A film like an artifact

This week’s issue of the A.V. Club contains an interview with Harmony Korine that I think is worth a look if you’re at all interested in film aesthetics in the digital age. Korine’s latest, “Trash Humpers,” hasn’t made it to Madison yet, though I really hope it will (here’s J. Hoberman’s review of the film/video). There are many, many things that can be said of Korine’s provocateur posturing, but one thing you can’t say is that he fails to get critics and casual filmgoers alike talking about the existential essence of cinema and its many mediums. In the interview Korine describes the experience of being asked to explain “Trash Humpers”:

I’ve always got questions like that with all the films I make. I never feel like there’s any one point to the film, to anything, to any of the movies I’ve made. This one, it’s everything and nothing. […] It’s a collection of moments. Maybe it’s not even a real movie in the traditional sense. Maybe it’s something else. It’s its own thing. […] Everything has to have some kind of a point for people to breathe easy. What’s the point of life? I have no clue, but sometimes there are things that just attract us and pull us in a certain way.

If only the critics who panned “Film Socialisme” for its lack of an easily discerned or coherent message had Korine’s attitude about art.

Korine also comments on contemporary cinematic technology:

I always get sick of these conversations where people are so obsessed with pixels, with high definition, and even with technology in general. I find it just dull and heartless. And so I wanted to use only the worst machines. [Korine shot “Trash Humpers” on a thoroughly antiquated VHS camcorder and edited it with two VCRs.] I wanted to make only the crudest images. It wasn’t necessarily a reaction, but it was just something that felt like it needed to be done.

For whatever reason, this remark reminds me of a conversation I recently had with Madison photographer and former Daily Cardinal photo editor Christopher Guess about HD digital cameras that can shoot in 1080p (the Kodak Zi8 is my current weapon of choice). Sure, the 1080p image is comprised of a ton of pixels and often looks great on HD TVs, but is this image anymore loaded with interesting sensuous details than the images produced by older cameras like those used by Korine in “Trash Humpers”? Hardly.


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2 Responses to “A film like an artifact”

  1. mike Says:

    hey, looks like it’s coming to the orpheum July 23rd..


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