Category:making movies

I'm going to assume you're as freaked out as I am that neuroscientists at UC Berkeley have constructed video from the brain activity of what someone is seeing. Gizmodo has a bit longer explanation of the research, and here's a making of video, but basically it involves mapping the brain into voxels [volumetric pixels], and monitoring activity across the brain with an fMRI scanner while the person watches video, and then reverse engineering the imagery from the voxellated activity. Once a database of visual/voxel connections was created, they could replicate the process with new video.

And so now they can see the images inside your head.


Which is all freaky enough--even if it didn't end up looking exactly like Wim Wenders said it would, twenty years ago. BUT IT DOES.

Wenders' 1991 film, Until The End Of The World is set in 1999, where a neuroscientist's son [William Hurt] is being chased around the world as he records the neural record of images with a secret device that will enable his blind mother to play them back, and thereby see again. After all the electronics in the world are wiped out by the EMP blast from nuking a renegade satellite that's about to crash into the earth [holy crap, people], the neuroscientist [Max von Sydow] converts the device to read dreams. And then moody, overwrought German actresses [Solveig Dommartin] become addicted to watching their dreams until the batteries run out. Because seriously, who could have predicted the iPad's amazing battery performance, amiright?


Anyway, Until The End Of The World was the first film to use HD, for the dream sequences, which were developed with NHK. And this is what they look like.


Here's the Dream Junky scene on Vimeo, taken from the original theatrical cut.

Wenders was never satisfied with the 158-minute version released in the US, which he had cut down from a "definitive," 280-minute, director's cut. In 2001, the director revealed that he had kept the uncut negative of the film, and that the original, chopped version he had handed over to the distributor in 1991 had been a duplicate positive. And so he was able to re-create his original 280-min version from the original negative. Which he did, and which was released on DVD in 2004.

He presented the director's cut in 2001 at a screening at DGA in New York. The Q&A didn't start until after midnight.

part 2, part 3 [which has a fascinating story about using Vermeer as a visual inspiration, about 10:00 in, and then aroun 12-13m, he starts talking about the dream sequences] and part 4 [cont'd].

Until the End of the World (Bis ans Ende der Wel ) (Jusqu'au bout du monde) on four Region 2 DVDs


Rirkrit Tiravanija, ink on paper, shown at Gavin Brown's Enterprise in Nov-Dec 2008 as part of JG Reads, image: detail of a shot by James Nova from the opening. j-No has more images of two other dollar bill drawings.

Here's a 2 min or so clip of the 10h16m film, shot that summer in Giorno's Bowery studio.

For details of the show, check out contemporary art daily.

September 20, 2011

The Glancer Is Present


For his performance/project The Long Glance, Brooklyn-based artist Jonathan VanDyke spent 40 hours standing in front of and looking at Jackson Pollock's painting Convergence, 1952 at the Albright-Knox Gallery in Buffalo. He carried this out over the course of one week last May/June, looking for eight hours/day, for five straight days.

The Long Glance was streamed live on the museum's website, and he had his own wall label in the gallery which described him as a "living sculpture." Hmm.

Artist Sal Randolph wrote about watching VanDyke online as he watched the Pollock.

The project and its audience all seem to have a resonance with The Artist Is Present, except, obviously, the artist's counterpart here is a painting, not a person.

Thinking about these two projects together makes me interested to hear what VanDyke saw, and what he learned about Convergence, or about its creation, or its creator. Which is kind of funny, because I never had that sense about sitting with Marina Abramovic. I mean, sure, there were people who cried or emoted or developed relationships of some kind with her through sitting. But I always had a sense that the experience of sitting with Marina was its own objective, while looking at a painting is a means to an end: understanding.

And so I'm a little disappointed with VanDyke's essay about The Long Glance because, while it is highly informed and expansive, it is almost entirely about the internalities of his own experience. Which is great, don't get me wrong, just.

