ILLUSION IN LANDSCAPE AND FILM

copyright 1988-2002 Robert Hotten, Peter Diprose

all rights reserved

 

 

Abstract

 

An aesthetic response to nature, film, and the built environment is likely to be illusory- constructed of allusion, illusion, and delusion. These imaginary worlds are vastly more eternal, and infinite than real or represented landscapes, and are more closely modeled and presented in film, or DV, than any 2-D medium which does not synthesize spatial and functional characteristics simultaneously. Illusory natural and built landscapes may include threshold, formlessness, and hyperfigures. Illusory film landscapes may include virtuality, animation, montage, constructed with the aid of a computer, and address space-time relativity. While landscape and film are very different, and there may be landscape in film, or the cinematic in landscape, they both accomplish the representation of forms and stimulation of essential inherent meaning to the imagination in similar ways. This study compares their common framing of form for the viewer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

 

While landscape and film are very different, and there may be landscape in film, or the cinematic in landscape, they both accomplish the representation of forms and stimulation of essential inherent meaning to the imagination in similar ways.

 

1. Artistic us of the absence of the space-time continuum.

 

Unlike real life, film permits of jumps in time and space. Montage means joining together shots of situations that occur at different times and in different places. Theorists, and especially the Russians, have hitherto investigated montage more thoroughy than any other branch of film art. (Arnheim)

 

 

2. The allegorical nature of landscape.

 

"The town-country dichotomy has been central to the English novel since Richardson's time," says Wilson in The Wild Garden, confidently expecting his readers to know that the division has normally been regarded as moral and not merely geographical: vice resides in the city; innocence in the country. And the garden- especially the calculated disorder of the romantic English wild garden- is, whether in town or country, an image of prelapsarian innocence. (Saunders)

 

 

Discussion

 

The following are some notes on commonality in sites, films and illusionary principles of landscape and film.

 

Thirdspace

 

Thirdspace too can be described as a creative recombination and extension, one that builds on a Firstspace perspective that is focused on the "real" material world and a Secondspace perspective that interprets this reality through "imagined" representations of spatiality. With this brief and. I hope, helpful and inviting introduction, we re ready to begin our journeys to a multiplicity of real-and-imaginary places. (Soja)

 

Form and the Flux

 

How is it that we can become preconceptually aware of an impetus to act? When we become aware of an impetus to act we are aware of a symbol; a desire to recollect. When we recollect we become aware of a proir symbol that is a state of desire pointing forward as a state of anticipation. It is a symbol of what is to come. Each symbol is a "form"; a sort of preobject to awareness with boundaries; forestructures. How do forms arise before awareness and what is their nature? How is it possible to be aware of form and what is awareness? What is prior to form, what is "flux"? Asking these questions amounts to asking about meaning against the scene of form and the flux. (Carspecken)

 

 

Parc de la Villette is a particularly rich material subject.

 

"...there are two sections of Parc de la Villette that, in retrospect do strike me as cinematic: the basins in front of the Cite des Sciences et de l'Industrie and Alexanders Chermetoff's Jardin d'energie. Both are sunk below the body of the park and both have an unusually powerful sense of place, one very hard and one very soft. A neo- Freudian structuralist might read them as male and female polarities, as disembodied entities seeking each other's presence. One could go further, identifying the Geode as a phallic tip and the tracery of the bamboos in the Jardin d'energie as pubic hair. A cylindrical void set amonsgt the bamboos has rippling water on its walls and emits soft groans from concealed speakers. According to this reading, the surface level of the park symbolizes the baffling matrix in which we live our lives. Each of us may believe that the world contains our perfect partner; only a few of us are lucky enough to make contact. But wandering through the matrix without discovering the voids, one feels only confusion. Another parallel can be drawn with a video game that lacks a strat or finish. One's "life" is spent amidst endlessly shifting scenes, always modulating around similar themes. Line clashes with point, point with surface, surface with line, and so on for ever. Shifting scenes are characteristic of the algorithms that produce computer games. Tschumi's lines, points and surfaces are algorithmic. This explains the analogy, at least for one reading, and may have been one of the designer's aims." (Turner)

 

In the outline of the principles of montage the structure of Parc de la Villette is related to:

 

IV. Relations of Subject Matter

 

A. Similarity

1) of shape

a) of an object. (A round hillock follows on the rounded belly of a student.)

b) of a movement. (A playground swing in motion follows on the swinging pendulum of a clock.)

2) of meaning

a) Single object. (Pudovkin's montage: Laughing prisoner, brook, birds bathing, happy child.)

b) Whole scene. (Eisenstein: The workmen are shot down, the ox is slaughtered.)

 

B. Contrast

1) of shape

a) of an object. (First a very fat man, then a thin one.)

b) of movement. (A slow movement following on a very rapid one.)

2) of meaning

a) Single object. (A starving unemployed man; a shop window full of delicious food.)

b) Whole scene. (In the house of a rich man; in the house of a poor one.)

