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Medium 9780253007643

Part Three

Joshua Malitsky Indiana University Press ePub

Today it’s utterly inconceivable how we could get by without the photographer who takes pictures of the Five-Year Plan, who takes pictures of the launch and growth of our industrial giants, and thereby carries out a great and authentic agitation through display. The juxtaposition, for example, of a photograph of a tiny village on a putrid little river with one taken a year later in which a glass building has replaced the village—such stunning juxtapositions force you to radically reconsider the obsolete notion of a “human lifetime,” for our century equals a millennium in earlier times.

—SERGEI TRET'IAKOV, “FROM THE PHOTO-SERIES TO EXTENDED PHOTO-OBSERVATION” (1931)

The “play” side of art shouldn’t be exaggerated. The phenomenon of “play” is inherent in art, but art itself periodically reorientates itself towards the material.

—VIKTOR SHKLOVSKY, “LEF AND FILM” (1927)

Title: BUSES ASSEMBLE AT THE SOVIET. Tight shot of a truck bearing down on us. Trams hastily leave their station. Title: IN PLACE OF PUBLIC SPEAKERS. A low-angle image of a loudspeaker. Title: IN PLACE OF APPLAUSE. Increasingly rapid close-ups of a hand squeezing a horn, a finger pushing a horn button, a pulsing cone-shaped amplifier, and the loudspeaker. Title: WELCOMING YOU. Six shots of circular automotive parts. Loudspeaker. Title: IN THE NAME OF THE SOVIET. Loudspeaker. The Moscow Soviet symbol appears. It becomes superimposed over a wheel. It reemerges on its own. Superimposed again, this time over steps on a bus. Loudspeaker.

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Medium 9780253014078

4. In the Beginning Was Sound: Tarāng (Wave)

Laleen Jayamanne Indiana University Press ePub

Isaw Tarāng for the second time at the Australian Cinémathèque at QAGOMA during the 2006 APT with Jon Bywater, a critic from New Zealand who later sent me the above description expressing succinctly and perceptively the multiperspectival epic compositional logic of the film, what he calls the freedom to experience the action “from a range of positions with their own values . . . intact,” after having seen it just once. I have begun to appreciate these random conversations and exchanges that films have a way of generating among strangers, especially immediately after screenings. It is as though the energy generated by films reaches out toward anyone just glancing at a stranger, activating a desire to speak of what one has heard and seen and felt, especially in a cinémathèque milieu, and in this instance enhanced by the intensity and joy of the APT. As Theo Angelopoulos once said, film can create a community of two.

Tarāng is Shahani’s second film and was over ten years in the making, due in part to funding problems related to Satyajit Ray’s condemnation of Māyā darpan as an un-Indian film.1 It was also the work done after Shahani’s cross-cultural study of the epic form on a Homi Bhabha scholarship both in India and in Europe. The film is shot in Cinemascope, which enhances the screen with the greater compositional freedom he had internalized from his study of the epic form of theater in Kerala called Kutiyattam. Shahani saw that this mode of performance continually radiated energy from one center of the body to another, with the focus of attention shifting in a centrifugal rather than a centripetal direction. He observed how the frontally staged mise-en-scène, with the elaborately dressed and masked performers, who did not move spatially much at all, was nevertheless part of an intensive, mobile choreography activated by drum beats, song, flickering flames from large oil lamps placed close to the performers, and gestural work of face and hands narrating and expressing the epic drama. These material forces activated wave-like emanations of intensive energy.2 Shahani drew cinematic sustenance from this ancient theatrical mode of centrifugal intensive mobility, which would enable him to work toward strategies of undermining the centering principle inherent in the linear perspectival bias of the lens in constructing space, time, and emotion. He activates this potential in the composition of his mise-en-scène by flattening the image (making it frieze-like) with the lateral alignment of Cinemascope. So, contrary to the usual historical claim made for Cinemascope as offering greater realism of scale and depth, Tarāng presents an image upfront that activates a kind of impulse to observe the visual field as a surface, making one aware of turning one’s neck to see and make sense of the spatial relations of a scene (as though one were walking in the caves of Ajanta looking at the protocinematic Buddhist iconography) when viewed on the big cinematic screen. The image thereby becomes a legible and readable surface, not because it is essentially language-like, though the epic signs are indeed familiar and accessible in their over-coding to those within the culture. What Shahani then does with these excessively familiar epic signs is create a transaction or exchange of sorts on values set by ethico-aesthetic imperatives rather than on the terms set by capital and its monetary equivalence, which functions as the “obverse of the film image,” its most “intimate enemy.” Tarāng refuses to editorialize for the viewer, which I think is the “freedom” that Bywater referred to in the opening quotation. Shahani finds his freedom, I imagine, by forging his own descriptive elaborations on the thick traditions of which he is an heir. Elaboration, thought of as modulation, which implies difference and repetition in ornamentation, is a dense idea in Shahani’s modern aesthetic practice. This will be taken up in the following chapters in relation to the traditional art forms he works with in elaborating his modern iconic and even iconoclastic conception of the human figure/actor and the ideas of sequence and rhythm as well.

