Sunday, February 27, 2005

Dual Moments: 3D Computing

Nothing has made me smile as much recently as sitting in front of my computer with a pair of old-style red and blue 3D glasses looking at images from the Dual Moments website:

Almost like you could reach out and shoot him.

The frames from Citizen Kane are beauties.
Makes you wonder why such masters of field depth
as Greg Toland and Welles never did anything 3D.

There are more historical images and scenes from films on the site. In addition, there is a link to a guy willing to send you 3D glasses for free - no strings. (Found via

Friday, February 25, 2005

I Keep Remembering This Film That I Forgot

Chris Marker. La Jetée

A film of still images, like Chris Marker's La Jetée, each with a series of captions. Dynamic interplay between the word and the image, each fighting the other for meaning. The film is called Chimage. [ Note: what follows is a sorry re-construction of what I imagine the frames to have been. This does not even evoke the tone of the film. But it provides a fragmentary sense of it - as it resonates in my memory.]

Static interference. White signal, no noise.
Apocalytpic landscapes. A language I can't understand.
She says, "Where do elephants go when they die?"

As each new image is presented time slows down and the meaning sinks in. The imagining of the continuation of the narrative in the next film still/caption is vital and opens up deeper meanings in the current frame.

There beside Arch Stanton, we dug down.
"Is this the one?"
"Deeper. Dig deeper."

But as the film unfolds, as the old images dissolve and the new ones emerge, I forget what the last image was.

"It is like a dream within a dream."
"Yes," he replied. "But we are not dreaming."

There is only a lingering fog of memory that remains behind. And my frustration to remember is now added to the mystery and beauty of the next part of the film. Indeed, the narrative meaning of the film depends upon it.

"Where do statues go when they die?"
The marble head of a god
falling through my bloody hands
as if they were only tissue.

The still images and words flow by slower and slower and what I have forgotten increases exponentially. The cumulative effect creates a vast space charged with an enormous meaning of what has been forgotten. As the film seems to be coming to its end, I am filled with an aching nostalgia for this unremembered meaning.

The thing is: I saw this film. I remember being there while I watched it. But now there is nothing. And as you begin to question your memory in this way, it all fractals apart into an infinite regression of possibilities.

I ended up doing Google image searches for "chimage" and "chris marker" and various other related terms. What I found were only scattered fragments of the film:

Chris Marker. Silent Movie. 1994-95

Alain Resnais. Night and Fog / Nuit et Brouillard. 1955

Jan Svankmajer. The Ossuary.

But I never found the film itself. Only stills from the films of Chris Marker, Alain Resnais, Jan Svankmajer, Andrei Tarkovski, plus a host of other, seemingly random, images.

However, there are common threads: most of the images have come out of early 20th century Eastern Europe, centered around Czechoslovakia. I believe that whoever made "Chimage" was associated with the above directors, especially Marker, and had direct access to their films. There is also a strange Japanese element in the film. My suspicions are that the filmmaker now lives in Japan. And it is also just a hunch, but I believe he lives there as a fugitive. Perhaps he was associated with the Nazis or one of the oppressive Eastern European regimes. I don't know. That "Chimage" was created out of "stolen" images, I now have no doubt. Maybe this is why I cannot find anything about the film itself on the web, only the stolen fragments that went into its making.

Regardless, none of this explains the curious forgetting effect that "Chimage" has had upon me. My thoughts constantly pick at this "emptiness-full-of-forgetting" within me. I feel like a shipwrecked survivor lost at sea in a lifeboat, gradually coming to the realization that I have amnesia. Bits and pieces of the ship litter the ocean around me, rising periodically to the surface from the sunken ship below. I can't figure out why I am in a boat in the middle of the ocean. Every new fragment of debris that I come across gives me a hint of who and where I am - or was. And the boat is filling up, settling ever deeper into the water.

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Vulnerology: The Problem Is This Bone Back Here That Refuses To Cooperate With Us

christ wound doubting thomas

Items collecting still around the essay, "No Wound Speaks For Itself" by Thyrza Nichols Goodeve in Artforum International, January 1992:

But what is pain? Pain rends. It is the rift. But it does not tear apart into dispersive fragments. Pain indeed tears asunder, it separates, yet so that at the same time it draws everything to itself. Its rending, as a separation that gathers, is at the same time that drawing which, like the predrawing of a plan or sketch, draws and joins together what is held apart in separation. Pain is the joining agent in the rending that divides and gathers. Pain is the joining of the rift. - Martin Heidegger, Unterwegs zur Sprache, 1959

From New American Radio:

"That is not a pretty cut..."

