneiric response through their device. They are sweetly tucked in virtual reality.
Jumping ahead a bit to that crucial monologue where the speaker is dumping his frustration at his life, this litany of real alienation, from self, from others, crushed by capital, by incomprehension. Life is making an incursion on him. And he is without weapons. At that moment, there is no way to strike back. Maybe those tools will become available again, but right now, they are lost. Paradoxically, this is maybe the birth of the artist. The person who realizes in the core of her being that the whole idea of “tools” is already part of the trap. Somehow this reminds me of that funny moment in Mirror where the Spaniard is going off into a paralysis of nostalgia and somebody says, protectively,  ‘somebody stop him, he’s talking about the bullfights again...” So this soundtrack moment, to me, is a sort of birth of the artist scene.
KELLER: Speaking of science: What is it about 88:88 that feels science-fictional to me? Can you help me out here? To be a basic bitch, it's funny, the titles of these sci-fi films that deal in memory, and loss, on deeply: 88:88, 4:44, 2046...
When you write of hybrid identity, I take it you're referring to that simultaneity of internal/external, observer/participant? And maybe speaker/spoken…?
BLYTHE: Hybrid Identity: Yes, and more. Individuation is always a matter of betraying your tribe. In matters of art even more so. Artists are fucking schizoid weirdos. Really, you shouldn’t trust them. At all. They are only faking their membership in the human race. They move to a gnostic plane rather quickly if they are any good at it. It’s like that Kieslowski riff about the impossibility of documenting. You have to start paying actors because after awhile that stuff that interests you becomes massively problematic ethically. People like Godard are forced into melancholy solipsism because of it. All his movies become about trying to find someone who will talk to him in images. Philippe Garrel, following Jacques Doillon, I think, on the other hand overcomes his squeamishness, goes the opposite way and goes deeper (or back) into the family life. So getting back to hybridity: it made me laugh when somebody said this about "Formation":
“She [meaning Bey] wants us to know — more than ever — that she’s still grounded, she’s paying attention and still a little hood. I think she wants us to know that even though she’s headlining a mainstream event like the Super Bowl, she has opinions and isn’t afraid to share them...”

