Three Ways to Look at Films Technology Art Business
WHAT IS ART? Art is one of the keywords in order to understand the interrelationships between culture and society. It reveals a wealth of information about the structure of our civilization. The ancients seven activities as arts: History, Poetry, Comedy, Tragedy, Music, Dance and Astronomy. Each was governed by its own Muse (from the Proto-Indo-European root *men-"think); each with its own aims and rules, but all united by a common motivations: THEY WERE TOOLS TO DESCRIBE THE UNIVERSE AND OUR PLACE IN IT
By the 13 th century the word art had taken a more practical connotation. The Liberal Arts curriculum of medieval universities still number seven components but the methods of definition was different. The literary arts of the classical period (History, Poetry, Comedy and Tragedy) had been merged and reordered according to analytical principles as Grammar, Rethoric and Logic (so-called Trivium), Only Astronomy and Music remained from the Classic period. By the 17 th century the range of words has narrowed once again: applying to activities we now called Fine Arts (painting, sculpture, drawing and architecture). The rise of concept of Modern Science as separate from Arts led Astronomy not to be regarded in the same light as poetry and music.
Nineteenth Century Continuous narrowing of the concept of art as a response to more rigorous logical activitiy. The arts increasingly seen as being that what sciences was not; were more and more clearly acquired the constellation of connotations we know today. It referred first to the VISUAL, or Fine, arts and then more generally to literature and the musical arts. It could sometimes strtched to include the performing arts and, although in its broadest sense to include performing arts, for the most part it was limited to sophisticated endeavors. The romantic sense of the artist as distinguished from artisans (craftspeople) and artistes (performing artists) with lowerr social and intellectual standings
SOCIAL SCIENCES Once this concept was established the spectrum of modern intellectual activity was complete and the range of art has narrowed down to its present domain. The development of Social Sciences limited the practical and utilitarian relevance of arts and as a reaction theories of estheticism evolved. The artist was regarded as a prophet and a priest (art for arts sake in Late Victorian age) THE ARTS NOT AS A MEANS OF APPROACH TO COMPREHEND THE WORLD BUT ENDS IN THEMSELVES. ABSTRACTION –PURE FORM- AS TOUCHSTONE OF THE WORK OF ART AND THE MAIN CRITERION OF JUDGMENT.
ADVANCE OF ABSTRACTION In the 19 th century already the avant-garde movement has taken the concept of progress from developing technology and decided that some art must be more advanced than other art. This theory expressed itself best in terms of abstraction. As arts were in fact mimicking the sciences and technology, searching for the basic elements of their languages
CONTINUING SENSE OF POLITICAL DIMENSION OF ARTS A reaction to the estheticism: a force stressing the direct connection between art and community and their power to express the structure of society.
PRODUCING ART Originally art was only possible in real time: the singer sang a song, the storyteller told the tale, the actors acted the drama. The deveopment of drawings in prehistory represented a quantum jump in systems of communication as images could be stored and stories could be preserved. For 7000 years the history of arts was the history of pictorial and literary media. Developing of recording media (photography, film, and sound recording_ SHIFTED OUR HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
The representational arts made possible to re-create phenomena, but they required the complex application of codes and conventions of languages. Moreover languages can be manipulated by individuals and therefore the element of choice was highly significant in the representational arts. This element is the source of most of the esthtics of pictorial and literary arts: WHAT INTERESTS IS NOT WHAT IS SAID BUT HOW IS SAID. IN CONTRAST RECORDING ARTS provide a MUCH MORE DIRECT LINE OF COMMUNICATION BETWEEN THE SUBJECT AND THE OBSERVER. They do have their own codes and conventions (as a film for instance is not reality) but the language of the recording media is considerably simpler and less ambigous.
In addition, the history of recording arts has been a direct progression towards greater VERISIMILITUDE (color movies, 3-d movies, sound vs. silent). This qualitative difference between REPRESENTATIONAL AND RECORDING MEDIA is very clear to anthropologists for instance as movies do not get rid of the intervention of a third part but significantly reduce the distortion the presence of an artist inevitably introduces.
