improvisation Georges Didi-Huberman Jean Detheux Halifax Filature New York Jitter Free Radicals Agamben Herqueville «49 Flies» Living Cinema Variations sur deux photographies de Tina Modotti Home Fantômes Perugia Rendez-vous du cinéma québécois Henri Meschonnic Double négatif gravure sur pellicule en direct Casa Obscura FNC Éblouissement d'Icare Berlin René Jodoin O Picasso - tableaux d'une surexposition Seule la main... 2007 Festival du nouveau Cinéma The Subway Robert Marcel Lepage Rivière au Tonnerre O Picasso Nathalie Sarraute cycles décallés NFB installation vidéo 49 Flies Pierre Juneau Mingan Praha-Florenc 2008 Fred Frith Chloé L'expression instrumentale Muto John Cage René Lussier San Francisco Tropismes Len Lye Special Forces Toi la Mordore Rodrigue Jean UC Davis Karl Lemieux Buenos Aires Songs and Dances from the Inanimate World Op Hop Solo la mano... Basmati Beirut André Martin Photographies dessins Exercices d'animation Triptyque Le métro reloaded documentaire Blu Place Carnot Victoriaville Duplicity Max Lieux et monuments

Saturday 19 April 2008

Buenos Aires, 19/04/08

Mardi 15-04-08 Samedi, le cycle de projection de mes films a recommencé, cette au centre du festival, dans les salles du centre Abasto. J’étais assez impressionné, la salle était pleine (200 personnes ?) pour voir mes films abstraits des années 60, un public de jeunes complètement attentifs. La moitié sont restés pour poser des questions et une fois encore c’était passionnant et ça aurait pu continuer longtemps. Cela s’est poursuivi et hier je commençais à être un peu épuisé de m’entendre parler de mes films. Heureusement, les auditeurs ne semblaient pas être lassés. Aujourd’hui, il y a relâche, c’est la journée de la performance.

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Sunday 13 April 2008

Answers to questions of Claudio Koremblit

- I started to do animation thanks to the help, encouragement and example of Norman McLaren. Without him and his work I guess I would never have started this. He was the one who introduced me to the animation producers of the National Film Board of Canada. I stayed there 34 years, until the end of 1999. So without Norman, my career in animation if there were to be one, would have been very different. I got from him the idea of scratching directly on film which became my main technique of animation for almost 40 years. I learned from him a certain way to relate to the technology of film in the most direct manner. His movie Blinkity Blank remains one of my main references.

- Esthetically though, I felt closer to Len Lye who had a more radical attitude towards animation. He strongly needed to have a philosophical background behind his practice of animation. He was more conceptual than Norman but albeit he always remained very physical in his work, Free Radicals and Particles in space are my absolute cult movies.

- In my early year of animation, I was very much under the general influence of the American underground filmmakers, Robert Breer, Stan Brackage, the Withney’s, etc. The overall carreer of Stan Brackage impresses me a lot. I meet Vanderbeek several times but I did not have a good knowledge of his work. Fishinger is of course a reference but I don’t think I was much influenced by his work because it was too closely devoted at interpreting music in a literal way.

- My relationship to music and musicians is much freer and less formal than the project of «visual music» that Finshinger had. My interest in doing live animation performances developed in the mid 80’s when I came to be in contact with musicians that were active on the new music scene in Montreal, René Lussier, Jean Derome and Robert Marcel Lepage with whom I did my first performances. It was also for me a way to escape from what I was perceiving as the ghetto of animation film. It is through them that I got to know Fred Frith, and through Fred I got to know Bob Ostertag at the time he was starting to do music again, that is in 1989. We very quickly became friend and found that our respective work would readily connect without any effort and it remained so until now. We regularly made projects together during the 90s and at the turn of the millennium we started to work together on a regular basis with the Living Cinema project.

