- Project Proposal version 4
What do you want to make?
In the first year of Piet Zwart I have been looking at LGBTQI related topics. I mostly did so from a subjective perspective using photography, and by looking into queer cinema. In the presentation of the second term I made clear that I wanted to make a stronger statement with my work and be more political.
I would like to continue with the three lines of thought that could be considered in my practice: Researching the photographic medium, but also the idea of 'seeing' in itself; developing a (gay) cinematic language of my own; and LGBTQI-related issues/identity. Ideally, as a graduation proposal, I would like to bring these entities together through the use of still and moving images, potentially accompanied with other interdisciplinary media objects consisting out of texts, images, sculptural elements. Together this will be brought together in an installation.
The installation will consist of photographs taken throughout the school year 2017-2018. These photographs will be accompanied by two videos, The Love That Whirls, and (sur)face (working title).
This might seem a lot for the moment but by gathering the different materials I can make decisions of what I want to keep in, and what is needed to be left out.
Below I discuss, The Love That Whirls, (sur)face (working title) and my photographic work.
Video: The Love that Whirls
During my research into gay cinema I came across the fact that in the 1950’s Eastman Kodak censored 16mm film stock which contained nudity or sexual content by destroying the film (or by taking it home). Because of this one of Kenneth Angers films, The Love That Whirls (1949) got lost.
I would like to reimagine this lost movie. Rather than remake the film, I will use the film as a starting point and make my own interpretation.
“That was my first film in color, in Kodachrome. I had met a remarkable-looking young man, named Ernest Lacy; he had an Irish mother and a Mexican father, so he was an
interesting mixture. He had extraordinary eyes. I wanted to make a film with him. The idea for it came from Fraser’s The Golden Bough. The film was to present a ritual of sacrifice. Many different cultures have had ritual sacrifices, but I was thinking specifically of Aztec rituals. The film involved Lacy climbing to the top of a mountain and sacrificing himself to the sun. During the film he was nude. He had a beautiful body, and I was just using him as a nude figure, which has a long tradition in art, and has nothing to do with pornography.”
“I filmed The Love that Whirls on Kodachrome, and at that time, to get 16mm Kodachrome developed, you had to send it to Rochester, New York. When I sent the film to Kodak, they confiscated it because of the nudity, and I never got it back. They had a flat rule about nudity; it didn’t matter whether it was a woman or a man or a child. No nudity. Parents couldn’t even make home movies of their children in the bathtub or playing in a sprinkler. Looking back, I probably could have gotten a lawyer and at least tried to convince them to send it back. But I didn’t do that. So I was shot down by Eastman Kodak. Their monopoly broke up in the sixties, and then there were independent labs that could develop Kodachrome and were willing to print nude imagery.“ (MacDonald, p. 33)
In an interview with Anger I discovered that The Love That Whirls was based on a passage found in the book The Golden Bough: A study in Magic and religion (1890), which is a comparative study of mythology and religion.
In the chapter Killing the God in Mexico Frazer describes the customs in Aztec society of sacrificing the human representative of a god. The rituals have all been well described by the Spaniards who conquered Mexico in the sixteenth century. Anger in all likelihood got inspired by a ritual sacrifice which was conducted during the festival called Toxcatl. The annual festival revolved around the sacrifice of a young man who would embody the character (god) of Tezcatlipoca. For a whole year he would be worshipped and treated as that great deity itself. After the year was passed, he would be taken to the temple of the sun, the priests would carve open his chest, then take out his heart, and finally offer it to the sun. The person selected was carefully chosen on the ground of his personal beauty. "He had to be of unblemished body, slim as a reed and straight as a pillar, neither too tall nor too short. If through high living he grew too fat, he was obliged to reduce himself by drinking salt water."(Frazer, p. 517a)
I started by writing an e-mail to Kenneth Anger, asking if he could provide me with some more information: how he looks back at this film, where it was filmed in Mexico, and if he had a script or something similar available in his archive. I did not get an answer (yet).
From the 18th till the 30th of December I will undertake a research trip to Mexico-city. There I will gather material to be used in the upcoming video. It is a bit of a short notice, but before I need to practice filming on location, do some experiments in the green screen room and of course prepare the trip itself and try to get a permit.
The film’s aesthetics will lean heavily on Anger’s later films: Scorpio Rising, Lucifer Rising, and Kustom Kar Kommando.
In means of:
- use of ritual
Film Stills from Kenneth Anger's movies: Puce Moment, Fireworks and Inauguration of the Pleasure Dome
Therefore I will first examine the attributes, cutting techniques, cross fades and colors that characterize these works.
