Sunday, February 03, 2019

The composition of Arnulf Rainer is so complicated that none of its formal operations can be discovered by watching the film during a normal projection.... 
In his criticism of Eisenstein’s claim that the raw power of cinema resides in the collision between shots, Kubelka argued that the strongest collisions are between frames, that it is not the shots which collide but the last frame of one and the first frame of the other.
Debate and argument as social activity reduced to linguistic formalism. The idea of argument, or argument among experts –including the argument of experts about the nature of argument– replaces argument in the world. The art and philosophy of Weberian technocracy, the denial that subtexts exist: reading against is seen as in some sense irrational. In simple terms that most people will understand, (in discussion of art) it means thinking of Warhol as a gay artist, but not a self-hating homosexual, since that would be reading against a "statement", and statements must be affirmed if they are  "true according to their own criteria."

"To be is to be the value of a bound variable."

FreedbergPainting in Italy 1500-1600
An absolute technique asserts at the same time the intense plastic presence of the scene and the aesthetic factors that transform it. Colour, cold and  luminous as ice, symbolizes What has been made of passion. Both this form and colour, in  the intensity of sheer aesthetic sensation they produce, transcend illustrative meaning and in part displace it. Art does not narrate the tragedy but replaces it. 
Freedberg is clear on the decadence of Mannerism. That sort of "judgement" is no longer accepted.

Below: a desired parallel not to the art of fin de siècle Vienna, but to the philosophy. The decadence of the art originates in the tragic awareness of its own inadequacy: the inadequacy of the merely beautiful in the face of the intelligent. The decadence of the philosophy originated in the pretense that formal logic could substitute for meaning, for the rich pleasure in one's own choices/activities. Formal logic by comparison is passive.  Composers were the first to follow; Taruskin calls it the "poietic fallacy" – see his critique of originalism. But he substitutes one vulgarism for another.

P. Adams Sitney, Visionary Film The American Avant-Garde, 1943-2000,  p.287
Arnulf Rainer is a montage of black-and-white leader with white sound (a mixture of all audible frequencies) and silence. For the film-maker it is an evocation of the dawn, of day and night, of thunder and lightning. The formal laws which govern its construction are considerably more elaborate than those of either previous film, and they include a wide range of subjective decisions.
The composition of Arnulf Rainer is so complicated that none of its formal operations can be discovered by watching the film during a normal projection. Instead, one perceives an intricate pattern of synchronous clusters of flashes and explosions of sounds mixed with asynchronous patterns which evolve, recall, or anticipate other patterns on one of the two levels of sound and picture. At times the flickering of the black-and-white frames proceeds in silence, to be followed by the same or a similar rhythm on the soundtrack while the screen stays white or black. At a different moment the sound rhythm will forecast the visual pattern which appears in silence or with a different, and therefore not synchronized sound. The whole film is interwoven with such transfers of meter from sound to picture, or the opposite, in phrases that may be (according to Kubelka’s notes) 288, 192, 144, 96, 72, 48, 36, 24, 18 16, 12, 9, 8, 6, 4, or 2 frames in duration. There are 16 sets of phrases, each one 576 frames long (24 seconds). Within each of the 16 sections except one, the metrical patterns accelerate their changes as the phrases move form the longest to the shortest in fixed stages. Since there are no distinct, visible boundaries between the sections or the phrases inside of the sections, this structure is vaguely perceived as a seemingly endless series of irregular accelerations. A psychological after- effect helps to emphasize the subdivisions. After each wave of acceleration a transparent halo-like square seems to hover off the screen for a fraction of a second. As the pattern of changes recommences, the floating image slowly (that is, slow within the terms of speed generated by the film itself) rejoins the actual screen. Many spectators find momentary illusions of color attend this effect. The force of the after-effect is to affirm the flatness and rectangularity of the screen almost every 24 seconds of the 6.4-minute film. 
The one exception to this pattern is the sixth section, which is a black and silent pause for all 24 seconds. At first it seems as if the film has ended, but it recommences with full force. Kubelka proves here that even after an intense barrage of infinitesimal visual and aural variations, an extended series of “weak articulations” immediately begins to dissolve the height- ened perception of frame-to-frame variations. In his criticism of Eisenstein’s claim that the raw power of cinema resides in the collision between shots, Kubelka argued that the strongest collisions are between frames, that it is not the shots which collide but the last frame of one and the first frame of the other. He would have us dispense with the very notion of the shot. What we call shot, he points out, is a series of frames with weak articulations between them; that is, a frame is exactly or almost exactly like the previous one in a conventional shot. The illusion of a moving figure in a static field is a good example of weak articulation; the only difference between two frames is a slight change in the position of the figure. Thus for Kubelka film has an absolute limit of intensity: radical changes of picture and sound every 124th of a second. This limit is one of the poles of Arnulf Rainer. The other is the long black pause, the extreme of weak articulation. 
The film-makers who followed Kubelka in exploring the possibilities of the flicker film in either color or black-and-white have tended to con- ceive it differently. For Kubelka, Arnulf Rainer is the absolute film, the alpha and omega, which both defines and brackets the art.
Milton Babbitt, Who Cares if You Listen?

