Peter Greenaway & Second Life Machinima
June 10, 2011 3:37 PM   Subscribe

Peter Greenaway (wikipedia, previously 1, 2, 3, 4) talks about Second Life Machinima (also, Vimeo of a talk from 2010).
posted by juv3nal (20 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
"Most actors are used most of the time to tell stories, pretend to be someone else. Is that what we want them to do? And most actors most of the time are asked - on our behalf - to fuck or die - the staple diet of world cinema."
This is an excellent essay, thanks.
posted by idiopath at 5:04 PM on June 10, 2011

It is a great essay, although Peter Greenaway's own movies are more like simulacra of real movies.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:33 PM on June 10, 2011

everyone thinks we communicate largely by telling stories - step out that idea that cinema and machinmas must tell stories. The story, the narrative, the plot does not exist in the natural world

I'm sure there is a way this idea makes sense, but I can't figure it out. He's suggesting we look at a screen with some sort of movement on it, an avatar, a character, and not wonder, 'what is this person doing? what is he thinking, and what is he going to do next?' Just because plots aren't "natural" in the same sense as rocks or something, doesn't mean they're not part of our innate mental toolkit. It's difficult to look at people and not wonder what they're up to, and make up stories about them, and it's not clear that there would be a benefit to restricting that ability just because stories are related to texts.

We cannot replicate reality - why are we wasting our time trying?

Wait, I thought you just said we were doing this thing that doesn't exist in the natural okay nevermind I give up.
posted by mittens at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

peter greenaway is a pretentious douche nozzle who makes shitty, overwrought movies and has the dubious distinction of being the only filmmaker to not obey the rules set forward lumière et compagnie

his movies are like reading allesandro baricco's silk over and over again
posted by nathancaswell at 6:14 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

I have a strong opinion about a nontraditional artist!
posted by phooky at 6:18 PM on June 10, 2011

Mittens, it might help you to consider that Greenaway got his art education in painting and many of his films are examinations of mood and space rather than attempts at telling a story. To Greenaway, plot is often only useful as connective tissue, and trying to take his plots literally can result in frustration, as above.

his movies are like reading allesandro baricco's silk over and over again

So, below contempt then?

Greenaway viewers who want something more heavily plotted might enjoy his early film Water Wrackets.
posted by anigbrowl at 6:26 PM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Above meaning me? I've seen works by Frampton, Conrad, Brakhage. Maddin, Svankmeyer, Lynch. Weerasethakul, Korine, Morrison, Reggio, Jarman, Barney, and I found something in all of them. Nobody's ever really irked me way Greenaway does.
posted by nathancaswell at 6:41 PM on June 10, 2011

Saw Greenaway speak at the V&A a couple of months ago - he really is very good value as a speaker, and tremendous fun, particularly if you realise how much pleasure he obviously derives from annoying people - full of declarations like "I think we can all agree that cinema is dead". It wasn't this lecture, it was about the installations he's been doing, deconstructing great works of art in situ. Two hours without notes, with a headset mike and examples projected out of Keynote on his MacBook, totally unmoderated by the usual busybodies who try to keep these things under control.

Some of his films - particularly the later ones - are a bit too idiosyncratic and arch even for me, but I like a number of them - particularly the early, funny ones - a great deal. I respect the perverse way that he's identified all the things that people expect when they go and see a film and then refuses to give them any of them.

Odd that Britain at one time managed to support Greenaway, Jarman, the Quay Brothers and Sally Potter simultaneously without two pennies to rub together, and since there's been investment from the Lottery money all they seem to make is gangster movies and romcoms. Actually not even that any more... the occasional Submarine, or a Hot Fuzz once in a blue moon, all very nice, but nothing really unusual.
posted by Grangousier at 7:00 PM on June 10, 2011 [3 favorites]

Interesting. It never occurred to me that someone like Greenaway would even be thinking about machinima, but now that it's been suggested, it makes perfect sense.

I got so frustrated with the whole Tulse Luper thing... just trying to track it all down, let alone digest it... I mean, I love the whole holographic / fractal concept of approaching a story. I just couldn't find all the ends of all the strings I needed to pull to even begin to approach that project.

However... So many of his other movies have utterly floored me. Truly a visionary who paints with time using the cinema as his canvas. His stuff doesn't come around nearly often enough on the premium channels for my tastes. I could watch it much more regularly. Maybe I should look for DVDs one of these days.

