Friday, February 12, 2016

Please welcome to the world ... Zachary German Thank You (AVF Press)

'He’s here. Scholars of online identities foretold of a great writer gone from the internet who would return once more to their digital flock. Rumors flew like those psychotic birds in that Hitchcock film, think the name of it is Birds. A writer would return to restore order to alt lit. Zachary German is that writer.

'Zachary German left the internet a mere boy. Living the ‘IRL’ lifestyle taught him who his true friends are. They are here, on the internet, willing to pay him vast quantities of money. He needs their love. But he needs their money even more. He wants their Paypal accounts.

'How did Zachary German obtain such enlightenment? Did he do a lot of drugs? Knowing him, yes, but Zachary German is drugs. Drugs can’t guide you. They only drain users’ already strained bank accounts. No, Zachary German wanted true enlightenment. And there’s only one place for true enlightenment: Sarasota, Florida.

'I mock Florida a lot on here. Florida is pretty mock-able. It is a state of plastic, with huge shrines built in the name of tackiness. Yet I am afraid of Florida. Look into Florida and you’ll see America’s soul: trashy, weird, sprawling, unsustainable developments. I lack the guts to find myself in such a harsh, false environment. But I’m not Zachary German.

'A plane landed in Sarasota not long ago. It contained Zachary German and his girlfriend Megan Boyle. They went to Florida for spring break. Florida they felt represented salvation from things like culture or taste. It begged them to explore it, to discover what secrets it held, as a final resting place for millions of elderly New Yorkers.

'Megan Boyle and Zachary German immersed themselves into Sarasota, Florida ‘Stranger than Paradise’ style. That meant doing a whole lot of nothing. Zachary German was up to the challenge. He’s very good at doing nothing for prolonged periods of time. Like the movie, they went to the beach, wandering aimlessly. Like the movie they went to a shitty dog racing track. To finish their homage to Jim Jarmusch’s movie, they stayed in a crummy, dank ass hotel.

'Since quitting the internet Zachary German had grown long hair. He kept his trademarked oversized glasses. He drank. He lived in dirty, unwashed clothing. Half the time he was barely conscious. The rare times he remained conscious were spent watching local news and old repeats of classic 90s sitcoms.

'The turning point came when Zachary drank a beer. It was a beer that would change his life. It was a Coors Light and it had done more than tapped the Rockies. It had gone to the top of the mountain and seen the light. Zachary placed the beer can into a Pringles can. That activated the spiritual awareness of the beer can. Slowly it began to clear its throat.

'“Zach, return to the fucking internet.” The anthropomorphic beer can loved the internet.

'“I have everything I want here IRL. Fuck the internet. It is filled with a bunch of assholes. The internet can eat my cock fuck. One of them said I was an underwear model. I wish. I don’t own a pair of underwear. I hang out at Laundromats and steal clothing from total douchebags. That’s how I dress.”

'“I’m a fucking anthropomorphic beer can. Do what I say.”

'“Okay, sure, whatever. I think I still have some links to my writing on Muumuu House. Think it changed the writing world forever or something.”

'From then on, Zachary heeded the call of the anthropomorphic beer can. He kept his day job of walking dogs. At night he’d bother people on the internet. In fact, he became considerably more optimistic. Now he’s working on a new book, a sequel to Eat when you feel sad entitled Eat when you feel rad. Here’s a sneak peek at the genius at work:

'“Robert sits on the beach. He is completely naked. Somebody gives him $400,000 for existing. He laughs loudly. He looks at his cat. Robert says ‘Fuck, I rule so hard.’ His speech is overpowered by the surf. Robert cries.”

'Prepare yourself for the second coming of Zachary German.' -- Beach Sloth


'Who Is Zachary German?'
'On Zachary German’s “Eat When You Feel Sad”'
'Zachary German, The Void Of New Literary Microcelebrity, an Interview with Adam Humphreys'
'the nike swoosh is beautiful'
'9 Reasons To Watch My Film'
'Zachary German Explained'
'Book Notes - Zachary German ("Eat When You Feel Sad")'
Zachary German @ Soundcloud
'What's Eating Zachary German?'
'Zachary German isn’t dead (he just doesn’t give a shit)'
'Guest Post by Zachary German: Thoughts On Kanye West’s New Record'
'Zachary German is an Underwear Model'
'interview with Zachary German'


Zachary German - For

zachary german eating cake in fabulous port jervis ny

Baseball (short film)

Shitty Youth (2012)

Interview (2010)
from 3:AM Magazine

3:AM: How much – in a percentage – is Eat When You Feel Sad autobiographical?

Zachary German: One hundred percent, or zero percent. It seems like we’re all mother nature’s children, in a way, and so my story is your story is [something]. I’m being serious…

3:AM: How much – in a percentage – are you happy with the finished novel?

ZG: Ninety five maybe. Sometimes I think about things that could have been made more consistent. I never went through it thinking about the climate, and trying to make the weather correlate with seasons in a way that would make sense. So I sometimes fear there may be some inconsistencies there. There are other things I probably could have done, times when I should have expanded on dialogue or something.

3:AM: How long have you been working on it?

ZG: I worked on it from autumn 2007 to autumn 2009, pretty much, I think. So two years. The majority of that time was spent editing – I had written most of the text within the first six months.

3:AM: Since its publication, is there a part/scene that you are unhappy with, and wish you could edit out/change?

ZG: No. I think all the scenes work. For the Bear Parade draft there was one scene in which the narration went into first person, which a few people seemed to like, but in the end it seemed too inconsistent, so I took it out. Nothing like that in the final draft.

3:AM: Stylistically it is consistent throughout, written in a very pared-down, minimalist way – “Robert turns off the light. Robert turns on the light. (etc)” – Did you find these stylistic choices ‘trapping’ or ‘freeing’? How did you come to choose this style to write in?

ZG: I found that style very freeing. I am easily overwhelmed when looking at a blank Word document, and it is a lot easier if I know exactly what I’m going to write. So I can just say “This is what happens” and write that down, in a very specific format. The part I like the most is the editing I do later, where I change the word “Robert” to the word “He,” or vice versa, things like that. Having very small, specific choices seems fun.

3:AM: Is the character of Sam actually Tao Lin? And in Shoplifting From American Apparel, is Robert you?

ZG: Oh… it’s just a novel, Chris.

3:AM: Okay, I know what you mean. But I also feel interested in knowing a little more about that ‘overlapping’ scene in both books – page 117 in Eat When You Feel Sad and page 78 in Shoplifting From American Apparel. Was there some sort of conscious decision made between you and Tao at some point to include this overlap between events/conversation/names etc? Or did it just occur naturally, due to the autobiographical natures of both books?

ZG: [question not answered]

3:AM: What question would you most liked to be asked in an interview like this?

ZG: What is your favorite Blink-182 song and why?

3:AM: How often – if ever – do you think of the title of your novel as an acronym?

ZG: Between 1/3 and 2/3rds of the time, probably. Like when I think with sounds it’s ‘Eat When You Feel Sad’ but when I think with pictures it’s ‘ewyfs.’ Not sure if that is true, makes sense, sorry.

3:AM: You said you enjoy the line-editing part most. Do you have a specific memory of a time/place when you felt especially happy with how your novel was going? If so, please describe it.

ZG: No real specific memories of feeling happy with how it was going, more memories of feeling it sucked but could easily be so much better. One morning I got up early and lied down in McCarren Park in Brooklyn and read a printed out draft all the way through, making notes and line edits, and feeling really good, like I was a genius who had just found a really shitty book that I could quickly change into something just terrific. Then I made the changes and probably the next time I read it all the way through I thought pretty much the same thing.

There were a number of drafts like that, where I felt each new set of edits was a revolution or something. As time went by that feeling got less and less, until it started to just seem like a pretty finished novel.

3:AM: Similarly, was there some point during the writing of the novel when you felt something along the lines of, ‘Oh no, this a complete fucking piece of shit, I’m going to give up on it’? If so, please describe.

ZG: Oh, well, I think I only ever really thought about giving up on it in fall of 2007, soon after starting it. I forget why exactly, I know I had a gmail conversation with Tao Lin about it so could probably look it up, but yeah I was just tired of doing it, and that’s when I asked Tao if he thought I should just make it a Bear Parade thing, and he said it could probably be both, and so that’s what happened.

3:AM: How do you think you and your writing would be perceived by the following people: a) a 26-year-old Italian/American female poet/blogger, who occasionally reads online journals like 3:AM, HTMLGIANT, but who also cites people like Virginia Woolf, Emily Dickinson and T.S. Eliot as influences.

ZG: Probably negatively, a woman named ‘Oriana’ who I believe roughly fits that description has already written an in-depth scathing review on

3:AM: b) an American, somewhat alcoholic, on-the-brink-of-retiring, divorced male English Lit. professor, who at one time in his life had the desire to write fiction but never did so.

ZG: Feel he would either disregard it completely or like it a lot.

3:AM: c) an English, 38-year-old male, who reads “everything from McEwen and Palanuk (sic) to greats such as Dickens and McNab (ha ha)” – note: he reviews DVD box-sets constantly on Amazon.

ZG: Feel he would get a real kick out of shit-talking it on Amazon/not like it.

3:AM: d) ‘someone’s mom’

ZG: Damn, depends on if it’s ‘my mom’ or not. ‘My mom’ would ‘say she liked it,’ if memory serves. Others’ moms would probably not read it all the way, I feel. If they did they would probably feel disturbed … in a bad way.

