Martin Arnold uses repetition as a device to convey multiple ideas and meanings across his work.Some of his pieces are driven by a desire to interrogate the construct and to challenge the grammar and mechanics of Hollywood film making. Others (such as the example here) seem to function as a means of bringing the subtext and the unconscious driving forces behind the situations and narratives in to the foreground. Generally however both of these interests are present and interrelated in the work of Martin Arnold.
His work is fundamentally a commentary on the mechanisation of urban living, and also an exploration of domestic space and the political/sexual tensions that charge and shape the material environment and of interpersonal relations within the ‘family unit’.
His work is of relevance to my present studies because of my interest in ‘cut and paste’ and ‘feedback’ .
‘Consider Pièce Touchée: a fifteen-minute recollection
of eighteen seconds; a man who appears as a father
(a kind of symbolic patriarch), struggles to pass
through a door, enter a living room, and kiss the assumed
mother. It is a child’s view, a primal movie scene
and an umbilicus to the imaginary. The insignificance
of the view is undermined by its fixation. The seemingly
innocent act that forms the nucleus of the scene-a
kiss-is reworked in the spectator’s imaginary into a
series of violent gestures and assaults.
Regarding the displacement of the scene from its
larger context or flow, Arnold confesses his indulgence
in the sampled fragment or excerpt. Passing the original
material of The Human Jungle through a computerdriven
analytic projector that could both decrease and
accelerate the time of projection, Arnold became fixed
on individual moments within the film. “At a projection
speed of four frames per second the event was
thrilling; every minimal movement was transformed into
a small concussion.”26 Those concussions, or traumas,
are a feature of Arnold’s own memories of a childhood
immersed in Hollywood: “In my childhood,” he writes,
“Hollywood’s love and crime stories instilled in me
great expectations of adulthood. I absolutely wanted to
be a part of that exciting world. When I grew up, I was tremendously disappointed.”.’
Akira M. Lippit
Martin Arnold«s Memory Machine. In: Afterimage.
The Journal of Media Arts and Cultural Criticism. Vol 24 No.6, Rochester, NY 1997, S. 8 – 10
This exert refers to the significance of memory within the work Pièce Touchée (embedded within this post)
Why I think this work has been compared to a memory process is because of the way that time and space are transfigured by memory, in perhaps a similar to way to how the preexisting footage is re-worked by Arnolds’ process’s which re-member the footage.
The result is a kind of implosion, the impressions embed themselves in the present and refuse to filter through into memory, and a kind of feedback ensues whereby the past and the present become entangled and the machine that regulates experience gets jammed. I find it quite useful to think of this work as a kind cinematic feedback, based on the principle of sonic feedback, whereby a loop is created between input and output. In the films of Martin Arnold a similar kind of loop is created between sensation and memory.
It is easy to contextualize this kind of repatitious implosive style of work as being charechterisitc of an advanced capitalist, postmodern culture, in a situation whereby the media mirrors life and life mirrors the media and a situation similar to sonic feedback has accured. However this work also has in it’s essence a methodology that is shared with much medidative and trancendental rituals and practices that follow a similar mechanism based on repatition and attempt to blur the boundries between experience and perception. Chanting is an example where the name and often the supposed charechteristics or vitues of a particular god, saint or deity are repeated again and again untill the workd lose meaning, take new meaning, re-invent themselves and re-afferm themselves, while the experince moves between discomfort and illease with the body and the immediate to a sense of dislocation from these notions.