Part 3

Research

Nam June Paik

"Nam June Paik: Video Time- Video Space"

  • "I told Manfred Eichel of NDR that the five principles of the media are: 
  1. Sex
  2. Violence
  3. Greed
  4. Vanity 
  5. Deception"
  • "Whether with simply manipulated black-and-white televisions or complex multimonitor color installations, Paik's objective has always been to make the TV set itself, that is, the monitor, the box with the screen, comprehensible in its own right as part of a sculpture, not as a mere conveyance for the picture it screens" 
  • "less for its narrative content than for it colorfulness, the various tempi of its editing sequences, and its kaleidoscopic patterns."
  • "Rapid passages follow slow ones; serious subject matter follows light entertainment; technical innovation follows documentary simplicity. Paik summed it up in the catalogue: "In the case of video, space is a function of time""
  • "They were no longer noble pieces of furniture or design objects; the screen functioned solely as a source of light and information" - how Paik removed the purpose/actual context of furniture such as television sets
  • EARTH - "the significance of the position and function of the sets on the ground" 
  • AIR - Fish Flies on Sky 1982
    • "Visitors could lie down on soft mats and look up into the air whilst resting" 
    • "Great height of the gallery and the differences in size and color adjustment of the individual screens, thus creating a poetic variant on "the starry sky above me" 
  • WATER - "He has repeatedly interpreted the television as an aquarium in which endless drops of information float together to form a mass that is again invisible." 
  • FIRE - "It would be possible to substantiate FIRE in Paik's work simply by reference to his use of hot electronic images, the color-sparing synthetic qualities, but Paik made FIRE a fundamental element in important installations in a very concrete way. "
    • "consciously controlled out of focused image can be created only through the rich nuances of modern projector technology."
    • "This approach is typical of Paik: creating new aesthetics from chance and possible error, transformed to precisely suit his content."
    • "achieving maximum effect with minimal effort" 
  • "Paik himself is silent on the subject (the "four elements" of his work). He likes multiple interpretations and analyses. For him, acquisition of a work of art by the viewer is a component of the work" 

 

I had specifically chosen the piece "Ommah" because of the way it was installed. It's interesting to see the combination of a somewhat organic object with technology. This idea has really inspired me to use a pillow to showcase my work because of the context as to why the video installation was presented on a traditional robe. 

"In Ommah, a traditional robe that might have been worn by a well-off Korean boy some 100 years ago hangs nearest to the viewer. Through its lightweight silk, images on an LCD TV monitor can be seen, but not without the irritation of a moiré pattern caused by the interplay of the two "screens." The monitor plays a program lasting several minutes and looping continuously. Three Korean American girls in traditional costumes dance, play ball, beat a drum, and ride in a toy car, seemingly carefree but carefully choreographed by Paik. The back-ground imagery includes close-up views of early video games, footage from TV shows, and material from Global Groove, the video Paik made for WNET-TV in 1974, all manipulated using a high-tech version of the color video synthesizer Paik coinvented around 1970. The music includes ambient sounds of the studio, both straight and processed, and snippets from Paik's own experimental music tapes of the 1950s.

As stable and iconic as this cruciform work appears, our physically moving before it is vital as we pass back and forth, trying to peer through or around the robe. Paik attacked the passivity that he felt television imposed on viewers. Through endless play with the medium, he reclaimed the "boob tube" as an expressive, democratic tool. A Fluxus-inspired trickster crossing high culture with low, Paik never lost the homemade, improvised quality of his earliest experiments."

https://www.nga.gov/collection/art-object-page.150881.html

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Omer Fast

Omer Fast is an Israeli video artist. Fast's video installations "blur boundaries between documentary, dramatization, and fantasy, frequently generating viewers' confusion". Through the dialogue in Fast's pieces, the repetition, and the reenactment, scenes are built through interpretation as a story is narrated and mythologized. I was introduced to Fast's work during the re-edit project where we watched "CNN Concatenated". I was fascinated by the video, not just by the concept, but the idea of how Fast managed to take these clips, remove their original context, and manipulate them to create an original context, as well as the time it must've taken to arrange them. "CNN Concatenated" is an 18-minute monologue composed of CNN footage. The work is edited so that each presenter only speaks a single word. The concept of the work is interesting as it contrasts the job of a reporter to edit them to speak in monologues that are suggestive of emotive personal conversations rather than conventional news broadcasts. The monologues are directed to the viewer watching, this is suggested by the syntax of the monologue "I need YOUR attention", "YOU recycle anything older than a day". The whole clip is rapid, however, there are repetitive pauses in which the reporters "breathe".Taking the words from the original context out of the presenters mouth and creating a new narrative is a concept I want to incorporate in my piece. I've talked about this in my reflection, but, I find it highly interesting that we're able to take readymade footage and make it our own just by removing or adding one thing.

