"A film is never really good unless the camera is an eye in the head of a poet."

Archive for the ‘The Art of Film’ Category

Antonioni’s “Blow-up” and the memory of London in the 60’s

In Architecture, Film, The Art of Film, Theory Work on April 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm

Visit my new Essay’s Blog: FilmandSpace

Swinging London in the mid-1960s was the last place you might expect to find an onscreen discussion of the ontology of the photographic image or musings on the very nature of human perception. Nor was London, whose contemporary style was typified by the daily and very public passagiato of Carnaby Street, The Rolling Stones and That Was the Week that Was, likely to be the setting for a film that would call into question the very nature of sight and memory as well as skewering the common posturings of that decade. Yet Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blowup is a film that resonates today and is still capable of raising questions about the epistemology of the Cinema, while coldly recording a period that seems, in retrospect, so very fantastical.

Antonioni’s career as a cinematic chronicler of Northern Italian middle class urban ennui was already established by the early 1960s. With L’Avventura (1960), which won the Special Jury Award at Cannes and Il Deserto Rosso (1964), a chronicle of empty life in a modern Northern Italian industrial wasteland, he revealed a unique aesthetic and a cold eye for human pretension and a certain emptiness at the heart of the contemporary city. Indeed, Antonioni seems to call into question the celebrated wonders of modernity itself in a way that seemed to echo the concerns Jacques Tati had explored so comically in Mon Oncle (1958): namely whether modern life, particularly in a city infatuated with the New, was worth the aggravation.

All of which suggests that perhaps Antonioni was more than a little aware of Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle (1927) which claims that any observed happening (however neutral or scientific the act of observation) is altered by the mere presence of the observer. Observation is thus never a neutral or abstract process. Certainly if there is a central informing principle to the narrative matrix of Blowup it is this: that no phenomenon is pure unto itself – especially when human emotions come into play, let alone consideration like guilt, obsession and, finally, fear.

The film commences with a fast moving introduction to the very stylish world of a hot fashion photographer, Thomas, played by that emblematic ’60s actor, David Hemmings. This is the world made notorious by magazines like Tatler and Queen as well as all the tabloids of the world, all Pucci fashion, dolly birds (Jane Birkin made her name in this film), drugs, fast cars and rock-and-roll.

As for those actual ’60s photographers Terence Donovan and David Bailey, from whom Thomas’ character seems in part constructed, this is the historical moment when the photographer/model association became an object of public worship. Thomas is surrounded by a fog of available chicks and big money. Trendy London lies at his feet. Antonioni, like Federico Fellini in La Dolce Vita (1960), was clearly out to peel back the decadence to show the abyss beneath – all dazzlingly brought to life with the aid of Carlo Di Palma’s jazzy cinematography.

The movie then goes into overdrive as Thomas sees something (or maybe not) while photographing in a London park. The swinging world recedes as Thomas becomes morbidly obsessed by the possibility he has in fact photographed a murder. Is that a body under the bushes? If not, what, then? The title’s meaning becomes clear as Thomas repeatedly enlarges, studies, and reworks his negatives to locate the proof for something, any evidence of a possible occurrence that seems, as his obsession grows, to become increasingly elusive. Subsequently, the film becomes, in part, a meditation on the very nature of reality and how we deform the natural with interpretations and inflexions.

Unlike a more conventional thriller (as Blowup sometimes appears) the film offers no cosy or pat solution – we never know, nor can Thomas tell, whether there was a murder, or if all that occurs is a product of a fevered mind in an overheated big city?

Read more…

Jill Kennington discusses her participation in Blow-Up.

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Andrei Tarkovsky

In Film, The Art of Film on March 22, 2011 at 5:53 am

Russian film director was Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986) was, arguably, the greatest filmmaker of his nation. He imbued each of his films with a poetry that embraced life and sought to reveal the myriad ways in which humanity manifests itself.


Scene from Mirror by Tarkovsky
Read more: http://www.answers.com/topic/andrei-tarkovsky-1#ixzz1HIxBSkak

Peter Tscherkassky

In Film, The Art of Film on March 22, 2011 at 5:44 am

Peter Tscherkassky (b. October 3, 1958) is an Austrian avant-garde filmmaker who works exclusively with found footage. All of his work is done with film and heavily edited in the darkroom, rather than relying on technological modes.

Instructions for a Light and Sound Machine:

Outer Space

Sir Ken Adam talking about his design work for 007

In Architecture, Film, The Art of Film on March 17, 2011 at 2:41 am

Production designer Sir Ken Adam was behind many of these, and here he shares his
thoughts on two of his most celebrated sets.

Click here to watch the documentary

Twelve Categories to Study Film and Architecture Relationship

In Architecture, Design, Film, The Art of Film on March 10, 2011 at 12:18 am

The topic “film and architecture” has ignited discourses from various viewpoints. Some are quite simple such as architect in major role or architecture as background, while others are more critical, probing into the structuring of the film. This article will categorize some of these existing ideas of how a film should be studied in the light of architectural discourse.

Film and architecture has been one of the most discussed topic among those involved in either discipline. There are separate views of how to evaluate the subjects and where are they linked. Though for every film there has to be some architecture in the designing of the background set involved, it is not only the set that becomes the subject of the study. And there is another less critical understanding of film and architecture where an architect is involved as a major or influential character of the story. But mostly it is the ordering of the sequence, dynamics in the arrangement of the storyline, and the spatial organization of the shot divisions where mainly critics find the similarity of the art and structure of architecture in the same of the film. Therefore these films may or may not have any direct relation with architecture either as a set or as a character. “Stalker” or “Nostalghia” by Andrei Tarkovsky or more recent example of “Run Lola Run” is studied in such perspective. However while talking about film and architecture, the movies that are always pointed out as examples can be divided in certain categories. 12 such categories are listed below with some of the examples of films.

Andrei Tarkovsky on the set of Stalker

Read more: http://www.bukisa.com/articles/212833_twelve-categories-to-study-film-and-architecture-relationship#ixzz1FpO1HvfY

1: architect as a major character in film

Examples: 12 Angry Men, Belly of an Architect, Indecent Proposal, The Black cat, and more famously The Fountainhead

Category 2: life of an architect

Example: In which Annie gives it those ones

Category 3: architecture as a metaphor to enhance the theme of the story

Examples: Alphaville, Brazil, Dr. Strangelove, La Jetee, Nostalghia, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari

Category 4: criticism of architecture/modern urban surrounding

Examples: Mon Oncle, Playtime, Sleeper

Mon Oncle, Jaques Tati

Category 5: experimenting with the structure of the film similar to architecture

Example: Tango, The Man with a Movie Camera, Wavelength

The Man with a Movie Camera

Category 6: Famous architecture/ building used as background set of the film

Example: Blade Runner, Le Mepris, Gatacca

Category 7: imaginary architecture in film

Examples: Aelita, Batman series, Just Imagine, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars

Category 8: Imaginary architecture in Animation

Examples: Castle in the Sky, Howl’s Moving Castle, On your Mark, Dragon Hunter

Category 9: Space architecture in film

Examples: 2001 A Space Odyssey, First Men in the Moon, Outland, Solaris, Total Recall

Category 10: architecture of the future

Examples: Blade Runner, Just Imagine, Metropolis, Minority Report

Blade Runner

Category 11: films that have similar artistic origin in composing space and time

Examples: Buffet Froid, Casanova, Drowning by Numbers, Europa, Memento, Run Lola Run

Momento

Category 12: feature length documentary films

Examples: My Architect, Sketches of Frank Gehry


An Architect as a Filmmaker

In Architecture, Film, The Art of Film on March 6, 2011 at 11:39 pm

” That’s one of the beauties of films:  they really do communicate.  Dynamic instead of static, they offer sound, motion, colour, all adding up to a higher degree of involvement than possible with more traditional media of our profession.”


With films, an architect can let his diversified audiences- clients, prospects, the public – not just see design proposals but actually experience them.  The desire to “experience and anticipate projects led Vincent G. Kling Associates to films to begin with… Here is how one firm uses this diverse communications medium.

Please click on the link below to read the article:  Kling_ArchitectAsFilmMaker

To find out more about the Snorkel Camera click here: snorkel.htm

Article taken from: Aia Journal; February 1971

Memory in Time and Space

In Architecture, Film, Project Work, The Art of Film on February 7, 2011 at 6:33 pm

PROJECT PROPOSAL (Client Brief):

“My objective is to crate a space in which the spectator will instantly feel as if he was intruding on someone’s memories. It’s the kind of thing that u can watch ten times over and get new meaning each time.”