I mean this is totally idiotic, but it’s identifying a central tension in modern art: how do you keep affirming your membership in these speed tribes (when all your fans are betaloned hawks for inauthenticity) but you are shamming it. Because you are an artist. The fraudulence of shibboleths. Formation sure is a high wire act. Not quite successful for me. Like most sawed-off shotguns made of prismatic glass, it’s trying to do too much. That’s the deep pathos behind somebody saying “I’ve got hot sauce in my bag.” “I’m Jenny from the Block.” Oh, are you?  Things get fuzzy. Any kind of tribal membership dehumanizes as much as it vitalizes. That’s the key Fordian idea.
And the protean view of identity—the Stuart Hall thing—is that you have to constantly resolve multiple contradictory identities (many of those elective) dialectically, or even on the level of spirit. This further alienation (Who am I? A fraud, probably.) has complicated an already complex human emergence by incorporating representation; the performative turn (really about being a Kafkaesque self-informer, a self-fingerer) that reinstalls anxious village life as gatekeeper, formalizer and certifier of identity. Where capitalism offers you self-definition through consumption of images and things and ‘likes,’ a person senses this is a sort of imposed poverty. That debtor’s prison of the spirit that Bernard Stiegler calls Symbolic Misery. A consequence: the happy birth of a secret pectoral self whose deepest needs cannot be met by external choices or acts. This takes you way, way out of materialism, blood quanta, and Marxism into the Gnostic.
The allusive film is also the sign of this non-solid-state hybridity. Text vs. Image. Where is your allegiance—is it in sound (the tribal ear) or image (private in-scape)? I mean on some level, whenever some goofball starts showing his quotes, I’m immediately thinking about Woody Allen and City College of NY. It’s smells of comedically insecure auto-didact. The auto-didact, let’s remember, is inherently didactic. JLG, case in point. I’m not saying that Medina is doing this—he’s totally a deep thinker and not a charlatan. Though I do worry about Badiou (the Vanilla Ice in the Gangsta world of philosophy) in that respect. I honestly don’t ever care about this stuff. It doesn’t need this fake buttressing. You have to trust what the art is doing. Or else!  But I think in this film, text-life is obviously about staying true to something liberating about the life of the mind in a cultural situation that is hostile or indifferent to it. But an environment that you have to “love” nonetheless.
You know that I want to talk about that digital counter as central image. There’s this shot of a digital readout where all the segments are activated through malfunction. This is absolutely a gnostic image. I love that Medina has revealed it. It’s a symbol of pure potentiality frozen in amber. And to me it is also a perfect image of this hybridity that I’ve been talking about. You might be this infinite being that carries all meanings, all potentialities inside of you, but life is only giving you certain “epigenetic triggers” and so you can only be partly lit at any given time. What a nightmare that would be! But that’s the nightmare that everyone lives. You walk around like a Dostoyevsky character thinking that everyone is a fully realized being, that they have a key to authenticity that you don’t have, and they secretly feel the same way about you.
KELLER: One of the primary aspects of 88:88 is its allusiveness, or let's say, at the very least, its "text-drop" (also à la needle-drop). Which raises a broader question that hazards being too broad, but I'll throw it out there: Wherefore the allusive/recondite film? Does a film like this take off from Modernism in literature (Joyce, Pound, Eliot) and film (Godard)? (Side-note: You tweeted your suspicion that Godard's never read an entire book.) I guess to clarify "where the allusive/recondite film" I'd add: "To what end?"
Further to that notion of to-what-end-the-Recondite-Film, your mention of a "poetics of whispers" reminded me of something that I either heard someone say, came up with by initially misreading your phrase, or was the title of a book in a dream I had recently: "Poetics of Whatever."
For me the whispering is that which wants to draw attention to itself, also a confessional, and maybe too intimate an intonation directed towards an ostensible lover—all that, or just humoring oneself that the interlocutor is as interested in hearing recited-Badiou as he is. I'm a little stumped about this. I consider it another trace of Godard influence: 2 or 3 Things I Know About Her, Histoire(s) du cinéma, etc.
I'm glad you brought up that monologue sequence, "a sort of birth of the artist scene," as you put it. I've taken to thinking of this section as the "Homeless Poet" chapter, or The Ballad of the Dispossessed MC. The very fluidity and obliqueness of 88:88 lends itself to a reach toward Archetypes, both on the part of Medina and of my interpretation at least as a viewer. The Dispossessed MC speaks for himself and for Medina in self-portrait: our ghost/omniscience/director, G.O.D., evinces a tangible empathy for DMC, given that the two have, all time-slippage aside, arrived at their respective gnosis when they learn(ed) how to transubstantiate pure id impulse into ego/fabrication. For me, the revelation of DMC occurs at the moment he laments: "This is what family is supposed to be about," a statement which rings touching in its naïveté and hollow in its reverence given the context of the confessional (to Isiah? another friend-/collaborator-off?), the seemingly ever-present cocoon of compatriots, and the tenderness of Samira's gaze. As you put it: elective, utopian. (And so yeah, tangentially new-agey.)
Individuation is identification's parthenogenesis. If I had to call out in 19 syllables one of the main themes of 88:88. All the sets, couples, multiples are mirrors—biographies and autobiographies. (You mentioned Godard and also Dostoyevsky: "You walk around like a Dostoyevsky character thinking that everyone is a fully realized being, that they have a key to authenticity that you don't have, and they secretly feel the same way about you." Whereas Godard recently expressed disingenuously, in an act of autobiographical self-defiance: "What is the impulse to have a coffee with your heroes? If I saw Dostoyevsky walking down the street, I wouldn't go up to him and say 'Monsieur Dostoyevsky, would you like to get a coffee?'") 
I find the artist scene, one's intellectual circle, as presented here refreshing. It's a throw-down, aligning itself with the hip-hop community while busting that modern, sanitized notion of the floating, sometimes-virtual salon: members must behave within an acceptable, Caucasian-sanctioned code: political correctness masking its suppressive objective. Members mustn't thirst for busting a skull or winding up in a circumstance where they're scrambling for a gat in a Jansport. Only Rimbaud and Paul Gégauff get a pass; 'those were different times.' I'm not calling 88:88 Isiah Medina's My Crasy Life— but that's certainly a movie 88:88 got me thinking back to. There's something insurrectionary in Medina's portraiture, reflections, and refractions, its micro-narratives crushed into this (to employ a favorite Gorin metaphor) allusion-machine operating on a principle of what I'll call disguise aesthetics, a poetics of disguise.
My Crasy Life
(On the subject of Gnosticism, revelation, sci-fi etc., it might do to "go there" and bring Philip K. Dick into the mix. There's an amazing comic that R. Crumb wrote and illustrated around PKD's significant experience.)
BLYTHE: Yes, absolutely insurrectionary. But not unproblematically so. Because of this “gnosis” I’m saying is the matter of the film. It is a site of truth, like all good art, but also wrecked in transmission. Even the good things are sputtering. “Nothing feeds me; this hunger remains...” That bit of poetry comes fairly early. I like that name you invented for the character, the Dispossessed MC. To be hybrid is not to inherit anything rightfully,  it means to settle your own inheritance for yourself. To reject things that have been written for you and in whatever futile heroic way, actualize yourself and then return to the tribe with some sort of useful experience. But this transit maybe confirms absolutely that you don’t belong.
You wrote: “Members mustn't thirst for busting a skull or winding up in a circumstance where they're scrambling for a gat in a Jansport.” And  I immediately think of those ghostly follow shots of characters walking with their backs to the camera, sometimes in cuffs, the perp walk but unsettling because there is no destination, just visual rhymes. Strobes and flashers. A climate of pervasive iced fear. Legal aid. Auras of hopelessness. The paranoid sense that you might betray yourself or your friends for reasons that you don’t understand. That is the nature of clandestine life. That’s also a dystopian sort of sci-fi movie. Like Army of Shadows, another sci-fi classic about a community of dangerous paranoids. In the resistance, Melville shows, you never know who the big boss is, your loving connections can be used to destroy the network. You try to forget that your life depends on people you barely know and maybe trust even less. And at the same time you are bound to your group by a desperate and paranormal loyalty.
Back to Kino-Gnosticism for a second. The cinema is what makes our science fictional age possible. Both its darkness and its ghostly unreality, but also gives it its aspect of frozen time and its sense of perpetual utopia. In other words, once you exile to the future with images, you have only gossamer threads to the historic or the present. THIS IS INTERESTING: You can now sever off and circulate pieces of the world-text (Pasolini: Cinema is the written language of reality.) and play a Mayan ball game with them, one that ends in sacrifice. Or in their exhaustion. Images, in their strange eroticized way, foreclose the ability to see other possibilities, even as they are presenting them. On the other hand, like Bresson says, what they show is not as important as what they hide or gesture to. It’s not their symbology, their graphic or ideogrammatical quality that we care about, but their glyphic, carved-in/convex or recessive quality. It is the glyphic that makes film making & watching a gnostic practice. For example: when I say glyphic, I am thinking of this in Red Desert by Antonioni. There is a plague (maybe) ship next to a party shack. Giuliana notices this ornament painted on the side of the ship (to mark the displacement of the vessel, I think...) and it suddenly means the unnameable hostility or beneficence of the universe. If she wasn’t in gnosis, she wouldn’t even notice it. But now, the glyph exceeds all possible meaning, it’s beyond decoding. It’s the sort of gnostic symbol that the “victim” must puzzle over for months, and years, never settling on a meaning. The mad self, the gnostic self, the pectoral self refuses the choices available; or interprets them in some off way—comes up with off-label usages of the things presented. The pectoral self uses symbolic misery to become rich. This is a sort of necessarily masochistic use of reality. Or of sur-reality.
Too much semantic bleed out is the hallmark of gnostic experience. Most of the things that you see on a screen are actually like that, but somebody or something, an inner benshi, is trying to tell you what they mean. Trying to narrate them. To make them inert, easier to swallow. To dampen the cognitive buzz. So movies are both the site of utopian possibility—we see a living dream before our eyes that we might choose to live out—but we also know it is false, a document of nothing, a style, a bunch of pantomimes, a creation of the edit, etc. We might not consciously speak this conflict out loud except in and of those bizarre moments when we say: “it was just like a movie...” We use this phrase, funnily enough, to say that we have witnessed a caesura, a break in the everyday texture of reality. Since mediated reality is pre-narrated, it forces a secret gnosticism out of everyone. The perfectly sane response to this “insane” cultural space where everything is screaming its narrative at you. In this cacophony, following a gnostic or at the very least surrealist thread becomes second nature, even as a way to survive. Cinema is a profound sort of anti-politics. To the extent that it legislates, sacralizes, and courts a private sphere, Cinema is what saves. What Barthes says, Brakhage lives out: “I refuse to inherit anything from another eye but my own.” Cinema is a rupture with all tribal cohesion. The stream, however is a different matter. The stream takes us into the thumping of collective life. All tributaries heading to the sea. Because we need to talk about the paradoxical meaning of collectivity, I’m going to side-slip into the universe of Badiou for a bit.
Science-Fiction, like Christianity, is for the most part a political genre. You are dealing in treasure mapping Utopias (Heavens) or Dystopias (Hells) for the benefit of realities yet to come. Both Dante and Swedenborg, for example, are sci-fi artists. Fritz Lang taught NASA the countdown, etc. The utopian/dystopian character of what Debord calls the Diffuse Spectacle has made all social relations science-fictional. Even the black flag tribalism of ISIS or the green flag utopia of the PKK, or the elective tribalisms we were talking about before. We no longer act in metaphysical certainty, but in Vaihinger’s ‘as if’ modality. Our beloved fictions are what really matter. In other words, we are constantly printing and re-printing the legendary fact through our image-sphere. Pseudo-Tribes must see themselves, and their enemies, on the world’s screens, to know they exist. By contrast, the ancient tribal grouping never saw itself. They were the ‘human beings’, all else was enemy, and beneath contempt. Thus, photography was an inevitable part of colonization. It was required into being by colonizations. We know we are all colonized beings because we have to be seen, to appear. The Spectacle calls for a future-oriented idealist positivism (Debord’s famous formula: that which appears is good, that which is good appears),  to administer its’ colonial structure. Most of the things people believe in at the moment are futuristic: growth, eternal childhood, ecology, the travel of erotic novelty. And that’s where Badiou comes in again. ‘If you build it, they will come’ sings the nomadic tribal spirit of the age.
“All true propositions are true at all times, there is no choice whatsoever...”

