Monday, April 28, 2008

Avant-Garde Night

On your own blogs, respond to Avant-Garde Night at Lumina. What were favorites and least favorites? What worked well and what worked not so well? How did the Live Cinema Explosion go?

Overall, I thought Avant-Garde Night turned out really well. The turnout was bigger than I had expected. On The Marriage Broker Joke was a really unexpected way to start off the show. I don't think many people knew what to make of it. It was entertaining, though. I certainly enjoyed it. On the other hand, I don't think There's a Pervert in our Pool went over as well as it maybe could have. I felt like it came and went too quickly, and just left people confused.

Light is Waiting, though, was probably my favorite of the night. As it started, I wasn't entirely sure what was so avant garde about it. After a minute or so, I was prepared to just watch an episode of Full House. It would've been a fun joke to play on the audience. But then the TV dropped. I was blown away. The combination of sight and sound was sort of frightening, but I thought it really worked.

Light is Waiting, Uso Justo, and I am a Boyband all seemed to go over the best with the audience. I think they were all more accessible in terms of the avant-garde. An introduction was probably needed for people to really grasp the concept of What the Water Said. Personally, I'd forgotten about it until that night, so I was probably as confused as some of the rest of the audience. Also, I wasn't too thrilled about Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine. Not entirely sure why, but I just couldn't get into it visually. It felt too erratic, and at times I wondered if something was wrong with the projector. Not to say that I didn't know the film would look the way it did, but at times I just had to wonder. Of all the films screened that night, this was by far the hardest for me to watch.

Now, the Live Cinema Explosion, I thought that turned out really well. I had no idea what would end up on the screen, nor did I know what it all would sound like. At the start, I was afraid it would turn into an unlistenable cacophony of noise. As the show went on, though, it kept an interesting rhythm and the images never got too repetitive. For those who stayed to watch it, I think the Live Cinema Explosion was a very unique experience.

Monday, April 14, 2008

She Puppet

Discuss William Wees's analysis of Peggy Ahwesh's She Puppet in relation to the following:

What are the general claims about the film as a rejection of modernist aesthetics? (anti-art, feminism, etc.) How does he support these general claims with evidence from the film itself? To what degree does the anaylsis correspond with your own?

In his article "Peggy's Playhouse", William Wees states that "by resisting what the material 'wanted [her] to do,' Ahwesh made something of her own that is about [Tomb Raider]." In other words, Ahwesh's film is about deconstructing the dichotomy of "run-run, bang-bang," and commenting on the low resolution of the graphics, which barely resemble the living, breathing woman they're supposed to represent. Additionally, Ahwesh makes a statement about the objectification of women through the use of first-person poetry narrations.

Ahwesh challenges the "run-run, bang-bang" concept by frequently showing Lara Croft simply running past adversaries, almost acting as though they aren't even there, such as the vultures that swoop down to attack her for no discernable reason. At the same time, Ahwesh shows Lara standing in empty rooms, firing away at the walls with every weapon in her arsenal. As Wees puts it, "guns fired point blank miss their targets; tigers prowl but do not pounce; vicious dogs and ravenous, vulturelike birds attack, but without visible effect;..." Lara's interaction with the world around her may simply be design flaws in the game itself, but Ahwesh utilizes them to give her film an odd, trancelike dream.

In using poetry to illustrate the film's concepts, Ahwesh makes use of first person poetry in order to infer Lara Croft's point of view. Use of quotes, such as Sun Ra's "I'm not a human. I never called anybody mother...I don't know about being born. I just happened," give Lara an ethereal air, almost as if she had actually come into being out of nothing (which, in a way, she had).

For the most part, I agree with Wees' reading of the film. I think some of the texts used in the narration were too esoteric in making their points, but then again I would say this adds to the dreamlike state of the film. The repetitive death scenes may have felt more pointed had they been interspersed throughout the film rather than shown all at once. The emphasis on repetition in differing locations would still, I believe, work just as well as Wees suggests.

Monday, April 7, 2008

The Avant-Garde vs. Punk Filmmaking

What are some similarities and differences between the American avant-garde of the early 1970s and the Punk or No Wave filmmaking in the late 1970s? Address the following areas:

Aesthetic similarities and differences (which filmmakers do the cite as influences, which filmmakers do they reject?), Technological similarities and differences, Economic similarities and differences, Social similarities and differences.

As James Nares clearly states, "There was a conscious separation between ourselves and the Michael Snows and Jonas Mekases." Nares and the No Wave filmmakers, he says, were more ingrained in the punk music scene, and music in general. Where it seemed like the avant-garde at the time was art for art's sake, structuralist filmmaking, the No Wave filmmakers were out to get a rise out of people and make films that were meant to be seen as spectacles unto themselves.

The No-Wavers favored Super film not only because it was easy to use, but also because it was cheap to use. Coupled with relative inexperience and loose scripting, many of the No Wave films had a 'home movies meets 'forced naturalism'' feel to them. This is not unlike Jonas Mekas' diary films, despite the former being somewhat scripted. Each of these were shot seemingly haphazardly by design on cheap film stock. Due to budgetary restraints, each had to use what they had at the time.

Yet, while the No Wave filmmakers shared certain similarities with Jonas Mekas and others, they largely rejected Mekas' style of filmmaking in favor of the French New Wave and filmmakers like Andy Warhol. Amos Poe's "Unmade Beds" is a remake of Jean-luc Godard's film "Breathless", and Poe made the film with the intent of trying to replicate the French New Wave in New York.