March 2006 Archives


David's a photographer--and the creator of the untouchably cool pre-pixellated logo clothing for reality TV contestants that burned through the blogs last week--who's started a little series of 60-second [give or take] movies.

This one is of my favorite vista at Taniguchi's MoMA, across the atrium to the floating staircase with the Matisse at the top and the Diebenkorn at the bottom. Very busy, that staircase.

60 Seconds in the Life of a Staircase []

Hiroshi Sugimoto created a stage for a Noh performance at Dia; unfortunately, it was in October 2001, not a real hot time for cultural diversions in downtown New York City. Missed it.

The Noh stage was reinstalled at the Mori Museum at Roppongi Hills, which we also missed.

Now, tonight at the Hirshhorn, two musicians are premiering a piece created for the artist's exhibition. Then after that, Sugimoto himself will perform as benshi, or stageside storyteller/narrator, for Kenzo Mizoguchi's 1933 silent masterpiece, The Water Magician. Japanese silents are rarely, shown anywhere these days.

6 and 7 pm: Specification Fifteen, a live world premiere of a new musical work created especially for the Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibition, Lerner Room. For more information about Richard Chartier and Taylor Deupree, visit their websites at and
6:30 pm: Curator's tour with Kerry Brougher, second level
8 pm: The Water Magician, 1933, Ring Auditorium. Film courtesy of the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo.

Please be advised that seating in the Ring Auditorium is limited, and we anticipate a high turn-out for this event. Ticket distribution for the film, The Water Magician, begins at 7:15 pm. Please form a line just outside the Emergency Exit doors to the right of the Information Desk. Guests may enter the auditorium beginning at 7:45pm. Entry to the auditorium will not be permitted after 8pm. Please plan your visit accordingly.

I'm sure the lines are already out the door. It'd be great if the Hirshhorn had some ticketed events open only to big-time donors. Giving money for exclusive access to taxpayer-funded institutions is a Washington tradition...

Hirshhorn After Hours [, non-permanent link]
Hiroshi Sugimoto programmed a Japanese cinema series at The Japan Society last fall [via]
Midnight Eye has an awesome overview of Japanese silent film and an interview with a leading benshi, Midori Sawato []

March 27, 2006

With All Due Respect...

Maybe it's just me, but whenever I hear a guy talking about himself in a documentary and he utters the phrase, "Never in the history of advertising," my BS detector goes haywire. Even if the rest of the sentence is, "has anyone thought to throw 250,000 balls down a San Francisco street."

The Making Of minifeature for that Sony Bravia ad is interesting, but not as cool as the extended edit of the commercial itself, which isn't as good as the 1min version. [crappy res on google video, lo- and hi-res on]
The making of was documented in realtime on flickr, seems like ages ago. [sepiatone at flickr]


"It's a nice masculine aesthetic," said Robert Tagliapietra, who with his similarly bearded partner, Jeffrey Costello, designs a collection of pretty silk jersey dresses under the Costello Tagliapietra label.
Also, Ulysses S. Grant does not actually appear in Cold Mountain. So which one did the guy from Vice Magazine not want to admit was his real inspiration: the $50 bill or the bearded Jude Law?

Paul Bunyan, Modern-Day Sex Symbol

March 23, 2006

Au Revoir, L'Enfant

The Dardennes brothers' latest film, L'Enfant, is about the inner and outer worlds of Bruno, a teenage hood who sells his newborn son. It stars JÈrÈmie Renier, the same young actor from their last film, La Promesse.