"The monologues in CNN Concatenated also maintain absurd or comic overtones, as the curator and critic Mark Godfrey has observed: ‘As well as being incisive, the work is also very funny: the slick and slimy anchors are made to utter sentiments quite beyond their sensibilities but appear absolutely unruffled, their manicures and fake tans always immaculate’ (Godfrey 2006, p.132). The personal tone of the monologues seems to mock the false intimacy offered by many television presenters, with lines often suggestive of a romantic attachment between the reporters and the audience: ‘I love you. I miss you. Even though we hardly spend any time away from each other’.Fast’s video can be viewed in the context of debates surrounding terrorism and security in the United States that emerged following the attacks of 11 September 2001. While the monologues in CNN Concatenated often touch on issues of personal anxiety (‘Look, I know that you’re scared. I know what you’re afraid of’), the headlines running along the bottom of the screen frequently refer to news stories about terrorist plots and the US military’s actions in Afghanistan. Fast’s combination of these elements seems to point to the media’s role in creating public fear."

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/fast-cnn-concatenated-t13707

Salvador Dali 

Salvador Dali was a surrealist artist who evoked his dreams and hallucinations through art. I've been looking through his artwork due to the fact that my whole theme is based on my dreams, which is what Dali was known for. At Tate Modern, I saw two of his pieces: "Autumnal Cannibalism" and "Lobster Telephone". 

Autumnal Cannibalism:

To actually understand what's going on, you have to carefully look at the piece and not miss the details. I didn't realise that it was two human figures morphing into one, or the fact that they both had utensils in their hands and were "eating" each other. Thinking about the concept, it's actually quite grotesque. 

"Painted just after the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in 1936, this work shows a couple locked in a cannibalistic embrace. They are pictured on a table-top, which merges into the earthy tones of a Spanish landscape in the background. The conflict between countrymen is symbolised by the apple balanced on the head of the male figure, which refers to the legend of William Tell, in which a father is forced to shoot at his son."

Looking at the piece irl, it was really hard to depict what was going on. For much of Dali's work, personally, it takes a while for me to piece the concept together. Whilst thinking about this thought, I had also thought about this quote Dali had said about his pieces: 

"The fact that I myself, at the moment of painting, do not understand my own pictures, does not mean that these pictures have no meaning; on the contrary, their meaning is so profound, complex, coherent, and involuntary that it escapes the most simple analysis of logical intuition." - Salvador Dali

Thinking about what Dali had to say for himself made me reflect on my piece. Maybe I'm thinking to hard on trying to create a rational and logical explanation as to why I included a certain "something", when, really, I should just "let loose" and find meaning later on. The whole idea of how Dali came up with his work is riveting. How is one able to experience delusion without actually going mentally insane? Freudian theory underpins Dali's work in the way that Dali is able to forge visual language to capture his dreams and hallucinations. Many of the themes within Dali's work include eroticism, death, and decay- these themes reflect his familiarity with psychoanalytical theories. His work is a mixture of blatantly autobiographical material as well as childhood memories, rife with "ready-interpreted" symbolism such as fetishes, animal imagery, and religious symbols. He had created his own system which involved tapping into the unconscious mind, coined as "paranoiac critical" which is a state to which one can stimulate delusion whilst maintaining sanity.  

Lobster Telephone: 

Lobster Telephone is considered as one of Dali's most influential pieces of art. It's a "sculpture" piece with a lobster on top of a telephone. Even just by looking at the colours, they contrast each other greatly. Combining the two objects together forms a juxtaposition. The intent of a telephone is to be held by a person's ear, intimately, where the genitalia of the lobster is aligned with the mouthpiece. This literally represents "a freakish underwater creature with a normal machine of daily life in the way of dream pairings, in which we are disconcertedly jarred from our reality and viscerally unmetered by the presence of things that make no sense on a conscious level." (http://www.theartstory.org/artist-dali-salvador-artworks.htm#pnt_7)

Looking at the two objects paired together, I wonder why Dali had chosen a lobster. Research suggests that lobsters don't lose fertility with age, instead, older lobsters are considered to be more fertile than younger ones. There is also debate of whether or not lobsters are immortal or not, due to the fact that they don't die from old age but from disease (and obviously getting caught and eaten), and that lobsters grow and reproduce until they die. Maybe that's why Dali had chosen a lobster. The thought of lobsters never dying kind of freaks me out a little. It freaks me out because I feel like scientists will take that to their advantage and create some kind of serum to make us all immortal. 

