Monthly Archives: July 2008

The Nature of the Physical World by Arthur Stanley Eddington, 1929

I am standing on the threshold about to enter a room. It is a complicated business. In the first place I must shove against an atmosphere pressing with a force of fourteen pounds on every square inch of my body. I must make sure of landing on a plank travelling at twenty miles a second round the sun – a fraction of a second too early or too late, the plank would be miles away. I must do this whilst hanging from a round planet head outward into space, and with a wind of aether blowing at no one knows how many miles a second through every interstice of my body. The plank has no solidity or substance. To step on it is like stepping on a swarm of flies. Shall I not slip through ? No, if I make the venture one of the flies hits me and gives a boost up again; I fall again and am knocked upwards by another fly; and so on. I may hope that the net result will be that I remain about steady; but if unfortunately I should slip through the floor or be boosted too violently up to the ceiling, the occurrence would be, not a violation of the laws of Nature, but a rare coincidence…
Verily, it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a scientific man to pass through a door. And whether the door be barn door or church door it might be wiser that he should consent to be an ordinary man and walk in rather than wait till all the difficulties involved in a really scientific ingress are resolved.

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Cogitations

Le livre noir est l’une des facettes du projet. Un commentaire, une glose qui ne renverrait à rien d’autre qu’au procès en cours. Ou bien, le livre noir serait l’expression la plus opaque d’un scénario, car, à tourner les pages noires, on perçoit à travers la noirceur quelque chose qui tient de la séquence. Il y a dans le BBB une fascination pour le mouvement du processus cinématographique et l’idée du photogramme.    

D’une certaine manière, c’est comme s’il s’agissait de faire du cinéma avec des outils élémentaires et sans caméra. Faire du cinéma avec une machine faite de bois à graver, de papier et d’une presse. Littéralement la presse se transmue en « projecteur », elle projette, au sens ambivalent du terme, l’espace dans lequel se déploie l’objet. 

Le cinéma est l’une des influences génératrices du projet. Il ne faut pas oublier que l’un des membres du BBB, Miles O’Shea, est un acteur. Les films de Buster Keaton, et notamment Le mécano de la générale, nourrissent la plate-forme BBB. 

Si la bibliothèque est le lieu idéal de la performance, il est d’autres sites possibles. Le BBB se propose en effet de faire un remake du film de Buster Keaton lors d’une performance. Cette performance consisterait à reconstituer un élément du film de Keaton. Ce fragment du film serait le décor d’une mise en scène de la table roulante. La table roulante devientun équivalent de la locomotive de Keaton. Sur la table roulante est fixée une caméra qui filme le travelling du point de vue de la machine tandis qu’une caméra fixe filme l’arrivée, de l’autre côté du tunnel, de la table roulante et de l’opérateur. Lors de la présentation, deux écrans, l’un à côté de l’autre, montrent ce double mouvement, l’un montre le travelling et l’autre l’arrivée (comme le train des frères Lumière).

De le conception de la table roulante comme équivalent (toute proportion gardée) de la locomotive de Keaton, il découle une seconde image, l’image du cheval contenue dans la métonymie du cheval-vapeur (le cheval-vapeur étant à la locomotive ce que la voile est au navire).

Le cheval est le symbole même du mouvement. Il hante l’espace du BBB. D’où la création d’un personnage ambigu, un personnage forain : un cheval en toile de jute.

Le cheval devient l’emblème du BBB. Un cheval de cirque, de foire, un cheval en toile de jute qui est l’objet d’une troisième performance à caractère promotionnelle. Les deux opérateurs errent aux abords des foires d’art revêtu de leur tunique grotesque.   

Le projet BBB est un work in progress qui n’a pas de fin bien déterminée. Néanmoins la création d’un meuble portable, une bibliothèque de voyage, rempli des livres noirs créés tout le long des pérégrinations du BBBpourrait représenter une somme, un aboutissement qui signalerait l’arrêt plus ou moins momentané du processus.

Le BBB explore un territoire imaginaire et réel ; imaginaire, car il puise dans les images ses caractères, réel, car il montre littéralement un processus de création. 

Enfin, la dernière facette du projet peut être déclarée. Car, en effet, que serait un tel projet s’il ne portait avec lui l’espoir d’une métamorphose.

De cette aventure de création, il sera tiré un film. Un film d’artiste en noir et blanc et en super 8 (processus mécanique proche de la gravure sur bois en un sens) qui montrera l’autre côté du projet, non pas le processus, mais les opérateurs perçus dans leur rapport à l’objet qu’ils auront créé.

