Sekula Chapter 9

From Paradise

Jump to: navigation, search

S.R. [...] I will come to the last question maybe. Because we're getting very long ... getting really tired ... This is a little bit strange question, a personal interest. Because the fusion of photography and writing is the main point in your practice: What was your ideal typical daily work as an artist?

A.S. You mean, what would be a good day? // S.R. Yes. // (laughing) Well, there's a lot of switch, I mean there's ... It's hard to answer that. Because in fact ... writing is one kind of activity, and making pictures is another kind of activity ... And I find writing always painful. I often find making pictures pleasurable and though, [...] there is also a certain amount of pain in it and difficulty in getting it right ... They are just different registers and it's very hard to do both well on the same day, let's say. (..) So it's kind of alternating emphasis in my experience. And I find now, working with the moving image again, which I didn't earlier, because I didn't like video at that time. But working now again with the medium video I find that that then triangulates things differently. I've often said of photography that it's, you know it's kind of bounded by a triangular field: painting, literature and film are the three apexes of the triangle and then you have this kind of practice that's never fixed, and if you go too far towards one, [...] something happens to destroy the photographic, but the photographic in itself is a kind of interstitial existence. [...] even Clement Greenberg seems to have believed something like that when he said that the central characteristic of photography was its literary aspect – which of course violates his definition of modernist practice, because if photography is defined only in relation to another practice then it's somehow hybrid or not quite essential. ... But he used that as way of saying that... justifying his liking for Walker Evans and dislike for Edward Weston ... That Evans understood the literary dimension of photography. So I guess the problem is how do you keep the thing mobile. (..) How do you keep a practice sort of open and free within those ... that kind of triangulated space. Once you start doing moving images then the still image becomes... becomes all the more clear ... I think what the special properties of the still image are. So that becomes interesting just phenomenologically because ... one day you are writing, one day you're shooting video, one day you're making stills. I can't say which is better. Then there is the writing one does for a film, which is very different from the writing one might do for an essay or for a text ... something I'm struggling with now, which just lead me to look at ideas of projected verse ... (?) theories of poetry, thinking about Harry Parch# ... and [...] the recitative voice, the singing voice ... problem of voice-over, voice-narrator ... and how you write for that voice ... how the voice speaks ... how the movement, you know, the sonorous movement of the voice runs in relation to a moving image. So it's not getting, it doesn't get any... The ideal day gets ... when you can solve a new kind of problem. (...) And actually that makes me think about the whole debate what a medium is ... a critic like Rosalind Krauss increasingly defending the idea of the specifity of a medium. But I think that in her case (...) that can often mean defending a practice, like so James Coleman's, [...] where's projected in the video image ... sometimes.. sometimes not... I was thinking, well then are we already talking about a kind of hybridity that goes beyond medium, but I actually think that if you work from... as soon as you start setting several different practices in play, one against the other – the written word and the image, moving image and the still image, the spoken word against the written word, the spoken word with the image, the still image with a kind of silence. [...] All these sort of variables – each one has to be brought down to certain kinds of elemental clarity; you have to really understand what's basic to that enterprise, [...] and then the works becomes a kind of assembling of elements, from these elemental... a fund of elemental understandings; if you don't have the elemental understanding, you make a mistake. And the mistakes seem more grievous when the work is itself some sort of hybrid form ... [...] from several media intersecting. That seems to me like the challenge now; how does the rhythm of the spoken voice work in relation to the moving image, ... how does the sound that comes through the window work in relation to the proper voice ... sort of film-maker problems I suppose. ... And I think one reason [...] One of the interesting things about the art world is, it sort of has a slightly tangential and probably parasitic relation to the film world, [...] that films become interesting from time to time; but there are very few critics who have actually bridged both worlds ... Ed Michaelson would be an example. But if you look at the critics around October magazine, the core group, [...] the older group ... that's the exception, most of the rest of them have really ignored film and the challenge of film. Their ideas of medium specificity have developed in contexts in which the kind fusion of media that film represents has not really been taken on or considered [...]. So I guess, [...] the art world has tended to favour analytic practices over synthetic practices. That's the reason why conceptualism and minimalism seem so important; [...] the reducted moves seem like the truer ones, the more basic ones ... part of the modernist heritage, [...]. But film has been a modernist art, but it's entirely devoted to synthetic ... [...] It's true, there are films that are analytic in character ... but nonetheless there is still the dream or the possibility of the synthetic work as a kind of ... [...] the meta-cinematic promise.

S.R. ... like the rhythm in Eisenstein's work was absolutely basic.

A.S. Yes, absolutely...

S.R. So I think we touched all the very important points

... thank you very much ...

« Allan Sekula