Hopper / Antonioni / Chekhov : Effects of Reality

Roland Barthes explained the “Effect of Reality” as a way to establish literary texts as realistic.

He said that some descriptions, in novels, have no other reason than to make us feel it’s a real place.

“…in one of his novels Flaubert describes the room of his main character and mentions a pyramid of boxes and cases standing under a barometer. These kinds of details are called notations by Barthes; he contrasts them with the main outline of the story, which he labels predictive, probably because on this level we can make certain predictions about the development of the story.”

F. R. Ankersmit

 

  1. We find this “tool” in some Antonioni’s movies, L’Avventura or L’Eclisse for example. A scene lasts a little to much. The camera shows something (a gaze, a street) without “real” reason. No other reason than this : suddenly you “feel” as if you touched reality, getting out of the-dream-of-watching-a-movie.
  2. We find this “tool” in Hopper’s paintings. For me, it’s his main talent, asset. We watch : some people are here, just “being” – they wait or think, who knows? These paintings stop you, wondering what these people do, if they’re bored…
  3. We find this “tool” in Chekhov’s short stories. His descriptions are not here just to “paint the scenery”, but (and very shortly/effectively) make us feel something. So much that I remember plenty of places of these books!

Of course, it’s used in many other art pieces and form.

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I think this is linked to our idea of boredom. In Antonioni we often watch someone doing nothing – breathing, watching something, thinking. It breaks the usual “flow of events” we often see in movies. Or we see a conversation leading to nowhere. Blank seconds. We see people dealing with boredom. And maybe we are hurt, of surprised, or… bored a bit. And it’s an effect of reality, right?

Sometimes it’s just “a place shown”, like in Hopper‘s work. The light on a wall suddenly makes you “feel” the place. You can almost hear the little wind, or the street, the sea. It’s as if your brain suddenly touched the reality he wanted you to feel.

 

What will we do with this? Why and how does it work? Why is it… good? What about photography? One purpose of it could be to “make us touch” reality, instead of amazing us? What do you think?

 

Thanks for reading!

 

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Decision : Is today the day after yesterday or the day before tomorrow?

Is today the day after yesterday or the day before tomorrow?

You can now take this little idea-stick and use it for concepts. Let’s do it with decisions.

As all we have is the “now”…

There are two types of persons, those who think in little simple boxes and let themselves trapped by words, and those who know life’s complex and moving. The first category can be divided in

  1. Therefore, most of wise-asses will stand up and pompously claim that “Haha, today is the day before tomorrow!!” – they make decisions watching the future.
  2. Some other saddened sad-pants will mourn and stop, watching the past only, the yesterday. They are mocked by 1.

 

Of course, my article would like to show that we need the past and the future to make decisions.

Considering the yesterday is drawing maps, spot mistakes to avoid, increase intelligence, preparing lines towards the tomorrow, inventing goals, foreseeing paths, inventing propositions. Tango!

…inspiration coming from appropriation of experience…

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Have a nice day!

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Jeff Wall : Photography for Thinkers, Part 1

Jeff Wall is a Canadian photographer, but he’s also an interesting thinker.

In a way, photography is often pretty clear in its goals. Street photography to show a moment, “reality”, fashion, photo-journalism to witness the world’s events. That’s OK, but Wall wants to displace something.

Most of the time, photography about “spontaneity of looking” : you see a picture and you like it or not, you see a beautiful woman, or a funny face, or great colors. Social representations. Landscapes. People.

Jeff Wall wants something else, which is probably to make you think (about what?).

One example : “near documentary”. Something who seems very natural BUT which is in fact very staged and prepared.

Or else he chooses a picture from Manet, or Hokusai, and makes his own version in photography.

So as you know that, you watch his pictures and begin to think about what you see : what does that mean? Do I really feel there’s something wrong, or is it because I know this very “normal” picture is not genuine at all and needed a month to make?

In fact, you watch differently. You’re looking for clues. You’re looking for the reconstruction : where is it? Do you see it?

If a picture is directed, “made”, can it contains a documentary value?

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The name of this picture? “Man with a rifle”.

  • He mimics, but has no rifle.
  • People around him doesn’t seem no notice him.
  • Is his gesture a joke and he’ll stop in a second? Is there danger? What does this man want?
  • What does the photographer want?
  • There are other elements to notice : colors, or the shadow of the other tree who is not here, or the frame made by the cars (like “in stairs”) and the lines, making the moment like “in a slice”.
  • When the photograph is showed, the size of the man is almost real size : you could almost walk into the picture.
  • Why would a single slightly crazy moment like that is on a photo that size?
  • It’s an action scene, but as you know the photographer and are aware of his work, you understand that these people are just like “stuck”, immobile for hours, maybe days.
  • As it’s in a street, it’s colored “street photography”, and more : we all know that photography automatically gives a “sense of reality”.
  • Enigmatic but “real”, the audience has to think about himself and his own look.