Looking at the piece itself, I question whether or not I am cut out to be a fine artist, or, whether I truly understand art. 

Autumnal Cannibalism - Salvador Dali, 1904-1989

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Lobster Telephone - Salvador Dali, 1904-1989 

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Chessboard, Large Version - Germaine Richier, 1902-1959

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Junji Ito

Junji Ito's illustrations are something out of a nightmare. I've been intrigued by his work since high school, however, I have yet to actually read his manga. I think the reason why I've chosen to use him as part of research is just because of how good Ito depicts scenes out of nightmares. There's so much detail in his drawings to the point where you don't need text to understand what's happening, the drawings narrate themselves. I find that this concept is difficult to grasp; to be able to convey meaning without having to explain anything (basically just through visuals we're able to interpret what's going on). Obviously, whatever we interpret is probably not the accurate meaning of the piece, but, it's still easy for viewers to form a similar idea. 

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Nobuyoshi Araki

Nobuyoshi Araki is a Japanese photographer known for blending eroticism and bondage in a fine art context. The work of Araki surrounds themes of sex, death, and dominance tackling various subjects such as prostitution, sadomasochism, love, and intimacy. Due to the nature of his work, it sparks massive controversy amongst society in Japan, yet breaks boundaries/taboo surrounding the topic of nudity in modern Japanese culture. Araki best-known for his photographs of rope bondage, known as Kinbaku-bi "beauty of tight binding" in Japan. The ideas surrounding these photographs are control, submissions, and eroticism. The act of women hanging from ceilings, sitting on floors, or, simply, gazing in the camera are consistent in Araki's work. These photographs almost create a dream-like narrative, or, even, a nightmarish concept. Looking at some of the photographs, it's almost like a surreal dream. When Araki uses coloured film, the grain like effect and faded look are so aesthetically pleasing. In my films, I try to edit them to look like this because I feel like they're just less harsh and the colours are really nice too. That's the thing, I really like having pastel/vintage colouring in my work. Although, I do feel like over-editing feels like I'm doing a lot of work so that's something I need to work on throughout this project. 

However, the series I'm most intrigued with were the photographs of his cat, Chiro, during the last few months of her life. Araki's work Sentimental Journey, Winter Journey is a "memoir" of the final years of his marriage with his wife Yoko, particularly focusing on her battle with terminal illness. The images Araki had taken progressively show the details and effects of her symptoms, the deterioration of herself and, eventually, her death. After Yoko's death, Araki started a "new" relationship with his cat Chiro. I had found a book in the library about Araki's work, called "Araki" which showed the series of photographs Araki had taken of Chiro. The title of the collection was called Sentimental Journey, Spring Journey, where he focuses on the last few months of Chiro's life (a parallel to Yoko's death). The focus of the series was to also to capture the subject of death as well as the last few moments they shared together in the wake of Yoko's departure. I found this two series really interesting. One, because they really contrast Araki's "normal" work, and, two, because they're very personal images to him. They create a narrative that only Araki will find sentimental value to.

With Araki's work, both subject matters greatly juxtapose one another, however, have created a unique identity to Araki. My take on this is to incorporate my own meaning to my work as well as to create something outside of my comfort zone and to not be afraid of criticism. People may not understand it, however, it'll hold personal meaning to me, which is what matters.

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Nobuyoshi || Araki Chiro

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Johnson Tsang

For research, we were told not to focus on the medium that we were probably going to create our final outcomes in but to explore a range of artists that use different mediums. Johson Tsang's sculptures are small yet intricate and depict surreal-like dreams. I had chosen these particular pieces for the title of the series "Lucid Dreams". 

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Music Videos

I was on YouTube and saw two music videos where the editing was really interesting to me. One was Tyler, the creator's video, "Okra" and the other was A$AP Rocky's, "A$AP Forever". The reason why I liked "Okra" so much was because of the idea of having two different screens but filming the "same" thing. One that focuses on the entirety of the subject/clip, and the other that focuses on a particular detail. I thought it was really fitting to the themes in my project. In "A$AP Forever", the video just looked really aesthetic and the idea of zooming out and switching from scene to scene was kind of surreal. I had this one idea in which I wanted viewers to not know what "reality" was in the video so I tried to edit my film to be similar to the music video of "A$AP Forever". However, I really disliked the outcome because I didn't spend much time with it and I kind of half-assed the editing so it turned out really bad. But, whilst because I was using Adobe Premiere Pro, I found out how to using the "tracking" tool, so that should be useful when I make my final outcome. As I finished the "transition video", I questioned why I was interested in incorporating these music videos. To be honest, it didn't really have that much to do with my theme. I think I was just kind of going on a tangent when I was experimenting with ideas. 