But maybe I'm missing the point: both VanDyke's, and Pollock's. In another post about The Long Glance, Randolph quotes extensively from Alan Kaprow's 1958 examination of the experiential nature of Pollock's Action Paintings:

The space of these creations is not clearly palpable as such. We can become entangled in the web to some extent and by moving in and out of the skein of lines and splashings can experience a kind of spatial extension. But even so, this space is an allusion far more vague than even the few inches of space-reading a Cubist work affords. It may be that our need to identify with the process, the making of the whole affair, prevents a concentration on the specifics of before and behind so important in a more traditional art. But what I believe is clearly discernible is that the entire painting comes out at us (we are participants rather than observers), right into the room.
OK, then, carry on.

The Long Glance, by Jonathan VanDyke [ via wordobject]
The Long Glance (5 of 2400 minutes) [vimeo]

Action: Watching the Watcher [wordobject]
Action: Inaction Painting [wordobject]


Gotta get a piece of that Gerhard Richter Painting. After completing a documentary about the artist's Cologne Cathedral stained glass windows in 2007, filmmaker Corinna Belz began working on another project, filming Richter at work in his studio. She waited a year and a half for the artist to begin a new series of abstract paintings, and then she pretty much filmed the whole process.

It's kind of crazy how jazzed I am after just watching the trailer. Those squeegees are so huge. And they're clear. And he wields them by hand. Some of this we [I] knew, but it's still kind of riveting to watch. Belz in an interview:

Books are a better medium to articulate theoretical positions. And the actual act of painting is hard to describe in words: The way Richter mixes primary colours on the canvas, generating such a complex colour system. How layers are built up and submerged, how sculptural they appear on canvas. The most important thing for me in this film was to show something uniquely visual.
In related news, I now have new iPad wallpaper [above].

Gerhard Richter Painting, dir. Corinna Belz [ via scahweb]


So you should really read Daniel Kasman's review of the Venice debut of Mark Lewis's awesome-sounding short film, Black MIrror At The National Gallery, because Kasman is sensitive to both the tone and surprise/reveal of the film in a way that the official synopsis, oddly, does not.


But if you're not going to read either of those, I'll just say it sounds like Russian Ark meets 2001, with the Marquis de Custine replaced by Martin Szekely's silicon carbide "Black Sun" mirror, the Hermitage replaced by the National Gallery, and everyone and everything else replaced by Hendrick Avercamp's Dutch Golden Era tondo A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle.


Sounds awesome.

Venice 2011. Art Is Terror from Any Other Angle []
Miroir- Soleil Noir, 2007 []
Avercamp's A Winter Scene with Skaters near a Castle, 1609 []

Between 1981 and 1985, Paul Tschinkel and Marc H. Miller produced 17 episodes of ART/newyork, a subscription-based video magazine about contemporary art for use, incredibly, in public schools and libraries.


Their 1982 interview with Richard Serra, a Yale classmate of Tschinkel's, came just as the Tilted Arc controversy was heating up. And speaking of heating up, hoo-boy, does Serra get going about the Pennsylvania Avenue Development Agency conflict with Robert Venturi. Fiery fun stuff.

His 1980 interview with Douglas Crimp covers a lot of the same PADC territory with a bit more specificity. By pointing out, for example, that Venturi's proposed motif was also favored by Albert Speers, not just that they might as well stick swastikas on Pennsylvania Avenue.

But his story about being told that he'd never get work in this town again is basically the same.

Also interesting, if less incendiary: Serra used to exhibit models of site specific projects-in-progress, such as this rather sexy steel tabletop version of Twain. Do want.


ART/newyork - Richard Serra's Tilted Arc artist interview []
order copies of ART/newyork to this very day []

Chiang Mai farmer/laborer Lung Neaw has worked with RIrkrit Tiravanija for several years now. He helped build the artist's house. Tiravanija's footage of him has appeared in various gallery and museum installations.

And Saturday, Tiravanija's film, Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbors, will have its world premiere at the Venice Film Festival. Maybe there should be a spoiler alert somewhere, because from the synopsis, the title pretty much gives the entire 2.5 hour movie away.

In a Q&A on the Lung Neaw website the artist says he sees the film not as "a documentary and not a narrative, perhaps it's more of a portraiture."

