12.31.2008

Swoon and Cavort: "Der Lauf Der Dinge"



part 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VTwEuMzpxHk
part 3: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Cm8c4K3h_E

There are many astounding components of this brilliant film, this exquisite art work. There is the seeming simplicity off-set by the Rube Goldberg complexity; the way you always think you know what's going to happen next and then are pleasantly surprised that you were, in fact, wrong; the no frills environment—casual, dirty, certainly not a gallery—combined with the no doubt psychotic attention to detail, a work that is anything but casual.

And there is no doubt a lot to learn about the way things go, about the forces of this world that propel—fire, gravity, momentum, temperature shifts, how the very curvature of the world makes for the motion of the world, how there are so many different ways things can interact and yet there seems to be some kind of consistency of principle, of principles, at work.

There is, as well, a great lesson about narrative and film: things can go together in rigorously non-conceptual ways.

But there is something else to learn, something else to witness, something that, I think, proffers pleasure as easily as it eludes the eye: the world is affective. As the title of the piece declares, this is the way of things, of the materiality of the world. But in putting the piece together just so, the artists have introduced an invisible element that propels as much as any incline.

There are any number of ways to get from point A to point B, any number of ways to introduce and continue motion. Here, we witness ways that are funny, witty, surprising. And yet the artists have not really created this world—they don't as much create as stipulate. This is not to denegrade their work. On the contrary, what they've accomplished is more astounding, more miraculous, for having not been created. They've let speak the animation of the world, an animation that exceeds physics and mechanics, an animation that tickles and giggles, that swoons and cavorts, that flirts and frolics. Suddenly, the world bristles and brims—with itself! What else can we ever ask of art?

In "The Way of Things"—"Der Lauf Der Dinge" (I like the German title much more; it's hilarious: say it out loud to yourself and tell me you don't laugh), the artists proffer the delight of the world itself. They do no give us an artifice, a human drama played out in the physical world; they never resort to the cheap tricks of personification. The wit, the glee, is there in the things, of the things, between and amongst the things. (Scientists have much to learn from art.) What they accomplish is as noble and generous as it is bewildering: they nudge the world just so and let loose the great giddiness of things.

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