Slide from David Byrne’s DVD/Book of PowerPoint Art
Veronique Vienne’s got a sweet article in the Times about David Byrne’s artistic exploration of PowerPoint. She casts a rather benign look at the way PowerPoint influences forms of discourse and thought. Maybe it’s Stockholm Syndrome; after all, Arts & Leisure editor Jodi Kantor used to be at Slate. (“But some of my best friends use PowerPoint!”)
But then, she’s got a pretty clear-eyed quote from Byrne: “You have to try to think like the guy in Redmond or Silicon Valley. You feel that your mind is suddenly molded by the thinking of some unknown programmer. It’s a collaboration, but it’s not reciprocal.” [8/21 Update: the title of Info design guru Edward Tufte’s Wired Mag article says it all: “PowerPoint is Evil” Bonus quote: “PowerPoint style routinely disrupts, dominates, and trivializes content. Thus PowerPoint presentations too often resemble a school play -very loud, very slow, and very simple.”]
As a PowerPoint geek, exploring the software’s implications is, like fresh breath, a priority in my life. [Cf. PowerPoint as a Creative Medium, which has additional ppt examples and articles.] A couple of months ago, Byrne gave a few of us a tour of his gallery show at Pace McGill, where they pre-released his hypnotic PowerPoint book/DVD, E.E.E.I. (Envisioning Emotional Epistemological Information). Good stuff.
And before you leave the Times‘ place, why not look over my article on video art bootlegging.
Until this spring, there was still a press release on Art House Films‘ website heralding the coming DVD release of The Cremaster Cycle . If Matthew Barney’s films are obsesed wtih potentiality, announcing and never releasing the DVD’s seems somehow appropriate. After all, cremasters are designed to rein things in, not let ’em hang out, right?
Inexplicably, nine hours in the Guggenheim’s theater didn’t give me enough Cremaster in my art/media diet. So after bailing on the mass market DVD’s, I went out and got me a copy–in the interest of journalistic research, you understand–of Cremaster 2 to watch at home.
As any of you who has dropped the six figs for the vitrine editions know, watching Cremaster at home is a different ball game (some pun intended). I have to say, If I were gonna spend that much money on a film, it’d be my own. And returning Netflix discs is stressful enough, so I didn’t borrow a real copy. Besides, how do you ask someone to loan you their art? Nah, I borrowed a super-clean VHS copy from, well, you’ll know where it came from, soon enough.
1. They’re video. Even in theaters, it was obvious that the first two installments (C4 and C1 had been shot on video. Not so for the last three, which were HD-to-film transfers. Barney squoze far more than ten pounds of production value into a five pound bag. Not since Sally Potter’s Orlando has a filmmaker gotten such an expensive-looking film out of such a small budget. [Howard’s End, yeah yeah, but I digress.] The copy I got was clearly not HD-to-film-to-DVD-to-VHS, though, and it shows. Like when I caught Agnes Varda’s Gleaners on TV; there’s something very “pull back the curtain” about seeing these works as video.
Cremaster 2 production still, Matthew Barney
image: Biennale of Sydney.org
2. It’s still long. Even though C2 is my favorite, it still felt long. Argue that Barney wants it to be long, to force the viewer to experience it at that pace, fine. But the power relationship shifts when you pop the tape in. Let me tell you, if you’ve got a remote control, you’re gonna use it. You can use it for good or for evil, of course, and it’s just as nice to rewind the salt flats as it is necessary to fast forward the seance.
3. The DVD’s coming out after all, but it’s The Order, the video game-like segment of C3 which played on the big monitors in the Guggenheim rotunda. It’s on Amazon right now, in fact, for $18.74.