He and his longtime Mexico City dealer's brother Christian Manzutto shot a week or so at a time:

So we shot over a period of two years and another to edit and postproduction, the film was really made very simply and with very little by way of crew and equipment, in that relationship for me very much like a documentary but also very much like how an artist would approach the production, also with very small but cost-effective budget. We shot in film (super 16mm) so rather small and light unit but with frames and quality which was not video.
An interesting choice, and an interesting approach. Two of his galleries, kurimanzutto and Gavin Brown's Enterprise, have associate producer credit.

See the Lung Neaw Visits His Neighbours trailer [vimeo]
Thai media article on the project: Lung Neaw goes to Venice []

"Decent people really didn't live below 40 stories above the street." -Syd Mead

Oh man, the groovy disco music that opens this 1982 13-minute, making-of convention reel for Blade Runner tells you all you need to know.

There are nice, matter-of-fact interviews with the movie's design principals, Scott, Mead and Trumbull, but the best thing is the lights-on footage from the set and the model shop.


August 31, 2011


Sam Thorne in this Summer's Frieze looks at writers writing about looking at fictional art. He includes the hero [sic] of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, the post-poststructuralist filmmaker James O. Incandenza, whose lost masterpiece gives the novel its title:

Incandenza is one of the few conceptual artists in fiction (he is preceded by Maria Turner, a joint creation of Sophie Calle and Paul Auster who pops up in the latter's 1992 Leviathan - the novel's accounts of her works were subsequently enacted by Calle herself). Many of Incandenza's films are described as technically or conceptually unfilmable (one is 'unfinished due to hospitalization'), while his video Infinite Jest is itself said to be 'lethally entertaining' - once viewers start watching they cannot stop and remain transfixed until they starve. This elusive videotape, of which all copies are missing, is wrapped up with the unbearable pleasure of seeing. The visual is thematized as entirely other to language, as Wallace insinuates that the visual can make claims on our attention that the verbal cannot. Within the logic of the novel, the video would be impossible to sufficiently describe; it evades all attempts at ekphrasis - a shortcoming which is in this case redeemed, in that the ability to properly visualize it would result in death.

That writing fiction may finally be incompatible with adequately describing a work of art is the worry that shadows many of these novels. But, like Bergotte's dying realization, they also suggest that the knowledge of this shortcoming is what makes writing worthwhile.

I did not realize that Incandenza had a show. While at Columbia last year, Sam Ekwurtzel invited a couple dozen artists to create works for A Failed Entertainment: Selections from the Filmography of James O. Incandenza. The show is still touring the country with him. Ekwurtzel, that is. Incandenza still does not exist.

Unmentioned by Thorne: Henry Codax, the fictional conceptual monochrome painter in Bernadette Corporation's novel Reena Spaulings, who also had a show this year, courtesy of Jacob Kassay and Olivier Mosset.

Works on Paper [frieze]
Ekwurtzel speaks: Behind the scenes of an Infinite Jest-inspired art show [flavorwire]


I was intrigued by Roy Lichtenstein's Prop For A Film when it showed up last summer at Phillips in London. Obviously, the main thing was the work itself: a large [3.5 x 8 ft] abstract, shaped field of Ben-Day dots, pretty fantastic, actually, which turned out to be a beach. The other thing about it, also obviously, was hey wha? Lichtenstein made a film? A film he showed at both LACMA and the US Pavilion at Expo70 in Osaka?

I was already pretty fixated on several of these related topics at the time, so I started poking around on the story of Lichtenstein, his film--films, actually--and his Prop For A Film. It's all pretty odd and interesting, and somewhat complicated, and though I started gearing up to write about it, I've kind of held off, or haven't gotten around to it, I guess, for almost a year now.

But then today, I see that Andrew Russeth reported for the Observer that Prop For A Film, which failed to sell at Phillips last summer, has turned up in Sotheby's New York contemporary sale next month, albeit with a much lower estimate.

And though Sotheby's catalogue copy seems almost identical to Phillips', they added a note that the Whitney will show Lichtenstein's films in October, the first exhibition of them in over 40 years.

So yeah, Prop For A Film. To get right down to it, I'm not sure it's really a painting. Which doesn't mean it's not a very interesting Lichtenstein.