 

C. Combination of similarity and contrast

1) Similarity of shape and contrast of meaning. (Timoshenko: The feet of a prisoner fettered in a dungeon, and the legs of dancers in a theater. Or: the rich man in an armchair, the rebel in the electric chair.)

2) Similarity of meaning and contrast of form. (Something of this sort in Buster Keaton as Sherlock Holmes Junior. He sees a huge picture on the screen of a couple kissing each other, and kisses his girl in the operator's box.)

 

 

 

Another set of landscapes operate at the threshold of perception, or with a boundary as in a coastline, and the infinity of the the field of perception, or the glim.

In the outline of the principles of montage the originary structure of the glim, form and the flux, is related to:

 

II. Time Relations

 

A. Synchronism

1) of several entire scenes (Timoshenko's "parallel events"; Pudovkin's "synchronism") joined in sequence or crosscut. In seguences usually connected by continuity titles: "While this occured in X, in Y ..."

2) of details of a setting of action at the same moment of time. (Successive showing of events taking place at the same time in the same place. The man is here, the woman there, etc.) (Timoshenko's "analytical montage.") Unusable.

 

B. Before, after

1) Whole scenes, succeding easch other in time. But alos inserted scenes of what has happened("memory") or of things that will happen in the future ("prophetic vision"). (Timoshenko's "return to past time" and "anticipation of the future.")

2) Succession within a scene. Succession of details which succeed one another in time within the whole action. For example: first shot - he seizes the revolver; second shot - she runs away.

 

C. Neutral

1) Complete actions that are not connected in time but only as regards content. Eisenstein: The shooting of workmen by soldiers cut-in with an ox being slaughtered in a stockyard. Before? After?

2) Single shots that have no time connection. Rare in narrative films; but, e.g., in Vertov's documentaries.

3) Inclusion of single shots in a complete scene. For example, Pudovkin's symbolic montage: "joy of the prisoner." Shots inserted without time connection with the event.

 

 

 

Insertion of hyperfigure

 

The insertion of hyperfigure as in the building of the Guggenheim Bilbao Museo in Spain is like an cutting process in the figure ground scene.

 

 

Principles of Montage

I. Principles of cutting

 

A. Length of the cutting unit

 

B. Montage of whole scenes

1) Sequential.

2) Interlaced.

3) Insertion

 

C. Montage within an individual scene

 

 

 

Formlessness

 

Something imperceptible, unstable, fluid and formless, as in an activity. The Tuilleries Garden, by the fountain on a summer day, with thousands of people, walking, sleeping, reading, and fulfilling all manner of fantasies, is formlessness.

 

Formlessness is a new way of being in the world. The origins of such and attitude don't reach back as far as the Renaissance or the Enlightenment, as they do in the case of fragmentation. This new attempt is, indeed, characteristic of the most recent years when electronic communication, global information, and virtual imagery seem to have dissolved all interest in forms and their representation.... Once more the painters anticipated this attitude: Jean Fautrier and Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly and Lucio Fontana were pushing to the extremes the visual and tactile experiences of the avant garde.... Even though the search for architecture related to this painting has established some connections, such as "Situationism," it seems to me that only at the end of the '80's and during the '90's has the lure of such an approach been felt. How has this aesthetic been absorbed in architecture? On the one hand, we could talk about an architecture that neglects objects, icons, structural elements, etc., and which is concerned with creating conditions favoring action, an architecture that is "landscape," that enhances mobility, that does not intrude in life. ...today the architecture that tries to be like landscape and enhance mobility is conspicuous, indescribable: so proposals end up as a way of recreating topography. ...its architects are, unavoidably, replicating nature. (Moneo 1998)

 

In the outline of the principles of montage formlessness is related to:

 

III. Space Relations

 

A. The same place (though different time)

1) In whole scenes. Someone returns to the same place twenty years later. The two scenes succeeding each other or crosscut.

2) Within a single scene. "Compressed time." A leap forward in time so that one sees in unbroken succession what is happening in the same place but actually after a lapse of time. Unusable.

 

B. The place changed

1) Whole scenes. Succession or interlacing of scenes which occur at different places.

2) Within one scene. Different partial views of the place of action.

3) Neutral.

The same as IIC (1-3)

 

 

Conclusion

Interestingly, film montage and metaphorical landscape building contain similar structures for combining relations of subject matter, time, space, and editing. These different art forms can aggressively constitute meaning and give form to the eternal, infinite, and virtual. Contemporary CAD/CAM/CAE, and DV, also aid in this re-invention of technique in design practices.

 

 

Typologies

 

Film: The English Patient, Map of the Human Heart, What Dreams May Come, Matrix, Existenz, Being Malkovich, Lost Highway, Natural Born Killers

 

Landscapes: Coastlines, Guggenheim Bilbao Museo, Piazza San Marco, Tuilleries, Cafe Marly

 

 

 

References

 

Paris, Texas

Wings of Desire

English Patient

Matrix

Existenz

The Road Warrior

Natural Born Killers

Romeo and Juliet

Lost Highway

Map of the Human Heart

What Dreams May Come

 

 

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