Where to apply modernity?

Reading my Jeff Wall book I found this little paragraph about certain movie directors who were modern (and even avant-gardist) BUT in a tradictionnal form.

Fellini, Bergman, Rohmer, Bunuel, Eustache or Fassbinder, making movies with this idea :

Putting modernity pressure not on the form itself, but elsewhere, on elements of the classic form.

Each example is very clear, when opposed to Jean-Luc Godard, who killed, enstranged, deformed, distorded, dented the classical forms of movies : experiences on the sound, narration, superposition, edition.

“Rule Breaking Films” (you can YouTube this) are interesting ALSO to find out (and list and sort) where modernity has been applied.

Kaleidocopic (Persona), surreal/casual (8 1/2), jazzyist jumcuts (A bout de Souffle), no sets (Dogville), refusing artificial dramas (Patterson), watching the camera (Pierrot le Fou, Monica, Do the right Thing) : you’ll find your own examples with Google.

 

Anyway, what’s interesting me here is this tool :

Apply modernity, break some rules, push avant-garde elements. OK, but what if on some places only, letting the rest totatlly “normal”?

Where? Poetry? Photography? What’s your field? How will you choose your “element”?

 

Thanks for reading!

JP

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Tropes & Clichés and other blocks of storytelling

I write this because I believe that English uses the word “trope” in a different way than in French. It’s a rare word here, and I had to check in dictionaries to understand it.

I hear that in the world of telling stories, a trope is like a “little structure”, linked to other words : conventions, stereotypes, clichés, but also “twists and turns”.

  1. Big tropes, archetypes with capitals like : The Chosen One. The Artifact of Power. The Damsel in Distress. The Knight in Shining Armor.
  2. Typical narrative structures like : enemies to lovers, tough guy secretly sensitive, forbidden love,
  3. Situations or plot elements : “there’s only one bed”

 

It leads to many questions & paths :

  • Tropes by categories (ex : Fantasy Tropes : quest, dark lord, hero, good vs evil, blah blah)
  • Clichés are boring, aren’t tropes boring?
  • New tropes?
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clich%C3%A9 Clichés are irritating, right?
  • Platitudes. Stereotypes.
  • Tropes are good because familiarity.
  • When tropes are predictable to the point of boredom.
  • Are predictable tropes clichés?
  • Tropes as metaphors.

 

Well, it’s too big. Creativity and storytelling, finding the frontier between good tropes and boring ones, etc. I need a book. You have an idea?

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : _bodylanguage_

 

 

“Taken for granted” questioning

In any discipline, “Taken for granted” questioning is a funny tool.

It’s a pretty serious game, too.

  1. To play it, watch your “territory” and list everything about it.
  2. Then check what’s taken for granted, even the obvious.
  3. Then question everything with “What if I destroy one element, or reverse it?”.

 

An example. Theater, a play.

Actors are on the scene, playing as if they were someone else, telling a learned-by-heart text written by someone, they rehearsed before to make the whole thing fluent, there’s a red curtain, the lights are off during the play, the audience is sitting in aligned chairs and they listen, there’s maybe an intermission, but the play is “played” in one piece…

 

Now for each element, say : NO. Or “let’s do the contrary” :

  • Put the audience on stage and actors in the room.
  • Mix them up.
  • Let the audience stand up.
  • Divide the play into 5 minutes parts.
  • Don’t switch off the lights.
  • Make actors talk to the public.
  • Ask the public things.
  • Change the text during the play.
  • Use two stages or more.
  • Show the rehearsals.

Well, etc. For each line, pull the string, see what comes to you. Personally, I love the “two stages” idea. Interactions…

 

Now do it with : marriage, base ball, religion, politics, blogging, teaching, poetry, sex, photography. Anything can be questioned, especially :

What’s taken for granted?

What if you destroy/invert a line? Why would you do that? Exploration, invention?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Instagram : mariakdolores

Weird Street Photography : Wall & Lay

ONE

From sensitiveness to intellectual games

This is a movement I like to watch in Arts. And in a way it depends on you.

If you see a photography

  1. do you prefer to feel “Aaaaweeeee!”?
  2. or an eyebrow movement followed by happy inner questions like “Why did he do that, what does that mean, it makes me think about this, etc”?

