David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

03 March 2015

Image conscious (2)

Following yesterday's desperate speech bubble...
...this morning's emails brought this film screening announcement from West Space, Melbourne :

Living Museum of the West Film Screening Part 1:

Join us for the screening of two films: Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y and In Comparison, with a short film from the Living Museum archive, at the Living Museum of the West. 

SUNDAY 15 MARCH, 2015. 2-5PM

Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y  - Johan Grimonprez
Belguim, 1997, colour, 68 min.
Programmed by Jessie Scott.

Buckle-up for Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y, the acclaimed hijacking documentary that eerily foreshadowed 9-11.We meet the romantic skyjackers who fought their revolutions and won air time on the passenger planes of the 1960's. By the 1990s, such characters are apperently no more, replaced on our TV screens by stories of state-sponsored suitcase bombs. Director Johan Grimonprez investigates the politics behind this change, at the same time unwrapping our own complicity in the urge for ultimate disaster. Playing on Don DeLillo's riff in the novel MAO II, What terrorist gain, novelists lose and The home is a failed idea, he blends archive hijackings with sureal and banal themes of junk food, pet statistics, disco and his quirky home movies. David Shea wrote that the suberb soundtrack to film's rollercoaster through history, best described in the words of one hijacked Pepsi executive as: “running the gamut of many emotions: from surprise to shock, to fear, to joy, to laughter and then again, fear.”

Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y addresses the mass media manipulation by, and complicity with terrorism. The gratuitous facilitation of ISIS' grotesque, sophisticated, layered propaganda across all forms of media, with its call backs to Abu Graib and Guantanamo and deployment of seductive, radical and pop-culture iconographic such as the black flag, are verily admired by the media (recognising their own offspring), but remain largely uncritiqued as media objects, by artists or others. Grimonprez's Dial H-I-S-T-O-R-Y deploys that old chestnut: using the medium to critique the medium. Have we in fact lost the ability to do this: as our use of media, video in particular, becomes more ubiquitous and sophisticated, has our ability to see it diminished?

Screening of Go West Yound Women1986, taken from the Living Museum  of the West archive. With interviews with director and cast the film documents the opening of a local musical that described the story of women working in the munitions industry. Programmed by Kerrie Poliness.

In Comparison – Harun Farocki
Germany, 2009, (DVD-R of) 16mm, color, 61 min

Programed by Nic Tammens.

“I wanted to make a film [In Comparison] about concomitance and contemporary production on a range of different technical levels. So I looked for an object that had not changed too much in the past few thousand years. This could have been a shoe or a knife, but a brick becomes part of a building and therefore part of our environment. So the brick appears as something of a poetic object. I follow its mode of creation and use in Africa, India, and Europe."[1]

When a film abstains from being didactic, to introduce it with wordy convictions puts one at risk of saying too much.

In lieu of this, we might prepare by thinking: what is an image? what is society? what is the relationship between film and society? what is an institution? what is the relationship between the social and environment? what is the nature of work? and what is human within any of this?

Harun Farocki (1944-2014) was born in what was German Czechoslovakia during WWII. His beginnings as a filmmaker is marked by his expulsion from the German Film and Television Academy in 1969 when Farocki and fellow classmate Hartmut Bitomsky were ejected on the grounds of their political activism. Farocki supported himself by working for the West German television service and as a film critic, serving as the editor for FilmKritik from 1974 to 1984. In addition to making over 120 films he produced work for the purpose of exhibition in museums and galleries where his work has been extensively exhibited internationally.

Location: The Living Museum of the West is located at Pipemakers Park, Van Ness Avenue, Maribyrnong. Melway Map 28 B10.

Theatre of the Actors of Regard   
 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/
 someone looks at something...