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

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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Artists Unawareness & Prolificity

The single idea of “How we all create” and invent in art is fascinating. It’s a territory, where we can discuss about genius, work, inspiration, ideas, seeds, growing, building, speed, movements, failure, discoveries and bliss.

I could invent a whole blog about this – but it seems I like my “constantly random” thing. My French Toolbox is not a blog about this or that, but a state of mind…

I just read a Simenon interview (he’s a Belgian writer) who talks about “states” he crosses when he’s about to write a novel. He says that the story and the characters grows and simmers in himself for days, weeks, until he can’t restrain anymore and has to write.

Then he has to stay in that state for days, without interruption. He says that he has to be the more empty possible. Not thinking. As if he had to “receive” the story, without using his intelligence.

Simenon is considered as a master of crime novels. He wrote almost 200 books, and was said to be able to write 60-80 pages a day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Simenon

Well, prolific artists (like Picasso or Victor Hugo) are maybe linked to this fast-non-thinking process, a trance. I have also often seen the other side : where “inspiration” is like a necessary wind which have to be used, criticized, canalized and judged during the whole process of creation. The critic inside the writing poet, says Baudelaire…

Also, we all confusedly know something else : there can be no start, in creativity, without a little burst, a little rush of EMOTION.

Thanks for reading!

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Herb List / Todd Hido

The 2 Products of a Blogger (and other artisans)

Hey, craftsperson! Hi!

You blog, right? (or you take pictures, you paint, you write poems, you invent things or concepts). Here’s a little patterntool from Paul Valéry for your pleasure :

  1. Your article (and your past ones) can be considered as a state, a work which can be taken over, modified.
  2. The product is your article, it stays, it’s independent : it makes sense for readers.
  3. But the work of modeling, building and rebuilding has its own value.
  4. The work you had to do reacted in you, changed you, and in a way invented another product, which is a more skillful and clever you.
  5. You learn from what you write.
  6. Feedback feeds the magician.
  7. Your article is never really finished. You could make it better all the time, couldn’t you?
  8. It could teach you something more, after all…
  9. In a way, you learned so much working on it, that you could erase it completely and do it again. Better.
  10. A craftsperson will be satisfied with his/her product when he/she learned enough from it.

 

Thanks for reading!

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I’m much more interested in the work than in the product of the work

P. Valéry

 

 

 

Eno & U2 : a freezing creative process

Brian Eno produced a few U2’s albums. I read one day in an interview that he had to restrain these guys’ creativity : they have too many ideas, all the time, and it’s exhausting!

Therefore, as the person in charge, he sometimes has to decide a STOP.

This is what he does, then :

As each musician is recorded on his own track, the freedom is total, which leads to infinite choices. At this time of the composition, Eno decides to pre-mix what he has, freezing the whole song in stereo. Instead of having for example 12 tracks you can move, mix and change all the time, he reduces all the pack in 2 tracks, left and right. From there, nobody can touch it anymore – then he trashes the source.

He transforms, this way, the big tree of possibilities into a “this is how it is now” song.

 

Of course you see it’s a tool : what are the consequences of this? Displacing creativity? (what do they do “from this”?). Is closing inventiveness from here allow people to invent elsewhere? Another thing? When do we need, in our work, to stop inventing and move forward? Why? When do we have too many ideas? What to do? What if you remove an element?

When do you need to have a thinker in charge?

You can also read : Fecundity of Limits

Thanks for reading !

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