It's not love, really, because they're such a different kind of filmmaking, but I am really in awe of the Dardennes' work. It requires a different approach to filmwatching, but it's been worth it every time. From Manohla Dargis's review:

The Dardennes' background in documentary also partly explains their astonishing visual style. Working with the cinematographer Alain Marcoen, who shot all four of their last features, the brothers have developed an instantly identifiable naturalism, unsparing in its attention to detail. Their camera maintains an intimate, at times uncomfortably claustrophobic proximity to the characters, an approach that feels attentive rather than instrusive.
UMM, SPOILER ALERT IN THE HEADLINE?? 'L'Enfant' ('The Child') Shows a Thief Who Eventually Finds Redemption [nyt]
Previously: on the Dardenne brothers

You're making a short story about a couple of gay, white trash shepherds into a movie. The story's been optioned but undevelopable since it came out [sic]. In 2003-4, it looks like you might pull it together as "a low-budget, art house film, with no prospect of making any money," but only if you can pull in some actual star power, which, considering the subject matter, is no small feat.

After all, only the bravest, most talented actors are willing to risk being typecast. Only artists of the utmost integrity would put their booming careers and hard-won status as a ladies' man in jeopardy. What if, the reasoning goes, just because you play one in a couple of scenes, people assume you're a selfish, mean-spirited, homophobic prick and never want to work with you again?

Deeply committed to their craft such an actor makes sacrifices, working tirelessly for weeks on end--OK, maybe a week of shooting, plus some foley time--for "economically unfavorable art film terms." That means--unless his agent just stepped off the farm, too--that he takes deferrals and points on the backend instead of his typical eight-figure fees.

The movie gets made. It's a critical darling and a surprise financial success. Everyone involved in the project basks in the glow of an important job well done, and they are gracious in public and private as their careers move to even greater heights.

At least that's the way it goes with gay shepherd movies. For gay cowboy movies, some washed up bit player makes a lame-ass joke at the Golden Globes that falls completely flat, then he up and sues the producers of "movie laundering" by obtaining his oh-so-valuable services on the cheap by pretending to make a non-commercial film. The damages sought: $10 million-plus.

The moral of this story: nobody--but nobody--messes with Randy Quaid.

Randy Quaid Sues Over 'Brokeback'

I like interviews with creatives as a way to learn more about their process and to understand better how a work came to be. Interviewing someone can be a chance to learn from someone I admire how he sees the world and how he goes about bringing his ideas to fruition.

When I interviewed Sofia Coppola and she told me she'd never seen Caddyshack, I was stunned, but I didn't make a big deal about it at the time; she was nice and I didn't want to embarass her. [I hope you've seen it by now, Sofia. I'll ask you about it again.]

Of course, from the interviewee's standpoint, they have to do a million of these things, and they often just want the work to stand on its own. Then, too, there's the invasive cult sycophancy aspect of divulging every nook and cranny of your soul.

Anyway, it all comes to mind as I read the slightly-too-meta account by Douglas Coupland--who hates interviews and interviewing--of traveling to Rome to interview Morrissey--who hates interviews and being interviewed.

Papal attraction [guardian/observer via tmn]


"I suddenly realized that exporting virtual items through the Internet is the same as transmitting Chinese labor to America." That's how the owner of a "gold farming" company in China explains his business in Chinese Farmers In Gamedom, a documentary-in-progress by
UCSD PhD candidate Ge Jin. The companies employ people to play video games all day in order to accumulate in-game gold or to build in-game equipment, which is then sold to American gamers for real money.

One entrepreneur talks about having to close his company down when complications with his borrowed Paypal account left him unable to sell his products on ebay.

Ge hears the gamers talk about work satisfaction and real vs. virtual worlds, but a stronger theme seems to be percieved hierarchy and exploitation. It turns out Chinese gamers find it insulting when thier American customers call them "farmers." One company owner explains how his is, in fact, a service business. Ge splits the difference by calling the companies "computer workshops" in his captions.

Ge has posted a 6 min preview of Chinese Farmers In The Gamedom on YouTube. [youtube via wmmna]
Terra Nova has some excellent comments, including some from the filmmaker himself. [terranova]


In 2004, Kyohei Sakaguchi published 0 Yen Houses, a book of photographs of street people architecture in Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya. A burgeoning urban street population, mostly men in their 50's and 60's, is one consequence of the Japanese economic and real estate situation over the last 10-15 years. These men often continue to work, but they're unable to afford housing, so they improvise their own, squatting on public lands (river banks and parks, mostly). They often form the favelas that preoccupy the nomadic scavenger-artist Tadashi Kawamata [who, after 20+ years of roaming, might be able to come home now that Japan has some, too.]

