On holidays I tend to fool around a little more. Spared long family picnics and a lot of food I can’t eat anymore, I have my fun by looking through stuff I’ve saved for inscrutable reasons. Today two quotes came together. The first ones are about Rodin and how he could make bronze look as though it were moving. Basically, as I understand it, he arranged the figure so that as you changed your point of view, like walking around it, the lines would present different stages in the arc of movement captured in the sculpture. He used a real model as shown here, but nudged the reality slightly so that you were aware of the change in a kind of subliminal way.
I. “One morning, someone knocked at the studio door. In came an Italian, with one of his compatriots who had already posed for me. He was a peasant from Abruzzi, arrived the night before from his birthplace, and he had come to me to offer himself as a model. Seeing him, I was seized with admiration: that rough, hairy man, expressing in his bearing and physical strength all the violence, but also all the mystical character of his race. I thought immediately of a St. John the Baptist; that is, a man of nature, a visionary, a believer, a forerunner come to announce one greater than himself."
II. “Rodin's interpretation of St. John the Baptist is that of a man preaching while walking. Although both feet are fixed on the ground with the whole sole - like in an Egyptian sculpture - the work procures the dynamic impression of a man that resolutely goes his way. To his friend Paul Gsell, Rodin later explained how he visualised two phases of a stride simultaneously in order to suggest movement:
"Now, the illusion of life is obtained in our art by good modelling and by movement.(..)
"Note, first, that movement is the transition from one attitude to another. (...)
"It is, in short, a metamorphosis of this kind that the painter or the sculptor effects in giving movement to his personages. He represents the transition from one pose to another - he indicates how insensibly the first glides into the second. In his work we still see a part of what was and we discover a part of what is to be. (...)
III. "Now, for example, while my Saint John is represented with both feet on the ground, it is probable that an instantaneous photograph from a model making the same movement would show the back feet already raised and carried forward to the other. Or else, on the contrary, the front feet would not yet be on the ground if the back leg occupied in the photography the same positions as in my statue."Now it is exactly for that reason that this model photographed would present the odd appearance of a man suddenly stricken with paralysis and petrified in his pose (..)
"If, in fact, in instantaneous photographs, the figures, though taken while moving, seem suddenly fixed in mid-air, it is because, all parts of the body being reproduced exactly at the same twentieth or fortieth of a seconds, there is no progressive development of movement as there is in art. (...)
"It is the artist who is truthful and it is photography which lies, for in reality time does not stop, and if the artist succeeds in producing the impression of a movement which takes several moments for accomplishment, his work is certainly much less conventional than the scientific image, where time is abruptly suspended."
Then I found this download from Tim’s work and was struck by how much the ideas complement and enlarge the bit of art criticism about Rodin.
Tim Barrus: My gig with the boys I work with has to do with movement. These boys do sex work. And it can become this self-defeating place where you are not only putting your health at-risk, you are being sucked down into a place where you can’t get out.
The fundamental idea is simple. The goal is to make movement less novel. It is my experience that when a kid assimilates an ability and the expectation that everything moves, he will move as well, and away from sex work.
Versus being stuck in it.
So we dance. We play games. But these things are not the only aspects to a life that moves.
At the moment, I am attempting to show them that photography and poetry can move.
Neither photography or poetry need be either stale or stagnate.
The boys have been working on connecting the poetry they write to movement as a form of expression that can be accomplished within a paradigm (photography) that we traditionally associate with being still.
At first, they will tekkie you that video moves and they will just shoot video. But this undermines the point. The point is for the kid to find some part of himself that remains buried, hidden, he’s scared, it hides ensconced in a darkness that devours him. That darkness facilitates suicide ideation. The idea is to empower kids to move on their own outside of the darkness that has defined their lives.
I use still photography as the medium because it facilitates the boy to find a way to make it move. The hard part is that the boy has to find it on his own. You can help to a point, but the kid has to be the one to experiment with what it means to make movement. They are always amazed that it can be done at all.
To a lot of people art is simply a frill that can’t be explained and doesn’t really mean anything except if you can sell it for lots of money -- so let’s just boot it out of the schools. These bits of discussion, if you can grasp them, show how deeply some simple thing like portraying movement can become a life principle, a path towards freedom, a source of energy.