The Great Metamorphosis : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FjZjS4QNNWU

The Story of the Great Metamorphosis

Pre-production:

The Great Metamorphosis was supposed to be a 3 minutes long movie in color with sound and still camera. It was meant to be be both a story and a performance, telling about a woman who transforms through makeup and masks. It was meant to be a  “mise en abyme” around the media and the nature of creation in art, as it appeals to different art-forms such as cinema, circus, painting, poesy, drawing, magic, and even music.The focus would only be the girl’s face, and she would alternatively put on some makeup and take it off, each time embodying a different character. At the end, through an intricate change of faces and masks, she would take off the last mask, erase the last makeup, and she would not be the same girl (literally speaking).

To read more about the story I wrote before shooting the movie, please read the script, it is there: https://louviq.wordpress.com/2012/04/18/the-great-metamorphosis/.

Several artist have been influential in this project.

The first is Arturo Brachetti, who is an Italian world famous quick-change artist (he is the best and the fastest in his art). As a child and as a teenager, I went to see his show and it made a really strong impression on me. Not only his performance is absolutely incredible, but also he creates a very poetic world of his own. Each show tells a story, and I think that is what makes him really special. To see a little sample of his work, go here => http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCCjk6sFfZA&feature=related

More recently, I went to see Cindy Sherman’s exhibition at the Moma, in New-York, and it triggered again my fascination for transforming artist. Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes. To create her photographs, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress—and, of course, model. She inspired me into transforming in front of a camera. And this is how I get the idea of making a movie where I would makeup and transform myself.

Last but not least, I was inspired by the famous French mimic, Marcel Marceau (1923–2007). His name has become synonymous with his art, I could not shot this movie without viewing myself a good number of his videos. In the 1950s and 1960s, Marceau elevated this finely nuanced silent form of art, L’art du silence, as he called it, to a form of mass entertainment. He is the one who really explored the full range of human emotions in “The Mask Maker” and took us through the stages of human life in “Youth, Maturity, Old Age and Death,” a performance that had once left an awed critic to observe that Marceau accomplished in “less than two minutes what most novelists cannot do in volumes.” I tried to emulate him (and I also reproduced his own makeup) – only to realize how not simple it was, and how delicate an art he was practicing.

Production:

The beginning of the production was a kind of bad running gag. However, I had a very clear idea of what I wanted, so it helped me to pursue what turned into a quest. To put a long story short, I had to go to four different locations and actually through three State (at Friendship Heights, then Georgetown, then Falls Church, Virginia and finally to Rockville, Maryland) to actually find an open party-supplies shop. I regret having lost so much time because in the end, that is what I would have needed to come up with what I exactly wanted. Anyway, I finally found all the material I needed: two wigs, a wide makeup palette, fake flowers, five masks, one hat. A mirror that a man ended up offering to me in a framing shop, because they were moving to another location and it was a leftover (told you it was a long story).

Settling my room into a Hollywood studio was another very fun adventure that included creating a screen with an Air-France cover I stole in the plane I came in, finding a tripod and settling it in the good location, borrowing as many lamps as I could and covering them with paper to get a more ‘diffuse” lighting effect. That done (it took me all Friday 27th of April morning), I finally started to shoot. Then it came out I did not have enough memory on my SD card to shoot the whole movie and it stopped in the middle of the geisha makeup. I had to upload the movie on my computer, which took 40 minutes. So I just went outside my dorm to enjoy a drink in the sunny weather, half embarrassed and half entertained by the reaction of people who saw me with a white painted face.

I finished the part where I was acting the same afternoon (after that everything finally went all right) . And I shot the last part, where I needed my friend Agathe, the day after.

As for the technical details, I shot with a DMC-G3 PANASONIC, and edited with iMovie.

Post-Production:

Overall, there are several things to say now that the film is completed. First, I must admit I totally failed making a 3 minutes long movie. This, as most of my errors, is due to the fact I did not have film-editing experience (before this year) and did not realize that what I wanted to do would be way too long to be shrunk into 3 minutes. So okay, there are almost 7, but it was heartbreaking to cut something that took me so much time to do.

What I am happy with:

As I told previously, I wanted this movie to be an aesthetic accomplishment. I pretty much succeeded as the transitions are rather smoothed and invisible. At least it is almost impossible for who has not made that movie to say when the girl under the mask is not the same anymore, so I am pretty happy with that final result.

I am happy because I worked a lot on this movie and I finally carried it out despite a lot of problems and wastes of time. Sometimes it was really discouraging, but it was worth persevering because I learned a lot from it, and also I know I did my best, which is self-satisfying.

