No Wave and Robin Crutchfield
Although it was the craziness and chaoticity of these music attracted me at the first point. I start to really like this guy-- Robin Crutchfield. He is the keyboard of D.N.A., who left the band couple years later. I only mentioned him a bit in the paper when I argued that No Wave is full of self-contradiction:
"The conflict happened between Arto Lindsay and Robin Crutchfield when they were both in DNA. Lindsay represented as the chaotic element in the band and Crutchfield believed in making the music static and repetitive. Finally Crutchfield found the balance was off to Lindsay’s side and decided to leave the band. Although their approaches to the music performance appeared contradictory to each other, both approaches were a part of the NW music. This reflects how NW music was able to absorb dialectical elements in one scene."
After Robin Crutchfield left D.N.A., he started Dark Day with Nancy Arlen (who played drum in Mars before).
It's not as insane and noisy as D.N.A., yet I love his creepy clamness.
Nevertheless, recently, as a 58 years-old man, he seems into something hard to grasp...
Still... stragely interesting.
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Wexner Center in Columbus is exhibiting a group of works about SPORT. Most of the works are photos and sculptures, many works are presented in video projecting as well. The title of the exhibition is called HARD TARGET.
These works are artistic presentations of sport. The artists break down the phenomenon of sports. They re-construct these ideas and build them into exhibitionable formats. Couple artists use words (text) as the carriers. Glenn Ligon 's Gold Mudbone (Liar) #2 is a print with a paragraph of written story. The story related to the sport theme in terms of the story describes an incredible power of African ethnical male. It refers to a specific racial group as athletics who dominated and often seen as the most competitive component in the contest. The print looks like a urban underground prophet because of its dustiness and brownish texture.
The other work by Doug Aitken is a lighten text of "START SWIMMING" the surface of the text is actually a bird-view photo of a snowy industrial area. From a distance, the work just words in blue and white color, yet look closely, it is pictures of little trucks, box buildings, and squares of land covered by snows. "Start swimming" shows so much energetic and pleasure in it. Composed by elements that is cold, dark and lifeless, the work contradicts itself in both heartbreaking and hopefulness ways.
There are many other works showing. Includes Matthew Barney's , Cremaster 4, weird video as usual, also Harun Farocki's Deep Play, which displays various screens that show different sports technologies in terms of usage for broadcasting and strategical planning.
The show also includes some star power. Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno projects images of Zidane on two walls of a 90 degrees conner. Same Taylor-Wood also uses the image of Courtesy Jopling and David Beckham in his video installation.
From global super star to local high school players, to U.S.A. SPORT is the spirit of the nation, yet very criticizable. I've always like sport. It makes me aware of true humanism although in the current world both "true" and "humanism" are such ignorance words.
Here is the trailer of the video~
Dance Dance Dance
Because of the dance festival, our theater is showing video works about dance in these three days. I was responsible for doing the projecting this morning, and got some random thoughts when I monitor the show.
1) These videos seems to not function as any other video works, and could only be judged within the genre of "dance video." The theme of spectacular body movement is in many various genres-- experimental, action, musical and porn, yet these dance videos seem to soak in their own world and stuck in ideas that have been turned to cliche for a long while. Slow motion and repetitive of the images are constantly used in order to make sure no one missed that beautiful curve of the leg or that emotional expression of the body.
2) Ideas about pure, nature, meditation, peace are all over the places. What these dancers and video makers believe these so sincerely and therefore wrapped these ideas so tightly through the images, the light, the surrounding, the cut, the soundtrack... Therefore, an one pure theme makes these film in a bubble that would be seen as either heartily beautiful or carelessly unself-concious.
3) There are couple of the videos deal with the topic of man-woman relationship with dual dancers in them. Two dancers corespond with their movement, exchange looks yet rarely have explicit facial expression. They remind me puppy love in romance movie.
Tsai, Ming-liang. The Wayward Cloud. 2007.
When James Clifford discusses what “diaspora’s borders” are and what these borders exclude, he mentions that the border will draw against “the norms of nation-state.” He writes: “Peoples whose sense of identity is centrally defined by collective histories of displacement and violent loss cannot be ‘cured’ by merging into a new national community” (307). Tsai’s works do not really show the sense of against certain nation either long for Chinese nationality, yet they often address the situation of two disconnected worlds, spaces or time. The character lives in one, and feels unsatisfied about his/her current territory, yet not be able to cross to the other part where he/she is longing for. However, The Wayward Cloud seems an exceptional case. In this film, different worlds, such as the worlds of two characters, the emotion and flesh worlds, and the real and fantasy worlds, all have been connected in various ways. Nevertheless, are the characters “cured” by finally having these connections?
There are many examples of disconnection or failure of connection in Tsai’s films. In I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, every character is having a visible ethnic identity and they are living in a world that is stuck between a forgotten past and unforeseeable future.
Norman is the one who desires for the connection between ethnicities, yet the connection has been broken towards the end of the film when Hsaio Kang betrays him and goes alone with the Chinese girl. In addition, the abandoned constructions sites, where the characters live their daily lives, resemble the space that does not belong to the past yet fails to become to the future. In this way, not only the society that composes with hybrid ethnicities fails to be coherent, but also the past and the future of the society fail to transform from one to the other.
In The Hole, although the hole between two floors suggests the possibility of making a connection, the man and the woman have never really communicated with each other. Both of the characters also do not care about interaction with the outside society either. With the sound from television constantly plays in the background, they seem to be soaked in the information yet not absorb any of them, since they do not do anything in reacting to the narration from the broadcast. Moreover, another example of lost connection is the old man who is looking for a specific brand of the soy paste. The particular taste of such soy paste is a route for the old man to go back to his origin. He loses the connection to his root because that brand of soy paste is not on sell anymore.
