17/2/20 - Commune Film
17/2/20 – My Commune Day
So, a major setback in our commune work was the fact that my suitcase got lost and was have adventures across Europe somewhere without me for a couple of days. This was a problem because it had my laptop, camera equipment and contact lenses in it! So I kind of had to sit blind in the Airbnb during those days which made it hard for us to get a lot of work done. This also meant that I got the last day, and by then the team had somewhat run out of steam, which made getting them to do multiple takes within the film quite difficult, therefore the film is quite choppy and rushed. This isn’t a huge problem though, it’s a satire and a comical concept so the quality of the film being a bit shitty kind of adds to the overall nature. I also realised that the whole thing would be a lot easier if I did it in collaboration, which I know was the point of the project but we kind of took the approach of each person having a day and that day being directed completely by that one person. However, in filmmaking teamwork is really important, so I had Finn help me to write it. We got up early in the morning and brainstormed ideas for the script as a team, then I and Finn wrote the script and we started shooting the afternoon. That evening we went through the footage and began editing. The night before we watched some examples of French noir films, in order to get a good idea of the style we were trying to emulate. The editing, however, took ages, especially the subtitles so I continued by myself the day after we got back. To us, the film is incredibly funny, and we understand the concept, however, we can’t tell if that’s just because it has become an inside joke as we haven’t really shown it to anyone else. If it doesn’t land well then that’s okay, the point of this project for us was practise and to learn how we can develop information both in text and our surroundings.
16/2/20 – Art and Culture in Marseille
Traditionally, Marseille is a port city, however, it has played host to many prolific French films over the years, as its architecture in perfect rustic condition looks like a set for a fictional drama. Recently it has also played host to contemporary art, such as the reflective ceiling over the main square.
A series of noir films have been shot and set within the streets of Marseille, such as the 1949 film ‘Wicked City,’ the 1935 film ‘Justin de Marseille,’ and the 1974 film ‘The Marseille Contract.’ Ultimately what drew us to choosing Marseille as a location is its beautiful cityscape backdrop that teleports you back to the 40s, which to our group is an incredibly inspiring period of arts and culture in Europe.
14/2/20 – Aspects of French Noir Film
“Film noir is a cinematic term used primarily to describe stylish Hollywood crime dramas, particularly those that emphasize cynical attitudes and sexual motivations. The 1940s and 1950s are generally regarded as the "classic period" of American film noir. Film noir of this era is associated with a low-key, black-and-white visual style that has roots in German Expressionist cinematography. The term film noir, French for "black film" was first applied to Hollywood films by French critic Nino Frank in 1946.”
This is a genre often associated with French cinema, therefore, we tried to adopt as many properties of noir film into our story as possible. Properties of noir film include: (from http://www.umontanamediaarts.com/MART101L/characteristics-of-film-noir )
- The historical setting is the contemporary world that has been corrupted and lost its moral certainty. The prevailing cynicism of characters reflects the reality of the atomic bomb, Cold War, totalitarianism, propaganda, etc.
- The protagonist character is a loner, introverted, troubled, hard-boiled, pessimistic. He is not the conventional film hero, confident/exceptional/certain, but rather average and conventional, often is a war veteran or detective, and is defined by his ability to survive and restore normality.
- The seeker-hero is on a quest in the noir world. He is repeatedly tested, interrogated, attacked, persecuted and will either emerge safely, uncorrupted, strong or be killed. Things are not what they seem, people change identities, the plot has unforeseen twists and turns.
- The noir world can be external or internal. The external world is usually the dark, mean streets of the big city, often Los Angeles with its beaches, apartments, palm-lined streets. It could be the nightclub/cafe/police station haunts of the underworld/police/detective. The internal world is the violence/trauma/nightmares in the hero's mind.
- The antagonist is a femme fatale, a dangerous female who lures/tempts/seduces the hero. She is glamorous with dark lips and long flowing hair. She usually already possesses another man, a wealthy older husband who is proprietal toward his wife, representing an oedipal complex by the outsider seeking to destroy the powerful father figure to possess the woman.
- The opposite of the femme fatale is the domestic woman, a wife or girlfriend associated with home/nurturing/rehabilitation.
- The visual style of noir is the hard/undiffused look of the tabloid newspaper with cluttered/claustrophobic/dark interiors framed or restricted by the camera frame, many night scenes, off-angle and deep focus camera shots, stark chiaroscuro, low-key lighting, bleak/fatalistic overtones of despair and madness, "heightened" expressionistic scenes with elements distorted/nightmarish/grotesque/exaggerated.
- The iconography of noir uses dark sidewalks, rain-drenched streets, flashing neon signs, fairgrounds and carnivals, the city as villain/dangerous/hostile, the border town or the casino, imagery of water and alcohol that represent merging and release rather than fragmentation and blockage.
Plan For My Commune Day
11/2/20 – teamLab
Another example of a group of artists working together is teamLab. “Founded in 2001 by Toshiyuki Inoko in Tokyo, Japan, teamLab is an interdisciplinary group of ultra-technologists. Relying on the tradition of ancient Japanese art as well as 21st-century forms of anime and manga, their practice seeks to navigate the information and contact of arts, technology, design, and the natural world around us. They investigate human behaviour in the information era, effectively proposing innovative models of social and cultural development and change. With installations scaled up to larger-than-life proportions, their works are a labyrinth of virtual experiences. Having been subject of numerous exhibitions and programs across the globe, teamLab are possibly one of the most recognizable arts collectives in the international art circles today.” https://www.widewalls.ch/artist-collective/teamlab/
This is a really good example of a larger collective working together to create more dominating work in terms of scale.