Police give advance notice when they're coming to inspect, so the street people are able to move their houses--and then replace them after the police have gone.

This kind of accommodation to the extreme prices and densities of Japan is like a grey market version of Atelier Bow Wow's study of Pet Architecture, the impossibly tiny structures that inhabit even the most improbably small slivers of land in Tokyo. [On the other end of the spectrum, of course, is Klein Dytham's Billboard Building, a 2m-wide (at most) spec bldg put up on a former 3-car parking lot in the extremely expensive Hiro-o neighborhood after the road was widened--and the parking lot was rendered unusable.


It turns out that Sakaguchi first gained attention for some video pieces he did while still in college [Waseda U.'s architecture program]. Whether they're art, documentary, or home movies, who can say, but they seem to fit the jishu eiga/self-made movie mode pretty well. The first, Living in a Water Tank, is just what it sounds like, a video diary of the 21-year-old Sakaguchi's life inside an unused apartment building rooftop water tank.


Then he made House Biker, in which he cruised around Tokyo on a pimped out pizza delivery scooter with a functioning microhouse on the back. He called it his "O Yen Movie," a retroactive extension of the new "Zero Yen" brand.

Sakaguchi's work seems to provoke some embarassment and discomfort among Japanese audiences, but like most things in Japan, it mostly just entertains. Take last year's Zero Yen House Tour, in which Sakaguchi led a bunch of college students in a contest to build their own shelters using only scavenged materials. If only their plight wasn't so aesthetically interesting, who knows, they might get some help; but right now, these homeless guys might be too cool for their own good.

0 Yen House, published by Little More and available at amazon-uk []
0 Yen House Tour, Kyoto Seika Univ. []
Happiness is just a riverside shack for designer homeless [timesonline, "designer homeless"?? via archinect]
Sakaguchi Kyohei's homepage, mostly in Japanese, but there's a link to autotranslations as well. [kyohei sakaguchi]


Do I have readers in the Green Zone? Did somebody somewhere write a memo? Because Saddam's crib used to be white, and now it's painted brown. [image: ap/bob strong via yahoo]

Previously: American Dream: Astroturf and a White Picket Fence

The 71-year-old scion of a real estate family, Mori inaugurated his latest city, Omotesando Hills, in one of Tokyo's most fashionable neighborhoods last month. There, well-heeled residents can now live just above some of the priciest retail shops on Earth, wandering sparkling hallways where $1,000 Jimmy Choo heels sell alongside $21 ice creams. "What the Guggenheim does with art, we do with shops," Mori said in an interview at Roppongi Hills. "That is the only difference."
- Minoru Mori, real estate developer and Mariko's uncle Conspicuous Consumption Shapes New Tokyo Skyline [washpost]

halfnelson.jpgYou may know him from such blog entries about Sundance-winning short films as Gowanus, Brooklyn. Now director Ryan Fleck has made Half Nelson, a feature-length adaptation of Gowanus, which debuted at Sundance 06, where ThinkFilm picked it up.

Half Nelson will also be the opening night feature of this year's New Directors/New Films program, which rocks. Both leads, Ryan Gosling and Shareeka Epps, got huge acting props from critics in IndieWIRE's Sundance poll.

See the full ND/NF 2006 lineup at
[a big high five to idol Hunter Gray, who helped produce Half Nelson]

It's funny how much of the art that was donated to the Artists For Chinati benefit auction next week seems somehow Chinati-esque.

Artists for Chinati catalogue introduction by Marianne Stockebrand
View the lots, which go on sale Mon. March 13 at 7pm at Phillips.

Considering that the Decalogue is at least partly to blame for me deciding to become a filmmaker, and that it's partly an inspiration for my Souvenir Series, I can't let a Kieslowski festival go without genuflecting.

