Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Doyle and Chongnonsi

In the past several months I’ve become an enthusiast of Australian-born Christopher Doyle’s cinematographic work. So much so that I spent eight hours in a small theater listening to him talk and then screen a couple of his most recent films (“Hero” with Jet Li and Wong Kar Wai’s “In the Mood for Love” with the lovely Maggie Cheung—both of which seem to represent opposite sides of Doyle’s visual aesthetic—the claustrophobic to the panoramic) in January. I was turned on to his work through the Thai film, “Last Life in the Universe” which is in my Top 5 All-time Favorite Films. His work on that blew me away. He is a subtle master of color, but a true fanatic when it comes to light. He stretches the limits of “contrast” (see “Days of Being Wild”--the glare of the lamps and the bleached look of the film stock are marvelous). And he has absolutely no problem with natural light which makes for the required sense of moodiness WKW's films need. Here are some quotes of Doyle's from various sources that I especially like:


“Looking and sharing the pleasure of seeing is what my days have become filled with, what I've spent the last twenty years of my life trying to approach. It was this first provocative encounter with a new way of seeing the world that started me asking all these questions that have become my films.”

“I guess what you see here are associations, but not associations of a logical or pre-determined mind. They just happen, as much as possible by accident, by some uncontrolled and unconscious association between hand and mind. I try to interfere as little as possible, to let the colors and forms tell their own story, not mine. I don't want to impose any symbolic or conscious meaning on you or the works. I'd rather try to recycle all my accumulated images and ideas.”

“The creative process is a series of chances taken and possibilities revealed. Like a painter stepping back from a canvas in progress you have to be observant and detached enough to see where the work is going and just "go with the flow". The best expression I know of the process is by Frank O'Hara in his poem "Why I am not a Painter."”

“I've always wanted to Jam like a Jazz musician. We've gotten close to that in my work with Wong Kar Wai and William Chang, but this is even closer to the free interpretation and the spirit of Jazz. It just happens, and I notice that the less I think about it and the more chance and coincidence play in the event, the better the work seems to be.”

“All ART aspires to music.”

“If only film was jazz. If only we could jam: we get closer each film, my camera becomes more an instrument. On and off, different film speeds, frame changes in shot are my key and register shifts. I riff, you solo, we jam towards a free form that film can be.”

“Technique is only learned by accident.”

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from The Journal of Silom Chongnonsi



Brow knitted for a few seconds, mild perplexity. She takes a bite and looks up as her friend speaks.


A transvestite with long black silken hair smokes languidly while watching passersby. She takes bites from a sandwich and sips coffee between drags on her cigarette, neck pushed forward but only slightly.


A Berlitz instructor, most likely English, eyes the refrigerator case decked out with bacon, brie, sliced tomatoes. He orders, “just a regular coffee.”


Leggy and mildly attractive young woman uses a napkin to clean her nose with vigorous little twists.


An Italian man with wandering hands drinks orange soda from the can as his companion feebly wards him off.


I became transparent. Even more so than usual.


He constructs phantasms, but has he ever seen a continental drift?


It’s black and silver with a place for a mouth to speak
it lies through its teeth and sets calamity upon all your houses


Empty bullet casings along the road.


A man wearing a raincoat enters a tavern and begins to sing. In a world without nouns and in a world with only the imitation of music.


Their restraint was admirable. Their reserve an unspoken code of morality. The delay of pleasure lasted until death. Inhabiting rooms of clashing floral patterns, sipping tea, collaborating on stories about heroes who surmount all difficulties. One of them whispered into a hole all of his desires and then covered it with grass.


He inhales the smoke of burning books.


The calligrapher pelts the garden with small pebbles. His wife was still asleep. He was bored, envious of gardeners. She is depressed so sleeps most of the day.


Once all his subjects had been depleted the photographer hurled his camera at the wall.


A recipe for broiled peacock was sent to me today.


Fuchsia and silk. Hair piled on top of her head.


A nostalgia for what? Only in certain instances could he recall a moment in his personal history that he’d like to have extended. There’s something about being a transient through life that appealed to him. Yes, he had addresses and jobs and relationships but like all things they passed away. The demise of one situation begat another. There were elements in the first situation that were seeds for the next movement. Everything had a certain evolutionary logic. If a tragedy occurred it seemed unlikely that it could ultimately bear fruit. Yet it always did in some way. Through tears came salvation. Through escape he found redemption. Occasional oblivion.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Geof Huth said...

Brian,

A real mailart esthetic in your images. And some interesting finds in your worded blog. Glad to see the link to incertain plume. Ela is, to my mind, a fine blog artist. Blogging isn't a journal for her, or essays; it is a new artform.

I'll try to address the archival problems associated with mailart sometime.

Geof Huth

9:27 AM  
Blogger Lucas said...

Thanks Geof for tuning in.

12:41 PM  

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