Display Wounds (1986) by Gregory Whitehead. A fictionalised monologue that addresses the "woundscape" of the human species in the wake of the history of technology through the brooding ruminations of a "vulnerologist"—a wound doctor whose slow and seductive voice unfolds the history of wounds, and the damage that extends even into the future, (mis)shaping the unborn. Punctuated by periodic suggestions from tango music ("Life is but a dry wound. Oh hot-blooded sadness, bleed away from me.") Commissioned by NEW AMERICAN RADIO

Listen here:

For wounds will always play the fool. Wounds are compulsive liars. The way the wound appears on the surface is rarely an accurate identification of the full dimensions of the wound.... Wounds cannot speak for themselves. And yet wounds are the evidence of stories that are of profound importance. If they are neglected, ignored or simply stiched up and forgotten, then we will get to the point where we can't look at ourselves. The wounds become deeper, less apparent, more structural, if you will, even genetic. Wounds that become apparent only in the second or third generation.

Plans for a Memory Theater

The theater of wounds is a memory theater. Our failure to look at wounds now, and interpret them now, may lead us to give birth to a society of monsters. - Whitehead, Display Wounds

From Lubeck's Dance of Death:

The Five Wounds of Christ

The dances of death sometimes show a fascination with God's wounds - like this example from the end of the first chapter in Des dodes dantz:

De vefte is de ewige dôt to ewiger tît;
Dârvor beware uns Jesus unser here
Dorch sinen dôt unde siner hilgen vîf wunden ere.

The fifth is the eternal death for eternal times;
[may] Jesus - our Lord - save us from this
through his death and his holy five wounds.

The Original Object Has Been Lost

The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse

Man Ray designed The Enigma of Isidore Ducasse in 1920, an unidentifiable object wrapped in a horse-blanket and secured with a piece of rope. The vague form of the object concealed by the blanket suggests a sewingmachine. Man Ray made the object for the express purpose of photographing it. The photograph appeared in Breton's introduction to the first number of the magazine La Révolution Surréaliste, which appeared in December 1924. The original object has been lost. - Description from Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen Rotterdam

What remains behind from the Fugitive Gods? What lacunae in our collective memories? What faded traces, broken bones, doors swinging off their hinges? Ghosts in the grammar. Butterflies nesting amidst the bones. "The vague form of the object concealed" suggests, not some threading machine, but a massive Skull resting upon the stone. Heiroglyphs mistaken for scars... the original object... there... with the breath upon the surface of the water fading... there... down there on the bottom... written in the sands... it resonates with time.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Gionarle Nuovo: István Orosz

It is always a good day when Mr. H updates the Giornale Nuovo. The latest features the Escher-like artist István Orosz. As usual, revalatory and amazing:

Be sure to also check out:
U T I S Z: The outstanding homepage of István Orosz

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

Keep the Devil Way Down in the Hole

Good interview with Tom Waits on Amerian Routes. (via Metafilter)

When you walk through the garden, you gotta watch your back
Well, I beg your pardon, walk the straight and narrow track
If you walk with Jesus, he’s gonna save your soul
You gotta keep the Devil way down in the hole

He’s got the fire and the fury at his command
Well, you don’t have to worry if you hold on to Jesus’ hand
We’ll all be safe from Satan when the thunder rolls
We just got to keep the Devil way down in the hole

All the angels sing about Jesus’ mighty sword
And they’ll shield you with their wings, and keep you close to the Lord
Don’t pay heed to temptation, for his hands are so cold
You gotta help me keep the Devil way down in the hole

God Is Haunting Me With His Damn Skull

God Is Haunting Me With His Damn Skull
God is
Haunting me with
That Goddamn Godskull.
There is no where to hide from him.
In every------ sad human face,----- his skull.
Inside the Sun, smiling out of the Moon.
In every damn mirror, that damn skull.
Dogs stare me into --shame with his skull.
Cats hold me in dis----dain with his skull.
The dust in my hands------ forms into his skull.
Letters and words turn into the eyeholes
and bright s-m-i-l-e of his skull.
Goddman Godskull.
Driving me