3:AM: Your author biography on the back page of the novel reads: ‘ZACHARY GERMAN was born on December 17th, 1988 at Shore Memorial Hospital in Somer’s Point, New Jersey. In 2006 he dropped out of high school. In 2007 he published his first short story. In 2008 he moved to Brooklyn. In 2009 he works as a dog walker on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and maintains two websites:, and, which collects videos of people eating while feeling sad’. Do you think you could carry this third-person sentence-per-year biographical description on to provide a speculative description of the years of your life from 2010-20/30/40/whenever-you-get-bored?

ZG: [question not answered]

3:AM: What is your favourite Blink-182 song and why?

ZG: ‘Untitled’ off Dude Ranch. Seems really catchy/memorable with several distinctive sections. Confused as to why I wrote ‘with distinctive sections.’ I have good memories of running around the track in tenth grade gym class with Colin Gilmore singing this song. Seems apt to a number of situations, lyrically. Don’t like how there’s a weird talking thing at the end of the studio version though. That should make it lose points. So maybe ‘Josie,’ also off of Dude Ranch.


Zachary German Thank You
AVF Press

'Kortprosa. Amerikansk. Om minner. Formgitt av Håkon Pagander.

'John asked what we were cooking for breakfast and when I told him I was trying to learn how to poach eggs he said he was very good at poaching eggs. He offered to show us the video that taught him. He brought out his computer and I paused the new Interpol album, which seemed no worse than we’d expected. He said that the guy in the egg video was weird, but that it was a good video. He said we could fast forward through the beginning.

'Thank you is unfortunately sold out in print. Download here.' -- AVF Press


I slept through the stop at 30th Street Station and woke up in the White Marsh Mall parking lot. I looked through old emails on my phone, found Katherine’s number and called her, the only person I thought I might know in Baltimore.
    I hadn’t seen her in two and a half years, during which time she had married and become estranged from Joseph, once my very close friend. She didn’t answer, and I was shopping for a ticket back to Philadelphia when she called back, saying she’d meet me at the McDonald’s in forty-five minutes.
    On her father’s porch swing we drank his warm, imported beer, and I feigned happiness about Joseph’s recent book deal. We talked about the end of their marriage, and recalled fondly a time she and I had visited the outlet store near Druid Hill Park.
    Around eleven AM we walked to a bar called DeMitri’s where we drank Southern Comfort and played Keno. We made out at the bar and bought condoms at 7-11. In the late afternoon her father walked in as I was going down on her, to ask about some pain pills he couldn’t nd. It was later established that his roommate’s son had taken them.
    John asked what we were cooking for breakfast and when I told him I was trying to learn how to poach eggs he said he was very good at poaching eggs. He oered to show us the video that taught him. He brought out his computer and I paused the new Interpol album, which seemed no worse than we’d expected. He said that the guy in the egg video was weird, but that it was a good video. He said we could fast forward through the beginning.


I didn’t drink for something like forty days shortly after New Year’s, knowing that the lease I shared with Katherine would soon end, the money I had inherited from a friend of my father’s would soon run out, and that clearing my head for a little while was not generally a bad idea.
    I stopped drinking Heaven Hill all day and night and started drinking Cafe Bustello all day and night. I’d go to a café called e Dew Inn when it opened at four in the morning and read the paper, then go home and fall asleep watching Netix on an iPad with a cracked screen that Keith had given me.
    In mid-February my parents traveled to Florida. I looked after their dog and ate their frozen pizzas. One night I drove to Belco Liquors, in Mays Landing, New Jersey, where I purchased a beer called Coors Extra Gold, which I had long seen advertised in a certain bodega in Brooklyn but had never before seen for sale. I drank the six-pack on the sofa next to the dog, watching basketball.


The last time I saw Mark was at Bushwick Country Club, although now I can’t remember if it was Mark or it was his boyfriend, Jean-Eric, that I saw there. It was only one of them, as they’d recently broken up.
    Whoever was at the bar, Mark, or Jean-Eric, was there with a large group of friends I’d never met. They had accumulated too many cans of Pabst, which they offered us when they left, and we thanked them for, but didn’t drink. That was another bout of sobriety. It was the night Rachel and I met Andrew, on the L platform at First Ave. He was holding a piece of crumpled up gift-wrap, or a bow, I forget. Rachel asked him about it and he said it was from a present he’d given a friend, or that she’d given him.
    The next summer at a dinner party, one of Andrew’s roommate’s friends talked about working for Fantastic Man, which was then in the process of launching a women’s magazine. I said, “But isn’t Fantastic Man basically already like a standard women’s magazine?” He said no and asked if I’d ever read Fantastic Man. I had, in fact, and didn’t know what I’d meant by the comment. I still don’t, it had just been something to say.


It was during the few weeks I lived with my parents in between living with Katherine and living with Rachel, both exes by that point, that my father sent me to Woodbury, New Jersey to pick up lumber. Because of, and as a neces-sity to, the nature of his business, he has an arrangement with certain of the region’s wholesale lumber yards such that when an amount of stock is damaged, or returned, or just left to sit on the lot too long and go grey, he will pick it up, or at times have it delivered, for pennies on the dollar.
    Long-term financial pursuits have not panned out for my father, as a rule. Describing the low prices he pays for lumber, as compared to the high prices one would normally pay, is perhaps the chief memory I have of his expressing pride, a satisfaction at having gotten the best of an unjust system.
    He gave me rope and directions to the lumberyard. I used an FM transmitter attached to my iPod to listen to the FIDLAR album, and missed my exit. I turned around at a Canal’s Liquor Store just before the Delaware Memorial Bridge, bought a liter of Evan Williams and asked for directions.
    At the yard the man who I was to talk to was with another, ostensibly paying, customer, who seemed to be leaving as I approached. The clerk looked my way, as if to address me. When I identied myself as my father’s son he announced that he knew who I was, brusquely.
    I loaded the wood and tied it as well as I knew how. I don’t remember my father ever using ratchet straps, although in the time since I have learned their value, and would recommend their use on any similar transport of lumber.
    I made no stops from the lumberyard’s gate until a mile or two from my parents’ home, where the Toyota Tundra was struck from the side by a Mercedes-Benz GLK which had run a stop sign. The other driver and I parked in front of an eighteenth century Presbyterian church and exchanged insurance information.
    By the time I got to the house my parents had already received a phone call from the driver, who acted graciously in our brief dealings with him. The truck’s damaged metal was removed and sold for scrap and, with the insurance money, my father was able to build a new truck bed, tailgate and racks, all of mahogany, on which he had the name of his business and his phone number professionally gold leafed.


p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, Yes, Doug Edwards! I'd heard he had died. A lot of people from LA, heavily including me, owe him a lot. I really like early Bertolucci, as this weekend's post will make clear, but, man, I think his Bowles film is really dreadful. But I think we've had that conversation before? ** Tosh Berman, Gosh, thank you, Tosh! Focusing on Bowles' music would make for a very interesting and not typical Bowlesian post. I wonder how much of his music is online for sharing. I'll check. In any case, terrific idea, thank you! ** James, Hi, James! My pleasure. Yes, I have the new Kobek on the way to me as well. Exciting. An ex-boyfriend of mine was really into Lilly when he and I were together, so I heard a lot about him, although I don't think I ever actually read any of his books. What a nice effect his stuff is having on you! The Cobain one is quite rudimentary and not shocking or anything. Enjoy Austin. I enjoyed it the one time I was there. Mm, I used to have friends in Austin, but I don't think any of them live there anymore. I think a d.l. of this blog who hasn't been around here in a while lives there. Love back to you! Have big fun! ** Steevee, Hi. Well, sure, that's understandable. I would imagine that venues for film writing are not exactly chomping at the bit to commission or even run things on non-narrative film, so that's no doubt part of the problem. I just wish that wasn't the case. It would be so interesting to read takes on non-narrative/experimental film by younger film writers/buffs. If you really search around online, like I do for those posts, there are random younger people fascinated by that kind of film who post about it on their blogs and things, although they mostly quote older critics' writings. ** Tomkendall, Hi, Tom! Things are relatively pretty good with me. Migration stress sounds really stressful. Hopefully after the preliminary hassle, you'll be warmly embraced. Those stories sound super interesting. Yes, of course, I would love for you to do a Day about the book! Please do whenever you and it are ready! That would be really awesome, thank you! Best of luck with everything, my pal. ** S., Hi. Nice blog post, dude. Hot. I used to be able to play chords, but that was it. I was always the rhythm guitarist in the two and half bands I was in. But one of those bands used to do some covers of early/ contemporaneous Velvet Underground and Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd and other kind of complicated stuff, so I must have been okay at chording to be able to keep up, I guess. Bon Jovi has a good quote about love? That I can not believe, I'm sorry. Thanks for the Avital link! I'm in the mood! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Me too, about reading books in their original language, but the 'sad' thing is that I mostly read fiction by French and German and other non-English authors, well, except for new books 'cos the US is having its amazing renaissance of daring new fiction writers right now. Having that paper is a good thing, yeah, probably worth sticking to school for. I just wanted to be a writer, so I didn't really need to have a degree. If I was into teaching for a living like most of the writers I know, I would be in trouble now without it. Yeah, that's a great subject for your thesis, obviously. Incredibly rich area. Wow, how did I not know that Marching Church is playing here on the 24th? Weird. Thank you for telling me, my friend. I'll get on that pronto. Have a superb Friday! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Ha ha, I almost included that Tiger Woods one, but it didn't make my final draft for some reason. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. Yeah, it's unpleasantly weird about that shared trait among film programmers. They also have a consistent tendency to say they'll get right back to you about your submission and then go completely silent and not respond ever again. Super obnoxious way to do things. Our new film is pretty different, yeah. It has single narrative and a single cast of characters/performers unlike 'LCTG'. 'LCTG' is about sex and desire, and the new film isn't about that at all. I'm sure there'll be some holdover in terms of how the material and so on are approached cinematically. That's Zac's doing, and we haven't talked about that yet. We want to get a producer nailed down first. But Zac's visual ideas, while various, are pretty distinct, and Michael Salerno will be doing the cinematography again, so, no doubt whatever shifts happen won't be entirely radical. Thank you asking. Sure, we can Skype. When do you want to? Let me know by email or here or something. Oh, and your guest-post, which is wonderful, of course, will run here a week from today, on the 18th. Thank you again so much for that! And, yes, I'll pass along your GH interview. I spaced on doing that yesterday. Everyone, the fine, fine fella and scribe Jeff Jackson, who goes by Chilly Jay Chill when he's here, has interviewed the fine, fine fella and scribe and fellow d.l. Gregory Howard about his great recent novel 'Hospice' over the always crucial Fanzine, and you can read it right here. ** Brendan, Hi, B. Well, while it's nigh on impossible to judge a painting based on snaps, I think I can safely say it's fantastic. Call it my intuition or super-powered eyes or something. Yay! About the chunneling! And the two! ** Misanthrope, Oh, that's good, isn't it? I think there are a number of drugs happening in 'Enter the Void', but, yes, I do think DMT is very prominent among them. Oh, what I meant was that Americans use French and Spanish words in their day-to-day talking all the time. It's just you guys' flat American accents that make them sound like unusually spelled English words. It's in the 20s here right now pretty consistently, and it's not that cold. But I think I'm not a weather wuss. Except when it's a high temperature. Then I become a whiny bitch. ** Bill, It's weird, right? I was surprised. I just started looking for them on a whim, and then ... bonanza. So sorry about your allergies interfering with you. Fuck them. Just fuck them. With a sledgehammer. With five sledgehammers at once. That should do it. Love, me. ** Right. So, Chris Dankland's alert yesterday that the new Zachary German book is out and available for free download got me so excited that I quickly put together a post to welcome it. And there it is. All please hail Mr. German. See you tomorrow.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Real things, often bad, reenacted with 3D animation