Badiou is a communist version of L. Ron Hubbard. He is peddling a science-fictional futurism. Since Gramsci, everyone on the left is committed to gnostic millenarian interpretations of a reality that is not particularly cheering. They have to explain this koan: “why did the historically inevitable not come to pass as the prophet said...?” Why does it always seem to be getting worse? Why does every Marxist critique make the Blob of Capitalism even more resilient, speedy, and powerful? Badiou’s answer to this is refreshing. The answer is not nostalgia. It is Gnostalgia. You don’t have to worry about hard, boring stuff like organizing cadres and mobilizing the disheartened precariat. Xenu’s dark demiurgic magic will make happen what Badiou calls The Event (which is a magical transforming frame that then guides all ethical action into some sort of happy communism) You just need to have faith; watch for mundane signs (like Occupy, like that new guy you really like on Tinder, like "Formation") signs that only you and your friends can interpret; Also, you just have to love the future. And truth. And make it real. Be the authenticity you want to fake in the world. Honestly, I’m not making this shit up. It’s like the tragic Ghost Dance of the Sioux. Your fidelity of belief, your thrown-ness, makes you immune to the Gatlings of the Cavalry. This is cult thinking. Badiou’s idea of political philosophy is a Heideggerian version of Magic: The Gathering mixed with Neo-platonist Christianity. It other words, it’s a massively incoherent text. Alain Badiou: The Truth is out there.
But Alain, we poor frightened and tenuous precarians cry, what if The Event is Rome? What if The Event is Hitler? What if The Event is Trump? What if The Event is The Manhattan Project or Lysenko? What if The Event is fucking your dental hygienist and starting another family with her? What if The Event is the Khmer Rouge? Is it all good? How, oh tell us, wise Yoda, can we preserve our faith in The Force when we are assailed from all quarters by the dark side? Badiou’s entire house of cards is based on possessing a magical dowsing rod that can gnosticize True Event from its demiurgic simulacra. Needless to say, this item is not sold in any stores. Maybe you can already see we are getting into the fuzzy territory of the Straussian Noble Lie and the world of Philosopher Kings? So, if the Frankfurt School was all about depressive quietism in the face of what we now call neo-liberalism and the Spectacle, Badiou is literally about science fictional psychosis. This is love’s revolution by PKD and Doctor Schreber, the two preeminent gnosticians of their time. It is not a particularly wise nor structural solution to build a multi-lane bridge over that pesky gorge of Nietzsche from Pauline hope and Christian Neo-Platonism to Heidegger. The problem with revolutions is the ancestral curse of Oedipus. Once you kill the father/king, (i.e. reveal The Event) or even if you don’t even come close to it, you are struck with such dread and shame that you forget all about playing Magic: the Gathering and your deep abiding love of the Other, you put out your eyes, and become the blind technocratic patriarch, the paranoid Archon, and the manager surrogate of the demiurge. In short you lose faith—your fidelity—precisely because you can’t face the enormity of The Event. That’s as far as the militant’s gnosticism goes. That’s the lesson of ’17 and the lesson of ’68.
And this is obviously why apostasy (or heresy, as the Church fathers say) is the greatest crime for Badiou. If you had the truth-event enacted in your hands and then you sell it out, like Judas, then you deserve the worst, the most unloving, the most unchristian of fates. Because of the tribal/formalizing nature of truth, if one apostatizes, some of the sheepish follow and the rest are bereft in existential crisis. An injury to the majesty of This Rather Fragile and Localized Truth has occurred. We hope it’s not fatally bleeding out. An apostasy creates a new problematic version of The Event. A new local weather system. Schism is why—the Internet notwithstanding—you can’t make Gnosticism a meaningful collective experience. This is the fundamental flaw in Badiou. The math never works in your favor. While you are trancing out at the Love-in in Goa with Alain, some clever dudes like Lenin, The Council of Nicaea, Zuckerberg, or Pol Pot are gonna tweak the algorithm to rediscover the reality principle and cudgel everyone into line. So in Badiou-speak, after the freak-out of love comes the mortgage and the minivan. Those alien commitments can be both empty symbols of a sham, or the material basis of union, but they can’t really do the hard work, magic-boy. The true believer thinks it’s all about Love and Sophia while somebody has to embody the demiurgic reality of Death and Power. I know, it sucks.
So I guess what I’m saying is Badiou is, or should be, the pet philosopher of the Spectacle. He’s insisting he’s against cynicism, against nihilism, against the status quo, against sophistry, and for love and equality, but in his science-fictionality, in his futurism, he is totally in the middle of the current of what is and what is possible. The spectacle is about freezing time, of looping it. It’s about preventing the present. Badiou is like that guy in Marker’s film who takes a trip to the future to realize he is the dead man he is looking for.
The first movement of the film is glitch/flicker. The last too. In between, there has been a coming together, a slowing down, an attempt to unravel mysteries, but then everything flies apart once more. The film is going crazy, whatever consciousness, (the author’s, the family’s) came to be is now exploding in multiplicity. At the end there is this extra-textual level, images are repeated but in B/W to further emphasize their formal nature, maybe. Black and white reads out as nostalgic, as loss to most people. To me it feels more true, more inscribed.
The first time as sign, the second time as glyph. So is this film an act of apostasy or some sort of double-agent attempt of the artist to fake out the community and re-subscribe?
Here are some Smog lyrics. They have nothing to do with anything in the movie. Maybe the editor should remove them.
Alone in my room
I feel such a warmth for the community
But out on the streets
I feel like a robot by the river
Looking for a drink

