Unreal Nature

September 12, 2015

Following the Metaphor Back to the Surface

Filed under: Uncategorized — unrealnature @ 6:08 am

… We are talking about a trust placed in the physical. … Being led by the body, rather than simply the mind ordering the body around.

Continuing through Six Drawing Lessons: The Charles Eliot Norton Lectures, 2012 by William Kentridge (2014):

… In the studio, I film my eight-year-old son. He takes a jar of paint and a handful of pencils, some books and papers. He throws the jar of paint across the studio walls, scatters the pencils, tears the papers and scatters the shards. We run the film in reverse. There is a utopian perfection. The papers reconstruct themselves perfectly every time. He gathers them all. He catches twelve pencils, all arriving from different corners of the room in the same moment. In the jar he catches all the paint — not a drop is spilled. The wall is pristine.

His joy at his own skill is overflowing. “Can I do it again?” he asks. Yes. But first we have to clean the studio, clean the paint off the wall, pick up the torn paper, gather the pencils. His delight in discovering his own power to remake the world — he was much more than he knew, or that he appeared to be. At any rate, it was discovery of prowess, not a demonstration of it. the film revealed to him things about himself and the world, rather than simply demonstrating something he already knew.

This giving over to the medium is crucial. Allowing a space for the medium to lead, giving yourself over to the play itself. Playing not in the sense of following rules known in advance, as in sport; but play in the sense of the play of light on water. Not a random activity, but giving yourself over to what the activity provokes, and then following these possibilities assiduously, as you would follow the irrational rules of any game. Irrational, ad hoc constraints followed rigorously. Following the metaphor back to the surface, rather than going from sense and hunting for a metaphor. Discovering the utopian impulse of reversals is a starting point. The following of the provocation, the discovering of the rules of that game, the mastery of it, is a separate activity.

… Walking backward can become catching books backward, to writing backward. Imagine a page of text sucked back into the pen, until the embroidery of the page is all inside the fat tube of the pen, snug in the hand, and all the text becomes potentiality again.

… We are talking about a trust placed in the physical. That is, through the physical materials and techniques — drawing, filming, walking — new thoughts, new images, will arise. Being led by the body, rather than simply the mind ordering the body around.

… looking outside the camera, at what things these images, this action, provokes. Looking at the change from physical action into thought. At this point of transfer, where through a kind of reverse osmosis, the action is impulse to the thought.

My most recent previous post from Kentridge’s book is here.

-Julie

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