Double landslide

如廁男被 揸 下體 差 啲 姦埋

US Airways Flight 1549

Woman's body went unnoticed for two days in public pool

The Rhode Island nightclub fire


Nine-year-old forgotten by his parents at highway station

Paul Walker Crash Site

A Day in Pompeii

Trying to escape the sinking Titanic

Kurt Cobain 3d model crime scene greenhouse Seattle april 1994

Malfunctioning toaster

Girl, 14, dies after secret slumber party drinking session


The Herald Of Free Enterprise capsizing

Crime Scene Body Example

JFK Assassination


Heating Unit Explosion

Pan Am 103 - Lockerbie Disaster

Evidence used to convict Amanda Knox

Seattle Earthquake Simulation

Tupac Shakur's Murder

DMT Trip Simulation

School stabbing: teacher, 3 students killed by parent

The Sinking of the Costa Concordia

Motorcycle Accident Reconstruction

Two news helicopters crash over Phoenix, Arizona

JetBlue flight diverted after pilot flips out



Meteorite hits Earth


p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thanks for your thoughts on Kubelka's work. I disagree with you, of course, but that's showbiz, ha ha. Have I not had a decent Paul Bowles Day here? Maybe not. That's very strange, isn't it? Hm. Let me see what I can find and how I can make something, even focused on one of his books, if need be. Thank you for the alert and push. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh! Ah, I'm so happy to hear of your enthusiasm for Kubelka's work! I totally agree about its militancy and purity, yes! I feel so lucky to have been at the right age and inclination to have gone to ... gosh, I'm forgetting what the series was called, but there was an amazing experimental film series in LA in the early 70s. My friends of the time and I were total devotees. It took place at this little theater that no longer exists in the last western-most block of Melrose right before it merges with Santa Monica Blvd., and I think later the series moved to LAICA on Robertson? I think the guy who ran and hosted it was named Doug (something)? They showed the works of all the great experimental filmmakers of that era and before, including your dad's, and I saw so many amazing things there and had my sense of art and what was possible completely enlarged and reinvented. I was just at this amazing bookstore here, Section 7 Books, last night, and they had a book of photos of the SF punk scene by Bruce Conner, which I had no idea existed, and which was really unexpected. Maybe I'll just read the early part of Kim Gordon's book about her Cal Arts and Mike Kelley days because that sounds extremely interesting, yes. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I'm looking forward to that reissue/expansion of 'England's Hidden Reverse' too. I don't think of that as being about recent rock history except maybe in loosest sense. It would spectacular if you want to and have the time to finish the 'La-Bas' post, obviously! Thank you very much for wanting to! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. I looked a little into the dogging phenom, and, yeah, it's kind of depressing. But interesting, of course. Great about the panel, and whoo-hoo about the meeting on Friday! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Me too. About the video. No, 'Candy' was not to be found at the bookstores I hit yesterday, but I realized that I can just order it, so I will. It's always so nice to buy a book in a bookstore, but Paris is not exactly a treasure trove of English language bookstores. You're heading into thesis writing? That sounds so intimidating, but I never wrote one myself. I quit university, for better or worse. Those interviews do sound really interesting. Do you have people in mind whom you want to talk to? Does your thesis have an overall theme or, I don't know, point? My day was good. Uh, my pal Zac and I saw a show of work by the architect Renzo Piano and then hung out and then went to probably my favorite bookstore in Paris, Section 7 Books, and spent way too much money buying things. It was nice. I hope your day is one that is worthy of you. ** Steevee, Hey. Yeah, what's sad to me is that people who are serious about film now mostly act like the great experimental filmmakers don't exist and aren't a significant part of film history. When I make posts about people like Kubelka and am looking for texts and links, I realize that very many of the major film critics of the 60s, 70s, and even into the 80s a bit wrote about and reviewed experimental films in prominent places. Now, well, you hardly ever see experimental film written about seriously or even referenced in prominent English language newspapers and magazines. I have the impression that a lot of newer film critics literally have not even seen that work. I guess that's part and parcel of a general conservatism about and neglect of non-narrative film, writing, theater, etc. these days, but I find that depressing, naturally. Fantastic news about your interview with Tsai Ming-liang! I'll be very excited to read that! Very cool! ** S., Hey. Well, me too. I could do chords but leads sand complicated stuff, no way. I think I mostly liked the guitar's weight. Actually, Beck played a gold flaked number, or he did at the point that I was into him. I forgot about Valentines Day until you just mentioned it. Huh. They do do it over here. Another post! Everyone, S. follows up his very recent new work/post, as you were alerted to yesterday, on his always enticing blog, with this new thing which looks equally attractive and disturbing in that way that only S. can manage to devise. Hit it. ** Armando, Hi. Don't feel even the slightest bit bad, my friend. I just wanted to point that out because you made me think about the blog and my relationship to it and to the relationships I have here. It was just some air clearing. We're good, and everything is totally cool. ** Brendan, Dude, that is one very big painting you made there. And it's very awesome! Cool that Kubelka effected you. Me too. Sweet that you'll get to hang out on the periphery of your friend's film and beyond its periphery. Chunneling over here is super quick and easy, so, yeah, please do! I'd love to take you to dinner too. So, I guess that means we'll have to have two dinners. ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. Really nice interview with Gregory over at Fanzine. Last I heard, our producer people had managed to get the DVD release held back until early summer, and we're currently scrambling to try to set up screenings of the film in the US before the DVD/axe falls. Based on my experiences in that regard, I have to say that film programmers in general are about the flakiest people I have ever had to deal with. I saw a guest-post by you in my mail this morning! Thank you, thank you! I'll set it up and get back to you with the launch date right away. Woods ... do I not know of them? I think I don't. Or I'm spacing out. I'll go look. Thanks! ** Misanthrope, I kind of figured. About Kubelka. But there are probably as many American English words rooted in French and Spanish as in Latin. I just feel like learning Latin at this point would be about as useful as learning how to repair a transistor radio. That story about your co-worker is really, really sad. Jesus. Sad. ** Chris Dankland, Hi, Chris. It is, right? 'Pause!', I mean. Cool, I'm really glad the post interested you. Wow, that's great news about the Zachary German book! For me too because my copy is sitting in my apartment in Los Angeles. Thank you! Everyone, Chris Dankland tips all of us to the fact that 'Thank You', the new book by the great Zachary German, former d.l. of this blog and author of the contemporary classic novel 'Eat When You Feel Sad', is now a pdf that you can download for free! This is big! Don't deprive yourselves by not clicking on this link and getting yourselves a copy now. Fantastic! Thanks a lot, Chris! Best day to you! ** Rewritedept, Hi. Neu! is a nice way to spend one's ears' time. No, my hair was never great. It's just there and always has been. But I guess I always figure out a way with work it. My favorite Cure album is 'Pornography'. Hope your day is a goodie. ** Right. Today's post results from some whim I had one day not unlike posts here occasionally do. Hence, there something is. See if my whim is infectious or not. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Peter Kubelka Day

'A cold sort of ecstasy—that’s what he says his films are supposed to trigger. And they do. Anyone who’s ever seen the disturbingly immaculate works of Peter Kubelka in a theatrical setting will agree. In fact, that’s the only way you can see his films since there are no digital copies available, apart from those pirated YouTube clips, which don’t give you the faintest idea what Kubelka’s art is really about.