A SPECTRUM OF ARTS 1 Level: The Performance Arts (in real time) 2 Level: The Representational Arts (depending on established codes and conventions of language0 pictorial or literary- to convey information to the observer. 3 Level: The Recording Arts (a more direct path between subject and observer)
FILM RECORDING AND OTHER ARTS RECORDING ARTS AS A NEW MODE OF DISCOURSE. From the beginning films and photography were neutral as the media existed before arts: The Cinema is an invention without a future [L.Lumière]
Inventors Early film is a result of inventors, not artists.
But as this revolutionary mode of discourse was applied to each of the older arts, experimenters started to DO PAINTING IN FILM, DO NOVEL, DO DRAMA and gradually became evident as elements of those arts worked in filmic situation (as some did not though). In short: the art of film developed by a PROCESS OF REPLICATION: the neutral template of film was overlapped onto a complex systems of novel, painting, drama, etc. TO REVEAL NEW TRUTHS ABOUT CERTAIN ELEMENTS OF THOSE ARTS. The majority of those arts worked really well in films as these arts have also to redifine themselves in terms of a new artistic language
Persistence of Vision The ability of the brain to retain an image a split second longer than the eye actually sees it. If we see 16 individual images in rapid succession the brain connects them to make a fluid sequence of movement.
FILMS AND PAINTINGS Only from 1960s onwards movies started really competing with paintings (color more than a marginally useful tool from then on) However, the media could nevertheless record images of the world directly (mimesis as primarily value of picture esthetics since the Renaissance) In 1839 Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre, a French scientist and William Henry Fox Talbot, a British scholar, independently announced the invention of photography.
Abraham Lincoln, Meserve no. 3, Daguerreotype Date: July 11, 1858 Creator: Schneidaui-Loraut, Polycarp von Unidentified Photographer Portrait of Pamela Steele Harrison, circa 1849-1852 Daguerreotype Sixth Plate (2 ¾ x 3 ¼ inches)
The Daguerreotype : DEMOCRATIZATION OF IMAGE Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre invented the daguerreotype process in France. The invention was announced to the public on August 19, 1839 American photographers quickly capitalized on this new invention, which was capable of capturing a "truthful likeness." Daguerreotypists in major cities invited celebrities and political figures to their studios in the hopes of obtaining a likeness for display in their windows and reception areas. They encouraged the public to visit their galleries, which were like museums, in the hope that they would desire to be photographed as well. Popularity of the daguerreotype declined in the late 1850s when the ambrotype, a faster and less expensive photographic process, became available. A few contemporary photographers have revived the process.
Photographers and painters Impressionist: moving away form the idea of a painting as an idealization and towards scientific realism, producing images to be understood as logically connected with photography. FLIPBOOKS
Toy Makers Toy makers used this theory to create hand held machines that were the basis of film development.
Zoetrope Circular drum with slits. allows moments of darkness. creates illusion of movement. 1834 by William Horner.
MOVIES AND PAINTINGS As Richard Lester made clear in his movie A Funny Thing Happened on the way to forum (1966) a film based on a play by the Roman author Plautus: movies simply fulfill the destiny of paintings.
FILM AND NOVEL Narrative potential of a movie as bound to that of a novel Both films and novels tell long stories with wealth of details and THEY DO SO FROM THE PERSPECTIVE OF A NARRATOR. WHATEVER CAN BE TOLD IN A NOVEL CAN BE ROUGHLY PICTURED IN A MOVIE. But there are differences among the two arts (beside the obvious and powerful difference between pictorial narration and linguistic narration)
DIFFERENCES 1. Films operates in real time as novels end when they feel like: i.e. Film is restricted to the short two hours traffic of our stage (W. Shakespeare). It sometimes looks like popular novels (as opposed to elite prose are) exist as first draft trial for movies. However, a commercial film cannot reproduce the range of novel in time (average screenplay 100-150 pages). Only TV Series can overcome this gap (as they carry the sense of duration necessary to a novel) and movies are limited to a shorter narration.