Le film sera tourné à Rogues, en France, et comprendra aussi des séquences à propos des performances. La main qui tiendra la caméra sera à la mesure de l’utopie du BBB puisque c’est Ophélie Deprez, ma fille de douze ans, qui tiendra la caméra et filmera les opérateurs. Ce sera donc une aventure de création vue du point de vue de l’innocence (relative, certes), mais surtout d’un point de vue décalé. Une manière de préserver ce mélange savant d’absurde légèreté et de grave réflexivité à tendance littéraliste qui est le socle même du projet de Miles O’Shea, Alexia de Visscher et Olivier Deprez. La création de ce film sera une manière d’exemplifier l’utopie BBB. Une utopie à usage familier et convivial qui consisterait simplement, à travers une création en commun, à redistribuer et à changer les rapports non pas entre les hommes, cette entité abstraite et excessivement générique, mais entre quelques individus dont la raison d’être puise son sens dans l’opacité magique et néanmoins transparente des pages noires des livres noirs (transparente puisque littérale, le noir ne déclarant que le noir).    

Cette utopie est symboliquement étendue au monde par le biais des voyages et des performances effectuées dans les bibliothèques du monde entier. De ces voyages, il résulterait un réseau de bibliothèques et un réseau de lecteurs. Au fond, c’est tout simplement de relier des fils perdus qu’il s’agit. Les fils perdus entre les artistes eux-mêmes, entre les lecteurs et les auteurs et entre les individus qui participent à ce projet. 

En ce sens, la reliure qui se tient au cœur du projet prend une nouvelle dimension. La reliure est un art paradoxal qui cache pour mieux montrer.

La tension entre les pages, le pli, l’arrondi de la tranche, aucun de ces aspects du livre ne pourrait exister s’il n’y avait, caché sous la jaquette et le tissu, la puissance quasi secrète de l’art de la relieuse. Pas tout à fait secret cet art cependant, puisque la tension, la garde, la tranche, le pli nous parlent de lui, certes indirectement.

Faire accéder l’invisible au visible, rendre concrètement présent ce qui ne se voit pas, relier des personnes, des pages noires, des bibliothèques, les différents plans de la plate-forme, tout cela, c’est tout un et c’est l’un des sens, peut-être, du projet BBB.

Olivier Deprez, Rogues, mai 2008.

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The BlackBook reader

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THE BBBHORSE

Hundreds of miles of desolate, monotonous, burnt – up steppe cannot

induce such deep depression as one man when he sits and talks, and

one does not know when he will go.

Anton Chekov

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THE BBBCENTRE

THE BBBCENTRE

The BBBC is one of the most ambitious and challenging project’s the BBB has undertaken so far. When it opens in 2009 the BBBC will be the vortex through which all BBB idea’s pass.

Originally a “sheep house”, the BBBC is situated in Rogues, a mountaintop village near Montpellier in the South of France. Extensively renovated, the BBBC is fully equipped to create and exhibit the work’s of the BBB, along with offering an international artist-in-residence programme to produce work connected with the region.

Whether it be painting or printing, bookmaking or filmmaking, writing or reading, the BBBC has the tools and iniative to realise any and all aspects of the above.

It can be said the BBB began it’s “marche créer” here, with the invention of the RTT and the first steps towards the BBBMythology.

The BBBHorse was made here.

With it’s beautiful sunset’s while buzzards circle high overhead and midnight foxes slink padding by past medieval farmhouses peopled by J. Tati extra’s, Rogues made the BBB come alive in unexpected and unawaited ways. It has fine local produce; wine, cheese, sausage and a daunting yet ultimately exhilarating five-hour-round-trip bicycle ride to the nearest tobacconist. Down the mountain, then… up the mountain.

It’s the BBBC

Ah come on ah !

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PRINTING BLACK PRINTS

Op M prints black prints with the RTT in a faded hotel room in downtown Bruxelles. Op M scoops out with a spatula a dollop of black ink from the tin of black ink (Noir Vignette Luke RSA PBK7 – PB27)

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Op M “softens” the ink by plying it back and forth on a slab of smoothed marble. Applying it in strips with the spatula, Op M then proceeds to rolling it onto a roller.

Back and forth goes the roller until it is uniformly covered with black ink.

