Utilizing these concepts and aspects of Zazen philosophy we approached the problem of making a film soundtrack that was free from traditional recognizable formats, i.e. story, characters, continuity, etc. like John Cage, our aim or anti aim was not concerned with interesting or with specific results, rather with making a composition the continuity of which is free of individual taste and memory (psychology), literature, and tradition of the art value judgements.
We were looking towards chance procedures to fill an empty time canvas like Cage's Music for Changes and Imaginary Landscapes No. 4, which moved towards the possibility of letting sounds be themselves unimpeded by service to any abstractions, so that the work was in the Zen spirit, a vehicle not of thoughts but only events. Out ides are continuations in the process of creation. La Coquille et le Clergymen, 1927, scripted by Antonin Artaud and directed by Germaine Dulac, should have been recognized as the first major surrealist film preceding Bunuel's Un Chien Andalou. Artaud's claim that he influenced Bunuel deserves to be taken more seriously that it has been. In his explanation of La Coquille et le Clergymen, in Le Monde Illustre, 29th October 1927, "We should not look for logic or a sequence which is not present in thing, but interpret images which develop in the direction of their essential intimate significance which goes from outside to the inside, Coquille et le Clergyman does not tell a story but develops a series of mental sates which are deduced from each other as thought is from thought." In Cinema et Realite, "it is not a matter of finding an equivalent of written language, in visual language which would be a bad translation, but of brining out the very essence of language, transporting the actions as to a plane where all translation would be useless where action works intuitively on the brain... the human kin of things, the derm of reality." - that's what the cinema plays with, it exhales matter, making it appear to us in its profound spirituality, in its relationship with the spirit it emerges from. One year later Bunuel and Salvador Dali collaborated on probably the most famous of all the Surrealist films, Un Chien Andalou, the Surrealists essayed what they called the "experimental dream" and relied upon automatic inspiration and chance ("objective hazard"). In effect, the mechanism of the dream had been analyzed as free association and a passivity toward irrationally connected images, whose stream could be started, theoretically, by pressing a certain button in the mind. As soon as this significant chance occurred (it had already been formulated by Frued) the road was open for art to create a whole new dream, painting and dream film. The method was consciously put into practice with Un Chien Andalou, according to Bunuel's explicit testimony.
The Surrealists' rejection of dream as dream and magic as magic. Bunuel states of Un Chien Andalou that it was the "result of conscious psychic, automatism and to that extent it does not recount a dream, although it profits from a mechanism analogous to dream." This is a precise qualification. The only value of making a dream mechanism into an abstract one, with potentially deliberate applications was to disassociate Surrealism from the totally unreal which dream, technically represents - dream, that is, as a spontaneous, unsupervised phenomenon. Film tricks, to the Surrealists, were like tricks of the mind which makes fantasy sufficient to mere formal ends. The dream per se, according to the Surrealists, is not surreal activity, not reality's other functions, but as much an illusion as the stage tricks of prestidigitators.
It is simply a "dream" because dreams coexist with the real and are governed only by symbolic systems - psychoanalysis and so on - which interpret their images back into terms of the given ("life", "reality", etc.)
The destructive violence of the early ideals of the avante-garde film cannot be over emphasized. The apparent slicing of a women's eye by a razor, the only "film trick" in Un Chien Andalou was a symbol of the film's optical assault. The true direction of the Surrealists and their precursors was to revolt against the Symbolism on behalf of the Surrealist act. Yet it is a difficult problem to see just where Surrealist violence against reality locates itself if it be abstracted from the fantasy of life or the mind to the actual arena of life. Is something utopian, an "earthly paradise", also behind the Surrealist system? When, for instance, in a article titled En Avant Dada (1921), Richard Huelsenbeck (a Dada founder) says that literature, "should be made with a gun in hand", it is impossible to decide whether he means people should be casually be shot in the process of literature (and presumably film making) or whether the phrase implies the dictatorship of culture which forces people, under threat of punishment, to accept certains canons and reject all others.
About ten years later, in the Second Surrealist Manifesto, Andrea Breton seemed to think that such a remark was a program for action - this is, surreal activity in the real world - for here formulated (in a "utopian" mood?) the 'perfect Surrealist act": to fire a revolver at random into a street crowded with people. This would be Russian roulette on a mass scale without consent of the participants. Surrealists, of course, have a cavalier way of being ironic as a part of their black bile. Alfred Jarry wrote in his essay (visions of present and future): "The society of Connoisseurs in Murder (Society for the Propagation of Great Ideas) died with its founder, Thomas De Quincey. Following his example let us say that murder is to be reviled. But if we must have murders, it is better that they are works of art". Obviously De Sade's influence is omnipresent in the surrealist art.
