Time and Spaces

In project 1, we were asked to listen to the songs he played, and draw images that came to our minds. From these images, we had to derive a memory and enlarge it onto a 6 by 4 inch rectangle.

While working on my postcards, I realized how elusive time can be. The person that I once was is very different from who I am now. Time moves in leaps and bounds, only slowing down for important experiences that get imprinted in our mind. At times, it is not a memory that is imprinted, but an emotion. We can conclude that while time is isolated and universal, our experiences make it unique to us and give it emotional depth.

For time studio project 2, my partner and I decided to work on a flipbook that follows the protagonist moving through different spaces as she tries to reach her destination. A flip book is one of the best methods of showing time and motion in relation to each other.

During the creation of this project, I realized that time can be looked at as something that is tangible if we look at it through the lens of space and exploration, i.e. journeys. Every journey depicts the passage of time, and time cannot be depicted without having some form of a journey. In this case, the journey can not only mean a physical voyage, but could also mean an emotional journey, such as a struggle.

I also understood that time can pass differently in different media. While the flip book was over within seconds, the stop-motion video we made from the images took about one and a half minute. Moreover, reel time can be very different as compared to real time. The protagonist underwent her journey over a long period of time before finally reaching the destination, but the real time it took to depict this journey was much shorter.

 

Summary – The Work of Art in the age of Mechanical Reproduction

1

The chapter talks about the history of mechanical reproduction. While man-made work of art has always been reproducible, mechanical reproduction of the same represents something new. The Greeks only knew two methods of reproduction – founding and stamping. The advent of woodcut graphic art made scripts available for reproduction. During the Middle Ages engraving and etching were added to the woodcut; at the beginning of the nineteenth century lithography made its appearance. Lithography was then surpassed by photography within a few decades. By 1900, technical reproduction had captured a place of its own among the artistic processes.

2

Even the most prefect reproduction of art lacks in one element – its unique existence and form within time and space. The original preserved its authority for two reasons – first, process reproduction I more independent and second, reproduction can place copies into situations for which the original would be out of reach. Even within these situations, the quality of its presence is always depreciated. Reproduction detaches the original object from the domain of tradition, thus withering its ‘Aura’.

3

The mode of human sense perception changes with humanity’s mode of existence, and this can be comprehended as a decay of the object’s aura. The decay of the aura rests on two circumstances, namely, the desire of contemporary masses to bring things “closer” spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent toward overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction.

4

The uniqueness of a work of art is inseparable from its being embedded in the fabric of tradition. The existence of the aura of a work of art can never be entirely separated from its ritual function, however, reproduction of art work can release it from its dependence on ritual.

5

Work of art can be evaluated on two major planes – cult value and exhibition value. Artistic production of work begins with ceremonial objects destined to serve in a cult, with more value placed on their existence, not exhibition. The emancipation of art practices from their rituals increase opportunities for display. Today, the emphasis on an artwork’s exhibition value, it becomes a creation with entirely new functions, along with the fundamental artistic function.

6

While in photography, exhibition value is looked to be more important, cult value offers resistance through human countenance such as the cult of remembrance. Similarly, with Atget, photographs became standard evidence for historical occurrences and hidden political significance. These also changed the way of approaching a photograph, and made captions obligatory. These soon became more explicit in the film, where the meaning of each image was derived by its preceding ones.

7

The artistic value of painting versus photography does not diminish its importance and instead, underlines it. The age of mechanical reproduction separated art from its basis in cult, the semblance of autonomy disappeared, resulting in a change in the function of art, and in turn, transcending the perspective of the country. However, the difficulties which photography caused traditional aesthetics were lesser in comparison to those caused by film. The desire to class the film among the arts forced theoreticians to read ritual elements into it.

8

The actor’s performance is presented by means of a camera and he lacks the opportunity to adjust to his audience, unlike a stage actor. This permits the audience to critique the film with no personal contact and their identification with the actor is, in reality, an identification with the camera.

9

In the film, the actor represents himself to the public before the camera, rather than representing someone else. The man has to operate without the ‘aura’, which, on a stage, cannot be separated from the actor. The stage actor identifies with his role, while the film actor is denied this opportunity and his role compromises of many separate performances.

10

The reflection reflected image of an actor on camera can be transported before the public. The cult of the movie star, encouraged by the money of the film industry, preserves not the aura of the person, but the materialistic value of commodities. For centuries, a small number of writers attended to the needs of several thousand readers, but now, an increasing number of readers are becoming writers, beginning at the basic ‘letters to the editor’.  The distinction between the writer and the reader is lost, and in many cases, is merely functional. Under these circumstances, the film industry is attempting to spur the interest of the masses through illusions.

11

During a film shoot, it is impossible to assign to a spectator a viewpoint which would exclude extraneous accessories such as camera equipment and lighting. The film’s illusionary nature is derived as a result of cutting, a feature absent from a scene on a stage. The sight of immediate reality has become rare. The representation of reality by the film I more significant because of the permeation of reality with mechanical equipment that depicts an aspect of reality that is free of all equipment.

