Lucas: Expanded Cinema Residency March 9th

big day today, meeting with kat and telling her all about the project, what we’re trying to do, the four works that we’re concentrating on. she’s our tech assistant, and will be helping us set the room up for long film for ambient light.
all these works have a concentration on time, pushing and pulling time. sometimes they seem to me to be a little dry, early 70s conceptualism, not much overt content referring to social situations. but i know that this is only a surface issue, and that under the surface these artists were concerned with about attention, concentration, the passage of time, and, well, mindfulness, and that they push against the spectacularisation of the image. whether they succeeded or not, maybe that’s what we’re trying to find out. and of course, how the hell can we tell whether or not they succeeded, since we’re working with approximate re-enactments with partial information, and a completely different culture. jeepers.

Some of the things we discussed in regards to long film for ambient light today:
The installation shots in the mccall book show a sparse and austere empty room. The piece was scheduled to run for 24 hours. Did anyone actually stay in there for the full 24 hours? Louise thinks not, based on something she read – the audience came and went. (Have to chase up that reference). Did McCall himself stay for the full 24 hours, or did he hang around in the afternoon then hit the sack and come back in the morning? Was the 24 hours a conceptual time frame, or was it a durational work – and “endurance” work? One big reason that we want to restage the long film is that mccall, in his statement writes:

“The apprehension of any artwork, static or moving, is a fleeting moment, as are all experiences. It is their mental residue that is important”.

And yet, in all the criticism and papers that have been written about McCall, (and a few of them refer to long film) nobody actually discusses their own personal experience – and the mental residue that remains as a result, of being there in person. It’s discussed as an art world “move” – an avant garde or conceptual response to the conditions of film and sculpture, the reductive approach in the tradition of minimalism, the found object tradition of dada (turning something non-art into art) etc etc, but never from a phenomenological, experiential perspective. Perhaps that’s what we can bring by setting it up again.

If we (and a few of our punters) are going to stay for the full 24 hours, there are a few things need ironing out. I don’t think we can have the space completely empty and clear. It would seem intolerable without something to eat, drink, and sit on. Or am I wrong? For me, the work isn’t “about” discomfort, and it’s not really about setting up a space to be a crisp minimal installation either. Although McCall wants to reduce external stimuli as much as possible (having no set “events” to stimulate us and make us unaware of the passing of time) does this extend to having absolutely nothing in the space at all? Where does the human body go, what does it do? Do we sit or lie on the hard floor, or can we use a cushion? Can we go outside for a breath of fresh air or a smoke? Can we sleep on the floor in the space? What different kinds of experiences will we have, depending on how we choose to “accomodate” ourselves? For really, a work of such duration begins to be a kind of work we “reside” in, something that becomes a living space, as the duration approaches the order of magnitude of life rather than of art. How much can we push the trappings of life away from this special time and space? Do we restrict mobile phone use in the room (this would not have been a problem in the 1970s). So many questions.

Today we did another iteration of “six minutes” and of “55 seconds”. They’re both getting more interesting, particularly the video one. What’s happening is that the voice of the “now-me” competes with the voice of the “video me” and also the voice of the “video video me” and so on. The “now me” tends to make a decision to not speak over the top of the “video me”, but to do it before or after. Thus the recession of time which is evident in the visual component of the work has its analogue in the recession of time in the audio component. The sequence tends to go NOW / YESTERDAY / DAY BEFORE /DAY BEFORE THAT etc, a literal recession. But what we discovered was that this means that our “six minutes” will eventually be full of these announcements of the present time. Two things result. First, there will be no “quiet time” left – the reflective or meditative time of just sitting in the moment. Instead, we will constantly be stimulated by these announcements of past dates, like a spoken index or autistic oral history which only announces its title duration date and place. Second, it means that although our timer is only set to six minutes each occasion, the ending of the work is pushed back and back, so the work is a little longer each time (it currently stands at seven minutes).

These things lead us to hypothesise that Raban didn’t use recorded sound in his 2’45”. So was his microphone stand there just to project his voice to the auditorium for now? Or are we really barking up the wrong tree? [*NB, more discoveries re sound in coming days -turns out he did use sound!]

We had a few technical problems with the 16mm film version of 55 seconds too. It seems there might be an issue with our camera, which is jittering and periodically out of focus (based on yesterday’s iteration, which was otherwise well framed and well exposed). And today’s film strip seems too light, underexposed? Although we’re yet to run it through the projector, so tomorrow will shed light on that one.

one final observation: we’ve bitten off more than we can chew. any one of the four pieces we want to work on would nicely fill our available time. some readjustment of expectations may be in order!
over and out

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