MARCH 2020 / ISSN: 2462-2885 / Color / ENGLISH
In the early 1960s, Raphael Montañez Ortiz was among the first to name a new approach to the art then emerging out of a number of movements in the Americas, Asia, and Europe, movements that rejected both abstraction and traditional forms in favor of the realism of appropriating images and objects from consumer, media, and industrial culture. This approach blurred the boundaries between object and image, as well as between public and private, while it privileged the recycling, transformation, and even destruction of the material sources. Ortiz identified this emerging work in two ways: first, by pointing to a decisive and worldwide turn toward destruction in artistic practice in his ‘Destructivism: A Manifesto’ (1962); and second, in naming his own mixed media works as Archaeological Finds (1961-64). In a 1965 essay largely focused on artists associated with nouveau réalisme as well as Tetsumi Kudo (Japan, 1935-1990), French critic Alain Jouffroy called attention to the “imaginary archaeology” by which art “illuminated” objects in their original context and in the new context of “another space and time,” a formulation highly suggestive of Foucault’s later concept of heterotopia. For Jouffroy, the “archaeology of the present, alas, makes of every object its own cemetery.” At stake here were two contending views of the non-traditional art object. For Ortiz, destruction released the spirits of colonialism and capitalism from man-made objects; while for Jouffroy, the resulting art object became the cemetery of, rather than occasion for “active thinking”. If Jouffroy rightly pointed to the limits of archaeology, tout court, Ortiz saw how archaeology could become a deconstructive activity rather than one premised on a metaphorical reconstitution of a missing whole.
Raphael Montañez Ortiz: Resonances from the Concrète, by Jesse Lerner
An Interview with Raphael Montañez Ortiz, by César Ustarroz
Given that the international catastrophe of the war to end all wars occurred just as cinema was evolving into the western world’s major source of entertainment, as well as a source of information, it was virtually inevitable that filmmakers would take their cameras into the field to document what was occurring during the build-up to the war and during the war itself. And, a century later, the lure of the archives where much of this documentation ultimately found a home has made possible a set of remarkable cine-explorations of the war and cinematic representations of it.
Filmmakers covered in this essay include Bill Morrison, Angela Ricci Lucchi & Yervant Gianikian, Peter Jackson, and Sam Mendes.
When is appropriation appropriate? Kirk Tougas
Every film is a tattoo etched on the surface of time, some more so than others. Certain filmmakers, however, eschew entirely the tradition of distracting the audience from awareness of the fact that they are watching and are customarily invited to submit to a willful disappearance into a real or life-like story. These consummate others instead tend to invite the audience to relish and savor the viewing experience as a sequence of electric paintings, one which may or may not contain a program beyond the temporary tattoo incised onto the dream space they occupy while in a theatre. Some of them, such as Kirk Tougas, go even further: they implore the viewer to actively engage in watching their own watching.
By handling the imagery created in Tomb Raider as cinematic material, rather than gameplay, her video has a different focus than those approaches based on game art. However, this interactive environment of the game poses an immediate problem for the familiar conceptions of the readymade material of the archive used in avant-garde practice simply because there is no footage being found.
Jay Rosenblatt directly draws to my own concerns by saying: “It is a very different process to work with images that already exist than with something you shoot”. Discussing found footage filmmaking in the context of rejecting the camera offers new insights into this practice.