Posts Tagged ‘William Kentridge

09
Mar
12

Notes from the lecture ‘Anti-Entropy: A natural History of the Studio’ by William Kentridge at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), Melbourne

Date: 8th March 2012

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A munificence of Minor White and the revelation of the object through contemplation could be found in the lecture by William Kentridge. As an artist you must keep repeating and constructively playing and something else, some new idea, some new way of looking at the world may emerge. As a glimpse into the working methodology of one of the worlds great artists the lecture was fascinating stuff!

Images in this posting are used under fair use for commentary and illustration of the lecture notes. No copyright breach is intended. © All rights remain with the copyright holder. My additions to the text can be found in [ ] brackets.

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On self-doubt as an artist
“At four in the morning there are no lack of branches for the crow of doubt to land upon.”

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On Memory
“Memory – both memory and the forgetting of memory. For example, the building of monuments [monuments to the Holocaust, to wars] takes the responsibility of remembering away.”

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On Play
“We absolutely want to make sense of the world in that way. That’s one of the principles of play – that however much you distort and break things apart, in the end we will try to reconstruct them in some way to make sense of the world. I think that every child does it. It’s fundamental.”
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On Looking
“It’s the capacity for recognition that makes a difference between order and disorder in looking at visual images. And it’s the vocabulary of recognizable images that we have inside us, which is completely vital to what it is to see. I don’t really buy the idea that order and disorder are the same.”

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William Kentridge

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Edward Francis Burney
A view of Philip James de Loutherbourg’s Eidophusikon
c.1782
At left a man bowing to a woman, to right figures seated on a bench in the foreground, watching a scene titled ‘Satan Arraying his Troops on the Banks of a Fiery Lake, with the Raising of the Palace of Pandemonium’ during a performance of Milton’s “Paradise Lost” on a stage labelled EIDOPHUSIKON in a cartouche above
Pen and grey ink and grey wash, with watercolour
© The Trustees of the British Museum

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First History of the Cinema

Performances of Transformation

  • Cinema
  • Shadow dancing
  • Eidophusikon (The Eidophusikon was a piece of art, no longer extant, created by 18th century English painter Philip James de Loutherbourg. It opened in Leicester Square in February 1781.Described by the media of his day as “Moving Pictures, representing Phenomena of Nature,” the Eidophusikon can be considered an early form of movie making. The effect was achieved by mirrors and pulleys.
  • Quick change artist
  • Stage magicians

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All work against the time of the audience e.g. the quick change artist may take 3 seconds, the sunset in a Georges Méliès film may take 2 minutes instead of 2 hours. The technology /scrims / screens happen at different speeds but the different times become one in the finished film. There is an elision of time: appearances / disappearances. Stopping time [changing a scene, changing clothing etc...], starting time again.

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George Méliès starring in The Living Playing Cards (1904)

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Second History of the Cinema

The sedimented gaze of the early camera. The slow chemicals meant that the object had to wait under the camera’s gaze for minutes. People were held in place by stiff neck braces to capture the trace of their likeness. Congealed time.

On the other hand, in cinema, a tear forward becomes a repair in reverse.

By rolling the film in reverse there is a REVERSAL of time, a REMAKING of the world – the power to be more than you are – by reversing to perfection. You throw a book or smash a plate: in reverse they become perfect again, a utopian world.

YOU MUST GIVE YOURSELF OVER TO PLAY!

Giving yourself over to what the medium suggests, you follow the metaphor back to the surface. Following the activity [of play] back to its root. Projecting forwards, projecting backwards. There is endless rehearsal, constant repetition, then discovering the nature of the final shot or drawing to be made. New ideas get thrown around: leaning into the experience, the experiment, the repetition, the rehearsal.

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Four elements

  1. something to be seen
  2. the utopian perfection: perfectibility
  3. the grammar of learning that action
  4. Greater ideas, further ideas and thoughts; potentiality and its LOSS
    Further meanings arise

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How is this achieved?
Rehearsal, repetition

New thoughts will arise being led by the body in the studio NOT in the mind. Not conceptual but the feeling of the body walking in the studio.

The physical action as the starting point not the concept. 

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Six different degrees of tension

  1. Least tension in the body possible: slumped
  2. Relaxed
  3. Neutral
  4. Purpose: an impulse to make things happen – desire
  5. Insistence: listen to me, this is very important
  6. Manic: Noh theatre with its rictus of the body

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What the body suggests is the construction of an image.

There are different degrees of tension in these performances. What do they suggest? This reverse osmosis from one state to another?

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Third History of Cinema

Technologies of Looking

Pre-cinematic devices – a process of seeing in the world, of looking. Produces a reconfigured seeing, the invisible made [moving] visible.

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Stereoscope

3D world made into a 2D image put back into 3D by our brains. The nature of binocularity, of depth perception. We see an illusion of depth, a construction by the eyes. Our brain is a muscle combining the two images. Depth of Field (DOF): focusing at different distances, we are inside the field of the image. Peripheral vision is blanked off; we look through a magnifying glass. A machine for demonstrating seeing.

