Tag Archives: art

They Shoot Film Philistines, Don’t They?

One of my friends out here in L.A. has a fascinating (to me, anyway) character trait: through various machinations in her life, she has almost no grasp of popular cinema from 1979 to 1999. Apart from Indiana Jones and Lord Of The Rings, it’s just a black hole of pop-culture arcana, where half-understood details and overheard recollections fill in the areas where most of us have indelible memories.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with this, of course — no one is required to have known or seen certain things to exist comfortably in life.* Still, it’s very strange to talk with someone highly intelligent who has a firm grasp on the history and current events of the past 30-ish years, but who has no ability to converse in the shorthand language that my friends and I use all the time.

My hope in the future is to try to launch a project that traces the progress of this pop-culture Mowgli through her cinematic wilderness. As a preview, here is a compilation of some film syonpses that she has recently shared during normal conversation:

The Shining

“It’s Jack Nicholson. He’s in a hotel, and he’s a writer. There are a couple of little girls, and a room floods. Then he starts to go hysterical.”

Back To The Future

“He goes back in time in a car on fire.”

Animal House

“That’s a college one. It’s sort of like Old School. I think it stars the brother of that guy from that awful lawyer show on TV, doesn’t it?”

Return Of The Jedi

“I’ve seen that! Luke tells Leia she’s his sister, and she remembers her real mother. And there’s an old guy at the end, but they replaced him with the young one from the new movies. Umm…I might need to watch it again, actually.”

Friday The 13th series

“I don’t know what that is.” [That’s the series with Jason.] “Who’s Jason?” [He’s the killer who wears a hockey mask.] “Oh.” *long pause* [Do you know what a hockey mask looks like?] “No.”

Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Love The Bomb

“There’s a guy who rides a missile. Right?”

*I say this, but I don’t really mean it. It’s so very, very wrong.

Creation Myth

In the beginning there was a Story
And the Story was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Tradition of the Story moved upon the face of the waters.
And the Story said, Let there be God: and there was God. And the Story made God in its image.
And the Story saw God, that God was both wrathful and loving: and the Story divided the good from the evil.
And the Story called the good and evil into conflict, and the light against the dark.
And the Story set this in motion through Time
with only God to guide its words.

Nothing Matters In The Supermarket

It didn’t matter that Charles had lost 30 pounds so far this year. Or that just last night at the Colton Awards, named for the late Jeremy S. Colton, a distinguished painter, he received the distinction of Community Artist of the Year and praised for his innovative work as a found object sculptor. No one in the frozen foods aisle of the Waltham Super Stop & Shop would notice or care that he was honored at a banquet, respected by dozens of his intellectual peers, to whom he spoke from the podium about art, life, and passion.

Maybe if those 13 year old skate punks knew that he was responsible for all of the installation art pieces in the city that served as their urban skate park, maybe then they would be making fun of his manbreasts right now.

“Hey Fatty Fatty Fuck Face, why don’t you get out of the frozen pizzas?”

“Yeah. Maybe take a look over at the fresh produce. Unless you’re stuck in the freezer there, your Fatness.”

“I bet you squeeze your own tits and pretend like they’re a girls’!”

Charles had a Masters Degree in Fine Art. He studied in London. Florence. At Edinburgh. Within his small community of sculpture artists, he was renowned. Respected. But right now, staring longingly at that boxed DiGiorno, he was just another overweight townie, violently thrown back in time to middle school again, where he was teased just as relentlessly. He had worked so hard since then — not to lose weight, but to find some other way to prove his worth to the world. He was finally validated after last night’s ceremony, bestowed with the honor that he for years thought he deserved.

Until today, when all of it was lost. The supermarket truly is the greatest equalizer.

Framed!

She finally found a frame that she could fit herself inside, custom-made to fill
her oblong shape. She resembled a violin bass — the kind McCartney played —
lanky tall and thin, with curves around the bottom. The enclosure was made
from a deep-stained mahogany with black
contour lines along its rounded molding —
an outward curve, as if to complement her
own. She was matted on black and pressed
herself against the back of the glare-free
glass (a $120 value) Elated, she smiled so
relieved that she would finally be seen as Art,
unquestioned by those who never knew her,
never understood. Neither actions nor her
eccentricities required explanation as long as
she existed in the context of the frame.
They would simply be accepted, individually
interpreted within a secondary frame
projected upon her by each viewer’s personal experience. Now she was Art,
and no one would question her claim, comfortable within her frame, oblivious
to the fact that she was trapped with no way to be displayed or hanged.

Disjunction Junction

I’d like to say that the picture surprised me, but that sentiment would get us off to a bad start. It would make me sound dishonest, and that lack of trust is hardly the kind of thing on which to build a healthy relationship (we’ve got to at least get past the introductions before I start lying to your face, and there’ll be plenty of time for that). No, the centerpiece of Carey’s opening was really more vapid than anything else. Sure, it was violent and surrealist, and this was all good and shocking at the exact moment that I laid eyes on the frame, but after that, it just felt stodgy. Mundane. I went from “Oh my God!” to “oh,” in less time than it took to blink. It was just the kind of thing you’d expect her to do.

“I really wanted to do something personal this time,” she explained at the gallery. “There’s such a disjunction between the artist and the art, and I wanted to find a way to bridge that gap.” Disjunction? Who says that? “Even with self-portraiture, there’s this like, disconnect, because you frame the shot, but the camera actually takes it—but it’s automated, ya know? It’s a machine—and then you have to develop the film, and I wanted to find some unity in the process, and explore what it means to be an artist in a post-analog society.”

She went on to explain that the whole idea came about when she accidentally cut herself in the dark room. She was struck by the idea of a photograph that literally bleeds, so after the film was developed, she decided to make it happen. From what I understand, she made a solution of epoxy and her own blood and applied it directly onto the finished photograph with a paint brush. She then sealed the picture in an airtight frame just as it begin to congeal; rather than allow the mixture to harden, she wanted to capture it while it was still fresh and alive and actively bleeding. Apparently, this now qualified her as a multimedia artist.

The picture, she said, was intended to illuminate the violent discordance between youth and adulthood at the onset of puberty. The childish subject of the photograph epoxy-bled from dozens of small holes on its back, while long green grass blades penetrated its rough, synthetic skin. This was supposed to be phallic in some way, something about nature and rape and nurturing matriarchal conceptions in an otherwise patriarchal something something. I don’t know.

I decided to ask the question that I think was on everybody’s mind: “So…why’d you take a picture of a Chia Pet?”

Afterward, I apologized, and told her that I’d had too much of that free champagne they were passing around so readily. This was a lie, of course; I didn’t have a single thing to drink the entire night. Mainly because I didn’t want to sleep with her again, but I lied about that part, too.