'Now, at 78, Kubelka is about to conclude his cinematic career with a multi-faceted international project that’s ambitious even by his standards. A new work called Antiphon forms the center of this adventure. It comes as a surprise: the film, to be released this fall, will be only the eighth entry in the Kubelka filmography—all of them short but highly condensed. In almost six decades he has produced little more than an hour of cinema in total. He brought the bulk of his oeuvre into existence between 1955 and 1966. After that, filmmaking became a matter of decades: the body-art-farce Pause! (77) was unveiled 11 years after Unsere Afrikareise (66); and a full 26 years passed between Pause! and the found-footage-fantasy Poetry and Truth (03), a sarcastic study of TV-commercial banality. Kubelka has taken another nine years to generate Antiphon, which revisits the roots of his own creative history, harking back to one of the pillars of modernist cinema, Arnulf Rainer (60). That stroboscopic film reinvented the medium as sense-attacking, storyless, color- and image-free structuralism, pushing abstraction and minimalism into a paradoxically concrete maximalism. Arnulf Rainer essentially constitutes a rhythmical modulation of the four basic elements of cinema—light and darkness, sound and silence. For six minutes and 24 seconds the film, made out of transparent and black 35mm frames, deafening white noise and the relative silence of the untouched optical soundtrack, shreds the viewer’s nerves—dazzling, roaring, darkening, and hushing in ever-changing metrical variations.

'The genesis of this drastic little film dates back to late 1958. Kubelka—a judoka, musician, and graduate of the Vienna and Rome film academies—had just invented his metrical cinema by releasing two frantic, radically compressed works, the 90-second Adebar (57) and the 60-second Schwechater (58). Both films were advertising commissions, for a Viennese nightclub and an Austrian beer brand respectively. Using hypnotic loops and syncopated variations in movement, both films proved too formally advanced for their baffled sponsors: Adebar presented rigorous repetitions of a dance scene in silhouette in rapid positive-negative alternations set to a fragment of ancient music from central Africa; the staccato images of Schwechater demonstrated how figurative film, abstract art, and material science could be conjoined. Kubelka rewrote cinema, enumerating all the possibilities of complicating audiovisual rhythms; he created prototypes for films made out of motion and stasis, synchronicity and arrythmia. His clients reacted with indignation for wasting their money, and the rest of the slow-burning art scene in late-Fifties Vienna had no idea what hit them when the lights went up.

'Ridiculed and insulted, Kubelka quit Vienna, an impoverished 24-year-old artist, and moved to Stockholm where he continued working on his metrical trilogy by typing the black-and-white blueprint of Arnulf Rainer onto thin strips of paper that stood in for the film stock he couldn’t yet afford. Then and there he dreamed up the revolutionary film, hearing and seeing it in his head. In 1959 he came up with its title, an homage to his friend and sponsor, the painter Arnulf Rainer. When the film had its premiere in Vienna in May 1960, the 300-seat theater was packed. Six-and-a-half minutes later only a dozen people were left. “I lost most of my friends because of Arnulf Rainer,” Kubelka recalls.

'But he never forgot the film’s profound impact—and three years ago he decided to produce a polar-opposite version of it. “I do not want to use digital imagery, which is always ‘enhanced,’ so that you have no choice but to contribute to a worldview in which everything glitters like a commercial. I want to conclude my life’s work with a monument to film.” And so Antiphon was born: all of Arnulf Rainer’s black frames would become white, and its white ones black; all its sections of sound would become silent, and in all its previously silent passages there would be noise.

'“Antiphon” is a term used in church music to signify the response, the counter- chant, in a choral piece. It’s an appropriate title for a film that will mirror an older one, and it ties in nicely with Kubelka’s idea of cinema as an alternative form of liturgy. “In fact, the antiphon is older than human life,” Kubelka remarks. “Birds, frogs, and cicadas have been communicating that way for millions of years. And it’s also in our every-day communication, in our greeting verbiage, for example, in the repetition of ‘How do you do?’”

'Something monumental this way comes: Antiphon is part of a larger work called Monument Film, which will be presented in two ways—as a double projection of Antiphon and Arnulf Rainer (side by side as well as superimposed) and as an installation, a sculptural exhibition of the film material. Kubelka considers this endeavor to be a culmination—the finale to his cinematic labors, going out in an appropriately Dionysian way.

'Ever since word got out a few months ago that Kubelka was working on a new film, high-profile art and cinema institutions around the world have shown a keen interest in presenting Antiphon and Monument Film. It’s not just Antiphon and Arnulf Rainer and the installation that will be on display—Martina Kudlácek’s Fragments of Kubelka, a remarkable new four-hour documentary on the master’s life and visions, will also be exhibited. New York, Kubelka’s adoptive hometown in the Sixties, will be the first place to show the new work. There will in all likelihood also be a theatrical release of Kudlácek’s film at Anthology Film Archives where in 1970 Kubelka installed his Invisible Cinema theater, which today resides in the Austrian Film Museum.

'Kubelka’s highly distinctive film art is strictly handmade. He no longer needs a camera, or even an editing table. At his home, a spacious old apartment in Vienna’s Innere Stadt (Inner City) crammed with thousands of ethnographic artifacts illustrating his etymology of objects—tiny sculptures, primitive musical instruments, work tools dating back to the early Stone Age—Kubelka explains his artistic formation: “The material itself taught me how to make films.” He’s sitting at his wooden kitchen table, tackling the 35mm film strips with scissors and glue, as if modern film technology had finally lost all its power, and the art of cinema had returned to the way Georges Méliès created his wondrous films. Kubelka proceeds image by image, patiently splicing together clusters of black or transparent frames, providing them with contrapuntal soundtracks of noise or silence, following his score with minute precision. Arnulf Rainer and Antiphon each consist of precisely 9,216 frames. Kubelka has to touch every single one of them. He doesn’t handle the material especially gently, but then he doesn’t have to: film is strong and withstands rough treatment. And in any case, Kubelka loves the traces that time and life leave on film, which ages and changes with each pass through the projector.

'Not surprisingly, the filmmaker disapproves of the compromised way films are usually shown in theaters. To bring film to life, he says, “you need a setting that allows for total immersion”: no lights other than the screen itself and no plush interiors. And of course, only original versions: “In order to understand a film, even if it contains foreign-language dialogue, you can’t have subtitles. Ever.” Kubelka explains, without a trace of irony: “You can destroy a film in several ways: cut it up, burn it—or subtitle it.” In his ongoing crusade for the correct appreciation of the medium, Kubelka is a veritable film fundamentalist—one of the last of his kind.

'Jonas Mekas has described Kubelka’s films as “crystalline”—as perfect as elemental matter. In fact, Kubelka sees nature and art as inseparable—as both biological and cosmic. In analog cinema that is based on the rapid alternation of light and dark “you have the break of dawn and nightfall 24 times in each second.” Kubelka follows the principle of maximum reduction, but he wholeheart-edly rejects terms like “experimental” or “avant-garde,” and insists he’s simply making “normal” films. “I never wanted to be radical, only consistent, like a scientist working toward his results. I am not intentionally radical.” Kubelka likes to compare film frames with musical notes; by composing images in series of 16, eight, six, and four he achieves regular harmonic rhythms that spectators can feel in their bones. “The atomos in Greek is the smallest unit, the indivisible—and cinema’s atomos is the single frame. My personal splitting the atom has been to perceive film not as motion but as a quick succession of static units. Arnulf Rainer developed out of a longing for the ‘now’-experience. The ecstasy it induces is the result of concentrating those now-moments.” Cycles and repetitions, he maintains, are the key to our existence. “Time doesn’t exist: we create it by breathing, walking, making love. As a filmmaker if you wish to create your own time, you need tools and machines: the film strip, scissors, and a projector.”

'There’s an almost religious dimension to Kubelka’s devotion to film. Announcing his new project recently, he wrote: “Ad maiorem pelliculae gloriam in the year of death and resurrection.” In this formulation, cinema’s thin surface becomes God’s stand-in, alone in deserving greater honor. But Kubelka is also able to put things into words that are a little less exalted: his statement ends with a sarcastic declaration of intent to “fly in the face of the digital.” Because times are hard for analog film, Kubelka proclaims that “2012 is film history’s darkest year. The hostile takeover by digital imagery is finally complete. Even though everybody knows how short-lived digital archiving is. But short-term profit is more important. European film companies have even begun to force exhibitors to destroy their old projectors; in order to get digital projection equipment, they have to show proof that they have destroyed the old machinery. The industry wants to kill off the old medium, by any means. I see my Monument Film as a call for patient defiance.”

