Thursday, August 27, 2009

Retour a la Raison

I think this might be my favorite film so far, and the reason for this is because I love the techniques and visual illusions that Man Ray uses in this film. It is very clean, very smooth, and kept me interested, if only aesthetically.


I Love Slow Motion!!!!!

One of the only films we have watched so far that has really employed the use of slow motion. First of all slow motion can make almost anything cooler. For example, the scene where the people are following the casket and running (or leaping) in slow motion is very well done. But along with slow motion Rene Clair does a very good job using timing to add suspense and drama into the film.

Also, compared to the other films thus far this film seemed to have the most coherent structure. Everything seemed to happen in sequence and very little seemed to happen without cause. But you begin to see the absurdity that the artist during this time began to view the world.

I also enjoyed the scenes where Clair shows a city scape but changes the angle of the camera so we are viewing the city scape out of our normal appreciation. This part also to me has the most aesthetic value out of any of the films I have seen thus far. The balance between foreground, background, light and dark are all very well tended to and provide a very pleasant viewing experience. Any of those scenes could very well stand alone as still images.

Ballet Mecanique

This piece seemed to be a culmination of dramatically different images that seemed to be most of the time in direct juxtaposition to each other. It does seem that this film was very influenced by the march of technology onto the stage of fine art. Rather a reluctant embracing of things to come.

I did like the rhythm that was created in the film by using the inherent rhythm that machines have. But also by cutting and repeating scenes the filmmaker, Fernand Leger, was able to create his own sense of rhythm. Like the repeated scene with the woman walking up the stairs; which he repeated to a point of absurdity, where I could no longer help myself from laughing at the laboring lady.

But unlike many of the other films I have seen thus far in this class, I do think that this film carried with it some underhanded commentary on it's current social situation.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Symphonie Diagonale

Again, without the music one is able to really focus on the visual aesthetics of this film, which to me, are way more organized and connected than in Rhytmus. However, this film is also much more repetitive. I will say that I did prefer the radiant lights in Symphonie to the stop motion cut outs of Rhythmus.

On a personal note I rather enjoyed this one as it reminded me of times square in a time lapsed video. The taxis driving by with neon signs and billboards all around. That is what I enjoy the most about this type of film, we are all allowed to take away from it what we will.

Rhythmus 21

First off, watch it without the music.
You get a much better overall sense of what the artist is trying to accomplish aesthetically. Watching it without the music allowed me to focus more on the actual rhythm and interplay between the shapes. Throughout the film it is difficult to judge ones relation to the shapes. Are you close? Are you far? Are you above? Below? The shapes are very basic but that very nature adds a deeper more contemplative nature to the video. It is not trying to tell you anything, it is only trying to give you an experience.

Now to the music.
I would have to say that the film makes the music more than the music makes the film. It seems that the music truly is only meaningful in its role as an ambassador to the viewer.
how can today’s films (focus on one) be understood in terms of Benjamin’s ideas about the aura and mechanical reproduction?

Take Marcel Duchamp's film, Anemic Cinema. He has completely destroyed any sense or aura or importance around his film leaving it to the degenerate realm of worthless reproduction. However, it is in this very sense that we find the "aura" or uniqueness/importance that Benjamin talks of. Duchamp understands very well that a movie is easily reproducible once it is made, and it is in this fact where it's value is discerned. But, Duchamp also understands that his viewers will not and can not have the same experience with his film as that do with more traditional forms of art. It is with this in mind, that I am reminded of a small passage of Benjamin's where he discusses how contemplation has been replaced with distraction; or rather, how distraction has been allowed to assume the role of contemplation.

As far as Benjamin's ideas about mechanical reproduction go (at least in relation to Duchamp's film) I think it plays back to the fact that the art is realized in the very destruction of what was once held most valuable; a contemplative and unique work of art.

write about what Benjamin says about the aura:

What is its value?
Is its withering away good or bad?
Neither or both?

Benjamin talks of the aura as the uniqueness or importance of the original experience. Something that cannot be duplicated nor experienced any other way than being in the presence of the original (either person or place.) It's value is that of a priceless work of art, or an original performance, of which will never be the same, but will not be any less.

The withering away of the aura can be bad or good, it depends upon the purpose of the original piece and the intention of the artist.