(More, in French, here : https://journals.openedition.org/cm/390#tocto1n1 )

 

Could you use this pattern, this state of mind in your Art? How would you express, explain and process it?

(I wonder myself why I love so much when one aspect of one artist is to make the public aware of the form he’s watching…)

 

Thanks for reading!

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Marcus Aurelius VS bad management

“If only the bird with the loveliest song sang,
the forest would be a lonely place.”
John James Audubon

Ahh… “If only…”.

In France we say “Avec des si on mettrait Paris en bouteille” : “With “ifs” one could put Paris into a bottle”. Makes sense, I suppose…

Bad management is pretty common. If it’s too bad you have to quit, right? It you don’t, you have to deal with it. That simple!

Some managers are lazy, or weak, or just plain stupid. Some are violent, unsteady, irrelevant or beyond understanding.

You can’t fix people, but you can fight, say “It’s enough”, etc. It’s a path, you can go N+1, or use the Union, or make a team with colleagues : I’m not talking about that today.

In front of bad management, you can choose 4 paths :

  1. Have a good ulcer. Or a breakdown.
  2. Find a way to deal with it.
  3. Fight back.
  4. Quit.

Here, Marcus Aurelius is useful :

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.

OK, here’s my tool :

  1. Focus for a few minutes and think about what is your job really about.
  2. You’re paid for that, therefore do your job, the best you can.
  3. Consider management as the weather.

That’s all.

  • If you sell things, your shelf displays must be clean and interesting. Vegetable, flowers or books. Great displays. Focus!
  • If you teach, your students must listen and understand, and if they love you, you’re good. Invent tricks and watch them.
  • If you’re a journalist, write great articles, captivate your audience and do your best. Blossom smiles!
  • If you’re a truck driver, drive well and pay attention. Do your job and listen to some good music.
  • Etc. Etc.

Management?

WEATHER

It’s sunny? Good! It’s a storm, it rains, it’s cold, windy? Whatever! GOOD!

You can’t fix people. You can’t fix the weather. Focus.

Do your job, JtfC!

Have a nice day!

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Endless Amendments : Reality

There’s a tree, in front of you, while you walk.

Perception. Your eyes send images to your brain. “It’s a tree”.

In a second, you brain has the image, thus the word and the concept linked to it.

You brain has a powerful tool : Analogy.

If it “looks” like a tree, thus you decide it’s probably one. Then you watch and fix, adapt.

Analogy is pretty good for representations, drawings…

If you hear something behind you, your brain computes immediately a 3D-Map of what is probably there. Then your turn around and your eyes fix, amend the “reality”.

Successive drafts, like instant sketches…

Endless Amendments…

 

Yes, it’s splitting hairs the French way, to imagine dials. Donc :

  1. What if a word was a tack? And a strong one…
  2. What happens when our senses send us something else than the tacked word?
  3. How do we know that all these are the Letter A?
  4. Who are those who think with preconceiveness?
  5. Why am I wary of words (as labels)?
  6. What are hallucinations?
  7. Why should we train ourselves to endless improve, enrich, amend what we think we know?
  8. What is movement, here? Haeccity?
  9. What is to plug with possibilities and propositions?
  10. What does “She’s mean” mean?
  11. Really?

 

Have a great day!

 

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Irrelevant Fishes & Tetris Moods : Humans as Problems to Solve?

My previous article quoted S. Shore about photography :

“A photographer solves a picture, more than composes one.”

 

At first you want to think that it’s wrong – or at least “too easy”, but you have to admit there’s something intriguing here. To “solve” a picture… To find its balance, maybe? It’s stayed as a seed in my brain.

 

In the eighties I was in University and a friend of mine told me this story :

“I played so much Tetris these last days that this morning, as I was interviewed by a guy for a job, I saw all of his questions like Tetris tetrapods : I just had to move them, rotate them until they fit into my brain”.

 

OK, this is a puzzle. Here are some pieces :

  1. The idea of “solving” a photography
  2. Communication from another human being seen as a Tetris game (four square blocks geometric tiles moved sideways and rotated until it fits with no “gaps”)
  3. Marcus Aurelius’ constant pattern telling that the problem is not reality (therefore “the others”) but the way we react or not – which depends on us only
  4. The third Toltec Agreement : “Don’t take anything personally. Nothing others do is because of you. What others say and do is a projection of their own reality, their own dream. When you are immune to the opinions and actions of others, you won’t be the victim of needless suffering…”

 

See my workshop table? Some of you will get me, will see me coming. Recenter. You decide. Logic against feelings. The limits of all this. Watching/listening to others. Empathy. Etc.

I’ll have to write a bit more to sort all of it.

Some say that to blog is a way to learn things, right?

The 3rd Agreement risk is to consider others like irrelevant fishes in an aquarium, or something like “the weather” – but it can be an asset. Could be.

(to be continued)

 

Have a nice day!

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