Sunday, 8 February 2009

Rural Psychogeography (Ukraine, 2004)

01 Geoff Dugan - No Trespassing
02 Francisco López - Untitled #151
03 Anla Courtis - Latencia De Viento De Puna
04 Jason Kahn - Kreis5
05 Andrey Kiritchenko - Babai
06 Tomas Korber & Günter Müller - Beijing Crossroad
07 Lunt - Double Strapontine
08 Moglass, The - Koktebel
09 Radian - Unje
10 Tom Carter & Vanessa Arn - Mojave
11 Martin Tétreault - D'Apres Gaycre #3
12 Rosy Parlane - Nica
13 Steinbrüchel - Distanz
14 Kim Cascone - DMZspace
15 Kotra - Lost River
16 Freiband & Kouhei - (Under The) Waalbrug, Nijmegen

Psychogeography as a socially critical art practice could reveal itself only in the city. Psychogeographers of the sixties searched for the secret territories, where suppressed desires were particularly intense, expecting to find them primarily in the points of concentrated sociality. In these points sociality reached critical mass and broke out between the disciplinary realm of the city and a spontaneous self-actualization of an individual. As a result, the events that were provoked and captured by psychogeographers, turned out to be transgressive evidence of "the holiday of revolution". The locales where turmoil and confusion, demonstrations of madness and mental play and other "curious occurrences" were the most frequent, held pride of place on psychogeographic maps. However, the time when the philosophy of schizy-analysis and the aesthetics of situationalism spurted out to city streets, has passed. The post-coital depression that followed the orgy discouraged and upset the participants, and they left city streets.

The resistance remains important and actual, although its methods change. It is no longer a strike; it is rather a partisan movement, "resistance through escape". Those who are unable to accept this fact turn into terrorists, blow art up or start revolutions and rebellions in their own minds. However, the real partisans retire and hide, secluding themselves from everyone, confining themselves to external and internal country roads and wood trails, and staying off the beaten tracks where the solitude in crowd and garish sameness await the creator. The lost simplicity and naturalness are in provincial marginalias, not in carnivals of barricades.

The message/transmitter corresponds to the location of transmission. This is neither a manifest nor a general discourse; it is more of an attempt to convey the meaning in the most compressed way, for instance, through free musical improvisation. The message/transmitter itself gives an impression of the situation on the certain road or trail, and, moreover, an immediate and clear one. But what is more important, since psychogeography here is valuable by itself and does not have to pursue any other objectives, the transmitter is also valuable per se, and the message about the event that takes place within the secret territory is considered as the event itself. Herein a partisan can use the latest achievements of the civilization for the demolition of this same civilization. The result comes through as a laptop in the woods serving as the most mobile psycho-prosthesis which creates, captures, stores and transmits meanings.

City partisans keep in touch with rural psychogeographers and readily adopt their experience. As a result, an underground station in Paris all of a sudden becomes reminiscent of a country backyard filled with sounds made by domestic animals, insects, people attending to their chores, and even power supply lines. Generally speaking, any psychogeography that allows finding a valuable method of personal expression that previously seemed impossible, can be considered rural. We cannot say that the realization of personal expression is getting back on track in postmodern era, but the impossibility of realization turns into its possibility which can be carried into effect far from semantic highways and avenues. Moreover, since any expression, whether it is signed or not, is personal in one way or other, and the signed but unmade one is personal twofold, a lot of secret spots reveal themselves on country roads.

This is why the path of a rural psychogeographer is long. He will not encounter the Minotaur in the labyrinth of country roads because this labyrinth does not have a center where the Minotaur could have taken up his residence. This is why the labyrinth looks like a rhizome of surface; having entered it once, one can wander about for ever, endlessly discovering new liaisons between the well-known locations. This is why the wayfarer must take care about the durability of his footwear and take a die knife with him. The handle of this knife is located in Europe and North America, the cutting blade passes through Ukraine, and the blade end is directed towards New Zealand which is one of the most distant and at the same time most impressive secret points.

Natalia Zagurskaya (via)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Mononoke (Japan, 2007)

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12
(Japanese with English subtitles)

Mononoke is a 12 episode-spanning animated series which follows a nameless medicine seller (pictured above, I'd like to call him Link) in his travels and the various people — and monsters, so-called "mononoke" — he ends up encountering. A mononoke results when an "ayakashi", a spirit that simply comes into being, unites with strong human emotions such as vengeance, sadness or fear. The medicine seller is capable of defeating these spirits by using the sword of exorcism, but in order to unsheathe the sword and slay the mononoke he must find the shape ("katachi"; its true form), truth ("makoto"; the reason for its existence), and regret /reasoning ("kotowari"; what it hopes to accomplish) in order to defeat it. This exorcism technique is based on the Mikkyo Buddhism concept of "San Himitsu," which translates to "The Three Secrets."

Apart from the most striking feature, its highly experimental and unconventional visual style which juxtaposes and combines the traditional Japanese art of "ukiyo-e" with elements of Western art movements such as art nouveau, surrealism, expressionism and cubism (read more about this here and here), the series clearly serves as a great demonstration of Japanese mythology and culture. For instance, I had read about the "ko-kwai" in Lafcadio Hearn's In Ghostly Japan which he translates as "incense-party", a meeting of people with the object of playing a curious game which depends upon the participants' ability to remember and name different kinds of incense by the perfume alone (read the respective chapter here). I was, then, delighted to see a slightly altered version of this procedure visualized in the 4th of Mononoke's five story arcs where the female heir of a famous school of incense has to marry one out of four guys vying for her hand. The lucky person is to be determined by a game called "genjikou," where everyone needs to smell different scents and try to discern which are the same. As the word might indicate, this game refers to a chapter from the Tale of Genji where five "kiki-gouro" (incense cups) are prepared by covering lit charcoal with ash and placing a mica plate with incense wood on top to be passed among the contestants.

If you want to give this a try, I suggest you could start with the last arc (episodes 10-12) which is set in what appears to be the 1920s rather than historical Japan. I certainly thought these to be the most astonishing episodes, as far as style is concerned at least. The landscape is predominated by a bleak and I'd say expressionist tone in comparison to the rest of the series. For me, it was partly reminiscent of Angel's Egg and Serial Experiments Lain, and I really love the style of setting in both of these works. The fourth arc (8-9) which I've already mentioned is also one of my favourites and is mainly monochrome with selected parts being tinged with colour (a feature which has already been put to some prominent use in Sin City). The first and second arc, most of all, are studies in space, geometry and perspective, and probably the most colourful in the series. There's an interesting article on the interior design in Mononoke at Iwa ni Hana, a blog I've already mentioned when I happened upon the Leviča short, Labirynt. She's also uttered some interesting and more elaborate thoughts on the episodes here.