What I am not happy about:

I did not have enough time to do everything I wanted ! For instance, I had to work too fast for the music, so I could not carry out exactly what I expected it to be; Making the cuts and editing took me so much time… I plan to work back on it to finish it exactly as I wish. I want to use only one music to make it clearer. Actually I think I was too ambitious, and that explain most of my issues.

There is also something I am really concerned about: I reduced the movie at the maximum, but I am still afraid it is to fast and too complicated, and that the public will not get it. If I had to do it again, I think I would make something more simple, with less costumes but more time to explore each of them.

What I do not know:

The second of my goals was to create something entertaining. The game through masks, changing figures and features was meant to be fun, surprising, unexpected. It should amaze the viewer and makes him smile. I want to bring the public into a poetic, magical, surrealist atmosphere. That I do not know yet if I succeeded.

I do not know either if the public will get the “serious” side of this project, because it is also supposed to raise questions about identity, transforming the self, about the representation of women in society, about what is shallow and what is deep inside us. But that I guess really depends on the viewer, and I think that was is good about this movie is that it has several levels of understanding.

Overall, this was an interesting experience and again, I think I learned a lot on it. I did not work on it as on a class project but more as on a real work I wanted to accomplish. This is why I will continue to work on it until it is completed. But anyway, I hope you will enjoy it as it is for the moment!

Critique of Bruce Nauman, Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk) (1968)

I went to see “Watch This! New Directions in the Art of the Moving Image”, December 10, 2010 – Indefinitely Rotating Exhibition, American Art Museum, Washington D.C.

“In this rotating permanent gallery dedicated to the media arts, the museum takes stock of the cutting-edge tools and materials used by video artists during the past 50 years. This installation features key artworks from the history of video art and works by a new generation of artists on the cutting edge of new media art practices.”

 There, on your right when you enter this little exhibition room, the second screen displayed will show you Bruce Nauman”s, Slow Angle Walk (Beckett Walk). It is a 60 minutes single channel video, in black and white, with sound.

The film shows Nauman in is studio, tracing the space of the camera’s frame. The camera is fixed, turned on its side and records the artist repeating a laborious sequence of body movements: Hands clasped behind his back, he kicks one leg up at a right angle to his body, pivots forty-five degrees, falls forward hard with a thumping noise, extends the rear leg again at a right angle behind, and begins the sequence again. The movements of the body resemble exercises repeated unendingly. Sometimes, he walks off-screen completely while the sound of his footsteps continues on the sound tracks. Progress, even by a meter, seems to be a tiresome and complicated process.

The film creates a kind of tension and some suspense, because Nauman always risks to loose his balance and fall (which also happens). I was attracted to this film because of its title, which explains the work: The walk is meant to echo the repetitive, futile, meaningless behaviors of Samuel Beckett’s characters.

I love Beckett’s bleak, tragicomic outlook on human nature, which is often coupled with black comedy and gallows humor, so I was curious to see how it could be conjured up through an avant-garde film. And I think this performance is very interesting, as the artist perfectly successes in recalling the writer’s silent, precise, and absurd language. Indeed, as he executes his movements with deep concentration and conviction, he emulates Beckett’s highly obsessive characters. Using banal everyday movements in such a raw way, he give them back the interest and power which they had lost through habit.

Overall, the result is as powerful as it is absurd, just like Beckett’s language.

The Great Metamorphosis

Final Project Development – Pitch/Proposal 

The Great Metamorphosis

The Great Metamorphosis will be a 3 minutes long movie in color with sound and still camera. It will be both a story and a performance, telling about a woman (who I will act) who transforms through makeup and masks.

The first image will be a white screen. A girl arrives, sits in front of the camera. The framing only takes her face. She starts putting on some makeup. Lipstick, mascara, powder, etc. It is just as if the camera is her mirror, and the public is behind the mirror. After 30 seconds, she starts going into a crazy makeup series. She will embody several characters, making-up her face and taking off the makeup, with accelerations and slowing down. The two first characters will be Marilyn Monroe and a geisha, two opposite representations of women. She will make a contrast between sadness and happiness, transforming into a sad mimic followed up by a clown. After this, she will embody death and life. The end will play with the public’s mind, through an intricate change of faces and masks, until the completion if the great transformation: when she will take off the last mask, erase the last makeup, she will not be the same girl (literally speaking).