- If the Living Cinema performances are so thematically oriented, it is in great part due to circumstances. More specifically, the fact that we performed it on September 20 2001 in the United States, forced us to comment or reflect on the attack of the World Trade Center. We had no choice but do this. This was the defining moment of Living Cinema. And we went on accepting that the fact of responding to the world situation while it is evolving was the essence of our work. And it makes sense, because the fact that we do every presentation from scratch allows us to actually be able to react to what is happening as it happens and stay on the razor blade. It as also has to do with the fact that Bob and I both have a political background and that we are deeply concerned with the current catastrophic course of world affairs. We also like when we can set ourselves in situation which directly have to do with the theme of the performances, like when we did Between Science and Garbage in Minneapolis on 20/11/01, when we did an extended European tour weeks before the invasion of Iraq, or, more recently, when we did the world premiere of Special Forces (which is a piece inspired by the bombing of Lebanon at the Summer of 2006) in Beirut in April 2007.

- For me experimental cinema does not exist in the absolute, like if there was a certain limited number of areas to experiment and that after a number of years, 50, 60 , 90 or whatever it could be said that everything has been tested or experimented, that all the items on the list have been checked. It does not work that way. My view is that «experimental cinema or animation» is a needed critical counterpart at every moment or the evolution of cinema. It is a needed element at every moment, so it cannot be said that it was already done, it always has to be done again as if it had never been done. There is always an element of formal exploration in experimental animation, but it is not the essential of it. This not why it is needed. The necessity of experimental cinema is related to the fact that cinema (in the wider sense of the term which for me is not restricted to the narrower definition of cinema in the twentieth century) is a technology based art. Main stream cinema seems to always aim at a petrified definition of its technological base and consider it as a black box that is taken for granted. This attitude, which is particularly evident in most of the critical work about cinema in the restricted sense, amounts to negate that the ground on which this art stands is bound to change constantly and, more so. in dependence to factors which are mostly economic, industrial, scientific and in a very little way artistic. Thus, the need of experimental cinema does correspond to the necessity of constantly questioning the relationship between the artistic objectives and the almost independent «progress» of the technological base, the never ending necessity of breaking the toy, the necessity of opening the black box. And this always has to be done again. The word experimental is probably not the best word to describe the nature of this necessity and it probably has a perverse effect on the actual practice of «experimentation». I would prefer the world «critical» in the philosophical meaning of the term. Critical cinema.

- I suppose that there is a lot of performance of moving images because with digital tools it has become possible and easy to do. Since it is possible to do it, people are doing it, thus all the vj’ing that can be seen along with dj’ing. But this is not the reason why I do it, because I was doing it at the time when it was not so obvious how to do it especially talking about live animation. Live scratched animation performance were not at all the obvious thing. The deeper reason why I started doing this was a concern about the relationship, in animation, between the body of the animator, the energy he develops while animating, and the motion that can be seen witnessed on the screen. The animated motion seen on the screen is an artificial fabrication, synthesized motion through frame by frame drawing and through the action of the technology of projection. So there is a technical black hole between what the animator does with his body while animating and the resulting motion. Mainstream animation, especially in its industrial variant, totally accepts this hiatus and makes no effort in trying to connect the two instances of motion. To the contrary, it aims to erase as much as it can the disruptions that could emerge from the idiosyncratic character of a given animator way of moving. My objective in doing live animation has always been to explore this uncertain zone between the body of the animator and the resulting motion and try to create the conditions so that a connection as direct as possible between the two spheres emerges. It maybe impossible to achieve this fully because technology will always remain as an inevitable part of the process, but I do believe that trying to do it help make the process transparent and has a «critical» value toward mainstream animation which values opacity. I am not very concerned by the problem of whether doing live cinema has a future, whether it is a new form of art. I would rather think that the very idea that it could be a new form of art is actually weakening the critical potential of such practices and is beginning to enclose it in the petrified straight jacket of esthetics. I will continue to do this as long as I can feel the critical bias in it.

