Nature is not natural and can never be naturalized — Graham Harman

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nature Morte

Existing, continuing, living, persisting. These qualities of objects have to do with periodic forms. Think of a pop song with a regular verse–chorus structure. It cycles. Pop songs are good to play in the middles of movies, particularly romantic comedies, either when the couple are falling in love or falling out of love. You can convey a sense of periodic time passing, compressed into the few moments of the song. The forward motion of the story is suspended.

Suspension in music is where a tone higher or lower than the shifting chords in the middle cause those chords to change their “color” as if by magic. It's a common technique in disco and house. Why? Because suspension keeps you on the dance floor. It suspends you. You never know when it's going to end, when you're going to exit from the periodic structure.

I always thought this was a supreme example: Radiohead, “Everything in Its Right Place.” Nice video yes?

Something is persisting. The flickering filmstock reminds you of the medium in which the movie appears,
cycling around on the spools.

Now Cezanne. There was a guy who knew how to put everything in the right place. Yet while the objects seem to be arranged-for (us, the viewer), the slightly distorted perspective makes your eye float over the lip of that jug on the edge, into that bright mustard colored space inside it. As you watch, the dark warm color of the space inside the central vase starts to do its thing, and you find that the painting is suspended around this black hole. Your gaze rocks slowly upwards and over its lip, yet it's defeated by the realities of painting and 2D perspective. You are stuck in a groove. It's a still life, a Nature Morte—frozen time, objects that normally don't congregate like that, arranged for you, yet haphazard. Is this living or dying, or undeath. this suspension?

“I'm still waiting.” I always liked that line from Talking Heads' “Crosseyed and Painless,” for the ambiguity. I'm trying to find the original video. Not only does it have some smoking dancing in it but the end is pure genius. The lead character walks down a street in black and white while a car very very slowly changes from grey to bright purple then back to grey again, unnoticed. An OO video moment and a perfect exemplification of “still waiting.”

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