I want this movie to be an aesthetic accomplishment. The transitions should be very smoothed and invisible (and I will try to avoid having to cut the movie as much as possible, but to change the girls behind the mask it will be necessary), so that it will really seems like there was not cut done, that it was shot in one scene only. It is very important to me that the result seems the closest to professional films. I want it to be beautiful. Also, this film will require me to be a makeup artist, a director, and an actor at the same time. And I want to accomplish a true performance.

The second purpose is to entertain the public. The game through masks, changing figures and features is meant to be fun, surprising, unexpected. It should amaze the viewer and makes him smile. I want to bring the public into a poetic, magical, surrealist atmosphere.

I intend this film to be ambivalent just like the masks and makeups: This project also has a “serious” side, because it is supposed to raise questions about identity, transforming the self, about the representation of women in society, about what is shallow and what is deep inside us.

Finally, it is also meant to be a  “mise en abyme” around the media and the nature of creation in art, as it will appeal to different art-forms such as cinema, circus, painting, poesy, drawing, magic, and even music.

Two artist have been (consciously or unconsciously) influential in this project. The first is Arturo Brachetti, who is an Italian world famous quick-change artist (he is the best and the fastest in his art). As a teenager, I went to see his show and loved both the performance, and the poetic message and story into it. More recently, I went to see Cindy Sherman’s exhibition at the Moma, in New-York, and it triggered again my fascination for transforming artist. It inspired me into using transformation in front of a camera, as I could not do it directly in front of a public. Sherman works in series, typically photographing herself in a range of costumes. To create her photographs, Sherman shoots alone in her studio, assuming multiple roles as author, director, make-up artist, hairstylist, wardrobe mistress—and, of course, model. And this is how I get the idea of making a movie where I would makeup.

Production Plan:

Pre-production will takes place from the 19th of April to the 27th. I will gather the material, learn about making-up and train to do the makeups.

Material needed:

  • A professional makeup palette
  • Wigs: blonde, black (Geisha style), red/orange (clown)
  • Masks: Venetian, white mask, anonymous mask
  • Hat (Charlie Chaplin style)
  • For shooting: Tripod, mirror, white screen, lamps.

I will shoot the 28th and 29th.

Post-production, such as editing and making a soundtrack will takes place from the 19th of April, to what time is needed for the movie to be the best possible while finished before the deadline.

Script :

  • First image: a white screen. Music starts, with a circus-like introduction.
  • A girl arrives, sits before the camera. The framing only shots on her face on the white background. Camera is still.
  • She starts putting on some makeup. Lipstick, mascara, powder, etc. It is just as if the camera is her mirror, and the public is behind the mirror.
  • After 30 seconds, she starts putting a lot makeup. Like erasing her eyebrows with white, and drawing new eyebrows.
  • The video accelerate, music changes, and in 10 seconds her face is transformed. She puts a blonde wig, and she’s Marilyn Monroe. The video slows down, she does a Marilyn face, says “poupoupidou”.
  • She starts taking off everything, the video accelerate again.
  • She puts on some new makeup, a new wig and 10 seconds later she is a Geisha (the video slows down to let the public watch the new transformation). She join hands and bow her head down down, eyes closed.
  • She takes off the makeup (the video will continue accelerating and slowing down with each transformation), and makes up as a sad mimic. When it slows down, she mimics crying and sadness, but then she burst out in laugh as if she is making fun of the public.
  • She takes off the makeup and makes up as a clown. When it slows down, she laugh and makes funny faces, but then she suddenly look very tired and sad.
  • She takes off the makeup, turns so that the camera only films one side of her face. Then she starts making up, but only off-frame side of her face. When it slows down, she turns to face the camera. Half of her face is a skull, the face of death. She takes a sheet of paper or a book, and hides/shows one face and the other alternatively.
  • She takes off the makeup and draw a Venetian-style on her face. Then she puts a mask on, and this one is exactly like the one she painted on herself.
  • She takes off the mask, and her face is painted as an anonymous mask
  • She puts a white mask on , and paint it as an anonymous while it is on herself.
  • When she takes off the mask with slow motion, she stares right in the camera: it’s not the same actress than in the beginning. The Great Transformation is complete.