Requim for a Dream/ Darren Aronofsky

Darren Aronofsky is an American director known for his movies, "Pi", "Black Swan", "Mother!", and "Requiem for a Dream". I had recently watched Requiem for a dream and was left in awe, shock, and sadness. I'd never quite experienced the same emotions as I had for this movie with any movie before. The idea of the movie was not to depict drug-use but to show the progression of addiction.  
Aronofsky is known to explore the realms of mental extremes and frequently deals with characters driven to madness by their own aspirations. The characters in his films basically drive themselves to madness. The movie Requiem for a dream doesn't stray from that idea as it is a psychological chaos that also plays with your heart strings as you grow attached to characters.
For me, I felt the most empathy towards Sara Goldfarb, a lonely old lady who's husband dies and son abandons her.
When I finished this movie, I instantly read reviews and articles analyzing the characters and themes surrounding the movie to get a better grasp of the film and to appreciate it more. The movie is a "cautionary tale of addiction" and focuses on four New Yorkers, three of which are addicted to heroin. Sara Goldfarb fills the void left by her husband's death and son's abandonment with food and television. This unhealthy routine of binge-eating and watching television leaves her unhappy. Her life changes as she receives a phone-call offering her a slot on a TV show. Now, the phone-call is never said to be real or hallucinated by Sara herself. To me, I see that as the first step in her descent to madness. She becomes so fixated with the idea of appearing on television that the idea of getting on TV is the driving force that causes her to go mad. The aim to get on television wasn't to win "fabulous prizes" but to get her family back. To, basically, get her ideal life. Her mentality is that if she gets on TV and brags about her son being successful, it will eventually come true. She reminisces about the days of her past when she was a mother and a caretaker, when she had her loved ones surrounding her. The opportunity to get on TV convinces her that that goal to get her life back will come true once she gets on television. Her need to feel desired is why she is obsessed with fitting into the red dress, a symbolic garment throughout the film. It’s symbolic because the dress was worn on Harry's graduation day, a day that signifies Harry's greatest achievement and a day where Sara was still slim enough to fit in the dress and have both her son and husband with her. The dress symbolizes the fact that Sara is stuck in the past. That's why she gets addicted to taking her dietary pills because she believes each time she takes it, she's one step closer to fitting the dress and going on television to see her son. All she wants is attention. However, she deals with the problem by numbing reality and resorting to taking diet pills that bring "fast results".
The idea of getting on television is ultimately a dangerous mantra. Aronofksy "shows the equally potent impact that our hopes and dreams can have, subverting our expectations of what constitutes an addict." In which Sara's case is to avoid feelings by resorting to daytime TV and her diet pills. Although every other character goes through their downfall themselves, Sara's case is the saddest and most shocking because she's not TAKING the drugs on purpose. It's more of the psychological manner she's left in from just wanting to have her normal life back. The techniques used to portray her downfall include "rapid cutting and fast-motion action" which emphasizes moments of intensified experiences. Her delusions ultimately bombard her with unrealistic ideals and expectations.
“Sara’s story becomes a powerful commentary on the soul-destroying effects of American pop culture,” M. Keith Booker
 
I went online and found an article of "32 Things we learned from the 'Requiem For a Dream' commentary" which I thought was really interesting. It basically talks about the way the film was made, characters, and acting.
 
Requiem For a Dream (2000)
Commentators: Darren Aronofsky (writer, director), MUCH love for Ellen Burstyn(deserved)

    • Aronofsky starts out by saying how proud he is of Requiem For a Dream. After Pi’s success, the director was offered the chance to do whatever he wanted. He knew right off that he wanted to adapt Hubert Selby Jr.’s novel. Everyone told the director he was crazy. He refers to getting Requiem For a Dream completed as a “war.”
    • The film begins just like Selby’s novel. As Aronofsky points out, the first line of the book is, “Harry locked his mom in the closet.” As soon as Aronofsky read this, he knew it would be a powerful way of opening a film. Aronofsky appreciated how subjective Selby’s novel was – something the director strove for with Pi. Aronofsky wanted to capture the subjective tone for Requiem, to put you in the viewpoint of the main character, which is why the opening sequence is a split-screen. Both Harry and Sara Goldfarb are the focal points.
    • During the scene where Harry and Sara (Jared Leto and Ellen Burstyn) are arguing, you can hear an orchestra tuning up. “The idea was that it’s an orchestra tuning up, because what we were about to see was a requiem.” Aronofsky states that the main focus with the film was in creating a musical composition, one that climaxes throughout the film’s run-time.
    • Aronofsky states that, other than Ellen Burstyn, Kronos Quartet were the most inspirational artists he worked with. Think Aronofsky is a 30 Seconds to Mars fan?
    • Aronofsky’s introduction to Hubert Selby Jr. was “Last Exit to Brooklyn.” He discovered the book in his college library, because the word “Brooklyn” attracted his eye. “When you’re from Brooklyn or you see anything about Brooklyn, you’re immediately fascinated,” he says. The book changed his life. He kept it out for a year, reading it numerous times. Once he entered film school, Aronofsky took inspiration from Selby to make his short films. Fortune Cookie, one of Aronofsky’s student shorts, was based on one of Selby’s short stories. When “Requiem For a Dream” was released in 1978, Aronofsky got a copy but could only read halfway through. The novel had several story ideas he had had, but, as he states, “they were written by a much better writer 20 years before I was even writing.” It was Eric Watson, Aronofsky’s producer and co-writer on Pi, who convinced him that Requiem should be his next film. Selby was very open to Aronofsky adapting his novel.
    • Aronofsky and Watson optioned “Requiem For a Dream” for $1,000. Aronofsky remembers that, at the time, coming off of Pi, this was a huge amount of money for them.
    • Tappy Tibbons (Christopher McDonald) is a character Aronofsky created that isn’t in Selby’s novel. In the novel, Sara Goldfarb mostly watches soap operas and game shows. Aronofsky wanted the film to be timeless and knew the programs they had the character watching could easily date the film. Tappy Tibbons was a character in a screenplay Aronofsky wrote after film school, inspired by self-help gurus like Tony Robbins. Over the years, he developed the character as well as the Month of Fury infomercial Tibbons hosts.
    • According to Aronofsky, Tappy Tibbons’ Month of Fury is a self-help plan. The plan consists of three things you have to do in order to revolutionize your life. 1) no red meat. 2) no refined sugar. Aronofsky doesn’t give away what the third step is. He says you have to search on the Internet to figure it out. If you have the Requiem For a Dreamdirector’s cut DVD, go to the chapter selection menu, go to the Chapter 21–24 tab, hit up twice, then hit enter. A hidden Tappy Tibbons informercial begins playing. The third thing is…spoiler alert…no orgasms. This one drives people crazy.
    • Selby’s novel took place in Brooklyn instead of Coney Island. Since Aronofsky grew up in Coney Island, he wanted to include locations and events – Harry and Marion (Jennifer Connelly) breaking onto the roof of a building was not in the novel – that were personal to him. Selby didn’t mind the change thinking it still captured the same culture.
    • “You could give her five or six notes, and she just bounces and bings between them and just completely hits each one on the nose, and, at the end, she’ll just do a little, extra corkscrew that will just completely screw you up, but it’s completely great and completely blows your mind even though you don’t really know what it is that you saw,” says Aronofsky on Ellen Burstyn. He mentions she lost 40 pounds for the role. She wore several different prosthetic pieces (some which took 4 hours to apply), wigs, and makeup throughout the film and never complained about how arduous it all was. Plus, there are several moments in the film where Burstyn will act in a way that hides the lines on her prosthetic pieces from the camera’s view.
    • Aronofsky was not interested in Requiem For a Dream as a junky movie or a film about drug paraphernalia. He was more interested in the before and after of drug use. One of his influences while working on animated shorts in film school was Jan Svankmajer, a Czech animator who, according to Aronofsky, uses a lot of “before and after photos.” Aronofsky used Svankmajer as an influence when attempting to create a film about what drugs do to you physically, mentally, and emotionally.