In Goodbye, Dragon Inn, there are two worlds overlapped in the film, which are the past and the present world. Both of them exist in the theater at the same time. Through looking, characters in the present world imagine the past world and vice versa. For example, the sequence when the crippled woman is behind the screen, the editing seems to make the woman and the heroin on the screen look at each other back and forth. Also, when the two old men in the auditorium watch themselves in the movie they acted 36 years ago, the two worlds, past and present, exist in the theater at the same time. However, no matter how dense the connection between the two worlds is portrayed through out the most of the film, in the end, the theater is out of business and the connection diminishes.
The sense of disconnection comes from a temptation of making connection, and the temptation reflects a feeling of dissatisfaction of the current status. It may be what is lost from the past or what is wanted from the future causes the feeling of dissatisfaction. Therefore, I am wondering: if Tsai’s films suggest there are things that are lost or wanted, what are they? Among the examples above, I argue that both The Hole and Goodbye, Dragon Inn suggest that there is something lost from the past. On the other hand, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone shows what is sought for the future in the Malaysia society. In the Hole, the old man who could not find the soy paste does not only show his own lost, but his care about the taste also contrast to the two main characters’ careless about food (they only eat instant noodles in the film). Such a contrast reflects what has been lost collectively through the transformation of the society and generations. On the other hand, in I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone, when Norman carefully washes out the stain of the mattress, which is the symbol of the political scandal in Malaysia, and shares it with Hsaio Kang, what he does could be metaphor as a process of building a family. In a boarder context, I Don’t Want to Sleep Alone shows an idea of building a clean and harmonic society. In the end of the film, the image when all three characters are lying together on the mattress does not come from the memory of Malaysian history, but represent the imagination of the future.
The Wayward Cloud is a very different case compare to the films discussed earlier. Although the film is still very much about the desire of fulfilling the dissatisfaction and making connection, in this film, the connection is successfully made. The opening shot of the film has already suggested the connection.
The shot shows the space of an underground passage from the angle that sees two opposite paths. The woman walks into the space from one end of the passage and the porn star comes in from the other. They cross into each other, exchange look and depart from opposite directions. An underground passage is a location that connects between two spaces. In addition, the two female characters, which represent two people from two very different worlds, meet each other in this location. There are many locations in this film shows the similar meaning—the bridge the woman often walks on and later dances on it with the man, the hall way in front of the woman’s apartment, the stairs way, and the elevator where the woman found the unconscious body of the porn star.
These locations are also all construction from the modernization. When the woman finds the man and plays with him in these modern constructions, the film seems to resolve the dissatisfaction that is often addressed in Tsai’s other works, which is the loneliness in the modern society. Nevertheless, the gap between the couple is the elephant in the film. The gap is what Neri suggested in the article, “Tsai Ming-liang and the Lost Emotions of the Flesh,” which is the lost connection between the emotion and the body. Such a connection finally is made in the end of the film. In the last sequence, when the woman finds out that the man is a porn actor and watches the man having the sex intercourse with the unconscious porn star, the woman starts to moan. The voice penetrates the two spaces through the window, and the woman becomes a part of the sex. During the previous part of the film, the woman desires the physical connection with the man, a physical connection that builds upon the emotional affection. Yet, the man could not give to her, so she stays in the emotional world and does not be able to cross to the physical world. However, at the moment she joins the sex of the porno shooting, she crosses the line. The man put his penis into her, and the physical connection finally successes. Shockingly, the connection that is desired for long time does not appear as a satisfaction. The film end right after this scene, and leaves the aftermath of this connection as an open question.
The tension between lost and found and the disconnection and connection in Tsai’s films do not only represent what the characters in these films need, but also reflect an idea of what the society needs. In this sense, sometime I would argue that Tsai’s films are almost educational. These films seem to promote certain traditional Chinese values in an extremely modern way. On one hand, Tsai’s films suggest the values of belonging to a family, the values of love and the values of cooking a good meal. On the other hand, these values are promoted by characters who live without them. Just like what Tsai notes in the end of The Hole: “In this crazy end of the century, at least we still have Lee’s singing with us.” Lee’s singing refers to a warm and pure emotion in the past. The Wayward Cloud presents an interesting aspect to Tsai’s affection towards the value of belonging and love. When the woman who symbolizes love and emotion is finally connected with the sex organ that used for modern commercial propose, the world freezes. What would it like when good traditional values involve in the modern world? The film has no suggestion for the answer of this question.
 There is a shot in this hallway with similar composition of the shot of the underground passage. The shot shows two paths that go to opposite direction. In this shot, the woman comes back to her apartment with lots of groceries. She runs into the man who climbs on the wall like a child and she walks under the man. They do not only communicate with each other in this shot, but also play with each other. The emotion connection between them is clear and pleasant.
 Lee Shan Lan is one of the Chinese pop singer during the 1960s and 70s.
Body in Print
I took this picture of the print of The Hurt Locker the other day. Yes, it is this year's Oscar best director-- Katherine Biglow's Oscar winning best picture The Hurt Locker. Yet, I didn't take this picture because of that since I did it before the thing. I took this picture because our patron once told us that our lamp was working funny during the wrestling sequence-- the screen kept flashing in green and red. Turned out that it was not the lamp, but the print! So I took some pictures of the print with my cellphone, so I may ask other people what exactly the problem is one day. Then, this one turns out quiet interesting.
Look! its human body and the film body. Potential vertical movement of the body moves between the lines of each frame. On the other hand, it just looks like we were showing a specific genre of porn with military theme.