KELLER: When does clandestine life end? You consider "destroying the network" by way of J-P Melville; the operation carries the suggestion of an end/terminus point. But what if there is no definitive end-game? Beyond Truth-Event and the danger of tangential/disruptive/corrective "local weather systems," the never-will-be may represent the actual site of truth—with nothing urging demi'ly but dreamily: deliberately wrecked are all transmissions in a kind of quantum-mechanical horror. Does this posit the opposite of utopia-search as 'perpetual dystopia'? Depends on one's idea of purpose. There's a beautiful passage near the end of the film, in one of the cadences of those wave-movements where transmission (self-)sabotage really accelerates (indeed, as you point out, the movie concludes in glitchum). On the soundtrack a woman, I think Isiah's girlfriend, speaks of a conversation that took place between family members—I could be wrong, but I think the gist is Filipino resistance during and/or in the course of the aftermath of the U.S. occupation. She tells of certain family members declaring their refusal to take up the fight, or engage in some new form of resistance, because "fighting for it shows that it hasn't been won."
"Reality invades," Isiah says of one ontological inevitability of the cinema. Those entire last fifteen or twenty minutes, the ghost-author cedes to a consciousness of the digital medium—...or the Medinam? He's wakeboarding, negotiating the chance operations of the transmission, and in part this is what I had in mind with the phrase "poetics of disguise": to paraphrase you, what one shows is not as important as what one hides or gestures to. For me, occlusion means never having to say you're sorry—or justify yourself—for in occlusion every new artistic gesture/venture signals a new Truth-Event, with inscrutability allowing one to proclaim if not innocence, a guilelessness (cf. masked super-men and the recurring raze of the metropoleis; or Genesis with Phil Collins' decree: "Men of steel, men of power / Losing control by the hour"), and allows one to evade the responsibility of the forge. Which brings me to gnosis and specifically the glyph (glitch). In cinema I've always considered this an inscription upon or within the medium-material itself, but your example of Red Desert shows how it might be located within the diegetic world of the film (like, say, Léaud's Eiffel Tower tchotchke in Out 1); 88:88 's glyphs manifest diegetically and Medinamly. In the sense that the movie (1) presents shots of "88:88" on a microwave clock, et al; (2) "materially" warps-woofs the 8888888888s when the picture adopts/adapts the Space Harrier-scape; (3) offers the DMC's vision of the dial-clock and the 8s, where this spoken soundtrack alone, visually invisibly, indicates the gnosis; a lesser artist in this sequence might have been pulled the benshi out of his hat, but the sense of a concerted divination attempt instead presides and soon we're thinking of, then shown, the 8s as "enchaînements" in a final explosion of thematic coalescence before the glitch. I'm thinking of Dylan's illuminated sigh, "Yes, to dance beneath the diamond sky / With one hand waving free." PS: regarding the perp walk segment, I believe that's Isiah promenading in cuffs.
If transmission is The Word—well, of the truth-event, as St. Paul's precept put it, and as Godard so often quotes: "The Image will come at the time of the Resurrection"
Last specific zero-in for me: The moment in which the white copain recounts hearing the demon voices, and Isiah draws the similarity to animals hearing their names called. The friend chuckles, then Isiah responds with something presented in fragments: "schizophrenia..." followed by what I hear both as: (1) "psychosis"; and (2) "it's like in gnosis." Demons to daemons, dust to dust—the DMC: "Nothing to infer but Inferno.”
mubi.com/notebook/posts/the-volatility-smile-a-dialog-about-isiah-medina-s-88-88

George Barry - Death Bed: The Bed That Eats (1979),

Image result for Death Bed: The Bed That Eats


Probavne smetnje jednog kreveta. Horror + sexploitation + arthouse = Death Bed






















In 2003 a journalist named Stephen Thrower contacted me and recommended I should see this film, an obscure never-released US horror film. I remember seeing it the first time; after 10 minutes I thought it was your usual horror film, something companies like Blue Underground or Synapse Films should release, not Cult Epics. But was pleasantly surprised that as I watched it, it became one of the strangest films I have ever seen. People die and red roses start blooming in the gardens of an abandoned house in this surreal film featuring the ghost of one of my favorite artists, Audrey Beardsley (illustrator of Oscar Wilde’s “Salome”). Obviously it was never released because it was too weird, made by an intellectual who later ran a book store. Death Bed became known as an arthouse film meets b-horror movie, made famous by a sketch by comedian Patton Oswalt shortly after the DVD release. George Barry film career ended right there, as it took 30 years before the film was finally released. See it to believe it. - Nico B.


In 1972, some guy named George Barry got a camera and some film.

What happened was Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.

An incredibly cheesy and bizarre mix of horror, sexploitation, and arthouse, Death Bed was shot in 1972 but a print wasn't struck until 1977. It then disappeared, before being rediscovered in 2003 and released on DVD. It gained a cult following when bootlegs made from a rare UK VHS/Betamax copy of the film began circulating. Director George Barry reportedly forgot about the film before he came across said bootleg found on a horror movie forum.
Death Bed: The Bed That Eats contains examples of:

- tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/DeathBedTheBedThatEats

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srijeda, 19. travnja 2017.

Flann O'Brien - Treći policajac






Image result for Flann O'Brien, Treći policajac


Moj tekst o jednom od najboljih romana svih vremena (objavljen u časopisu Tvrđa, 1-2/2015.)



Vjerojatno niste čuli za moiré-efekt, no to vam neće pomoći da umaknete njegovoj "vradžbini". Tehnički gledano, riječ je o novom vizualnom uzorku koji se pojavi kada se dva jednaka točkasta ili iscrtkana, obično prozirna, polja poslože jedan preko drugog, ali tako da se jedan malo zarotira spram drugog. Mnogo živopisniji primjer navodi Eyal Weizman, govoreći o forenzičkom istraživanju plinskih komora u Auschwitzu. Tijekom traganja za rupama na krovu građevine u kojoj se nalazila plinska komora, a kroz koje se puštao plin, forenzičarima je na raspolaganju bila samo jedna fotografija logora snimljena iz zrakoplova u ljeto 1944. Problem je nastao kada se ustanovilo da mrlje na uvećanoj fotografiji nisu rupe za kojima se tragalo, nego mrlje koje je stvorila sama fotografska emulzija. Takva mrlja, primjer moiré-efekta, nastaje kada je veličina osnovne čestice fotografske emulzije na negativu veća od onoga što prikazuje, kao što su u ovome slučaju, nakon najvećeg mogućeg uvećanja, emulzijska čestica bila veća od rupa na krovu fotografirane građevine.