Monday, February 21, 2005

Hunter Stockton Thompson, 1937 - 2005

Hunter S. Thompson

We got off the bus and my dog always used to come and meet me. My little dog named Dubby. She was just this little black dog. Whenever my sisters and I would fight, the dog would get all excited and bite my sister. And so I was telling Hunter this story, and, "So," I said, "You better never hurt me while my dog is around because she'll bite you," and Hunter said, "Oh, yeah?" And I said, "Yeah." So he hauls off and kicks my dog across the street. --- JUDY WELLONS WHITEHEAD, childhood friend of HST; business woman in Mexico

Probably it's not important, but I realized I told a tale wrong and want to correct it. The story about my dog who would always protect me. I think I said that Hunter kicked the dog----WRONG! He slapped the hell out of me. He wanted to see if my dog would attach anyone who hurt me as I claimed. Of course the dog did nothing while I reeled in whirling stars. I don't know how I got that so wrong. As I remember Hunter always liked dogs. --- JUDY WELLONS WHITEHEAD, in a mid- night Fax

Both above quotes from the Esquire Article Young Doctor Thompson.

"Why are you shooting?" my assistant Anita screamed at me. "What are you shooting at?"

"The enemy," I said gruffly. "He is down there stealing our gasoline."

"Nonsense," she said. "That tank has been empty since June. You probably killed a peacock."

At dawn I went down to the tank and found the gas hose shredded by birdshot and two peacocks dead.

So what? I thought. What is more important right now -- my precious gasoline or the lives of some silly birds?

Indeed, but the New York Stock Exchange opened Monday morning, so I have to get a grip on something solid. The Other Shoe is about to drop, and it might be extremely heavy. The time has come to be strong. The fat is in the fire. Who knows what will happen now?

Not me, buster. That's why I live out here in the mountains with a flag on my porch and loud Wagner music blaring out of my speakers. I feel lucky, and I have plenty of ammunition. That is God's will, they say, and that is also why I shoot into the darkness at anything that moves. Sooner or later, I will hit something Evil, and feel no Guilt. It might be Osama Bin Laden. Who knows? And where is Adolf Hitler, now that we finally need him? It is bad business to go into War without a target.

From the column When War Drums Roll

Friday, February 18, 2005

The Mechanics of Laughter

I once read that the Greek Philosopher, Chrysippus, died from laughter after he saw a donkey eating some figs. That seemed strange to me until I imagined the scene. To this day, I find donkeys almost unbearably amusing, especially if they are eating. I can't explain it. Something about the donkey's mouth and teeth and the simple donkeyness of it all.


Arthur Koestler had an interesting take on humor. For him, it was produced by what he called "bisociation" - the sudden intersection of two previously unconsidered "planes" of thought.

In Janus, he writes:

[Humor] is the perceiving of a situation or idea in two self-consistent but mutually incompatible frames of reference or associative contexts.

And further on:

The criteria which determine whether a humorous offering will be judged good, bad or indifferent, are of course partly a matter of period taste and personal preference, partly dependent on the
style and technique of the humorist. It would seem that these criteria can be summed up under three main headings: (a) originality, (b) emphasis, (c) economy.

The merits of
originality are self-evident; it provides the essential element of surprise, which cuts across our expectations. But true originality is not very often met either in humor or in other forms of art. One common substitute for it is to increase the tension of the audience by various techniques of suggestive emphasis. The clown's domain is the rich, coarse type of humor; he piles it on; he appeals to sadistic, sexual, scatalogical impulses; one of his favorite tricks is repetition of the same situation, the same key-phrase. This diminishes the effect of surprise, but helps in drawing emotion into the familiar channel - more and more liquid is being pumped into the punctured pipeline.

Emphasis on local color and ethnic peculiarities - as in Scotish, Jewish Cockney stories - is a further means to channel emotion into familiar tracks. The Scotsman or Cockney must of course be caricatures if the comic purpose is to be achieved - in other words, exaggeration and simplification once more appear as indispensable tools to provide emphasis.

In the highest forms of humor, however, emphasis tends to yield to the opposite kind of virtue:
economy. Economy, in humor and art, does not mean mechanical brevity, but the implicit hint of the explicit statement - the oblique allusion in lieu of the frontal attack. The old-fashioned Punch cartoon featuring the British lion and the Russian bear 'rubs it in'; the New Yorker cartoon poses a riddle which the reader must solve be an imaginative effort in order to 'see the joke'.

