“Two Birds”, and other “long-range laconic details”

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I took this picture, then, back home, I opened it on my Macintosh and discovered the two birds, which came as a little miracle. I thought the picture was good (roofs/landscape, the light, the funny road), but it became cool because of these two guys, right?

One could call this “small impressive things”. Borgès called it “long-range laconic details”…

We have in France an idiom for this, le je-ne-sais-quoi (“the I-don’t-know-what”), the little thing that can make something magic, and also can spoil everything. One philosopher even wrote a book about this “almost nothing” (V. Jankelevitch, Le je-ne-sais-quoi et le presque rien).

No doubt he was fond of music, which is almost a wizardry on this topic (thinking about unexpected (or hidden) dissonances or modulations).

It can blossom in many discreet things, purposed mistakes or strange seeds.

This is important in Arts, where perfection is often boring.

“Beautiful books are written in a kind of foreign language”, says Proust.

In a poem, a single word can be strangely placed (or repeated, like in Gertrud Stein’s, “Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose”) and a sensation appears :

“Now listen! I’m no fool. I know that in daily life we don’t go around saying ‘is a … is a … is a …’ Yes, I’m no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years.”.

I can be a single phrase in a whole song. The example of J. Denver :

Country roads, take me home
To the place I belong
West Virginia
Mountain mamma, take me home
Country roads

Seems a simple song about nostalgia, but hidden in the song you find “Driving down the road I get a feeling/That I should have been home yesterday”, which colors it differently, right?

“Everything that goes wrong… goes right” is one cool secret.

Details, games of subtleties, purposed mistakes, flakes of gold, unexpected elements, all are “je-ne-sais-quoi”s which put the audience into a state I love.

Thanks for reading!

AUSTRALIA. Sydney. Hunter st, city centre. 2002
Trente Parke
  1. Strangeization Tool & Eyebrow Criteria
  2. Intentional Maladjustments & Braiding Assessments
  3. Wes Anderson, Edouard Manet and modernity
  4. The “Brushstroke Pattern” & Progress in Arts : Offering Awareness
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Smart Simplicity vs Subtle Complexities

Today I ask for your help with a dual idea. Some artists with a long life and experience tend towards :

  1. The essential : Simplicity. Refining. Paring down.
  2. Smart subtleties : Not the simplicity, which is senseless, but secret and modest complexity.

 

Maybe 1. works for painters and other visual artists and 2. for writers and other ideas‘ artists? – another article to write.

Of course there are other ways of being mature, like “to dare more”, or “being decadent”.

 

Do you have examples? Poets, directors, photographers? Can you weave one and two without being paradoxical? Do we have to care for layers of creativity? What about the audience?

What about the contraries? It’s common that young creatives tend to give everything they have in their first big projects…

What do you think?

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Whyhow you should know your art

ONE

I talked with a woman working in a photography school.

“The first year, all our students work on analog photography only!”

Waow, in the the digital era, it’s a big deal, right?

Every cam today can keep hundreds or thousands of pictures on a little cheap SD Card. It’s so easy to try, trigger, take bunches of photos until you have a great one, that some photographers buy vintage cams to get :

  1. the splendid grain or texture of real film rolls
  2. but also the necessary meticulousness of the whole process

Choosing a brand for films, choosing settings for the cam, choosing how and when you take a picture, developing : all this becomes important, much more important : rolls are expensive!

This makes you focus.

Therefore it makes perfect sense to begin photography with analog cams.

TWO

Picasso or Klimt and many other painters began with the big knowledge of being great “classical” artists. Manet began to make what ignorants called “mistakes” (showing paintbrush strokes, flattening perspectives). Picasso told that he needed years to un-learn it :

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THREE

Martin L. Gore, composer/singer of Depeche Mode, explains that a song, before going to production with synths and beat-boxes, has to “sound” great with a single voice/acoustic guitar. Before. If it’s good, you can alter textures : the harmonic structure stays good.

TOOL

Where else do we find and use this pattern?

“Know the difficult core of your Art before exploring it, breaking rules or pushing it: you’ll be better”.

Thanks for reading!

Layers of WHYs

Is the art for you and your happiness? Or for others?

Let’s take photography. Why do I do that?