U prenesenom značenju, koje nas ovdje zanima, primjer je to sveprisutne pojave kada u opisu neke stvari ne vidimo stvar, nego sam opis te stvari, ili fantomsku sliku koju je stvorio opis. Naglasak je na tome da tu mrlju zaista vidimo; nije riječ o tome da ne vidimo ništa, nego da vidimo sam opis, točnije, distorziju koju stvara sam čin opisivanja. Tako je gotovo uvijek kad zamišljamo ili istražujemo nešto krajnje sitno, nevidljivo, nezamislivo (zapravo bilo koju "konačnu" istinu) – ne događa se tada da jednostavno ne vidimo ništa, ili da o tome šutimo (kako je naivno predlagao Wittgenstein). Kada nemamo što vidjeti, gledamo vlastito gledanje; kad nemamo što reći, slušamo vlastiti govor. Kada se suočimo s nečime što nadilazi mišljenje, recimo život nakon smrti, nećemo vidjeti neko ništa, nego, kako ustrajno potvrđuju religijske tradicije, živopisne zamišljaje kojima sebi predočujemo onkraj. Treba još jednom naglasiti da su te predodžbe zapravo tvar, materija, jer medij je uvijek materijalan: naš opis nezamislivog nije neka prozirna "misao", nego materijalna tvar koja stoji između nas i onog nezamislivog. Logika koja, u nemoći da zahvati ono "sitnije", suptilnije od sebe, gleda samu sebe te postaje logička tvar, "mrlja" - paradoks, kontradikcija, zatvoreni krug, elastična logička petlja, apsurd, halucinacija, duhoviti skeč.


Povijest književnosti nije baš krcata djelima koja eksplicite tematiziraju paradoksalnost postojanja i zakrivljenu logiku u središtu razuma, no ipak mnoga djela iz nadrealističkog i postmodernističkog kanona uključuju neke elemente "zakrivljenosti" i ontološke poremećenosti. Najoriginalnije, a nedvojbeno najduhovitije djelo o zagrobnom životu same logike, tj. logike kao (sablasne) materije, roman je Treći policajac, Flanna O'Briena. Komična je to noćna mora, priča o tome kako izgleda biti mrtav kada ne znaš da si mrtav a zarobljen si u ateističkom paklu, u kojem se radnja beskonačno vrti u krug.


Treći policajac na ovim je prostorima otprije bio poznat u srpskom prijevodu, no povod našem prikazu novi je, sarajevski prijevod nakladnika Šahinpašić. Zbog tog srpskog prijevoda, Treći policajac ("onaj roman o ljudima koji postaju bicikli") u nekim je krugovima i kod nas stekao kultni status, pa je novi prijevod prigoda za novo veselje uz jedan od najzanimljivijih i najneobičnijih a po mnogima i najboljih romana 20. stoljeća. Za one kojima je Flan O'Brien nepoznat autor, napomenimo da je riječ o jednom od pseudonima irskog književnika Briana O'Nolana, rođenog 1911., koji je, osim što je napisao još četiri izvrsna romana (od kojih možemo istaknuti ur-postmodrnistički At Swim-Two-Birds i Dalkey Archive), za života bio slavan kao autor duhovitih, otrovnih novinskih kolumna koje je pak potpisivao kao Myles na gCopaleen.  Biografi ističu da je pisanje pod pseudonima za O'Nolana bila nužnost jer su ga njegova stajališta o crkvi i državi u katoličkoj Irskoj, koja nije skrivao u romanima i kolumnama, mogla stajati njegova stalnog zaposlenja u državnoj službi. Među suvremenim povjesničarima književnosti i kritičarima, premda možda ne i među čitateljima, uobičajilo se O'Briena, uz Becketta i Joycea, svrstavati u sveto trojstvo irske književnosti 20. stoljeća.


Trećeg policajca O'Brien je napisao odmah nakon što je objavio svoj prvijenac At Swim-Two-Birds, 1939., no njegov je izdavač procijenio da se autor previše zanio i odbio mu je rukopis. O'Brien je potom poslao rukopis književnim agentima u Americi no oni su ga, kako se pokazalo, uspjeli zagubiti. Razočaran, O'Brien je odustao od ovog projekta a da bi prikrio neuspjeh počeo je, posramljen, čak širiti krajnje bizarne priče  o tome kako je sam zagubio rukopis. Neke je dijelove i likove poslije uključio u roman Dalkey Archive, no za njegova je života Treći policajac ostao čitateljima nepoznat, a objavljen je tek postumno, 1967. godine. Lude šezdesete bile su plodno tlo za recepciju ovog čudnog romana koji su kritičari uspoređivali s Joyceom i opisivali kao „lakrdiju u kojoj se zločinac bori s lokalnom birokracijom“ te kao tajanstvenu, neuhvatljivu alegoriju o zamkama samog postojanja. Ljubiteljima slavne tv-serije Lost bit će zanimljivo da su autori serije isticali Trećeg policajca kao jedno od svojih glavnih nadahnuća.


Tko je onda "treći policajac" i koja je uloga bicikala u zagrobnom svijetu? Na početku romana glavni, neimenovan lik, opsjednut teorijama uvrnutog filozofa de Selbyja, popusti pred nagovorima prijatelja Johna Divneyja i zajedno s njim ubija i pljačka starog Phillipa Mathersa. Kada tri godine kasnije dođe u napuštenu Mathersovu kuću uzeti crnu kutiju s novcem, koju su toliko dugo skrivali kako bi prikrili tragove, u trenutku kada dodirne kutiju, osjeti čudan "fazni pomak". Pri kraju romana eksplicite ćemo saznati da je "kutija" zapravo bila bomba koju mu je podmetnuo Divney. Mi znamo što se dogodilo, no glavni lik ne, te on nastavlja živjeti ne znajući da je mrtav. U tom novom svijetu pokraj sebe odjednom vidi Mathersa, ne shvaćajući da je to njegova sablast. Nakon toga stvari postupno postaju još čudnije i nadrealnije, no glavni lik nije poput Kafkinih, koji se ne čude iščašenom svijetu oko sebe, nego je stalno zatečen, zbunjen i unezvjeren, potpuno smeten apsurdističkim „skečevima“ u kojima se zatječe. On pak ne zna kako se zove i općenito stalno puno toga zaboravlja, te samo želi pronaći svoju crnu kutiju. Ostatak romana zapravo je niz mađioničarskih trikova koje O'Brien izvodi na svome nesretnom junaku.


