Unspoken Cinema 2012 banner

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Losing the ability to contemplate art for itself

Do you need a narrator to know where to look?
Red Fuji, 1831, Hokusai

Do you need entertainment to enjoy this view?
Mont Sainte Victoire, 1887, Paul Cézanne

Do you need lyric music to make you feel?
Le gobelet d'argent, 1768, Jean Siméon Chardin

Do you need hero identification to suspend disbelief?
Still Life, 1934, M.C. Esher

Do you need a climax to keep contemplating?
Oliviers avec ciel jaune et soleil, 1889, Vincent Van Gogh

Do you need to pretend it's funny to make people watch?
Bay of Greifswald, 1834, Caspar David Friedrich

Do you need narrative devices to contemplate this?
Swiss Landscape, 1830, Alexandre Calame

Do you need spectacular effects to enjoy this?
View of Madrid from Capitan Haya, 1987-94, Antonio López García


Related:

4 comments:

Alexander said...

Although I like the idea behind this post, and love some of the paintings included, you do realise that nobody looks at the same painting for 2 hours straight, right? While I don't think films should be just about entertainment, they do have perhaps the highest potential to entertain out of all mediums, so it's not surprising (although a little disappointing) that people dismiss contemplative cinema in favour of crashwhizbangs and cheap laughs. Just discovered this blog today, BTW, great stuff!

HarryTuttle said...

If you never spent 2h on a painting in your life, you didn't study art seriously yet.
You realize that critics and historians spend more than the normal runtime of a film on it to study it in depth, right? Watching it over and over, frame by frame, extensive still shot analysis...

Unknown said...

Like Alexander, I am very appreciative of your posts and attempts to disseminate CCC for the earnest (or although potentially less educated/cine-literate) viewer such as myself, but:

I came across your blog after reading your rebuttal to Nick James ( http://unspokencinema.blogspot.com/2010/05/slow-films-easy-life-sight.html ). There, I understood that the point you were making was on the distinction between critic and reader: between those duty-bound to critique films regardless of their 'value', and those who desire to watch films that have value in the fulfilment they provide.

Doesn't it now sound like you're contradicting yourself, that critic and reader should be one and the same, that the onus is on us if we don't appreciate a film because we "didn't study art seriously yet"? Don't we have a right as a reader (and not a critic) to dislike a film because it demands more energy from us than the fulfilment that it provides in return?

If a film resonates exclusively with critics and not with readers, doesn't that render the job of a critic in this scenario kind of... pointless?

Benoit Rouilly said...

I don't see how it is contradictory. Spectators have the right to dislike or miss or fail a work of art, for various (subjective) reasons. But what is wrong is to blame the art for this boredom/dislike. Especially for critics who are a special kind of spectators, they give a prescriptive opinion on it and tell people whether the art is worthwhile or not... which shouldn't be based on a subjective failure to meet the art eye to eye.