succulent plants and james franco
“Mormonism has been called ‘Satan’s masterpiece;’ and, with all respect to its sincere adherents, there is no more fitting name. It is often little understood, and more often wrongly understood; for it is far away from most people, is many-sided, conceals itself like a cuttlefish, and is spread over such an area as to make local study and generalization difficult. He who would understand Mormonism must either be content to spend years in study and first-hand observation among the common people and in reading publications for and against it, or he must take the results of such study and experience on the part of others who have so studied.”
— John D. Nutting, 1913
Just a lighthearted image from my research tonight
Hey who wants to read this shit, where I sound like a real confused academic asshat?! I had to write this for my dance/technology class, tumblr is great for this kind of stuff. This barely makes any sense, hope my dance profs like this:
The conditions in which I read Sensorium:
At the gym, exercising, sweating, attempting to control the body for the purpose of returning to the studio with a clear mind. I read about the lingering modernist aversion to smells, and Greenberg’s aversion to armpits and pubic hair in the sauna (a room of total privacy as it seems the undergrads are afraid of that space, and nudity in general). Then I took a shower with a product that describes itself thusly:
“The sex-appeal honey shower. Lascivious, licentious, vivacious, and insatiable. With the finest aphrodisiac essential oils – masses of jasmine! (Plus the best three for controlling PMS)”.
Altogether, the most absurdly ironic way to read through text dealing with the de-corporealization of art in the mid-century modern canon. In the years of reading art history texts, this was my first read on modernism that focused on its antiseptic aspirations. To me, emerging media art is often about a sort of modernist level of control, except in the cases when it isn’t, but even then it’s about carefully rendering programs to create the conditions of chance operations. We utilize interfaces on slick screens to interact with our loved ones. We are literally in love with our iphones (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/01/opinion/you-love-your-iphone-literally.html?_r=0), the constantly streamlining, smooth, cold glass containers of our human connections. As I read through the Sensorium text, I kept asking myself – am I modernist? How does modernism continue to influence my life, and my artistic practice? I am going to attempt to briefly trace through the trajectory of my artistic practice and uncover some of these tendrils of modernism, and what shifts in practice have occurred.
As I left the Mormon church, I poured my spiritual devotions into creating room-sized works of installation. Visitors to my projects shuffled through dry tobacco leaves and were washed in the reverberating sounds of a mop pushing ice across a tile floor. Over time, I lost the objects in my installations, and became obsessed with the interplay of information between multiple screens in video installation. Sound was always a problem here, and so I reverted back a few levels into a more Greenbergian practice. Visual wash, the privileging of the eye, tidily composed and controlled through digital pixels.
I moved to New York, and lived in an illegal, crumbling 19th century collective house. I devoted myself to a barely functional, anti-hierarchical, crumbling video art collective. With a decidedly early 90s aesthetic, and weak, outmoded software, we designed large, insane installation/performances, with dancers and musicians improvising, VJing and utilizing live feeds of the dancers. Here, our audiences were nearly assaulted by the performances. Giving them no place to sit, no set place to stand, no guideposts, we felt we were implicating their bodies in the work. Chaos was the main formal choice, giving ourselves over to an immersive chance-based operation. Unpredictable, unmanageable bodies and soundscapes, but we remained in control of the ever-privileged visuals.
After a brief stint with another barely functional collaborative project, I retreated into a thoroughly modern isolation: a quiet cabin on an acre of land and telecommuting job. My work process responded in kind, slicing off interactive elements, openings for collaboration, any messiness. I was able to work fully contained in hard drives and files.
Since starting the MFA here at Duke, I have moved back in time to analog media. As I was reading the earlier sections of the Sensorium text, I felt that perhaps I have engaged myself to residual technological schema, shifting away from an adaptive practice. In disavowing collaboration and embracing dying media, have I stepped backward into the ideal of the artist as genius, working feverishly alone in the studio? Am I simply a reverse luddite, a child of the digital age who is acting only antagonistically to technology? Or am I actually becoming a curmudgeon at the ripe old age of 29, becoming set in my ways?
From my reading on media theory in recent months, I have decided that new media moves too fast for me to keep pace, and have further invested my resources into analog tools and knowledge. And yet for me, who started out with a mini-DV cam, in analog practice I am learning new technology, one with a large learning curve that requires support from the human knowledge database, nothing that is viewable on Lynda.com. While my initial process is individual, the process of finishing and presentation of my new mode of production requires highly engaged collaboration – with advisors, with the lab processing my film, doing the digital telecine, and the lab making prints. Contrary to the democratizing power of the internet, the idea that you no longer have to be physically in a major metropolis, take this element of my work flow: to establish a connection and build mutual trust, I must go in person to the lab that will make my film print, and know the people who will physically handle the hours of labor I poured in.
While I edit best in quiet, contained space, which, for the fidelity of the filmic image, must be pristine, I feel that this mode of production is far more messy, more sensual than working with digital files. The film has a corpus, it shows the marks on its body of handling, of passing through the projector, of whether the lab used fresh chemistry in processing or not. It contains time, and when it is a print, it contains sound. But film’s tactility, the move down and away from the screen, the keyboard, the requirements on my body of gentle handling, of viewing through a loupe and a lightbox, of bending down, and of making cuts that won’t go away with a simple stroke of command + Z – these are elements of seduction to a child who grew up experiencing music that appeared through seeming alchemy from the Napster gods. I love to inhale the smell of emulsion when I tear off the seal of a fresh box of film. Likely this is not a good idea, but the scent is now associated with the excitement and anticipation of what I am about to capture. I love the physical act of unsealing the box, and all the little bits of paper waste that it creates, yes, after years of being a very concerned liberal environmentalist. There is a guilty sense of indulgence even in this small aspect. I love that my camera has indelibly marked my body – through winding on a broken crank arm I have a thick base of some sort pulverized tissue in the palm of my hand, still not going away after 5 months of healing time. I love that my projector requires me climb on the table to perform a delicate choreography to loop it through just so, and that I have to sit close by its side to catch any potential disasters of lost loops and framelines.
And so I feel that working in analog media has re-corporealized my artistic practice. It’s a strange amalgam of modernist and contemporary elements. Though my work now requests that an audience sits quietly in their chairs until it is through, I still think there is a hybridity in filmmaking.
James Franco attends Day 3 of Samsung Galaxy Lounge at Village At The Lift 2013 on January 20, 2013 in Park City, Utah.
I have seen this at least 8 times from all the franco tumblrs I follow HACK