Starting around 1964, when the world was still trying to come to grips with the painterly implications of his print-related imagery and Ben-Day dots, Lichtenstein was already experimenting with other techniques and materials that challenged the definition of painting. His Electric Seascapes combined dots with new, high-tech materials like Rowlux [above], a prismatic plastic sheeting originally developed for reflective highway signs.

Fish and Sky (from Ten from Leo Castelli), 1967, screenprint, photo and offset, ed. 200, via wright20's Sept. 15 contemporary sale

When Maurice Tuchman invited Lichtenstein to partner with Universal Studios for LACMA's ambitious Art & Technology Program in 1968, the artist decided to continue his seascape experiments with motion, perception, and the flat picture plane by creating an actual "moving picture" of a landscape. So yes, this whole thing really fell into place around a seemingly simplistic, even banal play on words.

Sotheby's pitch boils down the "moving picture" concept as it was exhaustively described in LACMA's A&T report/catalogue:

[He used] sequences of filmed landscape fragmetns in combination with synthetic images using his trademark Ben Day dot grids or textured aluminum. The project expanded upon ideas he had explored in his landscape collages of 1964 and 1965, which were his most abstract compositions to date. In these works, the constituent elements of landscape were drastically reduced to two or three large areas of Ben Day dots representing sea, land and sky.
Because of cross-country logistics, Lichtenstein ended up doing almost all actual production with his friend, independent filmmaker Joel Freedman. Roy and Joel spent the summer of 1969 in Southampton, filming the props against the sky or the waves. Assistants would hold the props steady or rock them to simulate the motion of the ocean.

Only it never worked. The movie camera couldn't accommodate different exposure levels for each component, and the depth of field never resolved to produce the planar flatness Lichtenstein was after. So they threw out the props, shot straight-on shots of the sky and lapping waves, and then added all the graphic elements in post.

I'll leave the details of the films themselves for a separate post, but the point is, Prop For A Film never ended up in any of the films. And so the exhibition history--both Phillips and Sotheby's list LACMA and Expo70--is tenuous at best. [Sotheby's seems to realize this, threading a needle by saying "the work travelled to" Osaka, meaning the film installation. They also get the dates wrong; 1969 was the start of filming. A 2-screen installation at the Expo came first, in 1970, followed by LACMA's 3-screen version in May 1971.]

Which, whatever, it's still a large, stunning, early Lichtenstein painting, right? And its provenance, OK Harris--the gallery founded by longtime Castelli director and Lichtenstein discoverer Ivan Karp--is unassailable. Well, it's certainly a Lichtenstein something.

When I first contacted Freedman last year, he told me how he'd saved the piece--it's Magna on wood, not canvas--after the project ended, and had it on the wall of his loft for several years. The trademark dots meant people would visit and recognize it immediately as a Lichtenstein. Then, when he was in need of completion funds for a documentary--if I remember correctly, it was the mid-70s, so probably Broken Treaty at Battle Mountain--he gave the work to Karp to sell. At Karp's suggestion, Freedman asked Lichtenstein if he'd help his project by signing the piece, and Lichtenstein generously agreed. The work was sold, and documentary was finished and released to great acclaim.

When he signed it in Karp's gallery, Lichtenstein also wrote the title on the back. Or maybe it wasn't a title, so much as a description: Prop For A Film.

Passed at Phillips, Roy Lichtenstein 'Prop' Moves to Sotheby's []
Lot 28 Prop for a Film, 1967, est. $400,000-600,000 []
Lichtenstein's project writeup from the1971 A&T catalogue []
Previously: Lichtenstein's Electric Seascapes

BONUS: Freedman is running a Kickstarter campaign to complete a followup film, Land of the Brave. It ends in four days. [kickstarter]

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Since 2001 here at, I've been blogging about the creative process—my own and those of people who interest me. That mostly involves filmmaking, art, writing, research, and the making thereof.

Many thanks to the Creative Capital | Warhol Foundation Arts Writers Program for supporting that time.

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greg [at] greg [dot ] org

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about this archive

Category: making movies

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artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
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Madoff Provenance Project in
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It Narratives, incl.
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TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

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"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
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HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
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Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
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Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
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