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William Kentridge
Drawing for the film Stereoscope
1998 – 99
Charcoal, pastel, and colored pencil on paper
The Museum of Modern Art, New York
© 2008 William Kentridge

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Zoetrope by William George Horner, 1834

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Zoetrope

An illusion of movement not depth. Double revelation:

A/ the brain constructed illusion of movement
B/ Caught in time [as the action goes around and around] and wanting to get out of it!

THIS IS CRITICAL – THE ACTION OF REPETITION IS IMPORTANT!

In the reordering, in the crack, something else may emerge, some new idea may eventuate. The tearing of time. 

[Marcus: the cleft in time]

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The Etching Press

There are erotics built into the language of the etching, but there is also a logic built into the machine used for etching. The Proof print, arriving at the first state. Going on the journey from artist as maker to artist as viewer through the mechanism of the etching press.

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Claude Glass

“A Claude glass (or black mirror) is a small mirror, slightly convex in shape, with its surface tinted a dark colour. Bound up like a pocket-book or in a carrying case, black mirrors were used by artists, travellers and connoisseurs of landscape and landscape painting. Black Mirrors have the effect of abstracting the subject reflected in it from its surroundings, reducing and simplifying the colour and tonal range of scenes and scenery to give them a painterly quality).” From Wikipedia.

“The Claude glass was standard equipment for Picturesque tourists, producing instant tonal images that supposedly resembled works by Claude. “The person using it ought always to turn his back to the object that he views,” Thomas West explained in his Guide to the Lakes. “It should be suspended by the upper part of the case… holding it a little to the right or the left (as the position of the parts to be viewed require) and the face screened from the sun.”” From the V & A website

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Claude Glass, manufactured in England, 18th century. V & A.

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Anamorphic Mirror

A counter intuitive way of drawing; turning 2D into 3D. The landscape has no edge, like a carrousel.

A LINK TO THE ENDLESS CIRCLING AND WALKING AROUND THE STUDIO!

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Anamorphic drawing and cone shaped mirror

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William Kentridge studio
Photo by John Hodgkiss
Art Tatler

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The Studio

In the studio you gather the pieces together like a kind of Zoetrope. You may arrive at a new idea, a new starting point. Repetition, going around and around your head (at four in the morning!). There must be a truce between the artist as maker and the artist as viewer. As in earlier times, you walk the cloisters, you promenade.

You find the walk that is the prehistory of the drawing, that is the prehistory to the work.

A multiple, fragmented, layered performance of walking. You are trying to find the grammar of the studio – the necessary stupidity. Making a space for uncertainty. The conscious suppression of rationality. At some point, emerging, escpaping the Zoetrope, from the physical making, something will be revealed. The spaces open up by the stupidities. Something new emerges.

THIS IS THE SPACE OF THE STUDIO.

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Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI)
Federation Square, Melbourne, Australia

William Kentridge: Five Themes

Thursday 8 March – Sunday 27 May 2012
Exhibition open daily 10am – 6pm

ACMI website

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08
Jul
09

Review: ‘Morphed’ by Emma Davies at Craft Victoria, Melbourne

Exhibition dates: 19th June – 25th July, 2009

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Emma Davies. 'Sekai' (be humorous') 2009

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Emma Davies
‘Sekai’ (meaning ‘be humorous’)
2009

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Emma Davies. 'Tariro' (means 'hope') 2009

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Emma Davies
‘Tariro’ (means ‘hope’)
2009

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'Rutendo' (detail - means 'faith') 2009

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Emma Davies
‘Rutendo’ (detail – means ‘faith’)
2009

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A stimulating exhibition by Emma Davies at Craft Victoria of polypropylene industrial netting and packaging that has been heated, moulded, sculpted and literally morphed into these fantastical sculptures, inspired by the artist’s experiences when visiting Johannesburg in South Africa as part of the South Project. Davies evokes the mysterious and the bizarre in her figures, making the commonplace into something uncommon, taking her themes from the relics of bush medicine present in the street markets: the medicine market of Johannesburg full of dried animal bones, skulls, skins and bottles of alchemistic objects.

Despite their comforting South African names (translated into English as ‘hope’, ‘faith’, ‘quiet, tranquil’, ‘lady’, ‘chief’, ‘prince’ for example) these extremely individual figurative ‘presences’ have a powerful melancholic affect on the viewer. Their elongated long legged and armed, no necked forms create dark eyeless creatures that crouch in rusted boxes or sit on wooden posts with their legs and arms hanging, folded. They seem lonely and sad despite their titles, perhaps reflecting the harsh realities of a life of poverty on the streets of Soweto.
Two figures on wooden blocks seem to walk aimlessly, placed on large rough industrial tables with huge wheels while another figure sits up a rusted ladder propped against the wall. A group of figures are clustered together on top of large wooden posts of different heights, some with arms round each other for comfort, others with black or red feathers sprouting from shoulders, legs or wearing a red feathered skirt. These creatures create a marvellous group of contemplative wandering minstrels while behind them their eerie shadows fall on the gallery wall.