This article might have been entitled "The Composer as Specialist" or, alternatively, and perhaps less contentiously, "The Composer as Anachronism." For I am concerned with stating an attitude towards the indisputable facts of the status and condition of the composer of what we will, for the moment, designate as "serious," "advanced," contemporary music. his composer expends an enormous amount of time and energy- and, usually, considerable money- on the creation of a commodity which has little, no, or negative commodity value. e is, in essence, a "vanity" composer. he general public is largely unaware of and uninterested in his music. he majority of performers shun it and resent it. Consequently, the music is little performed, and then primarily at poorly attended concerts before an audience consisting in the main of fellow 'professionals'. At best, the music would appear to be for, of, and by specialists.
Towards this condition of musical and societal "isolation," a variety of attitudes has been expressed, usually with the purpose of assigning blame, often to the music itself, occasionally to critics or performers, and very occasionally to the public. But to assign blame is to imply that this isolation is unnecessary and undesirable. t is my contention that, on the contrary, this condition is not only inevitable, but potentially advantageous for the composer and his music. From my point of view, the composer would do well to consider means of realizing, consolidating, and extending the advantages.
The unprecedented divergence between contemporary serious music and its listeners, on the one hand, and traditional music and its following, on the other, is not accidental and- most probably- not transitory. Rather, it is a result of a half-century of revolution in musical thought, a revolution whose nature and consequences can be compared only with, and in many respects are closely analogous to, those of the mid-nineteenth-century evolution in theoretical physics The immediate and profound effect has been the necessity of the informed musician to reexamine and probe the very foundations of his art. He has been obliged to recognize the possibility, and actuality, of alternatives to what were once regarded as musical absolutes. He lives no longer in a unitary musical universe of "common practice," but in a variety of universes of diverse practice.
This fall from musical innocence is, understandably, as disquieting to some as it is challenging to others, but in any event the process is irreversible; and the music that reflects the full impact of this revolution is, in many significant respects, a truly "new" music, apart from the often highly sophisticated and complex constructive methods of any one composition or group of compositions, the very minimal properties characterizing this body of music are the sources of its "difficulty," "unintelligibility," and- isolation. In indicating the most general of these properties, I shall make reference to no specific works, since I wish to avoid the independent issue of evaluation. The reader is at liberty to supply his own instances; if he cannot (and, granted the condition under discussion, this is a very real possibility) let him be assured that such music does exist.
First. This music employs a tonal vocabulary which is more "efficient" than that of the music of the past, or its derivatives. This is not necessarily a virtue in itself, but it does make possible a greatly increased number or pitch simultaneities, successions, and relationships. his increase in efficiency necessarily reduces the "redundancy" of the language, and as a result the intelligible communication of the work demands increased accuracy from the transmitter (the performer) and activity from the receiver (the listener). Incidentally, it is this circumstance, among many others, that has created the need for purely electronic media of "performance." More importantly for us, it makes ever heavier demands upon the training of the listener's perceptual capacities.

The discussion of Sharits as a formalist is almost as perverse as the films themselves.

Amusing that if you google Wittgenstein and Weininger you get a book and a review by the idiot Holbo. at NDPR
If this is a tolerable portrait of Wittgenstein -- as a solipsistically silent monologist superficially engaged in public, technical philosophical debate by means of the usual keywords (mind, meaning, logic, language) -- it is hard to believe this fact is of no philosophical relevance to philosophers and scholars interested in Wittgenstein. But it remains hard to make out the relevance.
Any historian should be able and willing and to compare structures and contexts. The book doesn't sound very good and Toulmin isn't good enough.

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