And here is the storyboard: Story Board Great Metamorphosis


Lumière Film – Autocritique

Firts, what is a Lumière film ? The Manifesto of the Lumière’s Filmakers states that:

« life should be filmed as it happens on its own premise without any additional intervention. Only by opening the self to our surroundings can we be at the right place at the right time. We do not believe in artificially assembled scenes or scripted action. »

Thus our constraints were the following :

  • 60 seconds max

  • Fixed camera

  • No audio

  • No zoom

  • No edit

  • No effects

When I first read it, I sincerely thought this was the most boring idea filmmakers could have had. And well, we had to make a movie like this. I was in despair about not being allowed to add any scenario. But then, I remembered the words of André Gide, who said : L‘art naît de contraintes, vit de luttes et meurt de liberté (Art is born from constraint, lives through struggle and dies through liberty). And indeed, when making such a movie, you must choose very carefully your subject matter, place, composition, slice of time – in order to get an interesting result in the end.

Once we found our subject matter (Dupont Circle’s escalators), we knew it was a good one. And we pretty much stuck to it – just changing the original orientation of the camera for practical reasons. Indeed, at first we had planned to film the escalators from the side, but once we were on site we realized this was impossible – (or unlawful, or perilous) call it whatever you want). We were quite in a rush, and we took few shots. In hindsight, I just wish I would have had more time to try other angles and compositions. But overall I am very happy with the result. Showing the movie to the audience was a great moment, as the class laughed each time someone would catch a glimpse of the camera and make a funny face. I did not expected this reaction at all. But we wanted our movie to have something fun about it, and I was both surprised and pleased to see that we got our point.

Fancy Glasses Dreamin’

Fancy Glasses sleeping,

Their mind is now playing,

Fancy Glasses dreamin’,

Through what they’ve been seeing.

Tagged

What Fancy Glasses Do.

1. Fancy Glasses, looking by the window on a rainy day. 2. Fancy Glasses at work (but on a Mac, of course). 3. Fancy Glasses like fashion. 4. And art too. 5. They like to gather with friends, but also sometimes 6. they prefer to stay alone. 7. Or just to sit on a bench.

Annie Leibovitz’s Pilgrimage

Annie Leibovitz is widely (and fairly enough) considered as one of America’s best portrait photographers. Over her career as photographer for Rolling Stone and Vanity Fair she captured the greatest musicians, actors and artists of the boomer generation.

Leibovitz’s portraits tell about famousness, beauty, and power. She is known for her ability to make her sitters become physically involved in her work, and her trademark technique involves the use of bold primary colors and surprising poses. Even if you do not know her name, it is very likely you already contemplated some of her most famous shots: The Rolling Stones’ tour in 1975, the famous nude session with John Lennon and Yoko Ono hours before Lennon was killed, the American Express and Gap campaigns, Whoopi Goldberg in a bathtub of milk, or Demi Moore pregnant and naked on the cover of Vanity Fair.

But there are no people in “Pilgrimage”. No celebrities, no models, no V.I.P.’s. The exhibition is about something else entirely. It actually shows the legendary photographer pursuing a more personal project. For once, she wasn’t on assignment, and chose the subjects simply because they meant something to her. `

Nevertheless, you can feel that the photographer’s fascination with icons continues. But in this case, they’re historical and personal ones. Following the footsteps of her own heroes, she went to their homes, studios, or also places that evoke their spirit. She photographed the things that are most representatives of their owners, from the television Elvis Presley shot out in a fit of pique to the gloves and hat Abraham Lincoln wore the night he was assassinated For instance. A series that is quite moving is the one where she photographed Sigmund Freud’s reclining couch, draped in a Persian rug, as well as his collection of books on sex and psyche by Havelock Ellis. One can picture the doctor’s patient lying there and speaking, or Freud elaborating theories about unconscious. It has a solemn, almost spiritual feel.

And this is why I have mixed feelings about this exhibition: it shows a surprisingly ghostly, almost chilling collection of object and places. The dead idols are still present in the photographs, and to me it was somewhat disturbing. The feeling of loneliness, quietness you have watching the photographs is strengthened by the fact the artist is quite “out of the frame”. You do not feel any kind of her artistic presence: no irony, no pose, no sense of humor. It is clear Leibovitz took those pictures for herself, but at the same time they do not say a lot about her personally. As her public, I think I had a hard time understanding what she wanted to say, if I did at all.

Helmut Newton

KLAUS BEHR (Born in 1941)

Helmut Newton behind  «They are coming», Berlin, c. 1985. 28 x 35,5 cm.

Helmut Newton is not only a world famous photographer, but also one whose art contributed to change the mere concept of fashion photography. His provocative signature shattered the common perceptions about women’s fashion, if not about women. But he is also a very controversial character, what makes him yet more interesting to be looked closer.