- But I must also say that I started doing performances also to do something that would attract attention and help the distribution of my work. And it is still a little bit like that. I know very well that there is currently a fashion of live cinema performances and that I benefit from that. It still helps attracting attention to my work even if, somehow, it appears in contradiction with my profound objective of «critical» work. But it is all right with me, contradictions are part of this world. I don’t reject being part of this trend and I enjoy being and older man doing what only young people are suppose to do. I must also add that I do this for pleasure. Right from the start, I found it much more exciting to «perform» than to watch the projection of a finished work. The relationship with the work and with the public is totally different. Another point is that going back and forth between performing and filmmaking quickly became a way of working. Performances often served as a way of exploring and developing idea and my style in filmmaking became very influenced by the special breath that can happen only in performance situation. I don’t know how long I will continue to do it, but I certainly have many reasons of doing it. I see now that I am starting to do some films about places and landscapes that are done in a more meditative manner. My last film Herqueville is an example of this. This new approach appears to be developing independently of my performance work.

Friday 11 April 2008

Quatrième jour à Buenos Aires

(English follows)

Bob a son billet d’avion. Il arrive lundi matin suite à un voyage qui durera au total 24 heures. C’est débile mais il n’y a pas moyen de faire autrement, il semble (San Francisco – Miami, 6 heures d’attente, puis Miami-Buenos Aires). Pendant toute la journée hier, je me suis habitué à l’idée de faire Special forces en solo. J’ai finalement eu l’information tard hier soir et j’ai été três soulagé.

Hier j’avais deux programmes à présenter, toujours au Musée MALBA. C’est un peu excentrique et ça limite certainement l’importance des auditoires. Mais le petit carré de mes «admirateurs» fidèles étaient là, ce qui rend la chose plutôt agréable. À partir de samedi, les projections sont reprises Je suis finalement un peu déçu de ne pas avoir le temps de vraiment voir des films.

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Thursday 10 April 2008

troisième jour à Buenos Aires

Mauvaise nouvelle : en rentrant hier soir j'ai trouvé un mail de Bob. Son vol d'aujourd'hui sur American Airlines a été annulé hier comme 1900 autres vols de A.A. pour raison de non respect des normes de sécurité. C'est la panique dans les aéroports américains. Pour l'instant il n'a plus de billet d'avion pour venir à Buenos Aires. Il y a deux semaines c'était Delta. Le système aérien américain semble au bord de l'effondrement. J'ai l'impression que c'est le cauchemard des passeports (voir Beyrouth, 26/03/07) qui recommence. Je me prépare à l'idée de faire la pefrormance en solo avec une musique téléchargée. Mais les choses n'en sont pas encore là.

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Wednesday 9 April 2008

premier jour à Buenos Aires

10 heures d'avion plutôt pénibles entre Washington et Buenos Aires. Après 5 heures mon dos me faisait terriblement mal et rien à faire pour me soulager. Heureusement, aujourd'hui il n'en reste pas beaucoup de traces aujourd'hui. Acceuil tres chaleureux. C'était agréable de rencontrer en réel ces gens avec qui j'étais en contact par e-mail depuis quelques mois. Je ne peux pas dire que je saisis encore très bien cette ville. Aceuillante mais certainement pas une ville «latino» telle que je les connais, même si on y parle espagnol. Mais pour l'instant, je ne connais que le petit coin autour de mon hotel, dont la rue Carlos Gardel! Hier soir c'était l'ouverture du festival, un film brésilen qui semblait bien intéressant, mais j'ai laissé avant la fin car les sous-titres étaient en espagnol et ça ne faisait que parler sans arrêt, malgré mes efforts pour comprendre, après un certain temps j'ai dû déclarer forfait. Courte conversation avec Sergio Wolf, le nouveau directeur du festival qui m'a expliqué pourquoi il a tant tenu à faire cet événement autour de mon travail. Tout vient de l'Ange et l'automate qui lui avait été offert par Marco de Blois lors d'un passage à Montréal. Le destin suit parfois des chemins surprenant. Comme quoi, on ne peut savoir quelles seront les véritables conséquences d'un geste au moment où on le pose. La sortie de ce livre à Montréal m'avait semblée un peu inapperçue. J'ai pu l'offrir personnellement à pas mal de gens et cela a eu certains impacts mais son rayonnement public a été, pour dire le moins, limité. Et voilà qu'il est à l'origine de tout ce branle bas à Buenos Aires et qu'il est traduit en espagnol. Ce matin réunion technique pour Special Forces.