After the war, Breton and the group concentrated by preference on research in the hermetic and alchemist tradition. This orientation already begun in the second Manifest du Surrealism in 1930, in which Breton took up almost to the letter the formula of Hermes: "Everything leads us to believe that there exists a spot in the mind from, which life and death, the real and the imaginary, the past and the future, the high and the low, the communicable and the incommunicable will cease to appear contradictory (in Les Manifestes du Surrealisme, Paris 1962). I request the profound true occupation of Surrealism. The occult tradition from the magicians, the initiates and the illuminated played an increasingly larger role in the Surrealist programme, since romanticism this current had continued to nurture poets. Baudelaire knew Eliphas Levi personally. Levi's dogmas and ritual of high magic (1956) and occult philosophy (1862) were also consulted by Rimbaud, Villiers de L'Isle, Adam Mallarme and Alfred Jarry (Rimbaud's Alchemy of the word).
Having briefly outlined the influences of the Surrealist, we will move to film techniques employed by Abel Glance, which inspired in a purely conceptual way the format we undertook for 'The Delivery", although we only employed a dual screen projection form for "The Delivery".
Abel Glance, in his pioneering epic, Napoleon (whose very projection cost too much in 1925 to allow it to be presented theatrically, as he wished). Gance invented the film triptych for his epic statement of Napoleon's career. His triptych corresponded to the horizontally extended mural in painting. It also corresponded to the present day cyclorama, but went beyond it in plastic ingenuity to proposing to combine scenes to make, not merely one huge partioned scene but a collage of plastically different scenes related by idea as well as by certain "musical" repetitions of form. At times Gances achieved effects by extending a scene to right and left with a repetitive butterfly pattern; allegorical scene - a personified female France urging on French soldiers - with reversed views, to right and left, or a realistic scene of marching soldiers, Such effects have a choral and balletic character.
Here was an abstract plastic as venturesome as the uses of animation; indeed, it's principle is the same as that in use today which reduces whole frame film units in order to include several of them in one normal sized screen. It is also a variation on the multiple exposure of super imposition. In any case, it has always meant expanding and complicating the field of vision and modulating textures.
"Pure film" as the concept announced by the pioneering theorist film-maker Hans Richter, would seem to exclude anything like story telling, such as Napolen of elements in Richter's own later films, for that would involve the "romantic", the "moral", and even (since Gance was reconstructing history) the "documentary". Only the irrational formula of Surrealism seemed to invent ways by which human action could be shown as divorced from, uninterested in, emotional values that could be termed moral of romantic, historical or political. Of course we think that, as fertile as some of the Surrealist formulations remain to this day, their practice cannot avoid some positive moral implications. Although this depends on the moral viewpoint an individual may possess, discounting of course the sociopathic. Now we have outlined certain philosophical, theoretical ideas and treat them to further addition; Duchamp shows the usefulness of addition and Rauchenburg shows the function of subtraction. Duchamp also suggested "to reach the impossibility of sufficient visual memory to transfer from one like object to another, the memory imprint", for this point in we began. An assemblage process allowing for indeterminacy, although certain aspects utilized, aleotory methods of chance. The music was composed to the visual document at a later stage so certain aspects are composed, although the tape collage tracks are subject to alternation during the performances due to time differentials, etc. The music is fed in emotional improvisations around certain thematic events that occur in "The Delivery". These visual themes occurred by chance occurrences, repeating themselves during the creational period. I will abandon any detailed analysis of "The Delivery" as this would be paradoxical to tis aim. The two films unfolded as one, like dreams, time and dimensions transfigurate, the spiral is not the sole raison d'etre, although any interpretation would be the right one. Any political reference right of left has occurred there by chance, and not under the influences of any kind of motivation on our behalf. Both these points came to light after our performances in Berlin and Amsterdam. We hope more new interpretations will arise.. opinions be stated, etc. And they will in turn add or subtract in some way or another to "The Delivery". Finally the serpent swallows its tail.
TAG Communications - 1985
TAG recorded live at the Atonal Festival located in the Ballhaus
Tiergarten, Berlin on the 18th February 1985, on a 24 track mobile,
supplied by Uli Weigels Sinus Musik.
Engineered by Reinhard Zwierlein
Remixed in England August 1985 by TAG
Thanks to Dimitri Hegemann and Berlin Atonal Records for the organization and realization of this project.
This recording is dedicated to Hans Bellmer - and his concepts on the inter-changeability of the Anatomy.