I’ve been listening to music and watching videos that are political and culturally critical, to see how ideas are disseminated through art and also to better understand other narrative styles. Here’s a listing of some of what I’ve seen in the past few weeks.
Il Deserto Rosso, by Michelangelo Antonioni. A critique of industrial society, beautifully shot and articulated through a gripping personal story. Aesthetically beautiful shots of industrial production and decay coupled with individual psychological distress.
Slingshot Hip Hop, directed by Jackie Reem Salloum. Provides the history of Palestinian hip hop, and its political dimensions. Features DAM, Palestinian Rapperz, Mahmoud Shalabi, and female artists Arapeyat and Sabreena Da Witch (Abeer).
A clip from the film:
Visual art, music, and performance from the Slovenian artists’ collective Neue Slowenische Kunst (NSK). Group members include the musical band Laibach, theatre group Noordung (aka Red Pilot), and the New Collective Studio, IRWIN (painting and visual art), Retrovision (film), and the Department of Pure and Applied Philosophy (theory). The collective has set up its own virtual state, NSK State and has an interesting though sometimes dry documentary made about them called Predictions of Fire. One of my favourite works by the collective is their use of a working mine in a small industrial town as the venue for an art exhibit.
Here’s part 1 of an 8 part YouTube video of Predictions of Fire (view the entire playlist here):
You can view the entire series here.
Here’s a video of one of the sections:
Jadugaran, Iranian hip hop. Its members are Changeez, Taymoor, Deev, Fardaa, Raavi. Here’s there’s video, Tasavvor:
Here’s a trailer of the film:
L’Homme Orchestre, by a stage magician turned filmmaker, George Melies. A film from 1900, very clever, and groundbreaking introduction to special effects.
Here’s the video:
Here’s a clip:
The European Graduate School’s media and communications program has an impressive and growing Youtube channel with over 600 video lectures on philosophy, film, politics, and art.
Lecturers include Jacques Derrida, Donna Haraway, Jean Beaudrillard, Slavoj Zizek, Peter Greenaway, Judith Butler, Manuel DeLanda, Alain Badiou, Atom Egoyan, Giorgi Agamben, Avital Ronell, Chantal Akerman, Michael Hardt, and many more.
This site has enough to keep you occupied for months. Check out the EGS Video channel.
Here’s a sample from the site:
Slavoj Zizek, Judith Butler, and Larry Rickels
Synecdoche is my favourite of Kaufman‘s stories put to film, perhaps because he had a full hand in directing it, and more of what he intended came through. There was an added dimension here that I don’t remember in his other films.
At first I thought there was some resemblance to Trier’s, Dogville, and that perhaps the directing debut allowed Kaufman to better express a theory of a lack of a natural self in human identity by being in charge of the film and using more nuanced communication through the film’s visual symbology. Now, I wonder if Kaufman isn’t more like Peter Greenaway and seeking to break from cinema entirely by rejecting the traditional form of the medium and essentially trying to forge a new medium of light and sound by transcending both theatre and cinema.
Perhaps Kaufman’s film had less to do with the lack of true or natural self usually portrayed in theatrical and dreamscape cinema styles and more in line with a break from the overarching symbolic order that people use to navigate through social life: Lacan’s ‘Big Other’. In essence telling us that we don’t need to work within the limited parameters of an existing socio-symbolic network.
It may be worth looking at the film again with these in mind:
Ideal Ego – how I would like to be and how I would like others to see me. (an aspect of Lacan‘s Small Other theory of psychoanalysis).
Ego Ideal – that part of the socio-symbolic order (Big Other) of our lives that I use to judge myself by. “The agency whose gaze I try to impress with my ego image,” as Slavoj Zizek puts it.
Superego – the same agency (Big Other) in its vengeful, sadistic, punishing aspect. Deriding you for failing to meet its expectations; “the cruel and insatiable agency which bombards me with impossible demands and which mocks my failed attempts to meet them.” (again Zizek).
I watched some 15 minutes of a Greenaway film (A Zed and Two Noughts) just now. The staged character of this film and Synecdoche gave me an idea I’ll mention in a bit. I think in Synecdoche there was more emphasis on Ideal Ego, and in Greenaway’s more focus on the Ego Ideal. So, in the first more focus on the Eye within myself, and in Greenaway’s on the immaterial Eye of social agency.
I’m impressed by comtemporary filmakers expressing these concepts and experimenting with new means of communication. Often the Eye is quite literal in cinema: The scene of a car accident over-dramatized, the dead in obviously exaggerated poses while a caricature of a mob of photojournalists document the scene, immediately to be followed by a newspaper headlines of the accident that go beyond representation and take the place of the original incident.
I’ve also seen the same done in fiction literature, using variety of ingenious tools.
Has the same been done in journalism or analysis aimed at a popular audience? How does someone go about this? I’m curious, intrigued, and feel challenged to try. If only I knew where to begin.
Some interesting links follow, and yes, at least somewhat related to the above:
Zizek on narrative: Christ, Hegel, Wagner
Video of Peter Greenaway on Opera, Film, and Death: