Modernity, Anti-Modernity, and Post Modernity / Part 2

October 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Continuing on from the previous lecture on modernism and postmodernism, we looked at how technology can radically change the world, and how it indeed did, we looked at it in terms of art forms and photography, in particular the movie camera and industrialisation.

Kantian framework – and his cosmological approach (everything at once)

Our experience of the world isn’t a pure encounter, it’s conceptually mediated – there are a series of ordering processes – how we operate on the world – cultural – conceptual/ideal structures.

We have a sensory experience of the world

– a structuring of this experience:

– Beauty coheres with representation.

– We don’t try and order experience, it’s already in place, a sort of mathematical experience.

– the use of a grid is a fundamental aspect to consider when designing.

– Kant doesn’t ever resolve the problem, he just leaves it hanging –

What happens after Kant is people return to him and his ideas, take aspects of his thinking, and try and foreground it, so it all becomes about innovation, all becomes about structure and the hidden structures that permeate through society, and these are all different takes on the idea that the lens, whether it’s a biological one, a physical one, or a cultural one, all representing a form of order in society and culture – they are spins on Kantian distinction – that’s what Kant is there, to understand this idea of the representational lens.

– Cubism – multiple, simultaneous perspectives – spacing of objects in a spatio temporal structure. Present the contrast of violence and harmony- Picasso, Duchamp, Seurat

– Kant ignores the difference between cultures, his Kantian thought see’s everything as universal (which it isn’t)

Paul Cézanne created a series of oil paintings called ‘Mont Sainte-Victoire’ which is a mountain in Southern France. the series of painting are all of the same subject, just painted differently, representing the kinesis of the mountain, showing the variability of the subject, emphasising difference, movement, and stasis – all of these ideas of representation all link back to Kant.


Paul Cézanne - Montagne Sainte-Victoire

Dziga VertovMan With a Movie Camera

Dziga Vertov was a Soviet pioneer of his time in cinema theory, documentary film, and newsreel. He created the modernist film ‘Man With a Movie Camera’ in 1929, an experimental silent documentary film of which contained no story and no actors. The films presents urban life within the Ukrainian cities of Kiev, Odessa and Kharkiv, showing the Soviet citizens at work and at play from dusk until dawn, interacting with modern life machinery. Vertov was ultimately challenging what film was

These are some notes I obtained from the lecture on Vertov and the film:

– City symphonies (genre) documenting the life of the city.

– Crude documentary structure.

– Propaganda film.

– Constructivist.

– Industrialisation – working for a better future.

– Different paces – starts calm and sleepy, progressing into a kinetic frenzy, becoming more and more experimental throughout.

– Technology is been integrated into human life

– recurring symbol of eye and camera – celebration of technology

– the filmstrip is the material form that captures things

– Vertov wanted everyone to film and document

– today, we now do this with newer technologies – mobile phones, Instagram, Vine,  Snapchat, digital cameras – it’s accessible

– camera/mobile = mobile viewing portal, which is editable

– seeing from different perspectives

– Vertov couldn’t have predicted this to happen the way it has

– He’s as interested in the documenting as he is with the apparatus itself.

– A constant theme throughout the film is that of motion.

– Lev Manovich talk of Vertov’s practice as being a database of culture

– about the power of technologies in our culture

– Constructivist art inspired Vertov’s film, by viewing both the film and the art form you can make notable similarities. The film is still tied to the modernist ‘grid’, giving the flat structure.

Vertov issued this manifesto upon the films official release:

“The film Man with a Movie Camera represents

Of visual phenomena
(a film without intertitles)
(a film without a scenario)
(a film without actors, without sets, etc.)

This new experimentation work by Kino-Eye is directed towards the creation of an authentically international absolute language of cinema – ABSOLUTE KINOGRAPHY – on the basis of its complete separation from the language of theatre and literature.”

Here’s the film itself:

Jørgen LethThe Perfect Human

In this short film from 1967, it labels a man and woman within as the the ‘perfect human'(s), they are subjected in a way that you could almost consider them to be in a zoo of some sorts, performing in different ways.

How do you remake something to be completely different? – By adding restrictions, and therefore reconstructing. Film director Lars von Trier set the task of recreating his favorite film – The Perfect Human – setting a challenge for the original director, Jørgen Leth. The film is about representation, and the characters and scenes representing it. The result of this remake shows how the process can be a hindrance on the film maker, and represents the different cultural ways of seeing.

Lars von TrierThe Five Obstructions

The obstructions:

  1. Jørgen Leth (the original film director of ‘The Perfect Human’, and film writer) must remake the film in Cuba (but with no set) with no shot longer than 12 frames, and he must answer the questions posed in the original film; Leth successfully completes this task.
  2. Leth must remake the film in the worst place in the world but not show that place onscreen; additionally, Leth must play the role of “the man”. The meal must be included but the woman is not to be included. Leth remakes the film in the red light district of Bombay, only partially hiding it behind a translucent screen.
  3. Because Leth failed to complete task 2 perfectly, von Trier punishes him, telling him to either remake the film in any way he chooses, or redo obstruction 2 in Bombay again. Leth chooses the first option and remakes it in Brussels using split-screen effects.
  4. Leth must remake the film as a cartoon. He does so with the aid of Bob Sabiston, a specialist in rotoscoping, who creates animated versions of shots from the previous films. As such the final product is technically an animation but not a cartoon. Nevertheless von Trier considers the task to be completed successfully.[citation needed]
  5. The fifth obstruction is that von Trier has already made the fifth version, but it must be credited as Leth’s, and Leth must read a voice-over narration ostensibly from his own perspective but in fact written by von Trier.

These are all considered modes of representation, as they have had restraints added to them

– think about the different systems of representational work

– why are the remakes better, if at all?

Other notes:

There was a typographic war in Nazism, as well as the obvious political war. The war was between modernist practitioners, of whom used sans serif fonts, of which were outlawed and replaced with heavy serif fonts, very ornate and Gothic > pastoral representation.

Modernism was very attractive to advertising, and it had a big impact on advertising around the world, especially in Britain.


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

What’s this?

You are currently reading Modernity, Anti-Modernity, and Post Modernity / Part 2 at Leo Patterson.


%d bloggers like this: