sat in my room with the radio blaring Bach, leafing through books,
organizing my thesis. I saw it was eight o'clock and time for
a John Ford western on channel nine. I switched the radio off,
turned the TV on and returned to the books. It was then that I
realized the bombardment of the senses that one undergoes today;
the necessity of being able to jump from one level to another,
to mix a variety of stimuli at one time.
is the same type of skill that one needs in driving a car, while
talking to a friend, with the radio on, jammming on the brakes,
looking in you rear view mirror and then watching a nice girl
walking down the sidewalk; all within three or four seconds. One
must constantly reduce the amount of stimuli from one source,
increase the amount from another and begin to add a third source
that is just beginning. It may sound, in written, linear form
to be disconnected, fractured experience but in actuality it achieves
and upbeat continuity. It stems from natural understanding and
acceptance of the world in which we live.
then introduces the basic themes; the structure of contemporary
experience and how that experience is translated into the narrative
of film and television. The historical examination will then act
as a prelude to a formal analysis of my tape.
on the other hand, has in the last hundred years turned into complaining.
It's the expression of moral discomfort, unhappiness, incomprehension,
but that is all. This complaining is based on a refusal to know
the world; we are complaining because we are confronted by a world
whose architecture we cannot grasp." 1
spoke Roberto Rossellini in 1965, though his view of art of the
last hundred years is surely a minority viewpoint to the majority
of serious artists. Yet, this viewpoint has been held by a series
of talented artists within the last fifty years, especially those
involved with the narrative film. This attitude, however, has
very seldom appeared in print, for many of these film directors
felt little need to analyze their aesthetic position. 2
France of the early 1930's there was a man of the theater who
was profoundly dissatisfied with the state of theater in the Western
World. It was Antonin Artaud, who through his studies in Oriental
theater, especially of Balinese Dancers, the Japanese Noh Theater,
Shakespeare and of direct observations of the theatrical rituals
of the Tarahumara Indians of Central Mexico was brought to claim
in his celebrated First Manifesto of the Theater of Cruelty,
empiricism, randomness, individualism and anarchy must cease.
Enough of personal poems, benefiting those who create them much
more than those who read them. Once and for all, enough of this
closed, egotistic, and personal art" 3
calls for a public art, an art, which, instead of being remove
from society, is an integral part of that society, as was the
case with the various theaters that he found of particular interest.
Artaud states that,
is not a matter of boring the public to death with transcendent
cosmic preoccupation's. That there must be profound keys to thought
and action with which to interpret the whole spectacle, does not
in general concern the spectator, who is simply not interested.
But still they must be there; and that concerns us." 4
themes must be submerged, so as not to clutter the action, and
in doing this the artist yields to "The essence of dramatic
form..." as Stanley Kubrick says in a recent Time Magazine
to let the an idea come over people without it being plainly stated.
When you say something directly, it is simply not as potent as
it is when you allow people to it for themselves." 5
latter idea implies a belief in the audience to discover truths;
and in a larger sense, the participation of the viewers in their
discoveries becomes a public ritual. This then is a way of making
art which depends, for a large part, on the artists faith in mankind,
is not the intellectuals or the dilettantes who believe in this
power of mankind. Nameless millions, engaged in bitter day-to-day
struggle, believe somehow in a brilliant living future - insist
it is impossible that men live and die for nothing," 6
Fritz Lang said in 1948. This undercurrent of dissent among artists
asks the same question as Jerome Robbins does,
does it all have to be so dissected, separated, and alienated
so that there is almost a conscious push to disconnect, "
exemplified by Nam June Paik,
have to define what you do against what they (popular culture)
are doing. We want to make it more crude if they are perfect,
we want to make it more boring if they are exiting - you know?"
then brings us back to the original Rossellini quote about "complaining"
and "not understanding the architecture of the world."
But what exactly is this architecture that seems so elusive?
again, I think a quote from Roberto Rossellini may be instructive,
Renaissance is an immense fact in the history of mankind! Artists
knew how to plunge themselves into a scientific reality, to appropriate
it for themselves, to rethink it, and make it accede to the rank
of superior art." 9
the year 1905, Albert Einstein published his Theory of Relativity
and in 1908, D.W. Griffith, in his film, After Many Years, used
the parallel cut-back. I do not believe in the mere coincidence
of these two facts. I believe that both men came to the same discovery
in their respective mediums, through their genius and took another
forward step in the evolution of human knowledge. They both discovered
the time/space continuum.
is very important that the phrase, time/space continuum, be used.
The importance of "time/space" can best be explained
by Herman Minkowski, the renowned German mathematician who states,
and time separately have vanished into the merest shadows, and
only a sort of combination the two presents any reality."
discovered the time/space relationship by combining two 'filmic'
spaces or two shots of different locals in his 'filmic' time narrative,
via the novels of Dickens, while a few years later, in Russia,
V.I. Pudovkin was to analyze the relationship by saying,
film director has as his material the finished recorded celluloid...The
elements of reality are fixed on those pieces by combining them
in his selected sequence according to his desire, the director
builds his own "filmic" time and "filmic"
Dziga Vertov would express it in this way,
in Time and Space...They are lowering coffins of National heroes
(shot in Astrakhan in 1918), they fill in the graves (Kronstadt
1921), cannon salute (Petrograd 1920) memorial service hats come
off (Moscow 1922) These actions go together even in the ungrateful,
not specially filmed material (See Kino-Pravda #13)." 13
all of the above examples, time and space have absolute dependence
upon each other. Each shot in narrative -sequence depends not
only on the composition, lighting, etc. (its' pictorial values)
but also upon its duration, and relative placement with the other
shots. The shots cannot exist outside of the time relationship
with each other, nor can the time have any relation without its
dependence on the space inherent in each shot, and the time created
by the series of spaces in their montage sequence.
if one were to alter the length of time of a particular shot,
the filmic space would be changed. An example of this would be;
a medium shot of a man at a desk, a close-up of the phone as it
rings, the man picks up the phone, cut to the medium shot again
to catch the action of the phone being raised to the ear, the
imagine a medium shot of the same man at a desk, cut to a close
-up of the phone as it rings, the man picks up the phone but the
shot lingers on the phone and only cuts back to the man after
the phone is hung up. In the first sequence, at the close-up of
the phone we may notice the type of phone but that is about all,
in the second sequence the entire space surrounding the phone
takes on a visual prominence that never would have been noted
in the first, we notice the shape of the phone, maybe the kind
of desk, something else we may not have noticed before but our
entire conception of the space has been changed by the duration
of our viewing.
other example to illustrate this time/space relationship would
be a long shot of a courtyard, a man starts from the left of the
picture frame and walks across the courtyard, the camera remains
still till he reaches the gate which is on the right of the frame;
cut to a medium shot of the gate; the man emerges. Now the same
opening long shot of the courtyard, the man begins across, before
he is all the way across we cut to him walking to the gate and
first sequence takes six seconds, the second sequences take three
seconds. In the first sequence we experience the walk across the
courtyard much as would an actual on-the-spot observer, yet in
the second we also experience walking across that courtyard, yet
the time has been compressed by three seconds; viewing this second
sequence in the course of a film would not leave the audience
feeling cheated. This due to the last part of the expression "time/space
the phenomena of nature, all the laws of nature, are the same
for all systems that move uniformly relative to one another."
in a similar vein we hear Sergei Eisenstein in 1939 say,
last we have placed in our hands a means of learning the fundamental
laws of art--laws which hitherto we could snatch at only piecemeal,
her a bit from the experience of painting, there a bit from theater
practice, somewhere else from musical theory. So, the method of
cinema, when fully comprehended, will enable us to reveal an understanding
of the method of art in general." 15
better than a movie director, who has to shoot the climax of his
film first, then shoot a scene with a character actor as a young
man one day, as an old man the next day, because the actor has
other commitments, then go back and shoot his opening sequence
in a California studio, then move to Alaska for some location
shooting and to continue in this manner for a month and a half,
constantly striving for an overall unity and continuity, can understand
the practical applications of a space/time continuum? Thus the
film director who may have naturally and without realizing the
fact come upon this new way of looking at the work, just as Einstein,
his own concept of gravitation...attained a view of the vast architecture
and anatomy of the universe as a whole."
this in mind, we see that,
here-in-cinema for the first time we have achieved a genuinely
synthetic art- an art of organic synthesis in its very essence..."
Eisenstein states. So that in a remark by Willoughby Sharp,
I'm consciously involved in is devising a way that is structurally
intrinsic to television." 17
see a failure to grasp the architecture beneath the experience
of this century and an insistence upon a viewpoint, which in view
of Einstein's restructuring of old concepts, seems somewhat beside
the point. With the addition of sound to film, the synthetic nature
of film became more apparent, but a problem with time/space came
up when a discrepancy was found between what was filmed and what
the enlarged projected image conveyed.
Capra found that in filming an early sound picture American Madness;
the action, which seemed to be timed well when shot and view on
a movieola, was , when translated to the big screen, slower and
not as interesting. His solution;
scene that would rehearse in on minute I'd (force the actors to)
cut down to forty seconds. It did look faster when we photographed
we finally got it on the screen, there was an urgency about it..."
Hawks also says,
tried to make my dialogue go fast, probably twenty percent faster
most pictures." 19
discrepancy between 'filmic' time and "filmic" space
was resolved by a simple ploy and yet behind this ploy, there
is a natural understanding of modern experience.
application of new techniques in a new aesthetic is best summarized
by Sergei Eisenstein when he says,
place must be prepared in the consciousness for the arrival of
new themes which, multiplied by the possibilities of new techniques,
will demand new aesthetics for the expression of them new themes
in the marvelous creations of the future." 20
now leads me to discuss television, which I consider to be an
electronic extension and enlargement of those attitudes and aesthetics
which first produced narrative films and gave a continuity to
the modern experience. In talking about television criticism,
Marshall McLuhan echoes the above thoughts of Eisenstein,
main cause of disappointment in and for criticism of television
the failure on the part of its critics to view it as a totally
new technology which demands different sensory responses."
his book, Understanding Media, McLuhan links television with relativity,
the ABC of Relativity Bertrand Russell began by explaining that
there is nothing difficult about Einstein's ideas, but that they
do call for total reorganization of our imaginative lives. It
is precisely this imaginative reorganization that has occurred
via the TV image." 22
reorganization has occurred through the repeated viewing of television,
by those who were open enough o accept a new technology and make
this "electronic altar" a part of their homes. This
"altar" becomes the focus of a ritualizing process which
allows the individuals to become involved in an experience shared
by millions, and yet never leave the comfort and safety of his
won home. This electronically shared experience can then, as some
future time, become a binding or unifying force between individuals
who may have been miles apart during the actual program transmission.
to accept he synesthesia of a time/space audio/visual presentation
can be traced back to a typographic, photographic, verbal, one
dimensional way of seeing things, which because of its one dimensional
orientation cannot clearly see its way through he synthetic art
of the time/space continuum. This "blame" can be seen
in the writings of McLuhan and Rossellini, and in a remark to
the point, McLuhan says,
banal and ritual remark of the conventionally literate that TV
presents an experience for passive viewers, is wide of the mark.
TV is `above all medium that demands participant response."
participant response that McLuhan speaks of arises from TV's use
of dramatic form, in the sense that Stanley Kubrick uses the phrase
quoted earlier in this paper. restated the axiom could read, "never
state what you can imply." 25 It is through this device that
the audience is made to participate, and in television especially,
there is an inherent capability of a mass, electronic ritual.
Once in a while, this capability is made apparent in such national
events as the Super Bowl or more dramatically in the case of President
Kennedy's funeral, which according to McLuhan, "manifested
the power of TV to involve an entire population in a ritual process."
interesting parallel between film and television exist in the
form of the TV news report. In the news reports linking of disparate
events, which gives them a new continuity and meaning, we see
an echo of Dziga Vertov's example of montage in time and space.
TV news report show the anchorman in the studio, then there is
, by way of an electronic matting device called the chroma-key,
a scene of the next story behind the anchorman, at the conclusion
there is a cut on the scene in the background but the anchorman
remains in the same position and the camera slowly pans away from
the announcer and begins to zoom into the background which was
not a slide this time but a film, taken earlier in the day.
anchorman's voice narrates this section of film, so we still have
a space/time link with the studio, then the next segment is a
film with a voice over by the roving reporter, but the continuity
is kept, as over the bottom of the screen the reporter;s name
and the channel number are superimposed. The continuity is again
stressed at the end of the film clip as the reporter repeats his
name and the channel of the news report. Cut back to the shot
of the anchorman as he narrates one more story and then runs down
a short list of stories to come, to help reinforce the continuity
over the commercial break.
of commercials, I would now like to introduce them by way of a
quote from Andy Warhol,
I watch a show without 'commercial interruption' I get itchy."
reveals an attitude that I think is very instructive in the form
of TV. I think that the commercials are one of the main reasons
for the rhythmic vitality of television. TV commercials are, in
a strictly formal sense, the most interesting moments in television
or as McLuhan states,
often the few seconds sandwiched between the hours of viewing,
-'the commercials'- reflect a truer understanding of the medium."
many shows on TV are based on a film aesthetic and sense of 'filmic'
time/space, hence many people's annoyance with commercial interruptions,
but in shows that fit in a television form, the commercials become
less annoying and actually become a part of the program. The only
times I have been truly annoyed with commercials was when they
interrupted a movie and that is obviously because the movie was
not made with the form of television in mind.
are pick-me-ups;..." 29
Andy Warhol says, through commercials quick paced, rhythmically
vital, visually exciting, compressed-time seconds, we are made
all the more aware of the beat of television. Television must
go constantly all day and into the night, and sometimes the early
morning; without commercials it would have no beat, it would have
no rhythm. It would have a deadening beat of half-hours or hours
or no beat or rhythm at all without commercials. An alternative
would be to allow shows to be any length and then each week chart
a new rhythm for each day, but that seems highly impractical,
whereas with a set format which allows slights variation everyday
we are assured that, just as Alexander Pope found endless variation
with the end-rhymed couplet in poetry, we will find endless rhythmical
variations on the TV everyday. Just as audiences learned to accept
the parallel cut-back in Griffith's films and still retain a continuity,
TV audiences have learned to accept "commercial interruptions"
and not loose their continuity. It is through his structure that
TV looks forward to the future.
I first took a TV production course at Rochester Institute of
Technology, I really had no idea what I was in for, because at
that time I discovered a way of making Art, that fulfilled all
my needs as an artist and as a member of a larger society. I did
not realize until I was in the course for about a month, that
I was being taught a way to make a way to see the world. The men
who taught this to me, I do not think, ever considered their work
in this light, but to them I am eternally grateful. Richard Schiekel,
talking about Alfred Hitchcock, Raoul Walsh, Frank Capra, Vincente
Minnelli, George Cukor, Howard Hawks, William Wellman and King
Vidor has said,
had witnessed the birth of the movies' technical conventions and
those conventions seemed to these men as
as the conventions of written discourse seem to a professional
writer. There is, simply, a way of doing in the movies which they
absorbed almost unconsciously in their youth and saw no reason
to analyze it." 30
"way of doing" I will now relate to the decisions made
in my production. Before I begin, however, I would like to also
to mention D.W. Griffith and John Ford as the directors who were
not mentioned above but who are my greatest influences.
number one rule above all else is simplicity. Simplicity of form,
simplicity of technique is repeated by all these men. John Ford
talking to William Wellman in the early 1920's said,
beginning to get too tricky. Moving the camera too much. You're
doing more than I am. So let's stop it. Let's do what we used
to do. Make the picture the simplest, easiest, nicest, most quietest,
most natural way you can make it and stop all this stuff."
Hawks repeats this sentiment,
was just going to shoot it as plain as I could shoot it."
Charlie Chaplin, in the same vein states,
of approach is always best. Personally I loathe tricky effects."
my production, I used one light, a strong backlight, which I knew
from watching Italian horror films, would shine translucently
through the girl's blouse and create a nice visual effect. This
also had the effect of not lighting her face which fit into the
story I was trying to tell, of remembering a general image rather
than a specific person.
camera was set on a long shot, the composition of the shot related
to the composition of the drawings by a strong diagonal. One camera
was a medium long shot, slightly closer than the first camera
but behind the third camera, which was entirely on close-ups.
This had the effect, when dissolving from two to three of a movement
in, or out, if dissolving from three to two.
one zoomed in slowly at the beginning, the climax and the end.
Camera two did not move for the entire production. Camera three
zoomed in a the climax and panned with the dancer if she moved
out of frame, but because two was always on a black background
the movement was masked and it appeared stationary.
cutting and dissolving from one scene to another are the dynamics
of film technique,"
to Charlie Chaplin. With this in mind, my cameras were stationary
(also not zooming) nine-tenths of the time,, all movement was
within frame or in the dissolves or cuts.
drawings were repetitions of one composition, as was the slide.
These were on a separate camera in the control room, camera four.
sequence of pictures plays directly on our feelings. Music works
in the same fashion' I would say that there is no art form that
has so much in common with film as music. Both affect our emotions
directly, not via the intellect." 34
this in mind, I knew that the music I choose would have to have
the same structure as the final taping, I had decided to go with
the music, on the beat, instead of using counterpoint. The final
choice, Ralph Vaughn William' Pastoral Symphony, the last movement,
seemed to be the best choice formally. I favor a cyclical form
with the beginning and the ending on approximately the same shot
because I feel it conveys a sense of things remaining the same
, while at the same time it points up all the changes that have
occurred. The opening dissolves into a log shot with a slight
breeze rippling through her hair and clothes, the camera slowly
zooms into a medium shot.
ending is a superimposition of a close-up of the girl and a close-up
of the man, the camera on the girl slowly zooms back to along
shot, there is no breeze, the close-up of the man is slowly lost,
the image of the girl lingers and fades to black. The memory,
fresh when first remembered, looses some of its vitality in the
process of remembering, especially, if in that process, we try
and convert that memory into the self-conscious awareness of art.