TWO

In the domain of Street photography I wrote already two articles about Jeff Wall

Jeff Wall, Photographer & Jeff Wall : Photography for Thinkers, Part 1

“Near Documentary” : he elaborates pictures which “look like” natural but are NOT. He can spend weeks on a single photography.

His pictures seems banal, ordinary, but with a slight feeling of “something’s wrong”, or “maybe fake”, or staged. Is it something you SEE really, or is it because you know this about his work?

Of course, there’s here this old idea than this little weirdness in the only way to really tell something about “reality”.

And this modernity which is that “Art evolves with the movement of thinking about its own limits, frontiers, its own character”.

Therefore you have two camps : real photographers, who show what’s happening in the world (to be witnesses), and staged photographers, who think & invent their images (with artistic or intellectual purposes).

Here are 4 Jeff Wall pics :

THREE

On the other side, I just discovered a “real” street photographer : Géraldine Lay. Who chooses situations and light and places so… carefully, that you’re almost SURE that it’s staged. But it’s not.

Hopper like. A too good to be true meeting. Etc… You keep watching, smiling, wondering…

FOUR

Where, in other maps of your brain, do you like when two opposite ways of working result in the same “result for the audience”?

An interesting braid, right?

Thanks for reading!

Here are 4 Géraldine Lay pics :

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“The Unhinger” : Manet’s Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe (1863) is a MESS

Nowadays it’s almost impossible to understand the scandal and the revolution caused by Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe, The Luncheon on the Grass, by Edouard Manet – which sounds totally harmful today, right? This painting is today in the Musée d’Orsay, in Paris.

It was a groundbreaker in three areas. And it stays an enigma, a source of endless books, articles and suppositions.

Because

  1. We don’t understand the reason why this woman is naked with two men. “The presence of a nude woman among clothed men is justified neither by mythological nor allegorical precedents”.
  2. She seems a normal woman, not the aerial nymph or goddess you normally see when you see a naked body in a painting. This “realistic” approach has never been seen before.
  3. She watches the audience, she watches YOU, we wonder : “Is she challenging or accepting the viewer, looking past the viewer, engaging the viewer, or even looking at the viewer at all?”.
  4. She doesn’t listen to the talking guy. She doesn’t care. She cares of you.
  5. Manet has been considered an awful painter, because of the perspective mistakes (though he studied all of it for almost 10 years with a great teacher)… all this is made on purpose :
  6. Like in Japanese etchings, the lady in the middle is too big according to the perspective laws. “Too large in comparison with the figures in the foreground, she seems to float above them”. There’s a flatness, which is like a game for your eyes.
  7. Manet displayed the painting at the Salon des Refusés, an alternative salon established by those who had been refused entry to the official one. The public liked to come and laugh, ununderstanding crowd.
  8. “The roughly painted background lacks depth, giving the viewer the impression that the scene is not taking place outdoors, but in a studio”. De facto, even the light looks like “studio“. It fake, not “gorgeous nature”.
  9. The fruits and the dress are painted in a great talented way, but the trees and the natural environment are painted differently : you see the brush strokes. Impressionism is coming.
  10. Therefore it seems unfinished on several parts of the scene.
  11. The painting is TALL – 81.9 x 104.1 inches (208 by 264.5 cm), which is unusual for this “genre” painting. Usually, tall paintings are used for biblical or mythological subjects.
  12. There are no “subtle gradations” between colors (though the painter perfectly knows how to do this), and Manet has been accused to “see in blocks”.
  13. We can wonder if these people are lovers, swingers. Or maybe she’s a hooker?
  14. It’s like casually based (gestures, dispositions) on old masters painters. Manet studied them a lot. Raphael’s Judgment of Paris is an example.
  15. Oppositions are many between her and them : feminine/masculine, light/dark, naked/dressed.
  16. Described as idiotic, childish, shocking and incoherent by the newspapers. Good to them!
  17. This sounds not sincere, but analytical, a game, an enigma, a puzzle for your mind.
  18. Indecency : “vulgar men” painting nude women.
  19. Manet himself jokingly nicknamed his painting “la partie carrée“.
  20. “Refusal to conform to convention and his initiation of a new freedom from traditional subjects and modes of representation – can perhaps be considered as the departure point for Modern Art.”
  21. Subject is shocking. Style and treatment are shocking.
  22. “She is not ashamed of being naked as she gazes confidently at us”.
  23. The model was known (Victorine Meurent, who was a painter) and the guys are Manet’s brothers. Scandal in the French Academy!
  24. Works like this made Manet the father of impressionism. You can also study “Olympia” and the fabulous “A Bar at the Folies-Bergère“. In both paintings, the woman gazes. At you.
  25. Manet unhinged, damaged the whole history of paintings with this one…