    • The way Tyrone C. Love, played by Marlon Wayans, mixes styles both in the way he dresses and the way he talks is another instance where Aronofsky wanted the film to be timeless, that it should be about addiction regardless of the time period in which it actually takes place. “Ultimately Requiem For a Dream is about the lengths people go to escape their reality, and that, when you escape that reality, you create a hole in your present, because you’re not there. You’re chasing off a pipe dream in the future, and then you’ll use anything to fill that vacuum.” Aronofsky explains that the film is about addiction to anything, not just illegal drugs. It could be addiction to coffee, TV, or even hope.
    • Aronofsky mentions there are about 150 digital effects in Requiem For a Dream. He and friends from film school formed Amoeba Proteus, a digital effects company designed to create smaller effects that would go unnoticed. The company has done digital effects on all of Aronofsky’s films.
    • The only direction Aronofsky gave Peter Maloney, who plays Sara’s doctor, Dr. Pill, was to never look at Ellen Burstyn. Maloney later told Aronofsky it was the most difficult direction of his career.
    • The editing style and the way Aronofsky creates montages in the film is something the director refers to as “hip hop montage.” It’s a technique he’s been developing since Fortune Cookie. He was inspired by hip hop music he listened to throughout the ’80s, and hee would take images and sounds and tell a story by cutting rapidly between them all. He made sure to use the technique across all the stories in Requiem to indicate it was about all drugs and all addiction, not just one. There are also moments for each character where the montage isn’t used – specifically when the character is reluctant to take whatever drug they’re addicted to. It indicates them questioning for only a moment what they’re doing to themselves.
    • While filming the scene between Tyrone C. Love and his girlfriend, Alice, played by Aliya Campbell, Aronofsky remembers Wayans performing it very seriously. Not getting what he wanted and knowing the time crunch they had to get the scene done, Aronofsky told Wayans to stop acting
      “like a serial killer.”
    • “Once again I prove to the world that I’m more of a pornographer than I am a filmmaker,” says Aronofsky as the film fades into the sex scene between Tyrone and Alice. The director notes he really enjoyed shooting the scene mainly because of the actors. “Sex scenes can be fun to shoot,” he notes. This is the man who would go on to make Black Swan. Apparently, he still holds onto this philosophy.
    • Aronofsky says the scene where Harry goes to visit Sara was his favorite scene in Selby’s novel, it was the scene that ultimately motivated Aronofsky to make the film, and it is his favorite moment in the finished film. Aronofsky feels this scene is representative of the whole story, how it’s about the difficulty addicts find connecting with the people they love. The scene has three sections: the light side when things are pleasant at the beginning; the dark side when the two begin to argue after Harry finds Sara’s drugs; and back to the light side when Sara makes her confession at the end. Aronofsky sees Ellen Burstyn capturing this performance in this scene as his proudest moment. Aronofsky notes all of Burstyn’s performance in the confession moment was from one, single take. She actually did three takes, but she did each take differently. They couldn’t be combined or cut together. Burstyn is actually out of frame at one point at the end of the take used. Aronofsky was pissed when he noticed this during filming. He went to cinematographer Matthew Libatique to see what had happened. Libatique had tears streaming down his face from Burstyn’s performance. He had fogged up the lens and couldn’t see to properly frame it.
    • After filming had completed, Burstyn told Aronofsky that it might happen only once during a stage performance where she would feel like she had completely become the character. She told him that it had happened three times while filming Requiem For a Dream. One was the “confession” scene. The next scene is when Sara has lost it and is trying to explain herself to the TV production company. The last is the very end dream sequence where Sara and Harry come together on Tibbons’ show. This moment was filmed on the first day of filming. The only way Aronofsky can describe what Burstyn is doing in Requiem is that she’s “surfing the character.” He also compares the actress to Michael Jordan in that they both completely lose themselves in the job they’re doing.
    • Aronofsky mentions how much he loves playing with sound design. “My favorite device on the mixing board are those little joysticks where you can actually move the sound to different speakers. If you give me that in the editing room, you’ve got to add an extra two days to the budget. Don’t tell the producers that, though.”
    • Sean Gullette got upset with Aronofsky on the day they shot the scene between him and Jennifer Connelly at dinner. Gullette had prepared a lot for the scene, but Aronofsky felt the only thing the scene needed, even more important than the dialogue, was Gullette’s character eating a steak. He doesn’t indicate if he’s exaggerating or not – which would lead me to believe that he’s not – but Aronofsky says Gullette ate five and a half steaks while filming this scene. On that day, food won.
