Thursday, 25 February 2010

Up Against The Wall

A slight update: I'm still trying to write monologues. I have my video camera and am trying to obtain some good footage. I'm watching some Mike Leigh films when not being distracted by Peter Capaldi's brilliant performances as Malcolm Tucker in 'The Thick of it'.

Today I attended a platform lecture at university by David Bate. It was about reading images, using the Jeff Wall piece 'Milk' 1984 as an example. I took a fair amount of notes and I found it very interesting. I had looked at a couple of Roland Barthes' texts and have a background knowledge of some very basic Freudian psychoanalysis.

There was some interesting points made about semiotics and signifiers, coded messages and denotation/connotation. There was a lot said about chains of thought and association when looking at a picture and how one thought leads to another but how most of these associations are simply that, things we associate ourselves through perceived connotations of imagery. A large part of the lecture was on how the title 'Milk' directs the viewer down a specific chain of thoughts. None of these thoughts or references are directly visible or denoted in the picture but arrive in our minds through the connotations of specific icons or images in a picture.

Some points I picked up on that I want to look at using in my films are the power of gesture and how small details, whether conscious or not, can alter the viewer's perception. An example, from work by Eisenstein, which I feel strongly inclined to reference, is the clenched fist at a person's side, connoting oppression and frustration or defiance. I also like the connotations of shapes, as in the Jeff Wall piece, rectangles for an institutionalised, state background and the triangular figure shape being a sturdy, organised shape in reference to classical painting. Another idea that I think could be key to my work is that of the decisive moment in regard to narrative. It's not the decisive moment of pressing the shutter on a camera but more the scene which is depicted being a key moment where the playing out of the story hangs in the balance. A still photograph gives the viewer scope to imagine how a scene may play out but a film maker ultimately makes that choice for the viewer. These decisive moments of narrative intrigue me greatly.

Another key point I took from the lecture is that you will never know exactly what you are doing when creating a work but it is of great importance to recognise your responsibility as an artist to think about the references you include and decisions you make in regard to the meaning of your work. To just create is to be a lazy artist. There is a responsibility to think intently on what you are doing from the beginning of a piece through to its curation in a show. You will not always think of everything that people see in your piece and that is okay as it simply adds to the discursive. References may not have been intended but if people see them then they are there.

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