Then I will make a test shoot in the green screen room and experiment whether it provides the appropriate conditions to make a Anger-like film. There I will shoot a shot of someone lying down with a motion shot circling the body, these shots will be blended with for example a solar eclipse or another natural phenomena.
Some recent images (not an official installation)
Following my methodology, the photographic part of this installation will consist out of images collected throughout the year.
A online page I made accompanying an exhibition about intimacy serves as a good example of how that might look like.
Online 'exhibition' page that accompanies an exhibiton about intimacy. It shows my working method of creating 'tables', where I combine recent work with older work to create a new space of meaning.
Full page: http://www.fabianlandewee.com/intimacyopdeschans/index.html
(Sur)Face (working title)
One of the actualities that caught my fascination is the study “Deep Neural Networks (DNN) can detect sexual orientation from faces” by Yilun Wang and Michael Kosinski. It claims that faces contain information about sexual orientation and that AI can interpreted this better than humans. An Artificial Intelligence Gaydar so to say.
According to the study gay men and women tend to have gender-atypical facial morphology, expression and growing style. This corresponds with the idea of PHT (prenatal hormone theory).
This theory asserts the following:
“(…)same-gender sexual orientation stems from the underexposure of male fetuses and overexposure of female fetuses to prenatal androgens responsible for the sexual differentiation of faces, preferences and behavior” (Wang, Kosinski, page 30).”
Heat map produced to see which parts of the face provides information about a subject's sexuality
(Stanford University, Kosinski and Wang)
At this stage the research remains very incomplete and has a lot of ‘what if’s’. The theory could even be wrong, but I am more interested in the possibilities or perhaps the dangers/dread in these technologies for the LGBT community. There is for example a possibility of a dystopian future; if in the wrong hands, state sponsored homophobia/transphobia could be further implemented through technology.
With this information I imagine a short film with overlapping footage (my own and found footage). Where fiction is blended with reality (read: actualities). Another element included is 3D-scans of LGBT’s people’s faces. I will remove the skin texture so only the shape of the face is left. Then I will retexture them. These faces will appear and disappear throughout the film.
The soundtrack/voiceover will be audio fragments of people claiming that homosexuality does not exist (positive or negative) and the song heterosexual by Easter.
Homosexuality is a lie:
Easter - Heterosexual:
sketch two to illustrate
Test to sculp a face
Screenshot of tutorial, using agisoft photo pro to create a 3D model (will be replaced soon with my own test)
What is your timetable:
Mid June: Graduation show
05-04-17: DEADLINE THESIS
12-03-18: Deadlines Second readers' comments
05-03-18: Joint2: Deadline Second Draft thesis (texts to 2nd readers)
16-02-18: Deadline First Draft Thesis
12-01-18 Deadline First Chapter
Christmas vacation: Go to Mexico-City
Between this period: process feedback, make new planning for upcoming months
12-12-17: Assesments: first materials and rough sketches
Between this period: make tests, prepare trip to mexico, more reading, prepare presentation
24-11-17 Graduate Proposal Deadline:
10-11-17 Thesis outline (what form will it take?)
Who can help you and how?
In both the photographic and video work I will try to involve people from my ‘bubble’, for example friends, acquaintances and other people from the community. They will be ask to perform, pose or talk in my work.
| Jordi | styling / make-up /performing
| Thijs, Dino, Ting, Zu and others | as performers/actors/models |
| Ting, Karim | clothing/styling |
| Classmates | assistance with filming, questions and feedback
| Tutors | feedback, postproduction, thesis, texts and artists to research |
Relation to previous practice:
In form and methodology but also in subject matter my graduation project will be very much connected to my previous practice. On the one hand I will continue the three strands of thinking I mentioned earlier. On the other hand it is also a continuation of my methodology I started using during my graduation year of my bachelors study. You can find some more information about this in my thesis outline.
Juxtapositions to trigger new ways of reading images
To understand my current methodology and work and the use of photographic imagery I have to look back at my previous graduation project. In 2012 I graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht where I studied Visual Communication with photography as main focus.
For my graduation project I made an installation and photo book dummy with digital and analogue photo’s, incorporating self-portrait collages together with found footage from strangers’ family albums, microscopical images created in collaboration with a cancer research institute in Utrecht, pictures of the sun, the moon as well as abstracted images of taken in the surroundings of my own family’s home.
Images from graduation project
Before this I worked mostly in series but from this project onwards my photographic practice changed to mainly collecting different photographic images. From this point on, single images started to be less important to me than the overall combination of images. Through careful selection and combinations, I aim to create new analogies or connections between the different materials. When working with photographs, my methodology consists in arranging and rearranging my ‘collected’ images. Therefore my work should always be presented as a ‘table’ not as a ‘tableau’. The idea of the working table and the open possibility of changing the order of the images therefore also means that I do not work in fixed series or projects with my photographic images. This gives me a lot of freedom in what I photograph, which also means I have to be more selective in my curation.