In humor, as in other forms of art, emphasis and economy are complementary techniques. The first forces the offering down the consumer's throat; the second tantalizes, to whet his appetite.

So, since I have initially emphasized a rather clown-like Chrysippus, I should balance things out with something more economical: my current favorite joke. I came across it in The 100 Funniest Joke of All Time compiled by Don Steinberg for GQ:

Three guys, stranded on a desert island, find a magic lantern containing a genie, who grants them each one wish. The first guy wishes he was off the island and back home. The second guy wishes the same. The third guy says "I’m lonely. I wish my friends were back here."

I burst out laughing when I read this. Koestler's bisociation certainly works. But to imagine the third guys expression. And just the pathos of it all. Then, something more essentially human. The condition of abandonment, desolation, forlornity. I think it is a supremely economical joke. It takes no skill to tell; the simple mechanics of humor power it right along. That's amazing to me. And funny as hell.


Thursday, February 17, 2005

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

On Not Losing The Capacity for Astonishment in the 3rd Act

A beautiful little piece by Hillman Curtis on Milton Glaser: (via Jeffery Zeldman

While I am not entirely inclined towards Glaser's aesthetic, his words hammer right on the bone. What is it about artists that remain vital, astonished, in "the 3rd act"?

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Social Security Detournement

A litte detourned "time passing" for me with a few old Social Security Posters:

2042 Social Security Poster
2042 Social Security Poster

You Will Die
You Will Die

More original Social Security Posters can be found at:

And for those who have asked, here is a nice definition:

Detournement; "short for: detournement of pre-existing aesthetic elements. The integration of past or present artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no Situationist painting or music, but only a Situationist use of these means.", Internationale Situationiste issue 1, June 1958.

Detournement may be understood as the opposite of 'recuperation', the process by which radical ideas and images are commodified and incorporated within the 'safe' confines of 'spectacular' society. With detournement, images produced by the spectacle are altered and subverted so that rather than supporting the status quo, their meaning is changed in order to put across a more radical or oppositionist message.

- From

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Voyages: A Smithsonian Library Exhibition

Just surfaced from a couple of hours perusing the superb Voyages exhibition from the Smithsonian. All descriptions from the Smithsonian site.

From the Earth to the Moon Direct in Ninety-seven Hours and Twenty Minutes, and a Trip around it .
Long before men entered space, writers and artists imagined such expeditions. Jules Verne’s classic science-fiction work on space flight first appeared in English in 1874. His novel remains of interest not only to researchers studying the cultural history of space flight but also to bibliophiles comparing the various editions of Verne’s books.

Altre Scoverte Fatte Nella Luna dal Sigr. Herschel.
This portfolio of hand-tinted lithographs purports to illustrate the "discovery of life on the moon." In 1836, Richard E. Locke, writing for the New York Sun, claimed that the noted British astronomer Sir William Herschel had discovered life on the moon. Flora and fauna included bat-men, moon maidens (with luna-moth wings), moon bison, and other extravagant life forms. Locke proposed an expedition to the moon using a ship supported by hydrogen balloons.

Urformen der kunst (Art forms in nature).
Karl Blossfeldt (1865-1932).
Around 1918, Blossfeldt used a microscopic lens to make detailed photographs of plant forms against a stark background. Stripped of their naturalistic quality, the plants appeared to be man-made cast-iron forms. The creation of this book coincided with the birth of the Bauhaus school of design, which emulated machine-like forms and stripped objects of ornamentation that did not contribute to their function. Design schools adopted Blossfeldt's work as a pattern book for natural forms for many decades.

George Ferris' Sky Wheel.
This standard history of the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition was presented as a limited edition to fair officials and sponsors.

Die Maglichkeit der Weltraumfahrt (The feasibility of interplanetary travel).
Ley, a paleontologist, engineer, and theorist on conditions on other planets and space, edited this book of essays written by famous rocket scientists, including Hermann Oberth, Walter Hohmann, and Guido von Pirquet.

Most Amusing Film Review I've Read in a While

From an article on the Sundance Film Festival (via the Wow Report):

And then there was Crispin Glover's What Is It?, which featured not only manual stimulation of a handicapped man (by a naked woman in an animal mask, no less), but oral sex involving someone with Down syndrome, salted snails, a minstrel in blackface, the most racist song I have ever heard and Shirley Temple juxtaposed with swastikas. This wasn't just pushing the envelope; this was shoving the entire freaking Postal Service off the rim of the Grand Canyon.