'Kubelka’s decision never to make his films available in digital form is set in stone, by the way. He considers analog cinema simply untransferable. Just for the record, he stresses that he’s in no way averse to digital technology; he owns and uses all sorts of electronic devices from a notebook computer to an iPad, which he lovingly refers to as “my portable memory.” It’s just that when it comes to cinema, Kubelka says, the new medium cannot cope—or compete. “Here’s the digital dilemma: all those so-called eternal numbers [in data] still have to reside in matter, in machines. And those machines are short-lived—more so than ever, in fact. Now even Hollywood has started to preserve its productions on film again. There is a hard core to the photographic art that activates ideas and thoughts that no other medium can even remotely touch.”

'So there is hope, Kubelka concludes with a characteristically dialectical turnaround toward pure optimism: “There is a new global avant-garde working exclusively with photographic film, there is a growing international lab movement backed by thousands of young film artists. The phoenix will rise from the ashes. I do not doubt that in the least.”' -- Stefan Grissemann, Film Comment



Peter Kubelka @ IMDb
'The materiality of film: Peter Kubelka'
'A Trip Through Peter Kubelka's "Unsere Afrikareise"'
'I Built Then My Ecstasy: On Peter Kubelka’s Cinema'
'Fragments Of Kubelka'
'Cinema: “Food” for Thought'
PK interviewed @ Electric Sheep
Video: 'Peter Kubelka and his iPad', by Jonas Mekas
'"In die Avantgarde ausgestoßen"'
'Inside Celluloid: Peter Kubelka at the Biennale'
'Modernism's mirror : Peter Kubelka, painting, and European avant-garde film'
'Dystopian Ethnography: Peter Kubelka's Unsere Afrikareise Revisited'
'Sticking to the essentials: Peter Kubelka'
'Cinema as Artifact and Event: Peter Kubelka as Curator, Archivist, and Media Theorist'
'Kubelka & Mekas: master chef and godfather'


Peter Kubelka: Metaphoric Cinema

Peter Kubelka at Drawing Room, Saturday June 16, 2012

HfbK Symposium "Warum gestalten?" - Peter Kubelka

Masterclass Peter Kubelka

Peter Kubelka (1983) by Gérard Courant


Pamela Jahn: You once said that you’ve lost most of your friends because of your film Arnulf Rainer.

Peter Kubelka: To be honest, I love it when people enjoy my work, but I don’t really care if they leave the cinema. I never really had a relationship with the public. I work for myself. I strongly believe that if I do the best I can, according to my standards, then other people will understand my work. If some people leave when they see my films, whether it is Arnulf Rainer or Antiphon or Monument Film, that really gives me pleasure. It proves that they can provoke a reaction, unlike so-called "art" which has turned into something close to social entertainment, where people will accept anything. My intention when making films is not to entertain, I'm like a scientist who does his research. I made Arnulf Rainer without having a precise idea of what it would look like on the screen, because I couldn’t project it or look at it on an editing table. I was very poor back then and as with almost everything, when you are poor, you are more courageous because you have nothing to lose.

PJ: Your first films Adebar (1957) and Schwechater (1958) were originally commercial films that your clients – a Viennese bar and a brewery – rejected.

PK: I consider my position towards commercial cinema as that of a parasite. Again, it’s a very similar position to that of a scientist or explorer: in order to get where you want to be, you need to have some sort of a relationship with those who pay for the medium. The only way I thought I could do this was to become a criminal – I stole all my films. I accepted commissions, but then didn’t really execute them in the way that those who paid for them had anticipated. What gave me the moral assurance that I was right, was to believe that I gave them something much better than what they really wanted.

PJ: Were you sued by the brewery, Schwechater?

PK: Yes, I was sued and I had to leave the country. I went to Sweden and worked as a dish washer and God knows what else. It was the only way for me to survive. Schwechater was very influential, so I couldn’t stay and work in Vienna. Even the film lab would no longer do prints for me because Schwechater was their client. All in all I paid very dearly for my films, because I lost all my friends, I lost my social and work environment many times. I lived about 14 years of my life without a clue how to survive until I came to America and started teaching.

PJ: You have become a very well-respected lecturer around the world. What do you teach about filmmaking based on your own experience?

PK: What I do in my lectures is to try to help people to find a non-verbal entry into my work by leading them into my thinking. It’s practically impossible to translate the content of films like mine into another medium like language. For instance no one is able to fully explain a piece of music to people who haven’t heard it. For me, speaking is just another medium I use. So, in essence, my lectures are "talks", which I have pleasure in exercising.

PJ: What was your main intention when making Arnulf Rainer and, subsequently, Antiphon?

PK: Arnulf Rainer is the logical consequence of my previous film travels, so to speak. It’s like when Schönberg started 12-tone music: he didn’t invent it as people always say, rather it was a logical consequence of musical history up to that moment. In the same way, Arnulf Rainer uses the most simple and essential elements that constitute the medium of cinema, namely light and the absence of light, sound and the absence of sound. These four elements are the bare essence of cinema, you cannot go beyond that. In a way you could say with Arnulf Rainer the pole of the cinematic universe has been reached, the point of its most simple form of existence. But it might not be as clear when you look at the film alone. Its counterpart, Antiphon, which I have now made, completes the work in that way. It’s comparable to the philosophy of yin and yang in that both films complement each other to create a whole. This is what I was trying to achieve with Monument Film.

PJ: Did you always intend to make Monument Film after Arnulf Rainer?

PK: The idea was already there in the very beginning, but it was an economic question at the time. All my metric films are only prototypes, where I realise only one phase that defines that kind of cinema. In Adebar, I already had the thought that light and darkness should be equal. I achieved this by showing all the elements in positive and negative for the same amount of time, so by the end of the film the screen has received the same amount of light in all its parts. This was my first metric film, an idea that I then followed up with Monument Film.

PJ: Can you expand on the role of symmetry in your work?

PK: We are celebrating symmetry every second of our life. We also have this concept of completion. The Asians show this phenomenon in yin and yang. Yin is a form, and yang completes it into a circle. In music it is the syncopation. When you project Antiphon after Arnulf Rainer, after some time into Antiphon, you start thinking of Arnulf Rainer; you start feeling that Antiphon is very intimate with Arnulf Rainer. If you project them both side by side – at the same time – you will always have one side dark and the other side light. So, in a way, there is light all the time in each film. In Monument Film, they are projected one on top of the other, and theoretically, there will be a continuous white light. But in practice it’s not, because in analogue cinema there aren't two projectors alike, nor two sound speakers, so in its imperfection it expresses the materiality of the medium. With Monument Film, I wanted to create a memorial to cinema that explains the materiality of film.

PJ: You once said that you can destroy a film in several ways: cut it up, burn it – or subtitle it.

PK: Subtitling films is somewhat a poisoned medicine. The subtitles become the strongest visual element that appears on the screen and the film becomes a vague optical event in the background which you have to disregard in order to read the subtitles. In my view, subtitling a bad film doesn't destroy much. But with a good film, everything on the screen is important and you have to use all your attention to concentrate on what you see and hear without getting distracted by the subtitles.

Of course when I watch Japanese or Chinese films without subtitles, I lose something, but on the other hand, I see the film. When you travel to China and you go to a restaurant and you look at the Chinese people sitting there, talking and eating, they don't have subtitles. This is what life is. You lose something if you don't understand the language, but you have a real message from another culture. I remember the first film I saw by Carl Theodore Dreyer was without subtitles, and I could not speak a word of Danish, so I decided I had to learn Danish in order to understand the film.

PJ: In 1964, you founded the Austrian Film Museum in Vienna together with Peter Konlechner. What kind of films did you want to collect and show?

PK: I was always in favour of those films which broadened human consciousness. This part of film history is not written by the industry, of course. Mainstream feature films today are exactly as they were in the 1930s, they are an imitation of 19th century melodrama. Actors, story, dialogue... and in the background music which is mood-making and tells you what to feel. This is so boring. That is the political side – or the economic side – of filmmaking, but it is not what film has achieved. It is the same in literature; James Joyce's Ulysses was a bestseller, and it changed human thinking. There are also such works in cinema and these are the films I wanted to present in Vienna.

PJ: When you came to New York in the late 1960s you soon became friends with Jonas Mekas and got involved in the foundation of the Anthology Film Archives…

PK: Yes, Jonas and I became friends, because we lived in a similar situation. We were oppressed by Hollywood and the unions. In the middle of all this there was France, with the flourishing Nouvelle Vague, which we both despised because it is a bastard cinema: it pretends to be free, but in reality it is commercial. These filmmakers were brought up by liberal producers and distributors, who said, "Well Mr Godard, if you express those ideas, I don't care, but let's make it ninety minutes, let's have a nice girl in the lead, and let's have an exemplary, palatable form for the public." So it is a tamed dog whose leash is a little longer than others.

PJ: You also designed Anthology’s screening space based on your concept of the "Invisible Cinema".

PK: For me, the idea of a cinema is a machine, not a place of entertainment. It’s a machine that aims to bring the work of the author to the public with the fewest disturbances. The ideal cinema would be a black space in which you don’t even feel that there is a space. You should only feel that it’s black, and the only element of reference would be the screen and what happens on the screen.

PJ: Are you resigned to digital technology taking over cinema?

PK: Personally, I have vowed not to transfer my films to digital. But it is frustrating, as many people cannot see my films because the institutions have abandoned analogue projection. Many film archives should concentrate on preserving film reels but most believe that they have to preserve the content over the material.

When photography came, people thought painting would end. When film came, people thought theatre would end. Certain things are just not the most advanced medium any more, but they still go on. You only have to understand that cinema has a core, which cannot be supplanted by another medium; if you understand that cinema can do things that no other medium can, then it cannot be abandoned.

