play: The world of the pomegranate I

Book: Akadamie X

A bit of a winding yarn with this post so get comfy:  Some months ago I found this treat at the art school library. In preparation for leaving the course and the embracing of the 'open/free' days ahead, I thought this book would help give a bit of structure to 'art' learning and give ideas for different things to read and do, almost a DIY MFA (Masters in Fine Art in case acronym central isn't your thing).  The book is divided into chapters or rather 'art lessons' each of which put together by a different well-known artist including Olafur Eliasson, Mark Dion and Raqs Media Collective. 

I managed to 'hog' it for a while and though a great book, I didn't manage to work that far through the book. In fact I got stuck on the chapter by the infamous performance artist Marina Abromavich. Each of the art lessons has a recommended 'reading' list and one entry  in her list was the film 'The Color of Pomegranates by the Armenian director Sergei Parajanov (the film can be found here - in extremely good quality I might add!!!)

A truly luscious film in many respects. The visuals were so rich you couldn't decide where to look (see below), its almost like you wanted to pause the frame to have a good look at the colours, textures and the 'on-screen curation' of the various components of the shots. Another way to perhaps think about digital curation - moving and in constant flux on this occasion. 

There is virtually no spoken dialogue throughout the film but some truly extraordinary sounds, second level acousmatics? possibly (acousmatics being where you can hear the sound but cannot see the originating cause). Sounds/music that you hear in films are heard without seeing the actual instrument/playing. On top of that, sound design for the screen is cleverly constructed and edited to fit the visuals e.g the famous instance of sound for screen is where you see people walking and the sound of their steps. The steps are recorded separately by other people walking on particular surfaces to get the right representation of the visual rather than what you might hear in 'real life'. 

Here, the visuals you were watching didn't correspond to the supposed sound it should be making. For instance in one scene you see a boy turning over the pages of a book then it changes to shots of the pages one by one, you didn't see them turning but you could hear the 'turning of the pages'. 

As well as this non-paralleled of sound and visual, the following scene was a wonderful composite of the boy lying down amongst these huge books flapping away in the wind. The flapping sound itself was truly special.

Boy amongst books - scene from The Color of Pomegranates 1969

Going back to the curated shot, each frame was like a painting in itself and reading about the film made it clear why that was so - its like a tableaux vivant (a form of entertainment combining painting and theatre originating in the 1800s. Sergei is said to have based the shots of the film on Persian Miniature painting.

Scene from The Color of Pomegranates 1969

Scene from The Color of Pomegranates 1969

Scene from The Color of Pomegranates 1969

Lots of nooks and crannies to explore: sound and visuals, non visual sound sources, incoherent sounds with visuals, living pictures, digital curation on screen, flattened curated objects and not to forget the wonderful world of follow in Part II. 

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