Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Shanghai Stir-Fly

In the opening to Atom Egoyan's Subtitles (The MIT Press), he tells us "[e]very film is a foreign film." The collection of essays in Egoyan's edited anthology has some powerful work contained within its pages, including Mary Ann Doane's "(De)realizing Cinematic Time," and fits in perfectly with some of my current creative research into the nature of the film experience itself, something that makes us "feel outside and inside at the same time" as we explore our own foreignness as dreamtime water babies oozing in the amniotic mist.

Although I studied film as an ungraduate at UCLA while living in Hollywood in the early '80s, the very concept of "film" seems foreign to me -- which probably says more about film "per se" than it does about me ("per se"). That is to say, I think film is foreign to itself, and has become exiled from its material condition as film. For me, as I totally immerse myself in native HDV art projects using the latest new media technologies at my disposal, film-as-film is quickly becoming relegated to the dustbin of history, and has no inherent compositional value, unless you feel so compelled to use its particular textural qualities as part of some of image manipulation trick you wish to employ as one way to suggest an overall cinematic experience. If this is the sort of dependable, fallback position you're into exploiting, that's fine, and I say "go for it" just like I do to my photography students who seem hellbent on staying in the darkroom.

But I no longer feel obliged to succumb to any preconceived filmic "look" or production value, whether it be Hollywood values or Sundance-styled "indie" filmmaking values. That is to say, I am leaving the darkroom of film [celluloid] behind, and with it, my desire to "play the game" of the mainstream movie business. Yes, I'm glad that Wong Kar-Wai still plays the game. His work is captivating. Antonioni managed to continuously play the game over a long career. His work has always mystified me, and I am grateful for the opportunity to see anything of his that is available for viewing. I should also mention Stan Brakhage, whose lyrical trance-work has always made me "feel the reel" of filmic expression (while nervously dancing with the Brakhage-induced Muse of the moment). Yet something else is happening as I embark on my new series of foreign "films" that are exiled from film itself. I'll be spending a great deal of time in the years ahead trying to articulate just what exactly this something else actually is (or what I sense it to be).

As a VJ performer, net artist, metafictional novelist, and newly reconfigured HDV composer, it seems to me like we are now quite capable of moving well beyond film (as film) while at the same time inventing spontaneous, multi-layered towers of digital babble to play our (life's) work in. At this stage of the game, we can no longer oversimplify our experience by saying "My life is like a movie." To me, it feels as if I am a reality hacker, remixing levels of (un)conscious opacities / capacities, creating customized artist-apparatus filters so that I can better manipulate the data that passes through me as I process my immediate life experience which, it ends up, is always (already) foreign.

In this regard, one could also say, "Every life is an alien life." One morning you wake up a tenured art professor finishing your underground literary novel. Later that afternoon you take a hike in the open space near your home and bring your camera along so that you can stake a claim in the field of nature photography. Two nights later you are in Shanghai, sourcing more image écriture for your next VJ gig, using the "jet-lag filter" to hallucinate heretofore unimaginable heiroglyphic metadata while capturing the chaos of the post-industrial wasteland as it pollutes your overly sensitive body and its systemic reincarnation as a (total) vibe instrument traversing the "Made in China" dérive of the moment.

Do you catch my vibe?

Actually, I'm still trying to catch my own vibe, in the way that Miles Davis says that "[s]ometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself."

Playing like/with yourself while writing with light and intuitive body movement through creative workspace (unconsciously triggered "choragraphy")..

Capturing what Calvino refers to as "the data of experience and the phantoms of the imagination" as part of your seminal style.

"The author," Calvino continues, "is an author insofar as he enters into a role the way an actor does and identifies himself with that projection of himself at the moment of writing."

Acting projecting writing with light while processing experience through customized artist-apparatus filters.

It makes me wonder: "Is this just more 'me' (per se) projecting on to you?"

Unfortunately, there's no longer any time left to answer this question. I have already become an embodied digital image improvising his next (pivotal) move.

Crashing into the heavenly bed, I look out my window and this is what I see:

Image shot by Mark Amerika Nature Photography

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