The National Film Theatre is running an in-depth program of Krzysztof Kieslowski's films and his influences/inspirations. It started on Thursday, but you haven't missed anything so far, "just" The 400 Blows and La Strada. [of course, what I meant was, they'll both be screened again.] Decalogue screenings start next weekend, and Three Colours screenings the weekend after that.

The NFT site is comprehensive, but hard to peruse, while the Kultureflash overview is deliciously easy, as always. How DO they do it?

Krzysztof Kieslowski Revisited []
previous kieslowski adulation and influencing on


Josh Marshall gets in on the Sforzian Backdrop fun by noticing the similarities between GWB's post-Katrina speech in Jackson Square, and his nighttime speech to invited guests only at the zoo in New Delhi.


Here's the AP's Gerald Herbert's shot of the set and the audience. [via yahoo news]


Meanwhile, no trip to the third world would be complete without some native dress, indigenous art, and dirt flooring. [image: reuters/jason reed via yahoo news]

Yet nothing can top this good old-fashioned Pakistani propaganda ministry welcome. I can't imagine the Great Leader-style portrait cluster and the unadorned "PRESIDENT GEORGE W. BUSH - A FRIEND OF PAKISTAN" banner is really Scott Sforza's style. [image: reuters/jason reed via nyt]

Annals of Stagecraft [with bigger images,]

March 4, 2006

Empire of the Soundstage

JG Ballard writes in the Guardian about turning his childhood experiences and memories into Empire of the Sun, and then watching as Spielberg and co. turned his novel into a movie, and then watching as the movie and the book and the memories intermingle years later:Actors of another kind play out our memories, performing on a stage inside our heads whenever we think of childhood, our first day at school, courtship and marriage. The longer we live - and it's now 60 years since I reluctantly walked out of Lunghua camp - the more our repertory company emerges from the shadows and moves to the front of the stage. Spielberg's film seems more truthful as the years pass. Christian Bale and John Malkovich join hands by the footlights with my real parents and my younger self, with the Japanese soldiers and American pilots, as a boy runs forever across a peaceful lawn towards the coming war. But perhaps, in the end, it's all only a movie.Look back at Empire []

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.

comments? questions? tips? pitches? email
greg [at] greg [dot ] org

find me on twitter: @gregorg

about this archive

Posts from March 2006, in reverse chronological order

Older: February 2006

Newer April 2006

recent projects, &c.

Our Guernica Cycle, 2017 –
about/kickstarter | exhibit, 2017

Social Medium:
artists writing, 2000-2015
Paper Monument, Oct. 2016
ed. by Jennifer Liese
buy, $28

Madoff Provenance Project in
'Tell Me What I Mean' at
To__Bridges__, The Bronx
11 Sept - Oct 23 2016
show | beginnings

Chop Shop
curated by Magda Sawon
1-7 March 2016

eBay Test Listings
Armory – ABMB 2015
about | proposte monocrome, rose

It Narratives, incl.
Shanzhai Gursky & Destroyed Richter
Franklin Street Works, Stamford
Sept 5 - Nov 9, 2014
about | link

TheRealHennessy Tweets Paintings, 2014 -

Standard Operating Procedure
about | buy now, 284pp, $15.99

CZRPYR2: The Illustrated Appendix
Canal Zone Richard Prince
YES RASTA 2:The Appeals Court
Decision, plus the Court's
Complete Illustrated Appendix (2013)
about | buy now, 142pp, $12.99

"Exhibition Space" @ apexart, NYC
Mar 20 - May 8, 2013
about, brochure | installation shots

HELP/LESS Curated by Chris Habib
Printed Matter, NYC
Summer 2012
panel &c.

Destroyed Richter Paintings, 2012-
background | making of
"Richteriana," Postmasters Gallery, NYC

Canal Zone Richard
Selected Court Documents
from Cariou v. Prince (2011)
about | buy now, 376pp, $17.99