10 rather difficult hours of flight between Washington DC and Buenos Aires. After 5 hours, my back was really hurting and nothing I could do to relieve it. Fortunately, today the pain seems to have gotten back to "normal". I was welcomed in a very friendly way. It was really nice to finally meet the people I had been in contact with for months through e-mail. I cannot say I have a real grasp of this city yet. It is certainly not a «latino» city like some other I have known altough Spanish is the spoken language. But for the time being, I only know the small area around my hotel, including the Carlos Gardel Street. Last night, it was the opening evening of the festival with a Brasilian movie that sounded very interesting, but it was only subtitled in Spanish, so after a while of trying to understand, I left. I had a short talk with Sergio Wolf, the new director of the festival who explained me why he wanted so much to do this whole event around my work. Everything comes from my book L'Ange et l'automate (The Angel and the Automaton). It was given to him by Marco de Blois when he traveled in Montreal. Destiny sometimes follow strange and unexpected paths. It is never possible to know what the real consequences of something you do are going to be. The original release of this book in Montreal went somehow unnoticed. I could give it personnally to some people and I know this had some impact, but the public impact of it remained quite limited. And there it is, I find today that this had be at the origin of this full scale event in Buenos Aires and it has been translated in Spanish. This morning we are suppose to have a technical meeting about Special Forces.

Monday 7 April 2008

vers Buenos Aires

J'écris à l'aéroport Dulles de Washington. Je suis en route vers Buenos Aires. J'ai cinq heure à tuer ici avant l'embarquement. Je ne souhaite ça à personne. Nulle part de tranquille où se retirer, rien de décent à manger. Mais le plaisir de me rendre en Argentine fait passer tout cela. Même après quelques mois, je reste encore étonné de ce qui va arriver la bas dans le cadre du Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cinema Independiente: rétrospective complète (ce qui n'est pas si simple à organiser), traduction en espagnol de l'Ange et l'automate et performance avec Bob (Special Forces). Je ne sais pas exactement quelle est la connexion qui a enclenché une telle opération. Cela reste un mystère pour moi. Je ne suis pourtant pas si connu. Bref, j'ai devant moi deux semaines de festival, les projections de mes films, je sais que Bela Tar sera là, j'imagine que plusieurs de ses films que je n'ai pas vu seront présentés. Et tout ça à Buenos Aires! Sylvie vient me rejoindre vendredi et nous resteront une semaine de plus pour un peu de vacances ailleurs en Argentine. J'essaierai de tenir un journal assez suivi de ce voyage.

I write from the Dulles Airport in Washington D.C.. I am heading rowards Buenos Aires. I have five hours to kill here before boarding for my final destination. I don't wish this to anybody, no quiet ares to retire, no decent food. But the pleasure of going to Argentina turns this into small problems. Even after a few months, I remain still astonished by what is going to happen at the Buenos Aires Festival Internacional de Cinema Independiente: a complete retrospective of my films (this is not that simple to organize), a psanish translation of my book l'Ange et l'automate and a performance with Bob (Special Forces). I don't know exactly what s the connection that made all of this possible. It remains a mystery for me. I am not that well known. Anyway I am looking forward to two weeks of festival, projections of my films, I know Bela Tar is going ro be there, I suppose some of his film that I have not seen are going to be shown. And all of this in Buenos Aires! Sylvie is going to arrive on Friday and we sill stay in Argentina one more week to travel around a little bit. I will try to write a steady diary of this trip.