Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Real And ‘Real’ Liminal Entities

“It is cinema as a dream. In dreams, people act strangely. One sequence doesn’t seem to match, exactly, to other sequences. It’s cinema as a dream. We think about it. We wonder about it. We project our own meanings onto it. It’s not something a real cinema buff complains about. It’s something we pay extra for.”

The Loch Ness Monster Versus Pretty Flowers

[laughs] this is me quoting
myself quoting myself about
the film

The Art Institute of Chicago owns seventeen [!] works by Berthe Morisot, including the watercolor version of “On The Balcony.” Unfortunately, although I’ve been checking every now and then, they never seem to have more than one Morisot piece on display at a time and I’ve never seen “On The Balcony” taken out of storage.

But you can visit the Art Institute website and see reasonably good images of some of the Morisot pieces in their collection. “On The Balcony” is my favorite, but I also like this piece a lot:

That’s Morisot’s daughter Julie in a little sketch. I love fragmentary images like that set against a whole sheet. To me there’s something almost dreamlike about an image set against a wide surround.

And here’s a cool thing about that image: It’s a colored pencil sketch! It’s from the end of the nineteenth century, around 1890, and Berthe Morisot, like Degas, didn’t hesitate to experiment with strange media. Colored pencils!

It’s amazing thinking back to a time when colored pencils were considered “new technology.” I’ve already done a post about oil pastels and their interesting double history, European and Japanese.

Colored pencils and crayons as cutting-edge technology.

One of the reasons I’ve been thinking about this is because I’ve seen strange—to my eyes—reactionary trends to abandon technology and embrace trivial, and not so trivial, elements of the past and I don’t know that I see any good reason for most of these trends.

Now that digital watches can be accurate to within a second over months, I see a lot of people getting wind-up, mechanical watches. Very expensive mechanical watches, too.

Now that everyone knows smoking kills you and makes your whole body smell like garbage, I see more and more people returning to the cigarette habit.

And I got started thinking about this recently because in the science fiction film “Prometheus” the director wanted the rich woman on the spaceship to have the fanciest, most visually compelling symbols of wealth and coolness and modernity imaginable. So this is what part of Meredith Vickers’ cabin on the spaceship [!] looks like in the vision of director Ridley Scott:

Talk about liminal entities!

Now, I feel dull and hopelessly working-class because when I saw the movie I didn’t even recognize that, but I’ve since learned it is a Fazioli grand piano, from their specialty line, called an M. Liminal. They sell for around $500,000 but I’ve heard that if you shop around you can sometimes find one for around $450,000.

This is something I just don’t get at all.

Even as a dream. Or maybe I should say especially as a dream.

I would never go back to mechanical watches. I would never go back to suicidal (and ugly) recreations like smoking.

And even if I bought an acoustic guitar, it would still have pickups, almost certainly at least two different kinds.

It’s the twenty-first century and music is about music—that is, carefully arranged sounds. Synthesizers today, I bet, can create sounds that nobody would be able to distinguish (without looking) from the sounds produced by that acoustic piano.

I can’t even imagine the thinking behind a half-a-million dollars acoustic piano.

It wasn’t really that long ago that cutting edge artists were experimenting with and embracing colored pencils and crayons as wonderful new technology.

Colored pencils and crayons.

Real liminal entities!

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