Thursday, July 26, 2007

Free Radical (Free Spirit)

Ornette Coleman, the inventor of "harmolodics," says in an interview in last month's Guardian:
I didn't know you had to learn to play to play. I thought you had to play to play. I still think that.
This relationship between the player and the playing, of playing to play in an unlearned way but one that develops over time and takes into account the durational aspects of play, repetition, looping, eternal returns, and (a)synchronicity, resonates with the first-ever blog entry to Professor VJ in January of last year where I quote Miles Davis saying:
"Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."
These very simple yet profound soundbites from the maestros of audio infidelity, suggest that there exists a deep interior narrative that we all proactively script while playing out our lives in the NOW. To play as such is to write ourselves into the environment the way any instrument asserts itself into a space of creative potential.

This jazzlife standard relates to filmmaking as well. For a role-playing persona who is meant to play themselves as a fictional presence in front of the camera, playing to play means being who you are without thinking about it. It means entering another state of (un)reality that has you unconsciously generating your next move. As Coleman says in the interview:
Do you need to have a note to have an idea? Do you have to think to make a mistake? Is life a sound?
In the making of Immobilité, we ask: do you need to script reality from the outside in in order to make an "indie film" or can we hyperimprovisationally play multiple roles in unscripted realities as a way to mobilize our thoughts outside the movie industry system? Mobilizing our thoughts as an intersubjective collaboration between the various participants is all about locating the "allegorhythmic" mutations of the story-fugue as it moves in (and out of) time.

You can see the traces of a mobile cinema emerge in a work like Vertov's Man With A Movie Camera and then, even moreso, especially in relation to the literalization of metaphor as a carrying across of radical intersubjectivity, in the works of John Cassavetes (cf. his films Shadows and Faces).

The in-betweeness of things (material waves, allegorhythmic metadata) carried across in a metaphorical jam session between the interactive participants -- this is the jazzlife standard that one must bring to improvisational mobile cinema if they (as a collaborative network of pollination agents) hope to create a work that is (literally/metaphorically/allegorhythmically) in their time.

During one of our Big Days Out (i.e. "on location" a couple of weeks ago), the small cast and crew working on Immobilité intersubjectively jammed in multiple, unscripted realities and out of this experience began to emerge a work that was "making itself."

But the work is not finished. It is in a state of perpetual "unfinish" and leads to more dialogue directly from the source:
Director: Have you read this quote?

Young Actress: No.

Director: It's Godard.

(Director shows Young Actress quote from his new book where Godard is quoted as saying, "To me style is just the outside of content, and content the inside of style, like the outside and inside of the human body. Both go together, they can't be separated.")

Young Actress: Yes, but this is something I am not sure ...

Director: What?

Young Actress: I am focused on the content. I don't know about the style.

Director: Yes, that makes sense. You are still focusing on the content because you are still filling yourself up with the experience.

Young Actress: Yes.

Director: But this is about duration. You are focusing on the content because you are now aware of all of the experience there is to experience.

(Director gestures as if to suggest an acceleration is in process.)

Young Actress: Yes.


Young Actress: So I don't know about the style.

Director: But the style will come. While experiencing the content over the duration, a style emerges and then eventually co-exists with the content. One becomes inseparable from the other.

Actress: Yes, this is what I think.

Production still from Immobilité

And yet Ornette insists that "harmolodics" as he envisions it is not about a style at all:
Music is not a style. Music is ideas. In any normal style, you have to play certain notes in certain places. You play in that style only and try to make people believe that style is more important than other styles. Which removes you from the idea. With harmolodics you go directly to the idea.
The key difference here is that music is not a style. This relates to my concept of META/DATA in that it's not just the META nor the DATA that matters, that is, it's not so much about the way you tag the content, but the way you experientially compose the work from scratch (no preordained style attached). What Ornette calls an idea I might call "sense data" and the way we stylize it over time is not a singular achievement but one that resonates (through muscle memory?) with our experiential past (and by past, I mean a mobile trajectory through a now-history that is in a state of perpetual "unfinish").

"The idea is the highest quality of expression," says Ornette. "It is immortal."

Metadata: , , , , , , , , ,

Sunday, July 22, 2007

"trance rituals in transfigured time...

... mobilize the body into a hynotic state of psychic awareness."

Or so the story goes.

One version of Immobilité uses the quote above (that I just wrote today) to tap into the unconscious relationship between images, bodies, generative rhythms, and landscape-movement.

This is a dance that becomes para-ritualistic for the practicing remixologist who is optimally situating their body to transform an otherwise shit-life into gold.

Cinematic precursors include, among others, Maya Deren, visualized here as an image source on a blogspot:

Deren embodied not just the trajectory of what we still sometimes call "the woman's movement" but, perhaps more importantly, woman's movement, in transfigured time, and in order to conduct deep investigations in this direction, she had to study rhythm.

The role of trance in the history of the woman's movement is of particular interest in an essay by Tony Conrad:
The structure of time-based forms, such as media, theater, literature, and lecturing, offer a more complex basis for engaging unconscious processes. Temporal extension admits the possibility that we might be able to manipulate the economy of desire through exchanges between eroticism and trance. [...]

I have alluded to the fact that in the late nineteenth century trance was an empowering system for numbers of American women, among whom suffragists were a significant influence. At mid-century Sprirtualist meetings, as Ann Braude describes them:
Men called the meetings to order, forcefully presiding over gatherings that could number in the thousands. They addressed audiences in a "normal: state.... In contrast, the women at the podium were unconscious. Trance mediums were understood to be passive vehicles, whose physical faculties were used by spirits to express the sentiments of these unseen intelligences. Mediums presented not their own views but those of the spirits who spoke through them.... The essential passivity of women was asserted in a public arena, displayed before thousands of witnesses...
Because the trance was viewed as enabling women to speak who were otherwise unqualified to do so, the claim of entrancement became a convention used to support women's right and ability to ascend the public platform.
That's from Renovating "Culture": Rhythm, Reorientation, and Neoformalist Agency, where he explores "the organizational principles of (what the 20th century called) 'formal' structures in art, on the one hand, and the communicative / psychological processes involved with (what the 20th century called) 'trance' on the other."

Although this is not what we are investigating in Immobilité per se, there is a mysterious resonance with the use of the artist as a medium transfiguring time through mobile ritual.

Metadata: , , , , , , , , ,