Cijelu priču pratimo iz junakova gledišta te otkrivamo kako stiže u zbunjujuću, logički nemoguću policijsku postaju koja "podsjeća na naslikan oglas na ploči" i doima se "lažno i neuvjerljivo", no kada se u nju uđe, trodimenzionalna je u uobičajenom smislu. Tu sreće dvojicu bizarnih, debelih policajaca kojima je glavni posao briga oko ukradenih bicikala, budući da su različiti problemi s biciklima u ovome svijetu zapravo jedini zamislivi događaji. Bicikli su neobična bića s kojima, nakon što ih neko vrijeme vozite, počinjete razmjenjivati atome pa s vremenom granica između bicikala i ljudi nestaje. Moguće je i da bicikl potpuno pređe u čovjeka, i obratno, pa je zabilježen slučaj da su, zbog nekog prekršaja, objesili bicikl a ne čovjeka, jer se taj čovjek potpuno preselio u svoj bicikl. Slijedeći tu logiku moguće je pretpostaviti da su svi likovi koje glavni junak sreće, uključujući policajce, zapravo bicikli, tj. da samo imaju ljudsku formu a u biti su stvari, naprave.


Otkrivamo i tajanstvenu podzemnu građevinu skrivenu u šumi čijim se liftom stiže u dvoranu u kojoj vrijeme ne prolazi i za koju policajci kaž uda je "vječnost". Tu možete stvoriti što god poželite, ali to ne možete iznijeti van (kritičari  utome vide hiperboličnu varijaciju motiva da glavnom liku njegovo obećano blago stalno izmiče). S vremenom otkrivamo da je tu građevinu stvorio i da njome iz daljine upravlja treći policajac, Fox, koji je svoju privatnu policijsku kancelariju smjestio u zid Mathersove kuće, zbog, kako kaže, uštede u najamnini, te povrh toga, ima i Mathersovo lice. Fox će objaviti da je našao crnu kutiju koju glavni lik cijelo vrijeme želi pronaći te mu otkriva da se u kutiji nalazi omnium, tvar s kojom se može stvoriti što god se poželi, izvor najveće moći, što je pak vjerojatno zrcalna verzija shvaćanja da je novac svemoćan  i da "novac pokreće svijet". Upravo je tim omiumom Fox stvorio podzemnu rajsku građevinu, kojom je zapravo htio tricksterski namagarčiti svoje kolege policajce.


Na početku policajci kažu glavnom liku da, zato što nema imena,   može činiti što ga je volja jer ga, kao bezimena, ne dodiruje ruka zakona, no kada ga poslije proizvoljno osude za zločin koji (barem u tom svijetu) nije počinio, ležerno mu nude fascinantno kvijetističko obrazloženje, koje sadržava i jednu od najdojmljivijih slika homo sacera, čovjeka koji je, neumitnom kafkijanskom logikom, učinjen toliko nepostojećim da ga ni smrt ne može priznati: "Točno je da ne možete počiniti zločin i da prava ruka zakona ne može staviti prst na vas bez obzira na stupanj vašeg zločina. Sve što radite je laž, ništa nije istina od toga što vam se događa. Samo zbog tog razloga možemo vas zadržati i vješanjem vam izvući život a da uopće ne budete obješeni i da se to ne navodi u umrlici. Ova osobita smrt kojom ćete umrijeti nije čak ni smrt, već samo jedna nehigijenska apstrakcija u stražnjem dvorištu."


Zaštitni znak Trećeg policajca ipak je filozof de Selby, čijom je filozofijom glavni lik opsjednut, pa i zločin počinja kako bi si priuštio egzistencijske uvjete za pisanje knjige o njemu. Razmišljanja o de Selbyju nalazimo rasuta po cijelom romanu, a u bilješkama i komentare tuđih interpretacija i razglabanja o prijepornim mjestima de Selbyjevih metefizičkih ekstravagancija. De Selby primjerice tvrdi da je "putovanje halucinacija", da kretanje i protjecanje vremena ne postoje, da naš planet ima oblik kobasice a posebno je dojmljiva njegova tvrdnja da je noć "nezdravo stanje atmosfere uslijed nagomilavanja crnog zraka", učinak industrijskog zagađenja. Njegovu pankersko-stoičku filozofiju sažima ovaj citat: "Kako je ljudsko postojanje samo halucinacija koja u sebi sadrži dodatne halucinacije kao što su dan i noć..., pametnom čovjeku ne priliči biti zabrinut pred prividnim približavanjem krajnje halucinacije poznate kao smrt."


Premda ovdje ponajprije naglašavamo da Treći policajac nalikuje logičkoj mrlji, izvitoperenom obliku što ga stvara svijest kada gleda samu sebe, ili konkretnije, da je život nakon smrti zapravo suočavanje sa samim sobom, sablasna tvar koja nastaje kada se subjektivna svijest (u ovom slučaju nečista savjest ubojice koji stalno iščekuje kaznu) postavi preko sebe same i pritom samo malo (zbog činjenice smrti) zarotira, to ne znači da ta mrlja nije nimalo realistična. Zapravo je više nalik odrazu u izobličavajućem zrcalu. Mogli bismo pomisliti na paralelni svijet u Alici iza ogledala, primjerice, no još je primjerenija usporedba s Manetovom slikom Bar u Folies-Bergèreu, koja također uprizoruje jednu od varijacija moiré-efekta. Tu su, koristeći se pojmovnikom naše prispodobe, jedan preko drugog postavljeni stvaran prizor i njegov odraz u zrcalu. Stvaran lik je konobarica za šankom, odsutna i melankolična pogleda, no u zrcalu iza nje ne vidimo realističan odraz njezine okoline u slavnom pariškom varijeteu, nego distorziran prikaz, u kojem je sama konobarica drukčije nagnuta, doima se srdačnijom, raspored boca je drukčiji itd. Dakle, kada se stvarna i zrcalna slika stave jedna preko druge, ne vidimo poklapanje, nego distorziju. Na sličan se način u O'Brienovim logičkim mrljama mogu naći sličnosti sa stvarnim životom. Radnja Trećeg policajca može se čak tumačiti u psihološkom ključu, budući da se varijacije tema opsesivnosti, ubojstva, kazne, skrivanja i bijega nastavljaju i u životu nakon smrti. Glavni lik na početku puta čak sreće svog dvojnika, bešćutnog ubojicu, koji kao i on ima jednu drvenu nogu, a zove se Martin Finnucane. Možda je to i njegovo ime kojeg se svjesno ne uspijeva sjetiti, naročito s obzirom na to da će opaki Finnucane poslije također ubiti starog Mathersa, a policajci će krivnju proizvoljno pripisati glavnom liku – što će u toj situaciji izgledati apsurdno, premda, na dubljoj razini, ne i pogrešno.