PJ: Do you want to make more films?

PK: I think Monument Film is the completion of what I wanted to achieve with the medium, I have no wish to go further than that. As I have said, I feel more like a scientist or an explorer than an entertainer; as an entertainer I could think of variations... but I have never entertained with my films. With Monument Film I feel this is a very complete and solid result. This is it.

6 of Peter Kubelka's 9 films

Adebar (1957)
'Kubelka's achievement is that he has taken Soviet montage one step further. While Eisenstein used shots as his basic units and edited them together in a pattern to make meanings, Kubelka has gone back to the individual still frame as the essence of cinema. The fact that a projected film consists of 24 still images per second serves as the basis for his art. This idea has different materializations in different Kubelka films. In Adebar, only certain shot lengths are used — 13, 26 and 52 frames — and the image material in the film is combined according to certain rules. For instance, there is a consistent alternation between positive and negative. The film’s images are extremely high contrast black-and-white shots of dancing figures; the images are stripped down to their black-and-white essentials so that they can be used in an almost terrifyingly precise construct of image, motion, and repeated sound.' -- Fred Camper

Schwechater (1958)
'In 1957, Peter Kubelka was hired to make a short commercial for Scwechater beer. The beer company undoubtedly thought they were commissioning a film that would help them sell their beers; Kubelka had other ideas. He shot his film with a camera that did not even have a viewer, simply pointing it in the general direction of the action. He then took many months to edit his footage, while the company fumed and demanded a finished product. Finally he submitted a film, 90 seconds long, that featured extremely rapid cutting (cutting at the limits of most viewers’ perception) between images washed out almost to the point of abstraction — in black-and-white positive and negative and with red tint — of dimly visible people drinking beer and of the froth of beer seen in a fully abstract pattern. This 'commercial' may not have sold any beer in the twenty years since it was made, but I (as someone who hates beer) have vowed that if I’m ever in Austria I’ll drink some Swechater, in tribute to what I consider one of the most intense, most pure, and most perfect minutes of cinema anyone has ever achieved.' -- Fred Camper

Arnulf Rainer (1960)
'Arnulf Rainer’s images are the most ´reducedª of all — this is a film composed entirely of frames of solid black and solid white which Kubelka strings together in lengths as long as 24 seconds and as short as a single frame. When he alternates between single black and white frames, a rapid flicker effect is produced, which is as close as Kubelka can come to the somewhat more rapid flicker of motion-picture projection; during the long sections of darkness one waits in nervous anticipation for the flicker to return, without knowing precisely which form it will take. But Arnulf Rainer is not merely a study of film rhythm and flicker. In reducing the cinema to its essentials, Kubelka has not stripped it of meaning, but rather made an object which has qualities so general as to suggest a variety of possible meanings, each touching on some essential aspect of existence.' -- Fred Camper

Unsere Afrikareise (1966)
'Kubelka’s most recent film before Pause! is Unsere Afrikareise, whose images are relatively conventional ´recordsª of a hunting-trip in Africa. The shooting records multiple ´systemsª — white hunters, natives, animals, natural objects, buildings — in a manner that preserves the individuality of each. At the same time, the editing of sound and image brings these systems into comparison and collision, producing a complex of multiple meanings, statements, ironies... I know of no other cinema like this. The ultimate precision, even fixity, that Kubelka’s films achieve frees them to become objects that have some of the complexity of nature itself — but they are films of a nature refined and defined, remade into a series of relationships. Those rare and miraculous moments in nature when the sun’s rays align themselves precisely with the edge of a rock or the space between two buildings, or when a pattern on sand or in clouds suddenly seems to take on some other aspect, animal or human, are parallelled in single events of a Kubelka film. The whole film is forged out of so many such precisions with an ecstatic compression possible only in cinema.' -- Fred Camper

Pause! (1977)
'His triumph is really quadruple. First triumph: Pause! is an ecstatic work. Second triumph: With the perfection and intensity of his work he dissolved the audience’s swollen-up expectations which had grown out of normal proportions during the ten years of waiting. He enabled us to receive his new work in its newborn nakedness. Third triumph: His dissolving of Arnulf Rainer. Arnulf Rainer himself is an artist of unique originality and intensity. His face art, which constitutes the source of imagery in Pause!, is a chapter of modern art itself. I have a particular aversion to film-makers who use other artists and their art as materials of their films. These films never transcend their sources. During the first few images of Pause! I had an existential fear. Kubelka had to consume and to transcend not only Arnulf Rainer but also — and this constitutes his fourth triumph — to transcend the entire genre of contemporary art known as face art. A few more images, and my heart regained itself and jumped into excitement: Both Rainer and Art disintegrated and became molecules, frames of movements and expressions, material at the disposal of the Muse of Cinema. I am not saying this to diminish the person and art of Arnulf Rainer: His own greatness cannot be dissolved, in his art. But here we speak about the art of Peter Kubelka, and in a wokr of art, as in the heavens so on earth, there is only one God and Creator.' -- Jonas Mekas

part 1

part 2

Antiphon (2012)
'It was meant to be the highlight of the London Film Festival´s Experimenta Weekend last October, but a broken projector prevented Austrian avant-gardist and experimental filmmaker Peter Kubelka from presenting his ambitious Monument Film project – a double projection of his works Antiphon (2012) and Arnulf Rainer (1960), back to back, side by side, as well as superimposed. Both works explore the four cinematographic elements – light and darkness, sound and silence – effectively stripping cinema down to its bare essentials as well as offering `a countermeasure to the dominating emotional motion picture´ (Jonas Mekas). What´s more, Antiphon literally presents the answer to Arnulf Rainer: what was white before is now black; where there was sound there is now silence. Monument Film is a response to what Kubelka describes as the `hostile takeover´ of analogue cinema technology by digital media, and hence might be best understood as a `last call to dogged resistance´. This month, Kubelka will be back in London to accomplish his endeavour, which he himself considers to be a culmination, the grand finale to his cinematic labors. Antiphon can only be screened in combination with Arnulf Rainer (= Monument Film).' -- Pamela Jahn

Peter Kubelka presenting Monument Film

PK documenting the installation component of the MONUMENT FILM


p.s. Hey. ** Armando, Hi. I got the email with your novel attached, and I will do my best to read it as soon as I can. I have to be honest with you. I feel really bad that you have to deal with so much emotional trouble and turbulence. It's incredibly unfair to you. I wish and hope that something in your life changes so that you don't have to suffer so much. The thing is, pleading and hectoring is not effective with me. I'm just not a person whose emotional makeup is susceptible to that. If anything, it tends to make me feel steely. More so in a situation like this where we don't know each other personally and live thousands of kilometers apart, and where I am just a writer who does a blog and likes talking with people and getting to know them and their work and ideas in the context of an interacting comments section-meets-p.s. There's only so much I can do and am willing/capable of doing in this context. I'm happy to know you, and I'm glad you're here, but I'm only who I am when I'm here, which is someone sitting at a laptop in Paris who's interested in presenting things daily and talking about those things and other things that people here are interested in and doing and feeling and etc., and this set up, the blog, with all of its strengths and limitations, is only what it is. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. I never did that outdoor/public sex thing. I'm too ... something or other. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. Ah, interesting about the Greenaway. I missed its theatrical run here, but I'm sure I'll catch it somehow. I am curious. Have a lovely day! ** MANCY, Hi, S. Oh, awesome! As usual I'll get to watch your video when I'm out of here. Excited! Everyone, the amazing, multi-striped visual artist Steven Purtill aka d.l. MANCY has (begin quote) 'just finished a video for Seattle band Lonesome Shack, which is viewable on their fundraiser page for their new album. That's here if you're interested.' And you are, right? Obviously, your new collab with Mr. G and the longterm one with Mr. T are the future gone mega. You sound great! Awesome! ** Brendan, Maestro! I think I saw within my email box an email from you this morning when my eyes were not yet ready for input that I will pounce upon imminently. Yes! I'm good, busy, the usual, all good. Oh, while I don't know for completely sure yet, I will do everything in my power to be here when you're here, obviously. As soon as you've got dates or tentative ones, let me know, and I'll clear whatever decks need to be cleared. Why are you coming over this way? Great potential news! ** Steevee, Hi. I'll read your review shortly. Everyone, here's Steevee's review of Jia Zhang-ke's MOUNTAINS MAY DEPART. And thank you very much for talking to Armando. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi, Dóra. Yeah, I know. I think it's possible that we could have talked Vår into doing it, but they broke up right before we started shooting. I think maybe what we'll do with Elias, if it happens, is a video for Marching Church or Iceage or something. Fingers crossed. Okay, I'm sold on 'Candy'. I did a search. I'm going to hit an English language bookstore today while I'm out, and I'll see if they have it or might order it. I'm not reading much at the moment because I'm too beset with work and don't have brain space, but, when I am reading, I'm reading Chris Dankland's 'Weed Monks'. How was your day? What did you do? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Dogging? I don't think I know that. Hold on. Huh, that's going to take some investigating. Looks weird, no? ** S., Tripping will do that. Guitarist, eh? I like that idea. I can totally see you strapped with one and hunched over or leaping in the air knocking out power chords and, oh, all kinds of stuff. I used to play guitar as a teen. Not well. I had a Les Paul for a while. Because Jeff Beck played one back when Jeff Beck was god. Gare de Lyon is a nice area. Off, but not too. Great train station. Maybe the best one, although I vote for Gare de l'Est. Excellent facade. No, I don't think you told me that about teriyaki sauce. I wonder. You made a new thing! Looking' good. Everyone, S., maker of wonders, has made something new on his blog, multi-media, sexy and strange, and featuring Donovan! ** Chilly Jay Chill, Hi, Jeff. Oh, the Rivette box, manna. I have to get that. Jesus. Ah, shit, about those imposed responsibilities re: the gigs. Don't they have a Twitter or Facebook page or something? We'll be meeting on the 23rd with a very good French film producer who's theoretically interested in the idea of producing our new film ('Feu Vert Permanent' aka 'Permanent Green Light') because he loved 'LCTG'. He has read the script, and we'll find out if he's into producing it then. We're extremely hoping so, but we will see. Thanks for asking! ** Postitbreakup, Hi, Josh. Thank you very, very much for talking to Armando. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. I like LPS's incredible new accomplishments very much, as you can imagine. That guy is amazing. I don't understand why anyone would take Latin. I don't understand why they even teach it. I was forced to learn Latin back in high school, and it was a total waste of time. ** Chris Dankland, Hi Chris! Thanks, man. Oh, geez, my supreme pleasure about your book. I'm so loving it. I'd hug you too given the chance. We could have a hugging contest. My cold is basically vamoose now, yay. Thanks! ** Bill, Hi, Mr. H. Oh, a 'most awaited' post ... that's a good idea. I hadn't thought of that. Yeah, cool. I'll get on that. Finest of Wednesdays! ** Rewritedept, That's true. My hair is not now and has never been great, even when there was a ton of it. My cold seems to be all but over, I hope. My grandmother was great. My mom's mom. I only met my dad's mom once. She seemed weird and cool. Nope, haven't read the Kim Gordon book. I guess I will. I'd like to, but I'm not dying to. I'm just kind of not into reading about recent rock history right now, I think. ** Okay. I thought I would try to interest you or some portion of you in Peter Kubelka, a great experimental filmmaker whom I'm guessing a bunch of you won't have even heard of before? I could be wrong. Anyway, why not start to get to know his stuff? You won't be sorry if you do. See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Galerie Dennis Cooper presents ... Kohei Yoshiyuki's The Park