The crystalline-like nature to the surface of the creatures, like sparkling coal, reminds me of the work of William Kentridge, his white industrial protagonist Felix haunted by images of black workers deep underground mining coal (see Mine (1991) where his coffee plunger goes down into the ground through the bodies of black people). Some of the figures bat like ears also bring to mind the work of Francisco de Goya and specifically his work ‘Los Caprichos’ (The Whims), plate 43 from the series of 80 etchings published in 1799 titled ‘The Dream of Reason Produces Monsters’. The artist described the collection as an exposé of “the innumerable foibles and follies to be found in any civilized society, and from the common prejudices and deceitful practices which custom, ignorance, or self-interest have made usual.”1

As Goya began to sympathize with the suffering of the peasants so Davies seems to have been transformed by what she saw around her during her visit, trying to make sense of a foreign culture, dreaming the sleep of reason but surrounded and invaded by a world in which the natural and unnatural has fused and morphed.

I really liked this exhibition and the presence of these figures. I am obviously not alone as the show is almost sold out. A visit to these disturbing, enfolding creatures is recommended.

Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Francisco de Goya. 'Los Caprichos', plate 43 from the series 'El sueño de la razón produce monstros' 1799

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Francisco de Goya
‘Los Caprichos’ plate 43 from the series ‘El sueño de la razón produce monstros’
1799

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Emma Davies. 'Zola' (detail - means 'quiet, tranquil') 2009

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Emma Davies
‘Zola’ (detail – means ‘quiet, tranquil’)
2009

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L-R-7-8-9-10-11-12-small

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Emma Davies
Group with from left to right  ‘Enitan’ (person of story), ‘Ntombi’ (lady), ‘Kgosi’ (chief), ‘Nkosana’ (prince), ‘Lucky’ and ‘Alaba’ (second child after twins)
2009

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Emma Davies. 'Nkosana' (detail - means 'prince') 2009

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Emma Davies
‘Nkosana’ (detail – means ‘prince’)
2009

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Craft Victoria
31 Flinders Lane, Melbourne, Victoria 3000

Opening hours: Monday 12 – 5pm, Tues – Sat 10 – 5pm

Craft Victoria website

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All photographs courtesy of Craft Victoria (thankyou Amy Brand!) and taken by their photographer Alexia Skok.

1. Quotation from Future Directed website

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08
Apr
09

Exhibition: ‘William Kentridge: Five Themes’ at San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA)

Exhibiiton dates: 14th March – 31st May 2009

 

One of my favourite artists in the world. His technique – the palimpsestic nature of his practice where the history, memories and spaces of previous drawings are overwritten again and again on a single piece of paper without their ever being lost (unlike traditional animation techniques) – is amazing. His use of drawing, animation and the camera to record narratives of connection always has personal and archetypal themes – love, loss, bigotry, big business, persecution, reconciliation and social conflict in the stories of his homeland South Africa. His perspective on the world, his knowledge of books and philosophy, his understanding that stories exist as faint, legible remains completes the perception that he is an artist drawn to the line of the world. His work is moving and compassionate as all great art should be.

 

William Kentridge. Drawing for the film Stereoscope [Felix Crying]' 1998–99

 

William Kentridge
‘Drawing for the film Stereoscope [Felix Crying]‘
1998–99

 

“Combining the political with the poetic, William Kentridge’s work has made an indelible mark on the contemporary art scene. Dealing with subjects as sobering as apartheid and colonialism, Kentridge often imbues his art with dreamy, lyrical undertones or comedic bits of self-deprecation, making his powerful messages both alluring and ambivalent. Perhaps best known for his stop-motion films of charcoal drawings, the internationally renowned South African artist also works in etching, collage, sculpture, and the performing arts, opera in particular. This exhibition explores five primary themes that have engaged Kentridge over the last three decades through a comprehensive selection of his work from the 1980s to the present. Concentrating on his most recent production and including many pieces that have not been seen in the United States, the exhibition reveals as never before the full arc of his distinguished career.”

Text from the SFMOMA website

 

William Kentridge videos from the SFMOMA exhibition website

 

Multimedia videos that illuminate William Kentridge’s creative process, his characters and the use of music in his “drawings for projection.”

 

“Although his hand-drawn animations are often described as films, Kentridge himself prefers to call them “drawings for projection.” He makes them using a distinctive technique in which he painstakingly creates, erases, and reworks charcoal drawings that are photographed and projected as moving image. Movement is generated within the image, by the artist’s hand; the camera serves merely to record its progression. As such, the animations explore a tension between material object and time-based performance, uniquely capturing the artist’s working process while telling poignant and politically urgent stories.”

Text from Artdaily.org website

 

 

 

More videos of William Kentridge work are available on You Tube

 

 

San Francisco Museum of Modern Art

151 Third Street
San Francisco CA 94103
Tel: 415.357.4000

SFMOMA website

William Kentridge on Wikipedia

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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