12

Mechanical reproduction of art changes the reaction of the masses towards the art. Individual reactions are predetermined by the mass audience response they are about to produce. A painting has an excellent chance to be viewed by one person or a few. The simultaneous contemplation of paintings is an early symptom of the crisis of painting. It offers no way for the masses to organize and control themselves in their reception.

13

In comparison with the stage scene, the filmed behaviour item lends itself more readily to analysis because it can be isolated more easily. This circumstance derives its chief importance from its tendency to promote the mutual penetration of art and science. Even though the act of reaching for an object is familiar routine, yet we hardly know what really goes on between hand and the material of the object, nor the way we unconsciously react to the object. The camera introduces us to unconscious optics as does psychoanalysis to unconscious impulses.

14

Dadaism attempted to create the effects the public seeks in a film today. It sacrificed market values which are so ingrained in a film, in favour of higher ambitions. The studied degradation of their work attached lesser importance to the sales value of their work than to its uselessness for contemplative immersion. They intended, and achieved, a relentless destruction of the aura of their creations. One requirement was the most important – to outrage the public. Dadaists became an instrument of ballistics, promoting demand for films. A painting invites the spectator for contemplation, but with a movie frame, he cannot do so – the image has changed before his eye has grasped the scene. The film took out the shock effect in which Dadaism had wrapped itself.

15

“A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. The distracted mass absorbs the work of art.” Distraction presented by art is a control of the extent to which new tasks have become dissolved by appreciation. Art will tackle the most difficult and most important ones to mobilize the masses, while the film, with its shock effect will meet this mode of reception halfway.

Epilogue

The self-alienation of art has reached a degree where its own destruction can be viewed as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind is a non-linear depiction of the story of the shy, introverted Joel Barish and the free-spirited Clementine Kruczynski through time and memories. Each one of them attempts to forget the other with the help of Dr. Howard Meirzwaik.

I believe that the film could symbolize the passage of time with real-life relationships. After a relationship beaks apart, the first instinct is to live through the pain. After this, we move on, attempting to forget everything related to the relationship, as Joel did through the procedure. While we may successfully erase memories (a process that takes months, at times, years), one thing we cannot do is erase the feelings associated to the memories. Every memory becomes a part of our identity, and each memory teaches us something which cannot be unlearned. As time fades our memories to dust, we finally come to peace with the fact that it is over, as shown by the goodbyes exchanged by Joel and Clementine at the beach house.

Another way to look at this could be through the lens of emotion. In every relationship, we attempt to forget the sad memories, which is essentially what Joel is trying to do. Joel tries to shield Clementine by the onslaught of sad memories that he is trying to forget by hiding his lover in the happy ones.

The film also shows us the background of the peripheral character – Mary and Dr. Howard. Upon realizing that she had once been the patient of Dr. Howard, she is dragged back into her memories where she was a naïve girl, dating her boss. Eventually she realizes that she has to deal with the past and move on with life. The difference between the broken relationship of Mary and Dr Howard that does not work out, that the relationship between Joel and Clementine that does is also another indication of real-life relationships.

Another track running through the film is that of Clementine and Patrick, wherein Patrick tries to imitate Joel in order to please Clementine, but ends up reviving memories that she had chosen to forget.

Through this beautifully made film, I also realized that although we don’t know where a particular relationship may be going, it is really the journey of the relationship that matters and it the this journey that teaches us to be who we are, regardless of whether or not the relationship works.

 

12 Sunflowers in a Vase

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12 Sunflowers in a Vase

By Vincent Van Gogh

This masterpiece by Vincent Van Gogh shows a white and yellow jar containing 12 sunflowers. I believe that this painting alludes perfectly to the concept of time.  The 12 sunflowers in varying degrees of wilting and death, depicting various stages in the life of any inanimate objects, and nothing can signify the passing of time better than the cycle of life. The varying angles of the sunflowers could also depict motion of a single persona through time. In this case, we can look at the vase as the universe, containing objects that may or may not be conscious of the passing of time, and the yellow and white background could be seen as time, a constant that will always remain and continue to exist regardless of whether or not the universe or we exist. The simplicity of this painting also shows how simple the concept of time really is, and yet how we delve further and deeper to create something complex from something that does not need to be understood, only felt.

Cleo 5 to 7

The film depicts two hours in the life of a singer known as Cleo who is awaiting her cancer test results. She is shown as highly anxious and has assumed that the results will be bad even before they have arrived. Her constant worrying makes her come off as attention seeking. The two hours see to pass slowly for her, with a lot of activities fitted into the time span. Through the course of the film, she begins to realize the fickleness of her physical appearance and begins to feel desolate. Eventually she sheds the pretence and embraces herself, symbolized by the removal of her wig.

The film depicts the entire period in real time, and yet we can feel the slowness of the quiet moments and the fast pace of others. The division of the film into chapters depicting a countdown till the time she finally gets her results shows how we hang on to every moment we have, especially when we are under pressure. While her worrying stretches on for the entire two hours, only a single sentence spoken in a matter of seconds alleviates her fears.

It also tries to show beauty and time in relation to each other. Cleo believes that her beauty can never fade and is constantly worried about the same. At the beginning of the film, Cleo says to herself ‘I might as well be dead already.’ She believes that her physical appearance is an indication of time and how it betraying her. However, as the film proceeds, she realizes that beauty can never last long.