Likovi Trećeg policajca jesu čudni ali nisu potpuno nevjerodostojni, mogu nas podsjetiti, kako primjerice ističe Charles Baxter, na ljude opsjednute svojim ludim teorijama koje svi stalno srećemo, pa ako ovaj roman govori o nečemu "stvarnom", možda govori o posljedicama opsesivna življenja, budući da su svi likovi u romanu opsesivni spram svojih filozofija, ambicija, poslova ili misija. "Pokažite mi opsesivca, i pokazat ću vam potencijalnog kriminalca", prema Baxterovu je mišljenju mogući motto romana. No u Trećem policajcu sve je distorzirano, pa su i naizgled "prave" teme istovremeno lažne teme koje vam izmiču iz ruku čim pomislite da ste ih "uhvatili". Baxter također ističe da čak i kad vam se učini da bi trojica policajaca mogli biti parodija katoličke dogme o svetom Trojstvu, shvatite da takva potraga za simbolima i tajnim "značenjima" više nalikuje beskonačnoj regresiji, kao što jedan od policajaca stvara kutije unutar kutija toliko sitne da postanu potpuno nevidljive i nastavljaju se u beskonačnost.


Kao na Manetovoj slici, kada jednu preko druge postavimo našu svijest i ono čega je ona svjesna, u O'Brienovu svijetu "slike" se također ne poklapaju. Sama naša svijest sprečava nas da budemo svjesni onoga što se događa, da shvatimo da smo primjerice mrtvi. Naša samosvijest, svijest da smo živo biće, postoji samo u zrcalu, no mi smo zapravo mrtvi. Svijest nam omogućuje i da vidimo i ne vidimo, točnije, da upravo onime što vidimo zastremo istinu, da onim što je vidljivo stvorimo nevidljivost, neprozirnost. Kao što paradigmatski ističe izniman autor horror-priča Thomas Ligotti, svijest, čim se javi, samu sebe poništava i zavarava, stvara iluzije koje će je zaštiti od suočavanja s (prestrašnom) istinom. Svijest ne samo da nije pouzdano zrcalo svijeta, nego upravo obratno, sama svijest je moiré-efekt, sablasna tvar. Upravo nam logika svojom materijom onemogućuje da otkrijemo logiku svijeta.


 

ponedjeljak, 3. travnja 2017.

Lawrence Lek - Sinofuturism: 'It isn’t a manifesto, it’s a conspiracy theory'

Image result for lawrence lek sinofuturism




Umjetna inteligencija je već tu. Zove se Kina.







lawrencelek.com/


"Sinofuturism is an invisible movement. A spectre already embedded into a trillion industrial products, a billion individuals, and a million veiled narratives. It is a movement, not based on individuals, but on multiple overlapping flows. Flows of populations, of products, and of processes. Because Sinofuturism has arisen without conscious intention or authorship, it is often mistaken for contemporary China. But it is not. It is a science fiction that already exists.
Sinofuturism is a video essay combining elements of science fiction, documentary melodrama, social realism, and Chinese cosmologies, in order to critique the present-day dilemmas of China and the people of its diaspora.
With reference to Afrofuturism and Gulf Futurism, Sinofuturism presents a critical and playful approach to subverting cultural clichés.
In Western media and Orientalist perceptions, China is exotic, strange, bizarre, kitsch, tacky, or cheap. In its domestic media, China portrayed as heroic, stable, historic, grand, and unified. Rather than counteract these skewed narratives, Sinofuturism proposes to push them much further.
By embracing seven key stereotypes of Chinese society (Computing, Copying, Gaming, Studying, Addiction, Labour and Gambling), it shows how China's technological development can be seen as a form of Artificial Intelligence."






Lawrence Lek: 'It isn’t a manifesto, it’s a conspiracy theory'


For anyone who’s spent a bit of time in 21st-century China, Sinofuturism, a one-hour video essay released last year by London-based artist Lawrence Lek, can feel like the opposite of culture shock. It triggers not the sudden bang of a new, alien experience, but the dull awareness of an underlying reality one’s been living in without being able to put into words. In its chaotic, dense and thoroughly bleak depiction of a post-human landscape dominated by a self-propagating AI, Sinofuturism gets much closer to the future-shock weirdness of today’s China than almost anything else currently on the art market – or in the sci-fi stacks, for that matter.

'It’s a mechanism for pattern recognition' says Lek, who himself has recognised these patterns from afar. Born in Frankfurt, Lek moved frequently as a child, following his parents’ jobs at Singapore Airlines. He spent his formative years in pre-handover Hong Kong – 'It was in the ’80s, skyscrapers were going up... when I think back on it now, it’s really that kind of Wong Kar-wai romanticised modernity' – and came of age in Singapore, later moving to London to study architecture. For the last five years he’s worked primarily as a visual artist, creating depopulated video animations depicting near-future scenarios in which architecture is inhabited, if at all, by art world ruins and flitting, autonomous drones. Sinofuturism – one of three pieces by Lek in the UCCA’s current group show, The New Normal – grew out of research he was doing on machine learning, artificial intelligence and inherently Chinese visions of the future. 'I basically realised [these] were all the same thing,' Lek says of his eureka moment.

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Capital-'F' Futurism typically refers to an Italian artistic movement spearheaded by the 1909 publication of poet Filippo Tommaso Marinetti’s Manifesto del Futurismo, a tome worshipping speed, industrial development, and the violent destruction of the past in the name of erecting a new phase of Western civilisation. At its best, the movement gave form and meaning to a rapidly changing era, closely influencing the aesthetic of 20th-century art, architecture, and music. At its most insidious, Italian Futurism, which praised the political expediency of fascism, presaged some of the worst horrors to come, clearing way for the rise of Mussolini and later being echoed in the brutal ideology of the Cultural Revolution.

More recently, several non-Western Futurisms have been proposed to reflect today’s post-colonial globe. The term 'Afrofuturism' gained currency in the early ’90s, and has been retroactively applied to the work of African-American sci-fi writers Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler, as well as to the avant-garde jazz luminary Sun Ra, who attached an interstellar, Afrocentric cosmology to his compositional process. 'Gulf Futurism' was coined in a 2007 essay by Qatari- American artist Sophia Al Maria to identify a distinct aesthetic and vision of future engendered by the prevailing economic interests of the post-oil-boom Persian Gulf.

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Shiva's Way

For Lek, Sinofuturism moved from a vague topic of interest to a concrete speculative idea after a conversation with Steve Goodman, better known as musician and Hyperdub label founder Kode9. Goodman is no stranger to this paradigm, having himself explored topics such as 'Afroatlantian rhythmic futurism' during his time as a philosophy student at the University of Warwick’s notorious Cybernetic Culture Research Unit. 'He’s been exploring this idea of non-Western futures for a very long time,' says Lek. 'So I asked him, why is it that there is no Sinofuturism? And then we were talking about how if the symbol of Afrofuturism is this super robot, or hyper-human, there’s no equivalent [for Sinofuturism]. That conversation really got me thinking, and I realised that actually, the robot is for Afrofuturism what the AI is for Sinofuturism.'

