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Jean Renoir
September 22, 2009 3:25 PM   Subscribe

Parle De Son Art "Jean Renoir Interviewed by French New Wave director - Jaques Rivette - about the technical progress in art. The dangers of realism and perfectionism related to the the technical advances in cinema." In this short interview (15mins.) Renoir considers such questions as "What if our tendency to imitate nature is simply a tendency towards ugliness?" and "Why is it that when technique is primitive everything is beautiful, and when technique is perfected almost everything is ugly?" In French with subtitles.
posted by vronsky (12 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite

 
here are the Bayeux Tapestry and the Apocalypse Tapestries.
posted by vronsky at 3:31 PM on September 22, 2009


""Why is it that when technique is primitive everything is beautiful, and when technique is perfected almost everything is ugly?"

Yeah, those Renaissance painters; they really sucked, didn't they?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:10 PM on September 22, 2009


I bet Renoir prefers MP3s to vinyl.
posted by rokusan at 4:13 PM on September 22, 2009


I've seen another interview of Renoir with Rivette (or a different part of this one) and it was wonderful to hear two people discussing movies at such a high level.
posted by acrasis at 4:41 PM on September 22, 2009 [1 favorite]


Yeah, those Renaissance painters; they really sucked, didn't they?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 4:10 PM on September 22 [+] [!]


This is actually something that seems particularly true only in mediums in which the patron must put up tens of millions of dollars and expects to see a profit by exhibiting it to the public. Due to this, it is a particular problem in movies as a medium. If you are putting up a lot of money you may get squeamish about the commercial viability of something a director refers to as "raw" or "authentic." He probably goes too far in saying it applies to all forms of art, though.

That said... masters of technique (e.g.: Kubrick, Malick, Resnais, Melville, etc.) are, obviously, no less visceral.

His ideas are undoubtedly rooted in the French New Wave in which rawness was the order of the day.
posted by basicchannel at 4:59 PM on September 22, 2009


(That "order of the day" being playing chronology, hand-held/shaky camera work, jump-cuts, etc.)
posted by basicchannel at 5:00 PM on September 22, 2009


With regards to artistic problems in developing improved technology and technique, genius will normally transcend technique and something new will be revealed in the work. That said, Renoir's point about tapestry, in particular, and I'm paraphrasing: even after recognizing how primitive technique is better, there's still no going back and trying that technique in hindsight, is an intriguing one. I'd venture a guess that it's the problem with the art form, in this case tapestry, as opposed to, say, music. The vistas that are created in the world of music have grown larger and larger with the advance of technology and techniques.

As fascinating as it was to listen to his points, he probably fretted too much. I think the advancements in film have led to more powerful films. But Jean, never fear, these films are not necessarily any better.
posted by uraniumwilly at 5:08 PM on September 22, 2009


Why is it that when technique is primitive everything is beautiful, and when technique is perfected almost everything is ugly?

Yeah, those Renaissance painters; they really sucked, didn't they?


Renaissance painters had heaps of technique, but I think by Jean Renoir's measures they still only basic technology. I think by "technique" in the subtitles one should substitute "technology", since the French "technique" conflates both English terms. It's clear that he is talking about technological advances, btw, when he gives examples about the surround cinema with synthetic smells, and anesthetics in hospitals. Now you have:

Why is it that when technology is primitive everything is beautiful, and when technology is perfected almost everything is ugly?

This has reminde me of the rich pallette of browns used in contemporary videogame depiction of ruins and decay.

It's not technology that pulls us towards the drab. It's mimetic realism, the compulsion towards having art depict reality to the last flaw, instead of what could be (or even what could never be but in art). In modern games and film it's not "hi-tech is brown" as much as "real is brown".

These examples reverses Jean Renoir's examples of tapestry, where beauty has a limited pallette and ugliness has the full spectrum at its reach... and that's the point. It's not technology that is the main driver for ugliness. Technology is just an enabler.

And now I am reaching the end of the video, where he says technology makes creation so easy that you don't have to be an artist in order to create. You had to be an artist just to be able to light a fire. Great point.

Thanks, vronsky, for such an amazing post!
posted by kandinski at 6:44 PM on September 22, 2009 [4 favorites]


I thought of video games too kandinski. Interesting links. Thanks :)
posted by vronsky at 7:41 PM on September 22, 2009


Renoir's My Life and My Films is well worth reading for anyone with an interest in this area.
posted by Wolof at 9:27 PM on September 22, 2009


FWIW, from Google translate...

technique --> technique

technology --> la technologie
posted by ZenMasterThis at 10:56 AM on September 23, 2009


The "brown" aspect of the arguement is interesting.

Monochromatic is easier on the artist, and the viewer.

Renior is better represented by his work, rather than this post.
posted by Hickeystudio at 3:43 PM on September 23, 2009


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