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Medium 9780253353801

9 No Literal Connection: Mass Commodification, U.S. Militarism; and the Oil Industry in The BigLebowski

Edward P Comentale Indiana University Press ePub

David Martin-Jones

DUDE: Walter, I don’t see any connection with Vietnam, man.

WALTER: Well, there isn’t a literal connection. Dude.

The majority of material written on the films of the Coen brothers has focused on their status as auteurs (Körte and Seesslen; Bergan; Woods; Romney). This trend has ensured that interpretations of their films as products of American national cinema (i.e., as expressions of American ideology, or national identity) are in the minority. It has also meant that, especially in the case of The Big Lebowski, political subtexts have been either missed or ignored by film studies academics and film critics. Somewhat typical of the conclusions reached by such an approach is William Preston Robertson’s assertion that the film is “nothing less than a pop cultural potpourri” (37). Similarly, Carolyn Russell labels the film—when viewed in relation to the rest of the Coen brothers’ oeuvre—“an exercise in overbranding” (166). While these writers come at the film from different viewpoints, they seem united in viewing its myriad popular influences and intertextual references as ultimately meaningless.

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Medium 9780861966820

Retirement! At the Lac de Sainte Croix

Marie Beardmore John Libbey Publishing ePub

 

John doesn’t really do retirement, at least not in the pipe and slippers sense, though he does like to do the odd spot of rose pruning and is a dab hand with a watering can. France, more specifically, his house in Provence, has been an important part of his life since he wound down TVC and in many respects is the fruit of his labours for all the hard work he put in at TVC and before.

The house, a beautiful architecturally designed house just below the village of Aguine, overlooking the Lac de St Croix, is where he is happiest these days. He still loves the area as much today as he did in 1972, when he had first discovered it with Chris all those years ago.

Over time, they had continued to come back, taking a week off here and there and stayed in all sorts of different places around the lake. They got to know the area really well, as they were coming throughout 1972, 1982, 1992 and 2002, and kept talking about buying a house one day, if ever they had the money. In 2003 John had wound down TVC when he suddenly got an offer on the building for a million pounds. John thought, “gosh, I could retire a bit with a million”, but felt embarrassed because he would have to tell Ginger (Gibbons of Grand Slamm, who rented part of the building) to get out because “I’ve been made an offer I can’t refuse”. John took Ginger out to lunch to explain the situation and sometime later, Ginger said, “I’ll match the offer”. John accepted and turned down the other offer, though wondering if he was doing the right thing. And bless him, says John, not only was he true to his word and bought the property, but he let John stay on with Norman and Alex (Tham – John’s PA at the time) on the top floor.

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Medium 9780253002952

1 Body as Codex-ized Word / Cuerpo Como Palabra (en-)Códice-ado: Chicana/Indígena and Mexican Transnational Performative Indigeneities Micaela Díaz-Sánchez

ARTURO J ALDAMA Indiana University Press ePub

MICAELA DÍAZ-SÁNCHEZ

In the performance work of Mexican actress, writer, and director Jesusa Rodríguez and Chicana/Tepehuana1 painter / installation artist / performance artist Celia Herrera-Rodríguez, the body functions as the critical site for the (de)construction of national and Indigenous identities. The corporeal operates as the primary signifier in the reclamation of denied histories. Through the self-consciously performative style of cabaret and espectáculo (spectacle), Jesusa Rodríguez monumentalizes México’s Indigenous histories as she employs discourse central to Mexican national identity and cultural citizenship. Celia Herrera-Rodríguez enacts Indigeneity as intimate ritual and positions her work as personal historical recovery and pedagogy aimed at creating dialogue among Indigenous communities on a global level. Their aesthetic methodologies are mediated by multifarious contradictions, colonial epistemologies, and discursive strategies for survival. In the critical recognition and negotiation of these refractory mediations, performance functions as an embodied attempt at reclamation of Indigenous narratives, in and out of the “nation.”

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