Above you can find two video's of one of my first attempt at exploring the cinematic language. Through the use of slow-motion, colorful lights, black and white, sounds of outer-space, and lack of dialogues I try to create a mystical and uncanny atmosphere. One sees a young man, partly undressed looking and laughing in front of the camera, while a glass of water is being poured in slow-motion and in reverse. The pouring of the glass is partly based on a never-completed film by Henri-George Clouzot, L’enfer (1964). L’enfer told the story of a man who was overly jealous. The lead character imagined in terror that his wife, a sort of nymphomaniac portrayed by Romy Schneider, was cheating on him with men and women alike. In a particular scene, the female character is pouring water into a glass as part of a hallucination that the man experiences. Other influences came from Kenneth Anger’s films such as the use of light, and the overlapping of images as well as the homoerotic content.
The second video I made is a continuation of the first without narrative. In the short film you see a friend of mine, dressed up in his usual party attire. While I lay on his lap, staring into the camera, he shaves of my hair. Unlike, Untitled 2017, this video not filmed in a professional studio. For this film I transformed my friend’s own apartment with the help of redhead lights and colorgels.
The Love that Whirls will be a direct continuation of these experiments.
Relation to a larger context:
My work in relation to a larger context is mostly concerned with my research in gay and queer cinema and queer/gay history, but also with artists who deal with gay identity. Underneath you can find some abstracts and short describtions of texts and artists I am interested in. In my theses I will elaborate more this:
New Queer Cinema (2013) by B. Ruby Rich
B. Ruby Rich was the first person to discuss the New Queer Cinema movement and has been following and writing about it since its beginnning. The book looks at a broader historical context of this movement.
A Queer history of the United States (2011) by Michael Bronski
Bronski his aim in this book is to tell the story of America through the lens of the multitudes of LGBT individuals and experiences, starting in 1491 and ending with the AIDS activism of ACT UP in the late 1980s.
A Secret History of American Gay Sex Cinema (1997), by J. Stevenson.
In his text From the Bedroom to the Bijou: A secret history of American Gay Sex Cinema, Jack Stevenson talks about the history of gay sex cinema and equates this to the history of gay liberation itself. He looks at the journey that moved gay erotic cinema from the private to the public space.
Henrik Olesen’s (1967) artist book: Some Faggy Gestures (2008)
Through his work Olesen questions the power structures in our society and historiography from a homosexual perspective. An example is his artist book Some Faggy Gestures where he uses Warburgian methods to produce a homocentric genealogy of Western Art.
Wolfgang Tillmans, several artist books: Neue Welt (2012), Truth Study Center(2005), Burg (1998), 2017 (2017), Catalogue Moderna Museet Stockholm (2012)
Dercon, C, Sainsbury, H, & Tillmans, H. (2017), Wolfgang Tillmans 2017, Tate publishing (catalogue of the tate exhibition)
Doyle White, E. (2016), Lucifer Over Luxor: Archeology, Egyptology, and Occultism in Kenneth Anger's Magick Lantern Cycle, Presents pasts, 7(1), 2, p. 1-10
Frazer, J. (1922), The Golden Bough: A study in Magic and religion, Temple of the Earth publishing
Jenkinson, J. (1997), Face facts: A history of physiognomy from ancient Mesopotamia to the end of the 19th century. The Journal biocommunication 24
Gayoso, M. G. T.;Tan, J.;Mazumdar, S.;Liu, Q. (2009), Homosexuality in Films: Trends of Portrayal in Hollywood and Asia, Media Asia;36, 1; Business Premium Collection
Ruby Rich, B. (2013), New Queer Cinema, Duke University Press
Bronski, M. (2012), Queer History of the United States, Beacon Press
Eaklor, V.L., (2011), Queer America: A GLBT History of the 20th Century, The New Press
Stevenson, J. (1997) From the Bedroom to the Bijou, A secret History of American Gay Sex Cinema, Film Quarterly, Vol.51, University of California Press
Macdonald, S. (2006) A critical Cinema 5, interviews with independent filmmakers, University of California Press
Le Feuvre, L. (2007), Searching for Doubt, Foam magazine #13 searching, winter 2007
Shimizu, M. (2005), Wolfgang Tillmans: The Art of Equivalence (from the book, Wolfgang Tillmans truth study center), Taschen
Tillmans, W. (2012), Neue Welt, Taschen