10/2/20 – Planning Our Commune
With planning our commune work, we initially decided on a theme before anything else. Our reasoning for having a theme was that we felt it would create continuity in our work and help us to keep on the same flow of thought throughout the four days. Since all of our Part 3 project proposals are so different, we came up with a theme we felt had a lot to unravel, and something that no one has seemed to have addressed before… the awful, cringy worth yet strangely poignant phrases used in tacky home décor. I’m talking “live love laugh, don’t talk to me before my coffee and prosecco made me do it.” All the horribly tatty phrases that we encounter every day in most households, on mugs, tea towels, adorned in cursive lettering across a piece of rustic driftwood. Now, this sounds like a really silly thing to base work on, however, after discussion, we agreed that there is some value in this. This will ultimately be great practise in taking pieces of meaningless information and turning them into a narrative. All of us plan on using interviews in our Part 3 work, so it is important to practise dissecting information and seeing how we can use it in order to entertain an audience. In terms of location for our project, we decided upon the warmed and cheapest possible place for us to stay and fly to, henceforth we are flying to Marseille. Location plays a big role in my Part 3 project, so one of the key elements in our manifesto is to include some context of the place we are in. What is a key cultural and artistic output in France? French noir cinema. Therefore, my initial idea for my commune work is to do a French noir film using these tacky phrases that our group has been gathering. What I hope to get out of this, is practising looking at a location, at the styles and genres of a space, and taking information and twisting it into a piece of entertainment in a short space of time, to communicate the essence of a place.
9/2/20 – EXAMPLES OF ARTIST COMMUNES
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
“From 1980 to 1986, renowned Pop artist Andy Warhol and a graffiti prodigy, Jean-Michel Basquiat, collaborated on a number of exciting pieces that actually led them to the position they now have in the art world. Their working process went on like this: Warhol usually painted first, and then Basquiat entered the scene with his colourful imagery. One of the most popular examples would be the piece titled Olympic Rings, completed in 1985. Warhol actually made several variations of the Olympic five-ring symbol, to which Basquiat responded with the oppositional graffiti style.” - Nadja Bozovic 
This collaboration involved utilising each artist’s style/skillset to produce a singular outcome. This is something that we could explore on our commune, figuring out each person’s strength, and exploring how we could all use that to produce a singular outcome.
9/2/20 – EXAMPLES OF ARTIST COMMUNES
Pablo Picasso and Gjon Mili
“It was 1949, and a 68-year-old Pablo Picasso was spending time at his French home in Vallauris when Gjon Mili paid him a visit. At the time, Mili was a photographer for LIFE magazine and had come by to take some pictures of the great artist’s creative process. That’s where an incredible idea was born! Picasso and Gjon decided to collaborate on exploring the possibilities of painting with light. It was Mili who wanted to experiment with this technique, and he convinced Picasso to try making several paintings using the flash of a light as paint and air as the canvas.” https://www.agora-gallery.com/advice/blog/2017/04/27/famous-art-collaborations/
This is an example of two artists bringing together their mediums, whilst living and working in the same place. This resulted in outcomes that breathe life of both artists. Outcomes that come from this method I feel end up being really unique and special, as it encourages you to push creative boundaries9
9/2/20 – EXAMPLES OF ARTIST COMMUNES
Marcel Duchamp and Man Ray
“Rrose Sélavy was a Dada pin-up girl, a lucky charm for many artists, and… she was a man! Not just any man, that is, but one of the best-known visual artists in the entire history of art. She was ’the inventor of readymades’, and the revolutionary that completely changed the art world. Yes, you guessed it, she was Marcel Duchamp. Rrose Sélavy was one of Duchamp’s pseudonyms and his female alter-ego. […] he wasn’t playing alone. His long-time companion for optical and rhetorical illusions was a famous painter, photographer, and filmmaker, Man Ray. Ray was there to take a shot of Duchamp every time he showed up as Rrose Sélavy. But those pictures were only a small part of their unique everlasting friendship and artistic collaboration. Their shared aesthetic was spread across different mediums, ranging from the first picture that showed Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase which Ray took in 1919, to the experimental op-art film Anemic Cinema they did together in 1926, and finally, the photograph Man Ray took in 1968, depicting the last, and unfinished, Duchamp sculpture, La Cheminée Anaglyphe.” https://www.agora-gallery.com/advice/blog/2017/04/27/famous-art-collaborations/
This collaboration combines performance and documentation over a period of time. Our commune group have been considering ideas of performance, and documentation through the medium of film. This style of collaboration is certainly something we could explore.99
9/2/20 – WHAT IS A COMMUNE?
Next week, a group of three other GCD students and I will be taking part in cooperative, collaborative and collective art and design practise, for a period of four days. Before we went, I decided to research the fundamentals of what an artist commune really is.
“An art commune is a communal living situation or commune where collective art is produced as a function of the group's activities. Creative art was enthusiastically produced within such groups, which became gathering points for the counterculture movement.”
“An artist residency is a space that provides a dedicated time and place for creative work. They can be incredibly valuable for artists of all kinds who work on large short-term projects that require a lot of focus and/or space for a short period of time. They assume different forms including a longer-term collective at an artist colony, a weekend retreat, or a month-long residency.” https://theabundantartist.com/take-residence-artist-community/
Ultimately, a commune consists of living in one location for a period of time, making work alongside or in collaboration with other artists/designers. The benefits will be the ability to share and encourage ideas, gather multiple viewpoints and experiences into a piece of work, and the fact that you have more than one pair of hands to create fiddly or large scale pieces of work