[-empyre-] R: Truths and temporality

naxsmash naxsmash at mac.com
Tue May 12 14:56:16 EST 2009

thanks to Ashley and Stamatia-- this is totally related to the work i  
am doing now and I do thank you for this powerful writing.
I hope to contribute to this thread when i get a bit of distance from  
the intensity of visual processs and am able to articulate a response.


On May 11, 2009, at 7:57 PM, stamatia portanova wrote:

> Hi Ashley
> thanks for the beautiful example of Kentridge's work that you  
> describe here. It reminds me of some other videos by the same artist  
> (although I don't remember the titles, I think one of them was  
> called "Memo", but I'm not sure its the right one), where he also  
> plays with the reversibility of movement and time. And it also makes  
> me think, among other things, of Deleuze's description of  
> 'inlections' and 'folds' in art.
> For Deleuze, every spatiotemporal line (or curve) is the path of a  
> point that suddenly changes direction at particular inflection  
> points. The inflection point would be, in other words, the idea, as  
> an inflection of thought, and as generative of a gesture or a work.  
> In this sense, the image of the progressive-regressive alternation  
> of Kentridge's movements becomes like the variable curvature (or  
> actualization) of a particular idea (the idea of folding the  
> elasticity of time), in its turn realized through the perceptual  
> foldings allowed by technology.
> In "Earth Moves", Bernard Cache defines the point of inflection as  
> an intrinsic singularity which is not yet related to a particular  
> development of coordinates and, like every 'solid' work of art for  
> Deleuze and Guattari, is neither high nor low, neither on the right  
> nor on the left, neither in progression nor regression, because it  
> is in absence of gravity. Inflection is the pure event of a line or  
> a point, a virtuality, an ideality to be actualised into a well- 
> defined curve. In this case, the virtual inflection point of the  
> videos appears as the idea of playing with the malleable folds of  
> time, in more than two simultaneous directions at once.
> A whole choreographic and causal geometry of sensations is  
> consequently developed, or folded, after the idea, when the  
> constructivism of drwaing, of the camera or of the technology  
> transforms the point of inflection of a gesture into a fully formed  
> curve. By following the formation of the movements in their  
> continuing-forward from past to present and vice versa, and by  
> revealing the serpentine line of these movements as a vector of  
> symmetric exchanges, technology here seems to transform bodily  
> movements into two-fold or circular structures. And it is surprising  
> to see the artist's own transformation into a reverse-performer,  
> together with objects and movements folding into a continuously  
> renewed dance. I wish I could see this piece.
> I just wanted to through this idea of inflection out there, it has  
> always intrigued me and made me think of potential unexpected  
> results...
> stamatia
> --- Lun 11/5/09, Ashley Ferro-Murray <aferromurray at berkeley.edu> ha  
> scritto:
>> Da: Ashley Ferro-Murray <aferromurray at berkeley.edu>
>> Oggetto: [-empyre-] Truths and temporality
>> A: "soft_skinned_space" <empyre at lists.cofa.unsw.edu.au>
>> Data: Lunedì 11 maggio 2009, 01:31
>> In "Some Thoughts on Obsolescence" William
>> Kentridge makes a comment
>> on contemporary technology. “There is a way in which
>> working with
>> contemporary technologies, either as a medium or as subject
>> matter –
>> cell phone rather than Bakelite phone – becomes very much
>> about
>> fashion, style, and temporality.” He explains, “A
>> refusal to move with
>> the times is also a refusal neatly to accept the precepts
>> of
>> preoccupations of the metropolitan center – far off, and
>> often
>> mistakenly assuming that its concerns and its times are the
>> only ones
>> appropriate to everywhere else.” I would like to reflect
>> upon this
>> week’s discussion and in particular the last few posts on
>> truth and
>> choice in the context of Kentridge’s work. The South
>> African artist
>> engages various technologies induce his work with movement.
>> Kentridge’s 7 Fragments for Georges Méliès includes a
>> video where he
>> reverses film of himself throwing papers around a room. He
>> carefully
>> choreographs his movements so that he performs a catching
>> motion in
>> reverse as he throws the paper. This way, his film reflects
>> an
>> absurdist image. Kentridge explores a studio space and its
>> temporality
>> in terms of media. Can a man really summon papers into his
>> hands? It’s
>> magic!
>> Kentridge employs technology to realize an invisible. This
>> performance
>> of the absurd, he explains at an artist talk at UC