Op M places the woodcut face up on the RTT and rolls the black ink on to it.

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Holding the woodcut at an angle to the light, Op M checks to see if it is completely covered in black ink. Satisfied, Op M then places it face down onto a piece of white paper which lies on the printing machine. Covering both with a stiff piece of grey cardboard, Op M turns the spokes of the printing machine, like a ship’s wheel, which turns the heavy iron printing roller.

The paper, woodcut and grey cardboard pass under the roll to the other side. The woodcut makes a slight cracking sound as the pressure of the roll weighs upon it.Changing direction of the ship’s wheel, Op M sends the paper, woodcut and grey cardboard sandwich back to it’s point of departure.

It is now returned.

Removing the grey cardboard, then the woodcut, Op M surveys the black ink which has been transeferred from the woodcut to the white paper, which is now a black print. Op M attatches the black print to a wooden clothes peg and hangs both from one of the lengths of brown string strung about the welded rusted metal rods of the tower of the RTT in the faded hotel room.

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Op M begins the process again by scooping out with a spatula a dollop of black ink from the tin of black black ink (Noir Vignette Luke RSA PBK7 – PB27).

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This time will be different.

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A Defence of the BBB. By Andrei Tarkovskij

A.Tarkovsky

A.Tarkovsk

Clearly the hardest thing for the working artist is to create his own conception and follow it, unafraid of the strictures it imposes, however rigid these may be. It is far easier to be eclectic, to follow the routine patterns which abound in our professional arsenal.

I see it as the clearest evidence of genius when an artist follows his conception, his idea, his principle, so unswervingly that he has this truth of his constantly in his control, never letting go of it even for the sake of his own enjoyment of his work.

Black Prints as a Refrain

When we come across a refrain in poetry we return, already in possession of what we have read, to the first cause which prompted the poet to write the lines originally. The refrain brings us back to our first experience of entering that poetic world, making it immediate and at the same time reviewing it. We return, as it were, to its sources.

Art is by nature aristocratic, and naturally selective in its effect on the audience. For even in its ‘collective’ manifestations, like theatre or cinema, its effect is bound up with the intimate emotions of each person who comes into contact with a work. The more the individual is traumatised and gripped by those emotions, the more significant a place will the work have in his experience.

The aristocratic nature of art, however, does not in any way absolve the artist of his responsibility to his public and even, if you like, more broadly, to people in general. On the contrary: because of his special awareness of his time and of the world in which he lives, the artist becomes the voice of those who cannot formulate or express their view of reality. In that sense the artist is indeed vox populi. That is why he is called to serve his own talent, which means serving his people.

I cannot in fact undestand the prolem of an artist’s so-called ‘freedom’ or ‘lack of freedom’. An artist is never free. No group of people lacks freedom more. An artist is bound by his gift, his vocation.

On the other hand he is at liberty to choose between realising his talent as fully as he can, or selling his soul for thirty pieces of silver. Was the frenzied search of Tolstoy, Dostoievsky and Gogol not prompted by their awareness of their vocation, or their ordained role ?

I am also convinced that no artist would work to fulfil his personal spiritual mission if he knew that no one was going to se his work. Yet at the same time, when he is working he must put a screen between himself and other people, in order to be shielded from empty, trivial topicality. For only total honesty and sincerity, compounded by the knowledge of his own responsibility towards others, can ensure the fulfilment of an artist’s creative destiny.

Black Prints Without Reason

Art affects a person’s emotions, not his reason. Its function is, as it were, to turn and loosen the human soul, making it receptive to human good. When you see a good film, look at a painting, listen to music you are disarmed and entranced from the start – but not by an idea, not by a thought. The author cannot therefore reckon on his work being understood in one particular way and according to his own perception of it. All he can do is present his own image of the world, for people to be able to look at it through his eyes, and be filled with his feelings, doubts and thoughts . .

The artist cannot make a specific aim of being understandable – it would be quite as absurd as its opposite: trying to be incomprehensible.

I have always been infuriated by the formula, ‘people won’t understand’. What does it mean ? Who can take it upon themselves to express the ‘peoples opinion’, making declarations on their own behalf as if quoting the majority of the population ? Who can know what people will or won’t understand ? What they need or what they want ? Has anyone ever conducted a survey or made the slightest conscientious effort to discover the people’s true interests, their ways of thinking, expectations, hopes – or, indeed, disappointments ?