I wondered a lot already about his :

 

OK Here are 4 pictures. For the first one I had to : the cat was great, the verticals were profuse, interesting (light, reflections, shadows), the textures were puzzling (white, bricks, blue), and I love the stairs of books. Plus the darks were dark (I love underexposed photos).

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I took this one in Orsay’s Museum. Silhouette, vertical lines, the walls of Paris. I knew it was a great picture to “stop” the audience. The statue is so cool…

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Here I wanted you to feel the mood, ambiance. The concrete ruin of the war, my daughter in pink (in a coat). Feel the size, feel the wind…

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And here in Lille, the storm was coming. I made it blurry on purpose. The sky was dark, the night was coming, the lights were great, and the perspective cool (the red walls on the right). You can almost smell the first drops of rain, right? I hope so… Entre chien et loup (between dog and wolf is our way to say… dusk).

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So : I love dark & colors. I think on proportions, structures. I don’t do portraits. I do what I love. Each photographer works on something : the camera itself, the post-production, landscapes, animals, fashion.

There are shades and layers. What does the photographer want…

For himself, or for the audience?

In the end, I think we all do things in society… to be loved, to be liked, recognized, noticed… It’s maybe the core of all art.

No. Let’s go deeper.

While doing it, the photographer has fun. He looks for things, frames, moments. He is like a child. He plays. He is focused, busy, occupied, absorbed by their pleasant task.

That’s it, folk. The “child state”. This is pure bliss.

These are many layered reasons why we work, right?

Thanks for reading!!

 

 

From remaking “Suspiria”

Suspiria is a 1977 Italian horror film directed by Dario Argento. Today it’s a classic, grandiose and glossy. It’s also baroque in many ways : decors and colors are vibrant, the music is… not to be outdone.

Considered as a masterpiece, you have today to accept its… exaggerations. If your mind plays the game, it’s a very strange delight, full of great ideas.

When I heard about a remake I facepalmed, like many other movie lovers.

I’ll watch it soon but before that, I read interviews of other directors who reacted on the new Suspiria.

  1. One saying it was stupid to remake it because the first movie was such a milestone.
  2. Another one saying it was OK.
  3. The director, saying it made something totally different, with, for example, colors “à la Fassbinder” (the first Suspiria also happened in Germany).

Tilda Swinton, actress in the new movie, told something very smart (which made me write this article) :

As the story of the first Suspiria is very light (“An American newcomer to a German ballet academy comes to realize that the school is a witches coven”), it can be used like an opera libretto.

I thought it was smart. I know dozens of “Manon Lescaut” or “La Bohème”, the Puccini opera, and each time it’s very interesting to see what they do with the characters, the decor…

What does Manon Lescaut want?

I don’t know I feel this is a good tool, but I need help. How can I formalize it?

  • “When you think remaking something is useless, but you have to find a good angle to realize it’s not”?
  • “When you have to think about something in a new way (borrowing from another field) to find a new interest in it”?
  • “Once you have a core, a spirit, you can weave things around, it’ll be interesting to notice the differences”?
  • “Working on decisions : let’s keep this from the original/let’s change that”?

Tell me?

What’s the point to remake something frame by frame (like they’ll do with The Lion King)?

The Art of Unfinished Art

If you explore books, quotes, articles about Art, you always meet the concept of “finished/unfinished“.

And this is what you find :

ONE

A whole lot of “simple” authors who seem to have common sense and think Art is like a normal part of society. They all say that a piece of Art must be finished :

  • “Never show unfinished work.” – R. Buckminster Fuller
  • “Behind unfinished art cries an unfinished artist.” – Terri Guillemets
  • “Finish the work, otherwise an unfinished work will finish you.” ― Amit Kalantri
  • “I know the sag of the unfinished poem. And I know the release of the poem that is finished.” – Mary Oliver

This sounds very good, right? It’s very satisfying. Everything must be finished, otherwise the world goes to chaos…

TWO

Another whole lot of artists, of course, say the contrary. Suddenly it becomes interesting :