    • Aronofsky points out the “Snory-cam” shots where the camera is essentially strapped to the actor and held completely in the middle of the frame while the background moves around. Aronofsky wanted each, main character in Requiem to get a Snory-cam shot. The production couldn’t afford what he had planned for Harry. He won’t explain what the shot is, because he intends to use it in a then-future film. It might involve Harry jumping off the top rope of a wrestling ring, but probably not.
    • When Marion returns to the apartment after sleeping with Arnold, Sean Gullette’s character, she and Harry sit on the couch quietly, not touching each other. In the uncut take, Connelly and Leto actually did make contact at one point, but Aronofsky cut that moment out of the finished shot not wanting there to be any kind of connection between the two.
    • Most of the extras during the grocery store scene are actual junkies brought in off the street. Aronofsky remembers one extra who had to leave at 3AM during filming to pick up heroin as well as some people shooting up on set. This was also the night Jared Leto had his mom and grandmother come to visit the production.
    • Aronofsky wanted Florida to become a character in the film. In Selby’s novel, a lot of text and inner monologue is devoted to the characters’ desires to get to Florida, believing it to be the answer to their prayers. Unable to include inner monologues and unwilling to throw in needless exposition, Aronofsky added little moments here and there that make you think of Florida. The Florida orange on the side of the semi-trailer truck is just one. There are several other instances scattered throughout the film.
    • The sequence where Sara Goldfarb hallucinates that her apartment becomes the Tappy Tibbons infomercial set was an arduous scene to create and shoot. Aronofsky notes the storyboard document for the 5-minute sequence was 56 pages long. “When people ask me what directing is about, the best metaphor I give it is conducting, because I think you basically have an orchestra of all these different instruments and you basically have to get them to play together to play a single musical piece.”
    • Before production began, Aronofsky and Clint Mansell listened to several different requiems from different composers. They picked out their favorite moments in each. Mansell took these, sampled them into a drum machine, and played them percussively. Kronos Quartet added their own notes with sharp violins. All of this was culled together and used for the film’s last act.
    • “The film is constructed to build to a climax. It’s that climax which caused all the rating problems with the MPAA.” Aronofsky recognizes how intense Requiem For a Dream is, but he also understands the moral it tells. He believes a rating system is important in the film industry, and he recognizes that people need to know what they’re going to see and what they’re children are going to see in a movie. “But there’s clearly a big, big hypocrisy on what’s acceptable and what’s not acceptable in movies. The fact that you can show as much gun violence as you want in a PG-13 movie as long as you don’t show blood I think is completely backwards thinking.” Aronofsky believes it’s much more important to show teenagers the violence guns can cause if mishandled rather than what he calls “A-Team fantasy” where people fall down dead but bloodless after being shot. “The way I look at the world is that guns and violence is bad and human sexuality is good.”
    • Selby’s first day on set was when they were shooting Sara getting the feeding tube pushed into her nose. The author lasted 10 minutes before breaking into tears because of Burstyn’s performance. Selby also plays the prison guard who is taunting Tyrone near the end of the film.
    • The final 10 minutes are where, as Aronofsky states, all hell breaks loose. He wanted the culmination of all four stories to be as insane as possible. For the scene where Sara gets shock treatment, the director had everyone set up for the shot. He then brought Selby in and had him read that chapter of his novel to Ellen Burstyn as a way to prepare her.
    • During the “ass-to-ass” scene, Aronofsky mentions – kind of casually – that it’s based on something he experienced first-hand. No details are given. Not that there need to be any.
    • When Aronofsky reached the end of Selby’s novel, he wasn’t sure if Harry lived or died. He asked Selby about the character’s outcome. The author answered, “Of course, he lives.” When Aronofsky asked why he said “of course”, Selby responded that the character had to suffer more. The director remembers some debates about trying to give the movie an upbeat ending. He mentions how his generation was raised on TV shows like The Brady Bunch and Magnum P.I. where every story is wrapped up nicely by the end, how everything works out fine in most movies and TV shows. “As we all know, it doesn’t always work out in the end. Anyone who’s lived 20 years on this planet knows that things get fucked up, and they stay that way.” The director didn’t want to undermine Selby’s message with his version.