2. Movies have pictorial possibilities novels do not possess. 3. Novels are told by authors (we hear and see what the author wants us to see and hear). Films are also told by the authors but we hear and see a great deal more than the director intended to. An author cannot describe a scene with the same level of detail as conveyed in a movie. MORE IMPORTANT: whatever a novelist describes is filtered through his point of view (prejudices and language) whereas in a movie we have some freedom of choice (we can select one detail instead of another).
TENSION (Answering to Cansu…) The driving tension of the novel is the relationship between the materials of the story (plot, character, setting, theme, etc.) and the narration of it in language: i.e. between the teller and the tale. The driving tension of the movie is between the materials of the story and the objective nature of the image: i.e. it looks like the author/director of a film were in continual conflict with the shooting as the observer is free to participate in the experience much more actively. THE WORDS ON THE PAGE ARE ALWAYS THE SAME BUT THE IMAGE ON SCREEN CHANGES CONTINUALLY AS WE REDIRECT OUR ATTENTION. FILM IS A MUCH RICHER EXPERIENCE……
…BUT IT IS ALSO POORER, for THE PERSONA OF THE NARRATOR IS SO MUCH WEAKER. In the Lady in the Lake (R. Montgomery 1946) the first- person narration (so useful to a novel) was duplicated as we see only what the hero (P.Marlowe) sees. The camera imitates consequently (= throughout the whole movie) the eyepoint of a diegetic character. A famous scene is revealing the trick in order for the hero (Detective Marlowe) to be seen…..
NOVEL RESPONDING TO THE CHALLENGE OF FILM Like painting, prose narrative has in 20 th century moved away from mimesis and toward self-consciousness. In the process it has split up in two (from the unified experience the main form of social and cultural expression/ art of the newly literate middle classes): 1. Popular Novel (closely connected to the movie) 2. High art novel (since James Joyce more along lines parallel to painting). Like painters novelists learned from the experience of the movies to analyze and conceptualize their art. Borges and Nabokov among the others learnt how to write novels about writing novels.
ANOTHER CHANGE: since the days of Defoe one of the primary functions of a novel, as of painting, was to communicate a sense of other places and people. By the time of Scott this pictorial service reached its zenith. Then motion picture photography started performing this function and the descriptive element in the novel declined. And novelists also learn to narrate their stories in the smaller units common to film : i.e. they think in terms of scenes more than elaborate acts. LAST BUT NOT LEAST…One of the novels greatest assets is its ability to manipulate words. Films have words too but not usually in such profusion and never with the concrete reality of the printed page. If painting under the influx of cinema has veered towards design, novel seems to approach poetry as it celebrates mpre its material: language.
FILM AND MUSIC UNTIL THE DEVELOPMENT OF RECORDING ARTS, MUSIC HAD AN UNIQUE POSITION IN THE SPECTRUM OF ARTS: IT HAS REAL STRICT SIGNIFICANE. Novels exist in time but only music allows a precise control of time element. If melody is the narrative faciet of music, and rhythm the temporal element, harmony is therefore the synthesis of two.
SYSTEM OF NOTATION Three notes read from left to right form a melody. When set in the context of time signature, the rhythms are overlaid on the melody. When we rearrange it vertically harmony is the result. Painting can set up harmony and counterpoint between and within pictures: but there is NO TIME ELEMENT. Music instead depends on the interrelationship between horizontal lines of melody set in rhythms and vertical sets of harmony. On paper movies offer the same option as narrative melodies can be precisely controlled
FILMAKERS EXPERIMENTING WITH MUSICAL POTENTIAL Le Ballet Mechanique (F. Leger, 1924-5)
Music quickly became an integral part of the film experience; silent films were performed with live music. What is more important : experimental filmmakers of the silent period were already discovering the musical potential of the image itself ALEXANDER NEVSKY (S. Eisenstein, 1930) : where we can found an elaborate scheme correlating the visual images with the score by composer Prokofiev. 2001 SPACE ODISSEY (S. Kubrick, 1969): music determines images FILM UTILIZES A SET OF MUSICAL CONCEPTS EXPRESSED IN VISUAL TERMS