On Repeat: Session 2

On Repeat


Simon During

Author and critic, Centre for the History of European Discourses, University of Queensland


Drew Daniel

Professor of English literature, Johns Hopkins University; member of experimental-music band Matmos

John Malpede

Director and performer; founder of the Los Angeles Poverty Department

Amy Taubin

Contributing editor, Film Comment and Sight and Sound


Matt wrote :

Each of the panelists descriptions were quite enjoyable to read— thanks! Here’s my take:

Dean’s exhibit impresses emptiness upon the viewer via a demonstration of silence and stillness. One might be inclined to emphasize Cunningham's melancholy facial expressions or small movements, but it is clear that the overwhelming pressure of emptiness on the viewer underlies an inclination to do so; the exhibit only emphasizes his movements through his stillness. Furthermore, Cunningham’s expressions are in themselves reflections on the vast power of this emptiness vis-a-vis the loss of a lover. The form of the exhibit supports this understanding: the projections often appear as if they are unsupported, suspended in midair. The backdrop of 4’33” could not more clearly shout nothingness at the viewer. Thus, Dean moves beyond the conceptualization of a “blank canvas” and into the reality of the blank canvas that is our past, present, and future. What we do with it is up to us.

Matt posted on 06/23/10
Red wrote :

Caveat: Have not seen the exhibit, but repetition was the guild manner of learning. Does it hold no value now? Must the "new" come from outside the traditions, and why are we so consumed with the purportedly "new" anyway? New does not equate to better. Empirically agree with Larry Bole's comment on last session about repetition holding variations within.

Endgame capitalism, yes, perhaps, but if the society has promised too much, perhaps it is we who have demanded too much. Art has always thrived on the edge of society, and artists are those who can imagine alternatives. Look at how artists always brave the not-so-nice neighborhood and make it palatable for the "nice" people. That certainly starts with hope and goes on constantly in both large and small places.

As for the matter of art and politics, yes, vexing indeed. Art's powers do include prophecy, and though not all prophecies come true, it is still worthwhile to speak of what we wish to be. But the truth telling has become less true in this age of technological manipulation; we've done that to ourselves, somewhat willingly in our search for that exciting "new." Celebration? The fact that we are still looking and still thinking and still yearning is a celebration of sorts in a world of endless distraction. Again, we need art's power to concentrate the mind.

Polemics are the enemy. Can we not hold an opinion without the need to utterly quash another's? Lichtenstein's Floater would appear to say yes.
Red posted on 06/22/10

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