(By the way -- don't EVER confuse Drowning By Numbers with Murder By Numbers. It's not an adequate substitution and you will be sorely disappointed.)
posted by hippybear at 7:05 PM on June 10, 2011

nathancaswell, I do mean you but it's quite OK with me if you don't like his work. It sounds like watching Greenaway's films is an annoying and frustrating experience for you, and I'm guessing that this has a lot to do with his indifference or even hostility to narrative. I'm not suggesting you're ignorant or tasteless for not sharing my preference.
posted by anigbrowl at 7:08 PM on June 10, 2011

eh no worries i don't know why i got so heated, i'm going back to watching hockey for the evening
posted by nathancaswell at 7:15 PM on June 10, 2011

the Quay Brothers

THAT's what it is! That's what bugs me about the whole machinima haiku thing! The idea of sitting through what by all rights should be this crazy, beautiful experience that focuses on the visual--and instead just getting creeped out because I feel like I should be following the narrative except I can't figure out what the narrative is supposed to be. It took so many viewings of the Quay shorts (I've never seen their feature-length work) to get comfortable enough with the lack of a visible, obvious story to actually enjoy what I was seeing. And the only Greenaway one I've seen is The Cook &c., which had at least some story to go by.

Okay, I feel better now. Carry on.
posted by mittens at 7:26 PM on June 10, 2011

Nthing gran. I heard Greenaway lecture here in LA at the Getty and he was a delight. The audience was filled with recognized directors---Michel Gondry sitting a few seats over. The Quays lectured here at the Academy of Motion Pictures. Again, filled with other directors, and a delight to take in their body of work.
posted by effluvia at 7:36 PM on June 10, 2011

I assume that interview on machinima was written not verbal and found his mispelling of youtube jarring. I find it interesting how some artists who were really trying to over throw cinema or atleast make films that dirived meaning in other ways to conventional narrative cinema have made the transition to the digital world. Some of my favourite experimental film makers either don't make that transition at all or make clunky attempts at it. Somehow losing some of the meaning of the original works (or atleast the meanings that have been ascribed to them.) For example Anthony McCall's film work is astonishing but the durationlessness of his work made digitally somehow makes the work lose a great deal. There was a fascinating tension between the medium of 16mm and his goals but a flash animation that runs forever really isn't as viscerally exciting to me.

I'm a big fan of Greenaway's early films and Greenaway seems really delighted by the opportunities of digital media. But he doesn't seem to be operating at the same level as people native to the technology see here. (That said his last supper installation looks quite interesting I would like to see it for real.)

Perhaps it's the fact that he is kicking against something that (in his own words) is already dead. He's looking for a new exciting interactive moving image art form but I imagine most people here would realise that exists and it's computer games (or what computer games can be in the hands of the right people ie indie developers). So I found the whole interview rather absurd. On the one hand you have machinimaists using games to emulate the conventions of cinema and Greenaway trying to make them make games.

I do however really like the idea that you could use machinima to make fucking mental live theatre and I wonder if that should be the language that they should be using...
posted by pmcp at 7:42 PM on June 10, 2011

mittens: seek out and watch Red vs. Blue. Individual episodes have no real story, but taken as a whole it's a pretty brilliant (and very intelligent) and quite funny piece. Deeper than it should be, and entertaining enough to watch repeatedly.
posted by hippybear at 7:43 PM on June 10, 2011 [1 favorite]

More video talks by Peter Greenaway:
"New Possibilities: Cinema is Dead, Long Live Cinema" (1:38:00) (covers his ''Four tyrannies'' rant in the first hal-hour)
"Nine Classic Paintings Revisited" (1:28:00)
posted by jchgf at 10:21 PM on June 10, 2011

"Most actors are used most of the time to tell stories, pretend to be someone else. Is that what we want them to do?"

Well, yes. And love and death are the two classic themes of all art so inevitably on screen they're going to play out as sex and violence.

I once saw a great little bit on TV showing how this stuff is done. They showed a silent clip of some council workers trying to catch an injured swan beside a canal. It looked like a random dull clipping from some public information film. They then played some Michael Nyman music over exactly the same clip and hey presto! It was an intriguing, unsettling, state of the art Peter Greenaway film.
posted by joannemullen at 1:32 AM on June 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

I've seen Greenaway speak and found him extremely entertaining.

They then played some Michael Nyman music over exactly the same clip and hey presto! It was an intriguing, unsettling, state of the art Peter Greenaway film.

Any music will function with any sequence; readings can be generated to infinity. Semiosis, innit?
posted by Wolof at 1:55 AM on June 11, 2011

i'm going back to watching hockey for the evening

hockey is a pretentious sport full of players who are basically douche nozzles who play in shitty, overwrought fighting tournaments masquerading as games that have the dubious distinction of being the only sport to not obey the rules set forward by sports I like

hockey games are like listening to nickelback over and over again

I haven't kept up with Greenaway's films since The Pillow Book. My favourite of the films I saw was Prospero's Books for it's archetypal imagery. Looking at a list of what he's done since I think it's about time I caught up.
posted by juiceCake at 7:06 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

its funny cause it's like what i wrote!
posted by nathancaswell at 7:18 AM on June 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

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