All the artist can offer the audience is to be open and candid in his combat with his material. And the audience will appreciate what our exertions mean.

If you try to please audiences, uncritically accepting their tastes, it can only mean that you have no respect for them: that you simply want to collect their money; and instead of training the audience by giving them inspiring works of art, you are merely training the artist to ensure his own income. For their part, the audience will continue, their contentment unalloyed, to feel they are right – seldom a well-founded conviction. The failure to develop the audience’s capacity to criticise our own judgements is tantamount to treating them with total indifference. Pushkin:

You are a king. Live alone. Take a free road
And follow where your free mind leads you,
Bring to perfection the fruits of well-loved thoughts
Ask no reward for noble deeds accomplished.
Rewards are within you. Your supreme judge is yourself.
None will ever judge your work more sternly.
Discriminating artist, does it please you ?

BBBBlackBooks

A book read by a thousand different people is a thousand different books. The reader with a vivid imagination can see beyond the most laconic account, far further and more graphically than the writer himself has envisaged (in fact writers very often expect the reader to think on further). On the other hand, a reader who is restrained, inhibited by moral strictures and taboos, will see the most precise, cruel description only through the moral and aesthetic filter that has built up inside him. A kind of revision takes place within the subjective awareness, however, and this process is inherent in the relationship between writer and reader; it’s like a Trojan horse, in whose belly the writer makes his way into his reader’s soul. Hidden in it is an inescapable obligation on the reader to have a part in the authorship of the work.

If we turn to painting we find there is always a distance between the picture and the viewer, a distance that has been marked out in advance and which makes for a certain reverence towards what is depicted, for an awareness that what is in front of the beholder-whether he finds it comprehensible or not- is an image of reality: it would never occur to anyone to identify a picture with life.

I cannot imagine my life being so free that I could do what I wanted; I have to do what sems most important and necessary at any given stage. And it’s only possible to communicate with the audience if one ignores that eighty percent of people who for some reason have got it into their heads that we are supposed to entertain them. At the same time we have ceased to respect that eighty percent to such an extent that we are prepared to entertain them, because we depend on them for money and for our next production. A grim look-out !

Van Gogh, who declared that ‘duty is something absolute’, would never have thought of trying to please anyone in particular or make anyone like him. He took his work far too seriously, fully aware of its social import; and saw his task as an artist as ‘fighting’ with all his strength, to the last breath, with the material of life, in order to express that ideal truth which lies hidden within it.He wrote in his diary:

When a man expresses clearly what he wants to say, is that strictly speaking not enough ?When he is able to to express his thoughts beautifully, I won’t argue that it’s more pleasant to listen to him; but it doesn’t add much to the beauty of truth, which is beautiful in itself.

Results

Art symbolises the meaning of our existence. As for the results, we answer not for them but for choosing to fulfil or not to fulfil our duty. Such a starting-point lays on the artist the obligation to answer for his own fate. My own future is a cup that will not pass me by – consequently it must be drunk.

I believe that it is always through spiritual crisis that healing occurs. A spiritual crisis is an attempt to find oneself, to acquire new faith. It is the apportioned lot of everyone whose objectives are on the spiritual plane. And how could it be otherwise when the soul yearns for harmony, and life is full of discordance. This dichotomy is the stimulus for movement, the source at once of our pain and of our hope; confirmation of our spiritual depths and potential.

It occured to me that excessive formal simplification could run the risk of appearing precious or mannered. In order to avoid that I tried to eliminate all touches of vagueness and inuendo, those elements that are regarded as the marks of ‘poetic atmosphere’. That sort of atmosphere is always painstakingly built up; I was convinced of the validity of the opposite approach-I must not concern myself with atmosphere at all, for it is something that emerges from the central idea, from the author’s realisation of his conception. And the more precisely the central idea is formulated, the more clearly the meaning of the action is defined for me, the more significant will be the atmosphere that is generated around it. Everything will begin to reverberate in response to the dominant note: things, landscapes, actors’ intentions. it will all become interconnected and necessary. One thing will be echoed by another in a kind of general interchange: and an atmosphere will come into being as a result of this concentration on what is most important.

Finally, I would enjoin the reader – confiding in him utterly – to believe that the one thing that mankind has ever created in a spirit of self-surrender is the artistic image. Perhaps the meaning of all human activity lies in artistic consciousness, in the pointless and selfless creative act ? Perhaps our capacity to create is evidence that we ourselves were created in the image and likeness of God ?

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