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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You’ll find dozens other ideas everywhere on the web. This artist is an infinite source of thinking. Also : parodies (some are hilarious!).

It inspired other painters like Monet – who dit a “correct” and gorgeous version (comparing both could be a whole article). It so beautiful (Manet and Monet, who was younger, were friends), but it’s for you eyes, not for thinkers…

Have a nice day!

JP

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“Untriggered by assessments” : What does the photographer want?

I just had a good conversation with F. L. Larkins, an English photographer, after an article I wrote about her work.

Fiona Louise Larkins, English photographer

I subsequently updated my article, and I realized it was a good way to introduce another text about the photographer’s motivations.

It made me think, watched more pictures. There’s something I know : if I see a silhouette walking in the misty woods, or someone watching absently through a window (when it rains -> droplets on the glass), I don’t fall for it. I never fall for it. I just smile and I click away.

I see “the author wants me to notice it is a melancholic moment“. Like Nathalie Sarraute in literature, I disbelieve, I’m in assessment mode, I’m bored.

If I see lovers under an umbrella I smile “it’s cute, they’re in love and luck, right?”. But… No.

(though I love to be with my lover under an umbrella, listening to the subtle sounds of the rain on it)

So what does the photographer want? To testify of something? To fake happiness (like often on Instagram)? To gently mock the craziness of the world (Martin Parr)? To resolve a picture (Stephen Shore)? To have an audience, interest? To “express” oneself? To denounce?

You can make this exercize : watch your own Instagram, then watch the Instagrammers you follow.

Who do I love?

  • triciaetlea : humanism and sense of the frame.
  • jazzy_jeff57 : modestly shows the world.
  • mariakdolores : adorably sarcastic.
  • mariadelsur : shows Paris.
  • studioriquois : haunting landscapes of the North.
  • ninas982 : splendid atmospheres with no people.
  • natela_grigalashvili : people from Georgia.
  • johngiannatos : sparky human lover.

 

And many others. Diversity of motivations! But none of them give me instructions on how I must feel. Openness, subtleties.

I want to raise an eyebrow, to smile, or to have the desire to know the woman or the man behind the cam. Not to be “guided”. The audience triggers what he wants or needs or dream to see. Every single artist/viewer is a free thinker and a great soul. When sparks sparkle : Thank you!!

 

Thanks for reading!

(sorry for my English)

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James Tissot, French painter and illustrator.

Jacques Joseph Tissot (1836 – 1902), Anglicized as James Tissot, was a French painter and illustrator.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Tissot
https://www.jamestissot.org/

A “genre painter”, as they say : a painter of “elegantly dressed women shown in scenes of fashionable life”. He lived in England for years, and became pretty rich.

Therefore it’s easy to put him in the “conservative” box. All you see is beautiful and rich people and well done art, and though he’s been friends with impressionists, we could say he kept painting “interesting records of social life at the time”. Beautiful dresses, gorgeous art skills and colors, almost photographs!

Today we see other things, and Tissot is said to be “rediscovered”. Because we know now he painted about the “nouveau riche” world : there’s show-off everywhere (what we call in France un “m’as-tu vu”. This didyouseemeness is putting a smile on my face. These dresses must have been a real mess, right?

More : Tissot manages to make us think about the slices or boredom and loneliness and worry. It’s been a harsh world, and I thought about this marvellous Scorcese’s movie : The Age of Innocence – read the book, or The House of Mirth, also by Edith Wharton, which is worse!

Have a nice day!

The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth) c.1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902

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Portrait 1876 by James Tissot 1836-1902

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