“Technically photography is a medium of memory, from the moment it’s taken via processing to the final photograph.  It always shows something which was present but is now in the past.  It captures for the observer, among other things, fleeting eventful experiences in the form of a reproduction on a two dimensional surface.  The observer remains outside the scene and as such can only revive it through his imagination .  Vice versa, since becoming mobile and liberating themselves from being hung on walls as illustrations and prints, images have become a possibility of observing something distanced in space and time, of being, of travelling somewhere else, without moving from where one is.” (Florian Rötzer)

MY  DESIGN ROLE – SET DESIGNER

In this project I will be undertaking the role of a set designer.  Scenographer’s part is not only an artistic or an architectural but most of all his work is based on symbolism.  A chair in a private kitchen and the one used in a film is entirely different.  In a domestic environment it has a practical use, in a cinema it becomes a symbolical object that communicates emotions and conveys ideas to the audience.

A scenographer develops the appearance of a stage design, a TV or movie set, a gaming environment, a trade fair exhibition design or a museum experience exhibition design. The term originated in theater. A scenographer works together with the theater director to make the message come through in the best way they think possible, the director having the leading role and responsibility particularly for dramatic aspects – such as casting, acting, and direction – and the scenographer primarily responsible for the visual aspects or “look” of the production – which often includes scenery or sets, lighting, and costumes, and may include projections or other aspects. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Scenographer)

SET DESIGN – IT’S CONTENTS AND MEANING:

  1. CARROUSEL IMAGE PROJECTING DEVICE (think Carrousel Slide Projector, each horse back to play the position of a silngle image and the viewpoint of the person’s memory)
  2. 3D SOUTH BANK UNRENDERED MODEL (Vector Work) ARCHITECTURAL SPACE
  3. IMAGES from the Festival of Britain 1951 Documentary Film (Black and White) MEMORY FROM THE PAST

Evolution from personal memory to digital memory in an architectural space.

The carousel, as a metaphor, has several universal connotations generally dealing with the idealized innocence of youth and a carefree nature.  As a ride that revolves, its circular path can also signify of the wheel of life and fortune. Combining these views of the carousels symbolism: innocence, lost, the constancy of life, and destiny, are an allusion to the individual, and society at large, dignified in time at the end of this century and the beginning of the new millennium.

In this way I interpret these two images to be related: The carousel depicts the “conscious” world image of life’s path and the photographic images from the Festival of Britain depicts the “unconscious” divine equivalent, a delightful memory of the grand festival.

This is also an example of the search for the unification of the world of fantasy (as in a dream or a world of the cinema) and its nestling space (the architectural environment of the dreams setting).

The images of South Bank used in the set are reproduced from their original form, treated as flat, two-dimensional photographs to retain its role as a symbol. Placed over the carousel – the horse figures, colorless and transparent in itself; take on the colors of the images from the past. The carousel becomes a stage for the show, the grand events of the exhibition. The interplay of the “real” and “imagined” blur and shift. Perspective space is implied yet mystified with uncertainty.

Through the presence of carousel I want to explore the relationship between the human mind and the memory of a past event, image process and the technological development shown in the presence of architectural buildings.  The set illustrates the projection of an image and importance of film responds to human’s memory in an architectural environment.

I also like the analogy of carousel to image projection – its presence is almost as if it was a real carousel slide projector, a device projecting still images in its immediate space.  It moves and continues in motion, but the journey of a carousel is an illusion, just as the illusion of a moving image in our minds (visual fantasy).

The photographic images of Festival of Britain – symbolize the Memory. The 3d model of the Festival Buildings and the Carousel (crated and rendered in Vector Works CAD Program) symbolize the architectural environment of the dream.  I used the model in a very technical and unrefined look (almost like taken from the architect’s desk) intentionally underline the relationship between the two worlds.

Modeling  of the Carrousel in Vector Works

Rendering of the Model

Adjusting of the Images in Photoshop


3d CAD Model of the Festival of Britain 1951