'The X-ray is one of several 19th century inventions that were paired with photography and led to a new conception of the camera as being not a tool for recording what we see, but a means for capturing what we can’t see. Telescopes and microscopes were also part of this shift in understanding. The relationship between seeing and knowing was becoming more complicated and the uptake of these technologies heralded a growing awareness of there being a lot more in the physical world than our senses could detect on their own.

'The images in Kohei Yoshiyuki’s series Koen (‘The Park’) also push the boundaries of visibility and human perception. They activate our vision where it usually fails – in the dark. Yoshiyuki obtained them by taking his camera on vespertine prowls of Tokyo’s public parks in 1971 and 1979, furtively capturing on film the Peeping Toms he found watching people engaged in sexual acts. Using infrared sensitive film and filtered flash bulbs, the amateur photographer was able to grant himself a gaze that penetrated straight through the very darkness that made him invisible to everybody else there. The levels of complicity, performativity and victimisation on the part of the subjects remain ambiguous – we know we are seeing something we are not permitted to see, but we have the sense that the amorous subjects audacious or desperate enough to have sex in these places must have been aware of the possibility of becoming visible.

'Of course, there’s nothing especially Japanese about bonking in public parks. But in their localised context the photographs underline the limits of privacy in Tokyo in the 1970s. After WWII the Love Hotel phenomena had flourished in Japan, allowing couples to rent rooms for ‘resting’, charged by the hour. And even before these short stay hotels, sex in urban Japan had often been removed from the private home – where typically very little personal space was possible – and assigned to semi-public chaya ‘tearooms’. Many 18th and 19th century ukiyo-e woodblock prints survive depicting a third party casually watching copulating couples in such venues, so Yoshiyuki’s series can be situated in a historical thread of artists recording or imagining voyeurism as their primary subject.

'Blown up and printed at life-size, Yoshiuki’s photographs were shown in 1979 at Komai Gallery in Tokyo where the lights were turned off and visitors were instructed to navigate the space with hand-held torches. The prints were destroyed after the exhibition, but the photographs were published in a book in 1980 before Yoshiyuki (a pseudonym, his real name remains unknown) set up shop as a family portrait photographer and vanished into obscurity. In 2006 Martin Parr’s publication The Photobook: A History included Yoshiyuki as an unknown innovator, prompting Yossi Milo Gallery in New York to track down the reclusive artist and convince him to reprint the remaining negatives.

'The photographer’s sudden destruction of the prints and abandonment of the project suggests contention might have arisen over him showing the potentially incriminating photographs that had been so clandestinely taken, very recently, in the same city. We now have a safety barrier of more than three decades between us and the images, but their capacity to involve us prevails. It is when the figures have their backs to us and evade being identified themselves that we are most heavily implicated, no matter how much distance in space and time we have secured. As with Caspar David Friedrich’s rückenfigurs (and their modern manifestations in the surrogate bodies seen from behind in video games), we are forced to enter the image because we are facing the same thing as the depicted figure in front of us.

'Looking at the Koen series induces an uneasiness that has something to do with seeing the seer looking while seeing ourselves being seen looking. Paintings depicting the Biblical story of Susanna and The Elders, where an innocent woman bathing in a garden falls victim to exploitative male desire, can have a similar effect. The scene was depicted by the likes of Rubens, Rembrandt, Van Dyck, Tintoretto and Gentileschi – its popularity being easily attributed to the justification it offered for a prominent fully exposed female nude, sanctioned under the category of ‘historic painting’. While a sanctimonious position is superficially implied for the viewer, we can’t condemn the invasive gaze of The Elders without indulging in moral hypocrisy, knowing that we ourselves have gone on to perpetuate the same gaze so prolifically.

'When we move from painting to photography the image’s capacity for implication is even stronger, because the photograph asserts that its subject at some point existed physically before the camera’s lens. It is a curious feature of the history of photography that long after the daguerreotype was superseded by cheaper and more efficient techniques, pornographic daguerreotypes continued to be produced and sold. The photo historian Geoffrey Batchen has linked this to the status of the daguerreotype as a tactile, hand-held, unique and non-reproducible object. The private act of opening the lined daguerreotype case (as with the nominally ‘sealed’ section of a men’s magazine, sealed only from those incapable of tearing the edge of a page) must have been part of the ritualised process of stimulation. The extremely long exposure time that the sexy daguerreotype image was known to have required could also have invested it with a sense of intimacy that enhanced its eroticism.

'In contrast, these gritty candid images suggest anthropological distance on the part of the photographer. Whether we like it or not we are lined up right behind Yoshiyuki in the chain of voyeurism, while in many of the images (the most interesting ones, I think) the final object of vision (the erotic act) cannot be seen. They are hardly suitable masturbation material: we are granted proximity while being denied any illusion of intimacy. Rather than removing traces of the photographer and the photographic process to suggest we are seeing directly, they make us intensely aware of the photographer and his precarious position. In this sense they are less photographs about sex, and more photographs about photography (the word means literally ‘writing with light’ but the invention was nearly named skiagraphy, ‘writing with shadow’). These images make visible what is supposed to invisible to us – sex, yes, but also, more compellingly, darkness itself.' -- Amelia Groom


Kohei Yoshiyuki @ Wikipedia
KY @ Yossi Milo Gallery
Book: 'The Park', by Vince Aletti
'SUNDAY SALON: Yoshiyuki Kohei'
'Anton Corbijn on Kohei Yoshiyuki’s ‘The Park’'
Book' 'Document Park'
'Park life: how photographer Kohei Yoshiyuki caught voyeurs in the act'


Kohei Yoshiyuki-The Park

Il Voyeurismo di Kohei Yoshiyuki

"The Park", Kohei Yoshiyuki

in French

Fisheye : Comment vous êtes-vous retrouvé à photographier des voyeurs en action ?

Kohei Yoshiyuki : À l’époque je cherchais des sujets à photographier, notamment en traînant dans des quartiers animés. J’assistais à des scènes de bagarres ou d’agressions, mais cela ne m’intéressait pas. Le parc n’était pas loin de là où j’habitais et quand j’ai découvert ces scènes nocturnes, j’ai trouvé ça fascinant. Ce qui m’a vraiment interpellé c’est la transformation radicale du parc, le contraste entre le jour et la nuit. Un lieu pour les enfants et les familles la journée qui devient un terrain de jeu pour les couples et les voyeurs la nuit, c’est un autre monde !

Savez-vous pourquoi ces couples se retrouvaient au parc pour faire l’amour ? Est-ce encore le cas aujourd’hui ?

J’ai pris la plupart des photographies de cette série au parc central de Shinjuku (NDLR : un arrondissement central de Tokyo). À l’époque c’était un tout nouveau parc, probablement ouvert à la fin des années 1960. Il était très central dans le quartier, ce qui en faisait a priori un lieu de passage idéal après un dîner ou un film pour les couples qui commençaient à sortir ensemble. Le fait de voir d’autres couples en action semblait les exciter et, comme il s’agissait en grande partie de jeunes couples, on peut supposer qu’ils n’avaient pas les moyens d’avoir une liaison à l’hôtel.
Je ne suis pas retourné dans le parc après avoir publié ces photos, donc je ne sais pas ce qu’il s’y passe en ce moment la nuit. Mais aujourd’hui ce ne serait sans doute pas possible de prendre les mêmes clichés, les gens feraient peut-être plus attention.

