• Process
  • Video installations

Process – Viable Landscapes Of Meaning

I never understood how people could quote a movie after seeing it once. Now I do; it’s the impression that makes you remember/ it’s a rocky down. I have found a home, a travelling home and every once in a while I can house in it. / Stillness wears such an enormous amount of life. Maybe the universe has its own muscles and every smallest one contracts so as to put the words at the centre.

Viable Landscapes Of Meaning

Idea versus Image: How exactly does filmic and digital images affect the meaning of  paintings. How can I bring the narrative quality of moving images in paintings, without using symbols and description. Doesn’t content trough repetition looses its meaning? Could the medium film use a tabula rasa like White on White from Malevich, and if so what could this be?

I would like to study the medium of film and documentary trough the eyes of a painter. It could lead to a new perspective on how to look at film and/ or paintings. The raise of reproduction techniques, first photograpy and later film, changed inevitably the coarse of the art of painting. Where to go from here, now that film isn’t new anymore?

I chose painting because it affects me. I have been focusing on this medium; it made me more susceptible for reason. I wanted to create habitable spaces; believing that I could recreate that specific state for others. Like Rothko I strived to make this kind of space: A subliminal, transcendental space. Art as communication makes use of “neutral signs”. These signs can be reused in different contexts. We are able to understand because we have seen them before. Like the striped canvasses from Buren, they mark a space that need to be recontextualised. It becomes a place that needs content. However, Buren claims it to be the only aspect of importance in painting. I don’t agree. The skin of the canvas is just as important. Rothko and Buren renounced figuration after time. However empirical reality is touchable, measurable so we can discuss it. I use found picture; landscapes in combination with geometrical forms. It’s easier to think of a perfect square then for example a tree. So I choose geometry as one of the parameters of my idea-space.

After three years of studying the history of painting I had to reconsider my point of view; This summer I participated in a foreign exchange programme in Beelitz, Germany. We had a month to live and breathe art.  I wanted to ask the other participants about this space. If it was something they were concerned with or not. Since I believed my past to be influential in the need for this space, I had a starting point. I started doing interviews as a way of documenting. I choose seven people from the forty, intuitively. Almost all of them turned out to have immigrated when they were very young. Something we had in common, an ancher point. It wasn’t a classic interview; it was more a documented conversation. [1]

I learned a few things which has pushed me in a different direction. First of all; the space I wanted to create through paintings can also be organised around a specific set-up or situation. Secondly the space I want people to inhabit is not entirely communicable. It has its ground in an idea. As said before, we can’t discuss something we don’t know. The few things I can channel are the parameters that form the border of the idea, in this case a specific space. The better these parameters, the more specific, the better I could recall the idea of this space.

It keeps coming down to this: “Why would you go through all the trouble if you can bring someone to that space just by talking?”[2] The medium should serve the idea, if it doesn’t than its not right. Asking direct questions and documenting them created new options for me. What I like here is the collaging of narratives. I would like to continue investigating this; go look for the internal structure of stories and put it in images. Finding new ways of showing images; trough a most basic form of investigation: asking questions and document the answers.


[1] Interview set up in Portfolio

[2] Jack Scott, interview set-up description

INTERVIEW SET-UP

This summer I participated in a foreign exchange project in Beelitz Heilstatten: a small village at forty kilometres from Berlin. We had a month to live and breath art, at the end there was going to be a final exhibition. I was conflicted, I knew I couldn’t finish a painting in a month, were I was going to be sufficiently content with. The painting I’ve made so far demanded time in between, sometimes it takes me months to see where to go next. I also didn’t want to miss anything. We were there with forty participants from different countries. I wanted to ask them about everything but especially this space. If they knew it, if it was something they were concerned with or not. Since I believed my past to be very influential in the need for this space, I knew where I could start. So I started to make interviews as a way of documenting. I choose seven people out of the forty, intuitively. Almost all of them turned out to have immigrated when they were very young. Something we had in common, an anchor point. It wasn’t a classic interview; it was more like a documented conversation, all though I asked questions which allowed me to direct. It was a simple set up. I had a small atelier. It was approximately five on three meters. There was a chair where I asked them to sit on, and than there was the camera on a tripod in front of the chair. I was standing behind the camera. Between the camera and the interviewed person I left some distance. Because of the distance they were very relaxed. It gave the impression that I, as well as the camera respected their privacy. Which helped, the questions were general but direct. I asked about their parents, about the moving to another country: “What impact did it had on you? How well can you remember it? Can you describe me a specific memory without referring to filmic images?” I told them about what I tried to do in my paintings. One of them, a very sensible boy from England said something like: “Why would you go through all the trouble if you can bring someone to that space just by talking to them?” and “It happen al the time, people retreat to this kind of space all the time for example when they daydream.”

The images were very basic: I zoomed in on their faces and expressions. But since they didn’t know I was filming in close-up I ended up with very natural images. I edited everything in short fragments and tried to put what they told me in some sort of structure, which wasn’t that difficult since the questions were in part construed for it. At the end I had a film with the length of twenty minutes. This was showed on a monitor with a headphone, in the same space as where I did the interviews. I left the set up as it was, and on the small monitor from the camera, you could see other fragment from the same interview. After the second round of interviewing, a few of them became very self aware of the eye of the camera and of me, somebody who has invited herself to prey into their lives. So you had the big monitor which allowed the viewer to prey, just like I did. On the small monitor from the camera, you could hear the interviewed student making critical remarques about what they had said before.

I edited everything in a slow phase. I wanted it to be like when we were talking, relaxt and in a way contemplative. I know this must create a barrier for some viewers, becouse we are used to filmic images to be very quick and immediately satisfying. But this was exactly something I wanted to avoid: not everybody has to keep looking but if a few does that would be a reward on its own. I wanted  them to tell their story, on their own terms, all though I was the one directing, respecting this rythm helped to recall the space we were communicating in. Anybody who has the patient to look at the whole video will find a structure in it. However the capacity of this video to suggest a certain idea-space, an inter-space where certain narratives comes togheter, that is what I’m interested in here. That includes the mental luggage that the viewer brings to this work. Therefore one doesn’t have to look at the whole video to understand it. They should be able to walk in and roll into the discourse.