What is the challenge of this module? Understanding the thinglyness of things. Whatever the fuck that means.
Apparently we have to explode the ‘black box’. My understanding of a ‘black box’ seems to be in connection with Aeroplanes. Isn’t it a recording device of information and data?
BLACK BOX – In science, computing, and engineering, a ‘black box’ is a device, system or object which can be viewed in terms of its inputs and outputs (or transfer characteristics), without any knowledge of its internal workings. Its implementation is “opaque” (black). Almost anything might be referred to as a black box: a transistor, an algorithm, or the human brain. Exert from Wikipedia
Fascinating to learn that a ‘black box’ can be deemed as the human brain. This module is now beginning to make sense/take shape, when previously I had found it rather obscure. The brain is the ultimate device, system or object that can be viewed in terms of input and output. Input manipulates output. Things can metamorphosize from passive to active, the same can be applied to my creative practice. What is a thing? An object that one need not, cannot, or does not wish to give a specific name to? An inanimate material object as distinct from a living sentient being? I could list a hundred interpretations of the word ‘thing’, but depending on it’s context it will be forever fluid.
Have ordered a book called BLACK BOX THINKING – Matthew Syed. Research purposes.
Last week, I was given the task, as homework, to research into the subject of STRUCTURAL/MATERIALIST FILM.
‘Structural/Materialist film attempts to be non-illusionist. The process of the film’s making deals with devices that result in demystification or attempted demystification of the film process. But by ‘deals with’ I do not mean ‘represents’. In other words, such films do not document various film procedures, which would place them in the same category as films which transparently document a narrative, a set of actions, etc. Documentation, through usage of the film medium as transparent, invisible, is exactly the same when the object being documented is some ‘real event’, some ‘film procedure’, some ‘story’, etc. An avant-garde film defined by its development towards increased materialism and materialist function does not represent or document anything. The film produces certain relations between segments. between what the camera is aimed at and the way that ‘image’ is presented. The dialectic of the film is established in that space of tension between materialist flatness, grain, light, movement, and the supposed reality that is represented. Consequently a continual attempt to destroy the illusion is necessary. In Structural/Materialist film, the in/film (not in/frame) and film/viewer material relations, and the relations of the film’s structure, are primary to any representational content. The structuring aspects and the attempt to decipher the structure and anticipate/recorrect it, to clarify and analyse the production-process of the specific image at any specific moment are the root concern of Structural/Materialist film. The specific construct of each specific film is not the relevant point; one must beware not to let the construct, the shape, take the place of the ‘story’ in narrative film. Then one would merely be substituting one hierarchy for another within the same system, a formalism for what is traditionally called content. This is an absolutely crucial point’. Exert taken from Structural Film Anthology, Peter Gidal, 1976.
These type of films do not want to document a narrative, but rather want you, as the viewer to think for yourself. The director wants the viewer to acknowledge the film as a material; a thing, an independent material that prioritises form over content. Film has grain, it is the thinglyness of itself. The onus is on the viewer to make sense and understand, de-programme preconception and become an active part of which she/he is watching. In layman terms, it encourages you, no……demands you to think.
I was introduced to a Structural Materialist Film called BERLIN HORSE today, by Malcolm Le Grice. At first I found the video a little jarring, especially when viewing parts of the film that used negative/positive inversions. After a minute or so, I began to appreciate the beauty and simplicity of the film. Some of the techniques used to create the aesthetic are:
BLURRING, SCRATCHING, USE OF MANY FILTERS, DOUBLE EXPOSURE, SPEEDING UP, SPLICING OF DIFFERENT FILM, STRETCHING, RE-APPROPRIATION & LOOPING. I am sure there are many more, but these are the ones I could easily interpret.
Another of Malcolm Le Grice’s works, Little Dog For Roger, deals with similar deconstructional aspects as Berlin Horse. I really enjoyed the aesthetic of the film and again having no narrative meant that I could interpret as I wished. Having two dogs myself made me appreciate the video even more. Thinking of my dogs running, barking and in a constant state of kinetic energy makes me appreciate the invisible cogs and mechanics we often miss or take for granted. Unfortunately someone had recorded their own personal soundtrack over the original., and this new sound was most disagreeable. I had no alternative but to turn it off.
A range of other ‘films’ were shown in today’s lecture, namely the Avant Garde film THE GIRL CHEWING GUM by John Smith and an incredible ‘film’ called MOTHLIGHT by Stan Brakhage.
Undermine the illusion of the camera and exposing the director.
This ‘film’ is beautiful. Amazing shapes, textures and patterns. Fantastic inspiration for my ongoing mark-making exercises.
Taking this idea and adding my own explication for a one second of film (24 frames), I added poppy petals, stalks, sharpie dot marks, nail varnish and parts of a fennel plant to a scrubbed 16mm roll of film. The task was to create a structural materialist film of my own. The making of this ‘film’ was as important as the final result. Thinking of what marks, materials and matter was extremely important. Small and hard to see detail could now be seen in depth. Frames could be viewed in quick succession or could be slowed down to view each frame as a separate entity.
Upon reflection, the practical exercise that Jacqui had set for the group became a welcome break from the theoretical and historical context of the lecture. Actually making something with my own two hands felt natural, feeling material between my fingers made me think of what subject matter I would include/exclude. Did the subject matter need to be transparent, translucent or opaque? Would the material translate well? Does simplifying the idea make a more interesting final result or should I put more thought into what materials I would use? It turns out I did not really like my 1 second (24 frames) clip, it became a little fussy and way too colourful for my liking. Within my creative practice, I tend to use blues, blacks, greys and earthy tones; comfort zones are designed to be stepped out of. There is an endless list of techniques that could have been incorporated within my design, and maybe when I have the time I will attempt to create my own Structural Materialist Film.
KEYNOTE LECTURE – WHAT DOES PRACTICE DO? Martin Woodward
Why a Keynote Lecture every fortnight? Means that I will be exposed to a range of different lecturers offering different perspectives within Constellation. The idea is a really fantastic way to keep learning from multiple sources, and to keep things fresh/current.
I thought it was a wonderful way to wind down after a rather full-on and mentally strenuous day.
What kind of Practitioner am I?
Material Culture, what does this term mean? ‘Material culture is the physical aspect of culture in the objects and architecture that surround people. It includes usage, consumption, creation and trade of objects, and the behaviors, norms and rituals these objects create or take part in. The term is commonly used in archeological and anthropological studies, specifically focusing on the material evidence which can be attributed to culture, in the past or present. Material culture studies is an interdisciplinary field telling of relationships between people and their things: the making, history, preservation, and interpretation of objects. It draws on theory and practice from the social sciences and humanities such as art history, archaeology, anthropology, history, historic preservation, folklore, literary criticism and museum studies, among others. Anything from buildings and architectural elements to books, jewelry, or toothbrushes can be considered material culture’. Exert from Wikipedia.
Non-Human Ecology – As a designer, how can I exploit a problem to create a new and innovative solution via my practice. Martin described the phenomenon of The Jellyfish Bloom and how it can devastate local culture, fish stocks, livelihoods and the ecology of seas and oceans. I found a fascinating article on this online:
This problem can be solved by taking something problematic and turning it into a design solution. For example, a Japanese designer is using the dried skin of jellyfish to manufacture ergonomic goods such as phone, laptop and tablet cases. Each designer should be thinking in this way; what can I do to change what I feel is wrong with the world? How do I promote new ideals? I do not see myself as just a commercial designer, but rather a commercially aware designer with important global issues at heart, like the Environment and Global Ecology.