In the eponymous video, which is composed entirely of footage found online, a non-human narrator informs the viewer that Sinofuturism is 'a science fiction that already exists… a massively distributed neural network focused on copying rather than originality.' Lek identifies seven cliches about Chinese society – computing, copying, gaming, studying, addiction, labour and gambling – and uses them to argue for Sinofuturism as a self-interested artificial intelligence that employs deep-seated cultural qualities like Confucian filial piety and agrarian-industrial labour capacity to spread itself across the planet in a Darwinian conquest of ideas; it is an agent of meme warfare. Sinofuturism’s seven core components are visually reflected by media reports such as a BBC documentary on internet gaming addiction and paranoid rants on the dangers of globalism from the far-right talk show Infowars.

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Sinofuturism

In an opaque way, Sinofuturism manages to tie together many of the most salient and bewildering features of contemporary China into a grandiose narrative that’s so outlandish, it almost seems obviously true. In historical terms, Lek places the beginning of Sinofuturism in 1839, a date corresponding with the launch of the first Opium War. It ends in 2046, an explicit reference to Wong Kar-wai’s film of the same name and a tentative prognostication of some flashpoint of technological singularity that Lek expects we might reach within 30 years. 'Globally speaking, [this time period] is the peak of a certain kind of hard technology, like mechanisation, to industrialisation, to digitisation,' he explains. 'I think these 200 years, without being able to look into the future, are what will probably set the blueprint for a lot of things to come.'

The blueprint metaphor is apt: according to Sinofuturism, the 'things to come' will be more machine than man. Post-humanism is a theme that recurs through many of Lek’s works. Shiva’s Way, another video featured in The New Normal, tells the tale of a Buddhist nun who 'journeys to Korea to help rebuild the Seoul Museum of Art' after an apocalyptic civil war. Its figureless terrains literalise the uncanny condition of art – decontextualised Chinese landscape paintings; a half-submerged statue of Maitreya, the future Buddha – after the death of all human observers. One of his latest creations is The Nøtel, a collaboration with Kode9 that sets the latter’s 2015 album Nothing in a 3D-rendered hotel that hosts no human guests. Lek and Kode9 will bring The Nøtel to Beijing in May as part of the Wetware music festival – keep an eye on the Time Out Beijing website for event details.

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Sinofuturism

Lek is careful to point out that Sinofuturism is not a call to action, nor an instruction manual. 'It isn’t a manifesto, it’s a conspiracy theory,' he says. Referencing Marxist theorist Fredric Jameson, Lek explains that 'the reason conspiracy theories are so popular is that they give people a way to understand the world. Our cognitive map of the world is too impossibly complex right now. So the thinking is that reality is like a branching tree, and if we go back to the very root of it, we can solve things. This isn’t true, of course, because the problem is never that simple. But the conspiracy theory is like a map to help us understand the world. So Sinofuturism is not a manifesto for the future, it’s more like a conspiracy theory to understand the present and maybe parts of the past, and maybe parts of the future as well, through these patterns.'

Nevertheless, like the Italian Futurist manifesto, Sinofuturism can be seen as intellectual preparation for difficult transitions ahead. One irony deeply embedded in the video is Lek’s awareness of the potential for AI to usurp even his own line of work. 'In the same way that the Government might subsidise the coal industry, they’ll have to subsidise the knowledge industry,' Lek says of a near future where AI art trumps the work of humans. Lek envisions an 'anti-AI art law' that might come into being to safeguard the cultural value of human artistic output, if only in our own minds.

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Shiva's Way

While this argument can be applied to AI and culture generally, it has a special relevance in China, where critics often reject visual arts and music coming out of the country today as imitative copies of Western originals. Sinofuturism suggests that this cultural reaction is a desperate gambit of Enlightenment-Western thought in defense of its own conception of the ego, its own Futurist fetishisation of the new. Sinofuturism puts no stock in originality, only useful copies. 'Because the physical components of high technology are literally made in China,' its robot narrator intones early on, 'it makes no sense to produce visions of the future. It’s already here.' -   www.timeoutbeijing.com/features/Art/157605/Lawrence-Lek-It-isnt-a-manifesto-its-a-conspiracy-theory.HTML




Geomancer
Geomancer is a CGI film by Lawrence Lek about the creative awakening of artificial intelligence. On the eve of Singapore’s 2065 Centennial, an adolescent satellite AI escapes its imminent demise by coming down to Earth, hoping to fulfil its dream of becoming the first AI artist. Faced with a world that limits its freedom, Geomancer must come to terms with its militarised origins, a search that begins with a mysterious syndicate known as the Sinofuturists…
As the geopolitical axis tilts further to the East, and as once-dominant technological models are cast into doubt, Geomancer alights on a longstanding tension between the place of the human and the role of the machine, sharpened by contemporary hopes and anxieties around the rise of East Asia, and by speculations that new forms of artificial intelligence, already outperforming mere mortals in matters of automation, will challenge us in more creative skills as well.
Featuring video game animation, a neural network-generated dream sequence, and a synthesised vocal soundtrack, Geomancer explores the aesthetics of post-human consciousness.
Jerwood/FVU Awards 2017 - ‘Neither One Thing Or Another’
22nd March - 14 May at Jerwood Space, London SE1 0LN. 
Mon-Fri 10am-5pm; Sat-Sun 10am-3pm
FULL PRESS RELEASE: fvu.co.uk/projects/geomancer









http://lawrencelek.com/geomancer

















Nøtel (with Kode9)
Immaterial architecture & live performance, 2015 - ongoing x Hyperdub
Performances at Unsound Adelaide / Mapping Geneva / Mira Berlin / Sonar

“Virtual worlds and video gaming are an emerging medium for marketing luxury. In line with the goals of fully-automated luxury communism (100% leisure, 0% work), the CEO of Nøtel corporation has commissioned us to create a promotional video game for their flagship brand. A fully-automated, evacuated, luxury hotel: an open world where nothing happens.
The project guides the audience on a first-person tour through the uncanny architecture of the Nøtel. In sprawling chambers deep within slick glass corridors, they encounter warped spaces, quantum clouds, gravitational pools, dancing voids and holograms of the dead.“





Geomancer (Jerwood/FVU 2017)Sinofuturism (1839 - 2046 AD)QE3Berlin Mirror (2042 Retrospective)Nøtel (with Kode9)Bonus LevelsShiva's GrottoUnreal Estate (The Royal Academy is Yours)Gravity's FollyDalston, Mon AmourSky LineMemory PalaceShiva's Dreaming  •  Delirious New Wick