Zachary Cocciolo, studio class
It's always a fool's leap.
in b4 Brakhage.
A Colour Box (1935) Paint on film 30 years before Brakhage. Did a whole lot of wild experiments with film and animation. Earlier in the 1930s with his goddamn (unintentionally) terrifying Peanut Vendor short that's pretty pioneering in the realm of stop-motion animation. Later he made Free Radicals, the single most technically amazing work of animation I've ever seen-- made entirely with scratches on black film, an almost 3D effect is achieved at many points that's absolutely flabbergasting. Lye certainly saw with his own eyes as Brakhage said of his films. I often find Lye's stuff more engaging even on a conceptual level, even if his films are "only advertisements" for the british postal service mostly. I mostly just get respect for the british postal service marketing department. He also made this longer, live action ad, N or NW that's very interestingly shot, both in scenes that use superimpoositions and just in general. There's an absolute effervescence in his work that I appreciate. In a whole lot of more outwardly respectable experimental works like Ballet Mecanique or Brakhage or such there's often a pretty flat feeling to it all despite whatever efforts they might make or claim to make to be more of a "bodily experience" in film or purer film or something (That said Brakhage's best work (Mothlight, Eye Myth) does have the effervescence and joie-de-vivre of Lye, but those seem few and far between from my viewings of Brakhage's work); it is entirely a cerebral exercise.
In b4 Cassavetes
It's A Wonderful Life (1946) "I'm a rebel against control of any kind. I'm a bad organization man. I like to be on my own man and I don't like somebody else to tell me what to do. It was just the natural rebel in me that I couldn't take orders." (From an interview with Capra). Frank Capra is not pap. Nor even conservative, really. For films like this and Meet John Doe he was actually put on the communist watchlist! Films like his bred pap, though. Which is unfortunate because in actually watching It's A Wonderful Life, probably one of the saddest american movies, it's made with a gigantic amount of ingenuity, thought, empathy, and experimetnation. Something interesting about Capra is he actually worked extensively with improvisations and afforded his actors and crew quite a bit of freedom, and also gave them room to be much more emotionally raw than any other films of the time, or since, ever dare to be, such as the scene with the druggist early on in the film, or the second meeting of George Bailey and Mary and the phonecall (which, incidentally, was the first thing filmed of the film, and the first thing Jimmy Stewart had done since fighting in WW2; it was done in a single take without rehearsing. While shooting they skipped a whole page; Capra was alerted by a script supervisor afterward and Capra's response was "who cares with performances like that"). It's easy to see only the worst in people (like Solondz or Tarantino or /moore or such); "it takes strength to be gentle and kind". Visually too it is extremely interestingly put together-- gazing through shelves or across hallways and rarely ever over someone's shoulder; it is edited deliberately to bring out character nuance rather than keep the plot plodding along. It's a real risk to be emotionally open and optimistic. It takes courage and there's something admirable about having hope and faith and such-- That's probably what makes Capra's films so heartbreaking. They're so loving and optimistic; that can be a lot more piercing than aggression and overt confrontation with viewers can be. No one cries watching Alphaville or Week End.
1. what's your individual perspective on experimentation? (eg. working against being deliberate? working toward spontaneity/improvisation or working outside or your area of expertise/ comfort?)
All of those examples are just as valid as eachother. Just fiddle around; play; learn about your form through other forms; create a hypothesis and test it with a work; see how a reaction to certain things are; think and research; sketch.
2. experimental practice (is this term an oxymoron?)
No. Practice exemplifies experimentation. Many of Bach's compositions are based on improvisations and are experimental in layering of sound (more to learn about layering of sounds here than in John Cage...) and practice with fingering on a keyboard and musical knowledge is a requirement rgwewfff and in free jazz it is kind of imperative to know a whole damn lot about musical theory and that's pretty damn experimental. Any art that's worth while is experimental-- even if experimental just in sense of taking certain risks with any aspect of it-- risking failure just so you don't sit comfortably in mediocrity.
3. What is the significance of experimental work at this particular point in time (considering our global general social/ political/ environmental milieu: social interactions, art practices, art business, politics, social movements, social networking etc.)
The same as it always was: in a personal level, growth and learning about onesself and trying to create some new view of the world. In a cultural level, it's to find new ways of thinking and exploring and to create new ideas and in the viewers of the work expand their worldview.
4. when experimental process(es) become canons: [etc...]
Vito Acconci being an art-troll. His cerebrality in art making has been fashionable for a long time; art is simply about knowing a whole bunch of various cultural discourse and being about itself only rather than discovering something yourself or about yourself or something-- that's just so naive. Be naked and sexual and "CONFRONTATIONAL". Don't be fragile or sincere. Abstraction and lack-of-technical-consideration in painting has kind of become a cliche as well-- again often become things that are only about themselves-- abstract painting about abstract painting-- pseudo-expressionist painting doing little more than quote and rehash older expressionist painting by people with more technical know-how about how to use their medium to an effect.
A good quote:
"All valuable acts of expression are acts of exploration. Even a minor one like writing this piece. (Why would I waste my time doing it if I already knew in advance where my argument would take me?) Film the parts of your life you don't understand in order to try to understand them. Film the aspects of your dealings with others where you don't know what went wrong (or whether anything went wrong). Use film to blaze a trail through the emotional jungle we all live in. Consciousness cannot precede creation. Every movie Tarkovsky and Cassavetes ever made was an attempt to understand a part of their experience that they didn't understand before they began it. Along with spoken language, art is one of the greatest inventions in the history of the universe for discovering the meaning of our lives, our times, our culture. A corollary: Dare to fail–abysmally on occasion. If you function as a genuine explorer, you can never know in advance where you'll come out (or if you'll come out anywhere valuable). It's always safer to cook from a recipe, and always risky to throw the book away, but that is the only way you'll ever make anything new. Like any other mass-produced product, if Hollywood films never rise above a certain average level of achievement, by the same virtue they never fall very far below it either. With a non-standardized approach, nothing is guaranteed. Your film may be a disaster. It may not work out. But that is the case with all truly creative experiments–Charlie Parker's solos, Paul Taylor's dances, Einstein's late theorems. Working the way a documentary filmmaker does, discovering your purposes and meanings as you go along, necessarily means performing without a safety net. But the greatest art is always made by taking the greatest chances. The road not taken is the only path along which real discoveries can be made (which is why imitating yourself is as deadly as imitating someone else)." ~ Ray Carney