Yet it cannot be destroyed, it lingers, only to come again.
taping must be planned out in advance,
tiny and however short the pieces of film are- they must be written
down in just the same a composer writes down those little black
dots from which we get beautiful sound." 35
to Alfred Hitchcock. The entire opening sequence, the climax,
the ending and the short intense horn parts (about three altogether)
were planned out, shot by shot, one after another. I used these
planned sequences as the "tune" of the pieces, they
were all variations on a cutting " theme" camera one,
camera three, camera two, camera three, camera two, camera one,
with camera four on the graphics, used as a variation on the "theme".
This variation became a dominant factor in the climax and the
rest of the taping was improvisations off the basic theme. I had
never done this before, but being familiar with the music of John
Coltrane, heavily influenced my decision. Coltrane take s tune,
My Favorite Things, for example, and through variations on that
tune, he produces a rhythmically dynamic, deeply moving piece
were two factors which finally made up my mind to use this technique.
The first being that I had, at this point, two years experience
directing live productions and felt I had enough mastery of the
studio situation to enable me to accomplish this. The second reason
was that I had put so much preparation into this by memorizing
the music, the dance and the planned sequences that I felt I had
built up a solid enough framework with which I could improvise
structure of the taping was introduction (which included the variations
of the drawing s and slide), introduction of the main theme, improvisations
on that theme, variations (the rather quick superimposition of
the drawing), improvisations on the theme, the climax or the theme
made bluntly obvious by straight cuts emphasizing the theme and
variations on it, improvisations, anti-climax as the bluntness
of the cut gives way to dissolves, and finally the conclusion
which is a variation of the opening.
his structure I tell my story. The opening with the girl, allows
the audience to take the perspective on the one who is remembering,
this allows the audience to participate in a collective remembrance.
The slow fade to black and fading to the landscape slide, do not
break this continuity, but in the next step, the lap dissolve
into the drawing, the audience is ushered into the world of the
artist and it is the lap dissolve between identical compositions
which achieves this without the audience realizing it. They accept
the space/time of the artist as their own.
memories are pleasant as we watch the dancer, but the voice over
and the quick superimpositions of the drawing hint at something
darker, more troublesome, yet the dancer draws most of our attention
and we can shrug off the premonitions. It is at the climax when
the close-up of the man bursts on the screen as the horns do in
the music, that the audience realizes it has been looking in on
someone else's memory, it is then that the theme is made evident,
that memories, however pleasant they may seem, may have a darker
side which may control us without our knowledge.
the audience realizes that they are seeing some else's memory,
they then can be made to identify with the one who is remembering
by cutting between the man and girl (his memory) so they realize
that even though it is his memory, they may share it, in their
new knowledge of the situation. The audience and the artist, both
become aware of their susceptibility to an illusion that may be
misleading. This awareness can only come about at the price of
losing some, but not all, of the memory's vitality, as the final
image, of the girl without any breeze reflects. But the memory
lingers just as the image of the girl does.
Thalberg, a Hollywood producer has said,
has been able to say definitely whether picture making is really
a business or an art...It should be conducted with budges and
cost sheets, but it cannot be conducted with blueprints and graphs."
the synthetic art that is the outcome of Einstein's' vision of
the world is to follow his law of relativity, which says that,
the laws of nature, area the same for all systems that move uniformly
relative to one another."
the art of the future must learn to combine not only Art and Science,
but Art and Business as well. This is happening already, as can
be seen in this statement by Andy Warhol,
art is the step that comes after art. I started as a commercial
artist and I want to finish as a business artist. After I did
the thing called "art" or whatever it's called, I went
into business art. I wanted to be an Art Businessman or a Business
synthetic arts are the arts of the future, they look forward with
anticipation, no trepidation; they strive to combine all the arts
and in doing so, reveal the fundamental laws which govern all
the art The synthetic arts also bring the art back as a part of
rather than apart from society. It embraces and utilizes all facets
of society: religion, science, business and politics, thus revealing
the relativity and continuity of all human endeavor.