  • “I always believed that my work should be unfinished in the sense that I encourage people to add their creativity to it, either conceptually or physically.” – Yoko Ono
  • “When I’m playing, I’m never through. It’s unfinished. I like to find a place to leave for someone else to finish it. That’s where the high comes in.” – Miles Davis
  • “Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci
  • Put your energy into ‘finishing’ – and you’re missing your next great painting. (J.R. Baldini)
  • In talking about the necessity to finish a thing, we said American painters finish a thing that looks unfinished, and the French, they finish it. I have seen Matisses that were more unfinished and yet more finished than any American painters. Matisse was obviously in a terrific emotion at the time and he was more unfinished than finished. (William Baziotes)
  • I don’t like finished things, because finished is over, dead. (Norbert Bisky)
  • To the impressionist, the work was finished, no matter how casual the execution, when the idea was completely realized on the canvas. (Richard J. Boyle)
  • How do you complete a painting, really? There are paintings by so many different artists that are interesting precisely because they haven’t really been completed. (Peter Doig)

 

Many masterpieces are unfinished : symphonies and cathedrals, Proust “La Recherche”, but most of modernity artists and thinkers know that finishing a work is killing it, it masks the work, the soul…

I found dozens more quotes. Each one could lead to an article…

What do you think?

 

Thanks for reading!

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Cf Non Finito : Inchoateness in Art

 

 

Tools from an Opera director

To direct an opera is certainly a mess! You have to deal with a “text and music” system, then with musicians, singers, light, settings, the past… all this with a vision, right?

I read an interview of Claus Guth who directed a La Bohème (Puccini) in Paris this winter. Here are his ways :

  1. Two years before the opera, he takes the book, reads it, takes some notes, and… put it back in the drawer for resting.
  2. He listens to the music in loop, for days. He’s happy to not understand the words (he’s German, Puccini Italian), and writes the ideas he gets : irrationally, emotionally, viscerally.
  3. Then he works : searches about the opera the composer the writer the historical backgrounds…
  4. After months of thinking about it, he gathers his team to talk around a table, to get ideas. A concept emerges…
  5. One year before the opera, they try things with scenery, settings.
  6. Then he retires, alone, for a few weeks.
  7. He begins to work with singers and confront them with what he wants to do. Some play along rapidly, some have to be guided… to be creative.
  8. According to him, the main thing is the music. If the text is good but he doesn’t like the music, he can’t do anything. But if the text is weak but the music good (which happens often in operas), he will work on it, on elevation…
  9. He likes to keep rehearsals secret, wanting the audience to be surprised at the premiere.

 

La Bohème is about poor artists in Paris in the 1830s. For me it’s the best opera ever! Therefore I’m never annoyed by directing transpositions in other styles, the fifties, or other countries, etc. It can be ugly, but it’s most of the time interesting. I really think that we can do anything with a masterpiece : you’ll never hurt it really. Playing with archetypes, putting’em into other universes, it’s often amazing!

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_boh%C3%A8me

I have to say that I already watch dozens of La Bohème happening in the streets of Paris and in frozen attic rooms (2nd picture). Guth decided to put it in space (!) (1st picture), in a lost spatial station, playing with a game of souvenirs, double characters, etc…

As they say in Libération, the French newspaper, it was “sidereally staggering” ( http://next.liberation.fr/theatre/2017/12/07/une-boheme-siderale-et-siderante_1615146 )

“we were flabbergasted (under the scream and catcalls) because we were suddenly seeing the bohemian lifestyle, from 1840 or 2017), on stage, all naked : artistically battybonkers, suicidal, not looking for approval, desesperate and sparkling like in a dream plunge to escape the misery of life”…

 

It’s true that the idea of Bohemian life (being a poor artist, with casualness and freedom (and parties and alcohol) it implies) is a problem : there’s a lie, a too big differences between your ideals and the reality…

 

 

I wrote this article to throw a few tools on my little table :

  • In Art, one pleasure is to compare readings, interpretations of a same piece.
  • It’s maybe creative to take a long time to work on something, with weeks or months of rest between work. Simmering.
  • Explore a masterpiece casually – without holding all the cards, just to see what it triggers in you. Then explore, read, and watch how what you fiund weaves with what you imagined.
  • Collaborations and conversations : sources of ideas.
  • Strength given by pauses alone. Watch things grow into you.
  • Find from where you can grow things (here : music) when a system in not entirely satisfying.
  • Keep things secret to have more impact.

 

These tools are somewhat obvious. Where will we apply them? Poetry? Photography? Couple? Teams? Companies? Literature?

 

Thanks for reading, and sorry for my English…

 

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