>> Berkeley, is the
>> “Physical and mental act of trying to construct a sense
>> of the world
>> as it arrives to us. The way in which we assume it is all
>> naturalized
>> and the world simply arrives at us…Chaotic set of
>> impulses, we do huge
>> work, mental, rational and psychic to keep the pieces
>> together and
>> believe in the coherence of how they operate.”
>> In Cinema 2 Deleuze discusses cinema in a similar way. For
>> him, the
>> power to constitute something is to “bring back reasons
>> to believe in
>> the world, or whatever is being constituted. Deleuze
>> discusses the
>> body to explore this concept. In Cinema 1 he discusses this
>> body in
>> terms of movement. "Movement is a translation in
>> space… movement
>> always relates to a change, migration to a seasonal
>> variation. And
>> this is equally true of bodies: the fall of a body
>> presupposes another
>> one which attracts it, and expresses a change in the whole
>> which
>> encompasses them both. (8).
>> I present the work and thoughts of Kentridge next to a
>> couple of
>> Deleuze’s explanations of movement and the body to
>> consider two
>> things. First, here is a direct interaction between art
>> practice as
>> theory and theory as art practice (In a sense, I will
>> argue, Deleuze
>> creates a practical movement score with his words and
>> concepts).
>> Second, here are two considerations of the human-technology
>> interaction as a movement existence and temporal
>> instantiation of that
>> existence. The first uses technologies to disrupt a
>> movement “truth,”
>> but only in hopes of understanding it more. The second uses
>> movement
>> and the body in a discussion of a technology, cinema, to
>> consider
>> temporal progression in terms of change.
>> As I carry these musings forward I would like to rewind in
>> our
>> conversation to the concept of affect. How can we consider
>> our more
>> recent topics again in relation to an affective or
>> experiential
>> reception of movement? Rather than attempt to answer this
>> question I
>> will conclude with a short description of my experiences in
>> Kentridge’s exhibition space.
>> I enter the exhibition space and am struck by four
>> projections. One
>> faces me, one stands behind me and there are two pairs of
>> projection;
>> one stands to my right and the other to my left. The sound
>> score is
>> consistent, but each projection moves differently. The
>> content is
>> fluid and similar, but I can’t decide where to stand.
>> First, I walk
>> through several people to stand in a corner. From here I
>> can see
>> several projections at once, but they are fragmented. The
>> movement on
>> the screen radiates beyond the filmic realm and into the
>> exhibition
>> space around me. Viewers move toward and around each
>> projection in
>> ways that mirror a man in his studio. He walks in and
>> around his
>> sketches. The viewer walks in and around his films. I see
>> each
>> fragment of each film through the moving people that
>> perform with me,
>> a moving viewer in a room with six projections. The films,
>> though,
>> exist outside of my temporality. Papers fly against gravity
>> and ripped
>> images turn back into whole ones.  I move toward one
>> projection. As I
>> get closer I move through the people around me. The screen
>> grows
>> larger. The screen is now whole. Live movement no longer
>> fragments the
>> image that I look toward. I piece together a projection
>> that was
>> previously fragmented with my movement toward the screen. I
>> mirror
>> Kentridge as he pieces together what was previously torn.
>> Perhaps I do
>> share his temporal situation. Or, maybe not. What is this
>> effect that
>> he uses to render his cinematic reality complete? I watch a
>> man in his
>> studio. I know that the technology of his body is off. He
>> catches
>> papers. They fly into his hands. The objects around him are
>> playing in
>> reverse. Each wrinkle in his shirt, twitch of his eye flick
>> of his
>> finger, though, seems to move forward in time. His
>> movements do not
>> look like movements in retrograde. I look toward my own
>> hand. I
>> pretend to throw a book on the floor. I watch my movement.
>> I now place
>> Kentridge’s motion onto my body. We move together. I
>> perform this
>> throwing motion again. I watch as each joint, muscle and
>> tendon work
>> as a mechanic device to perform an action. I try to reverse
>> this
>> action. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. With close and careful
>> attention it
>> seems that I can choreograph my body memory to throw in
>> reverse.
>> Kentridge reversed his corporeal actions and set them
>> straight by
>> reversing his technological capture.
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naxsmash at mac.com

christina mcphee


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