James Jean

James Jean is a Taiwanese-American artist who uses a range of mediums (specifically digital art) to create his paintings. Jean was one of the artists that inspired me to go with the idea of dreams as his work depicts dream-like scenarios. I really like the intricacy in his work as well as the varying choice of colour for each piece. James Jean had designed promotional art for the movie "Shape of Water", "mother!", and "Blad Runner 2049". 

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Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin

Lizzie Fitch and Ryan Trecartin collaborate with each other to create really interesting installations which combines video art as well as entire set designs. The set designs create a different narrative for the video art itself. Looking at their work, it's almost as if you've been teleported to a completely different place. The set designs create a different mood and ambience and rather than overshadow the video pieces, they complement each other and, to a certain extent, brings the videos to life. 

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"Isle of Dogs" Exhibition

I went to 180 The Strand to look at the Wes Anderson exhibition for his new movie "Isle of Dogs". The synopsis of the movie is set in a dystopian future, specifically, in Japan where dogs are banned due to a disease outbreak. Seeing the tiny figurines up close as well as the set was really fascinating in the sense that the details of the work will probably change the way I watch the movie once it's out. It's like looking at the "behind the scenes" of the movie. I've always been very interested in the concept of stop motion. The process of how stop motion films are made is so "complex" and being that this is considered "animation", it's as if all these little models are real. How the fuck does that happen? It was so cool actually seeing this. After going to the exhibition, I watched a video on YouTube on how the animation was made. Although the footage itself was only 3 minutes, it gave even more insight of the production process. The clip shows the details taken to account to create such life-like movements. Watching the clip, I can't help but think "wow, what the actual fuck." 

The exhibition itself was really cool. The whole atmosphere was really played to feel as if you had transported to Japan. Although it was rather small, the figurines and set made up for it. Like mentioned before, there was so much attention to detail. Obviously I won't be able to recreate something like this, but just the whole production process blew me away. 

Conceptually, talking dogs are pretty surreal I guess? My initial idea was to create an animation, but looking at this exhibition was really the nail to the coffin as to why I'm not going through with that. Although I wanted to create something that was more labour intensive, given that the deadline is so close, I doubt that if I were to continue making an animation it would even be considered plausible. Relating back to the concept of talking dogs, wouldn't it be so weird if dogs could actually talk. What would they say to you? Generally, animals talking is such a weird and surreal concept. 

I'm really excited to watch this film once it comes out. I just started getting into watching Wes Anderson films. 

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Adam Hale

Adam Hale is probably classified as a social media artist in which he gets his large following from Instagram. I don't think his work is entirely bad because it still takes skill and talent to create any piece of art, however, I do find that his work is quite superficial and appeals to a very specific group of audience, specifically, hypebeasts and "influencers". His page on instagram is called @the.daily.splice and shows series of collages, some animated. Again, I don't particularly fancy the outcomes, however, I like the fact that he creates his collage through taking free magazines on the tubes of London and takes images out of their context and splices them together. Again, playing with the idea of manipulating context to create an original narrative is something that intrigues me. After stumbling across his page on instagram, I decided to create my own digital collage through found images off the internet. 

XXX - FLIGHT ATTENDANT / 승무원 || Mattis Dovier

I watched this animation and was totally inspired by the sequencing. The setting is on a flight. It's pretty calm, pretty normal, then suddenly the mood changes as the music progresses and fucked up shit starts to appear (fucked up shit refering to the grotesque and scary changes of scenes). Because I initially wanted to make an animation, a lot of my initial research was of animations. However, now that I've focused more on creating a moving image, I've used this concept of sequencing for inspiration. To create a build-up with a climax and ending to my piece. This will give more structure to the films and also create a "natural" narrative. 

I'd also put this in research because I thought the style of pixel animation was really intriguing too. I've never really seen an animation done quite like this. It's a mix of anime-esque drawing style with 8-bit art. 

Delusion Crime and Punishment || Lu Yang

Ren Hang

Ren Hang was a 'controversial' new generation Chinese photographer; his collection of work is a series of surreal-like images. His work was sexually explicit and often featured nude groups or solo portraits of men and women contorted into highly performative positions. In his photography, there isn't a hierarchy between the men and women; everyone is equal. It gives insight into Chinese society and how his generation deals with topics often too taboo to discuss, for example, the fact that his body of work explores sexuality and queerness. However, Hang never associated his work with cultural or political contexts. What makes his photography so interesting is that the people photographed were his friends, and, increasingly, his fans. The idea of photographing people you have a bond with creates a different connection to you and the photograph: it creates a sentimental value that can't be recreated with strangers. I believe that his work conveys a sense of natural beauty because of the fact that most of his models are nude and there is minimal use of 'props' and simple settings. I like this concept of simplicity. Often times, many photographers go to the extreme and edit photographs like crazy which causes the image to lose its authenticity. Although Hang's photography is very much staged, I still feel as if his images are raw. Hang used a film camera throughout his career which is why the images give such an aesthetic look. Regarding how this helps with my outcome, like mentioned above, I feel that these photographs convey a sense of surrealism, an element I want to have throughout my work. To me, Hang's work is simple and aesthetically pleasing. For me, coming from a semi-Asian upbringing and living in Asia, I feel like his work also challenges traditional beauty standards. I say this because the people photographed are normal looking people, yet they create visually pleasing images. Another aspect I've taken for inspiration is how the bodies of the models become 'androgynous forms blurred into one'. I'm interested in how body language is conveyed and create a sort of made-up narration.

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Unconventional Fairy Tales || Chang Chia-ying 

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100 Days of Bloody Diary || Min Liu

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