Comment avez-vous réussi à pénétrer cet univers pour prendre des photos ?

Cela m’a pris six mois pour être accepté et considéré comme un membre de cette communauté de voyeurs. Pendant cette période, j’ai appris la technique pour approcher les couples. Je laissais aussi les mateurs jeter un œil à l’appareil que je gardais dans mon sac. J’avais besoin qu’ils ignorent mon matériel et se disent : « C’est juste un voyeur comme les autres, mais il a un appareil photo. » Le plus difficile a toujours été de m’approcher des sujets en douceur. Si un couple ou un voyeur commençait à faire attention à ma présence, ça devenait impossible de prendre une photo.

Est-ce que vous vous considériez aussi comme un voyeur ?

Je n’ai jamais été excité sexuellement, mais j’étais exalté à l’idée d’être là et de prendre des photos. Je pense que le voyeurisme fait partie de l’acte photographique.

Les couples se savaient-ils observés ? Comment réagissaient-ils, notamment quand les voyeurs commençaient à les toucher ?

Je pense que les couples avaient entendu parler de l’existence des voyeurs dans les parcs mais, vraisemblablement, ils n’ont jamais pensé qu’ils seraient observés. Les voyeurs s’approchaient toujours doucement dans le dos de l’homme et essayaient de donner l’impression à la femme que c’était son petit ami qui était en train de la toucher. Les femmes ne remarquaient jamais qu’elles se faisaient toucher par un voyeur. Mais parfois, après avoir commencé à caresser le corps d’une femme, le voyeur devenait moins prudent et la situation s’emballait. Dans ce cas, il arrivait que l’homme devienne suspicieux et surprenne le voyeur qui quittait alors immédiatement les lieux. Après avoir compris ce qui venait de leur arriver, les couples étaient choqués.

Quel matériel avez-vous utilisé pour les prises de vues ?

L’appareil photo était un Canon 7 à objectifs interchangeables avec un posemètre au sélénium intégré pour la mesure de la lumière, donc semblable à un appareil compact. J’ai utilisé une pellicule infrarouge haute vitesse et un flash stroboscopique additionnel avec un filtre de couleur rouge foncé. Pour le tirage des négatifs, je me suis servi d’un liquide utilisé habituellement pour le développement des images de rayons X. En apparence, tout ça est une mauvaise combinaison mais ça a très bien marché.
Dans le parc, nous étions dans l’obscurité totale et je n’étais pas capable de bien voir. Je devais évaluer les angles de prises de vue et les distances dans le noir, beaucoup de clichés ont été pris sans regarder dans le viseur.

Avez-vous été inspiré par d’autres photographes ?

Non. J’ai juste voulu photographier ces situations et je l’ai fait à ma façon. J’imagine que vous avez le nom de Weegee en tête, mais c’est seulement après l’exposition à la galerie Yossi Milo à New York en 2007 que j’ai appris que Weegee utilisait aussi des pellicules infrarouges.

La première fois que vous avez exposé vos clichés, vous avez eu l’idée d’une mise en scène originale (réutilisée plusieurs fois par la suite) qui transformait les spectateurs en voyeurs. Comment le public a-t-il réagi ?

J’ai d’abord publié une partie de ce travail dans un hebdomadaire japonais en 1972. J’ai ensuite travaillé comme photographe pour une agence de presse pendant plusieurs années. Quand j’ai quitté ce job pour devenir freelance, j’ai eu l’occasion de faire une exposition. C’était en 1979 dans une galerie d’art contemporain. La galerie se trouvait dans un sous-sol sans fenêtre. Les spectateurs se retrouvaient donc dans le noir face à des tirages grand format, quasiment à taille humaine, et chacun devait éclairer mes photos avec une lampe de poche. Cette idée de scénographie m’est venue tout de suite après les prises de vue. La réaction du public a été très bonne, sauf une personne qui a appelé la police croyant avoir vu des scènes de crimes. Deux inspecteurs sont venus à la galerie, mais ils n’ont rien signalé. Après cette exposition, j’ai décidé de publier un livre avec ces photos. Entre-temps, j’avais appris l’existence un autre parc dans lequel se rassemblaient des homosexuels. Je les ai photographiés en 1979 pour ajouter ces images à la série et finaliser le livre. Peu après la publication, j’ai entendu dire qu’un voyeur s’était vanté d’être sur une de mes photos.

Selon le photographe britannique Martin Parr, votre travail est « une œuvre documentaire brillante qui saisit parfaitement la solitude, la tristesse et le désespoir qui accompagnent si souvent les rapports humains et les relations sexuelles dans les grandes métropoles comme Tokyo ». Que pensez-vous de son analyse ?

J’apprécie le commentaire de Martin Parr. Je considère en effet que c’est de la photographie documentaire et je suis très heureux que mon œuvre soit diffusée et bien reçue. J’espère que mes photos seront aussi perçues de la sorte au Japon. Malheureusement, je n’entends pas grand-chose d’intéressant sur mon travail dans ce pays.



p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Yes, I do. I've quit twice for lengthy periods of time, and it was pure hell to get there, and one of these days I might quit again, but no plans to at the moment. ** Tosh Berman, Thanks so much Tosh! ** Steevee, Hi. Yeah, I read that it's probably closing today even. It's very sad. In retrospect, they probably should have let it die at the old location. Like a lot of people, I followed my heart and donated to save the store, but between the poor new location they chose, and the way they thereby basically relied on customer nostalgia to keep the place going, and the big debts they had no real game plan re: resolving, it was pretty much doomed. It was such a great and important store for such a long time in its prime. It sounds like the blood sugar results thing can be easily resolved, or I sure hope so. ** Scunnard, Hey. Amsterdam is pretty and it has a very good two or three days' worth of fun in it. But don't go in the winter. LA, on the other hand, is endlessly entertaining. Even in the summer. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! We originally had this dream/idea that we could talk either Var or Iceage into appearing in the film for this one concert scene, but our budget was way, way too small for that. I like Loke Rahbek's stuff a lot. Lust for Youth, Croation Amor, and he did a terrific collab. album with Puce Mary last year: 'The Female Form'. It's really cool that you met and talked with him. I don't know the film 'Candy' or the Luke Davies book. I'll go try to find the book and film, thank you! Are you liking it? ** Sypha, Hi, James. Oh, as I think you know, 'Lunar Park' is one of my favorite novels by Bret. I'm glad you decided to retry it. I like it better than 'Glamorama', but that's just me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. I'm very happy that you're reading the Agota Kristof trilogy. It's one of my very favorite, very all time favorite books. Ah, yeah, Art101 delays seem to be part of its nature, but soon it will be full and complete at last, and the time taken won't matter, you know? ** S., Ha ha, you do sound like Pete Townsend. No, you don't, but I get what you're saying. Why are you intending to stay at Gare de Lyon, not that that's a bad idea? ** Misanthrope, Hi. Yeah, I don't know why I like bitter cold wind. I guess I like when nature makes you feel like walking-talking, meaningless tissue paper. Why, I don't know. Here, we've got rain and rain and rain. That's all. ** Chris Dankland, Hi, Chris! I've started reading your book. I'm taking it slow because I've had a bad (but now lessening) head cold ever since I last 'spoke' with you. Anyway, I love the stories! I've been reading each one many times, and not just because my head has been fuzzy. Dissecting them is beautiful. Really great, man! It's being a very super pleasure! Cool that you're reading 'Inferno'. Yeah, it's wonderful. The symposium was a two-day thing. I only went to the first day because that was enough for me. Basically, people sitting around discussing her work. Papers on her work were delivered. Eileen was there for one session. And she did a reading. It was cool. It was kind of academic, but relaxed too. Eileen and I met in the early'80s. I was doing Little Caesar Magazine and Press then, and I really liked her poetry, so I solicited her for the magazine. And then I ended up publishing one of her early books, 'Sappho's Boat' through Little Caesar Press, and we became close friends and comrades, and we've been so ever since. Enjoy your morning and the rest of your day too, of course! ** Rewritedept, Hey. Good news about the fairly settled moving plans and the return of your computer. I had a cold all weekend, so my weekend wasn't so high keyed. Zac and I are waiting for Gisele's feedback on the latest stuff we wrote in the TV script so we can revise and move forward. She's running around because 'TVC' is playing here and there right now, but I think we'll get her opinions today. Haven't dared to reenter the novel yet, no. 'M Train' ... oh, the Patti Smith book? I'm not very interested in reading that for some reason. Paul Mitchell has horrible hair. That's all I know about him. Yeah, I think my sister found that old photo, and, in some weird mood, I made it my whatever-you-call-it. My grandma was amazing. She basically is responsible for me being a writer, I'm pretty sure. 'Strangers with Candy' was good, yeah. The short short fiction pieces plus illustrations you're making sound very cool. ** Thomas Moronic, Thanks, bud. March! Soon! Awesome! And as awesome if not even much more so maybe that... your novel is officially coming! Any details or anything you can share? Hooray, to say the least! The Eileen Myles thing was great. I told Chris a bit about it. And seeing her was wonderful, naturally. Bon day! ** Right. On the off chance that you haven't seen Kohei Yoshiyuki's 'The Park' photo series before, I thought I would share it in your directions. See you tomorrow.