Born in 1920 in Berlin, he grew up in a privileged family. He attended the American School of Berlin, but was expelled when his fascination with photography, sparked by a camera bought when he was 12, overshadowed his interest in class.  He started his apprenticeship with Elsie Simon, known as Yva, a famous nude –portraitist photographer, until he was forced to flee after the start of Hitler’s pogroms in 1938.

His parents managed to secure him passage on a ship to China, but he stopped off in Singapore, where he got a job at the Straits Times newspaper. He later joined Australia, the Australian army and became an Autralian citizen. In 1948 he married actress June Brunell, who would remain his partner for more than 50 years until his death.

Neustaedter changed his name to Newton, opened a small photo studio in Melbourne, and soon began contributing fashion photos to French Vogue in 1961, a magazine that he made his own for a quarter century. Over the years, Newton also contributed to magazines such as Playboy, Queen, Nova, Marie-Claire, Elle, and the American, Italian and German editions of Vogue — his stark and provocative style setting a new industry standard.

His studies of nude women became his signature and the self-obsessed and often distant poses of the models frequent caused polemic in the art-world. He won the sobriquets “King of Kink” and Prince of Porn” in the 1970s after the publication of his erotic photo book “White Women.” Robert Sobieszek, photo dept. chief at the L.A. County Museum of Art, noted to the L.A. Times: “His work was never dirty … but he stretched the boundaries of what a fashion magazine looked like.”

Helmut Newton Newton defied convention, but his talent was awarded by the highest distinctions: In 1990 he won the French “Grand prix national de la photographie.” In 1992 he is made “Officier des Arts, Lettres et Sciences” in Monaco. In1996: he receive a commendation to “Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres” by the French Ministry of Culture. In 2000, there was a large retrospective for his 80th birthday in the New National Gallery (Neue Nationalgalerie) in Berlin that travels to London, New York, Tokyo, Moscow and Prague, among others.

Helmut Newton died in Los Angeles driving is Cadillac, in 2006.

HELMUT NEWTON (1920-2004)
Big Nude III: Henrietta, 1980.

His row of oversize prints of naked models, “Big Nudes,” has perhaps become his best-know work. This one is my favourite. Newton is often criticized for the image he gave of women, as fashion/sexual objects. But in my opinion, this picture is the entire contrary. I fell in love with it the first time I saw it, and this is how I came to be interested in Newton’s work. The stance of the model is pure beauty, strength, and confidence: planted on her two legs, firm on her high heels, she stares at the photographer and seems to challenge him with her clenched hands, her bombed torso. She is absolutely naked, which should make her vulnerable. Though, she rather looks like she could kill bare hands any troublesome man. And you cannot escape her, because the foreground is totally absent and the eye has nothing else than her sculptural body to rest on. This is reinforced by the strong contrast and exposition and the black and white. The low angle, too, is powerful and was probably carefully chosen to get this low glance and general impression of heights.

HELMUT NEWTON
They’re Coming!, 1981.

Once again this picture shows that Newton valued dominant femininity. The high-heeled shoes, the strong upshot, the light, neutral background against which the contours of the women stand out, all strengthen the impression of the threat, expressed in the title. The charm of the two photographs resides in their character as a diptych: only in terms of such a thesis and anti-thesis does the theme develop its full interest. Helmut Newton was without a doubt a witness of this time when the corset (the one of slimness) was reinvented and was now being recommended once more to women. To me, these photographs also say: “if you want these clothe to look nice on you, you must be like that under them.”

HELMUT NEWTON, for Vogue, 1967.

This photography is part of a serie realized for Vogue in 1967 with model Willy Van Rooy. It is highly entertaining and theatrical, and in so far representative of Helmut Newton’s treatment of fashion images. It is impressive with this idea of movement, and because of the risks the model might have taken to get this result. Although, it looks like both the model and the plane are about to end their race on the photographer. Whatever the issue was, I think there is a lot of humour and irony of this picture, contributing to its charm.

Sources:

Website of the History of Photography: http://www.all-art.org/history658_photography13-27.html

Also, an interesting point of view on Helmut Newton, on the blog of one of his model, Willy Van Rooy: http://willyvanrooy.com/modelling-in-paris-1/

People for good

HELLO

It’s a pleasure to meet you. We’d shake your hand but there are obvious limitations here.

We’re People for Good. And our goal is to make the world a better place, one good deed at a time. It may sound ambitious but it’s easier than you’d think. In fact, you could help make the world a better place right now. Just by doing something nice for someone. Rest assured, we’re not asking for money, we just want you to donate a little generosity.

Join the movement now and pledge your support.

http://www.peopleforgood.ca/