Tuesday
Jul122011

Eiko Ishioka I: "Closet Land"

[ED: Eiko Ishioka is perhaps best known for her costume design. Her work on Francis Ford Coppola's Dracula won her an Oscar in 1992, and her designs for The Cell were nominated for multiple other awards.

Though her work as a stage designer for theatre is extensive and well documented in her books Eiko on Stage and Eiko by Eiko, lesser known is her credited work as a production designer for film, as there is little to speak of: Paul Schrader's Mishima: a Life in Four Chapters, a single episode of Shelley Duvall's Faerie Tale Theatre, and a shamefully unseen 1991 film called Closet Land starring Madeleine Stowe and Alan Rickman.

What follows is the first in a series on her work.]

"Closet Land is not based on a play or a book. It is my original work. From the get-go, I conceived of it as a film, and I wrote it as a screenplay. I fully intended it to debut as a film—not as theatre or as a book. Because film is the only medium fully equipped to take the audience directly into intense emotional states—be they of pain, or of joy. Closet Land, which indeed deals with torture and physical abuse, deals with pain. What my best viewers have also understood is that my film, despite being about torture, also deals with the exhilaration of freedom and the power of human imagination—because my film is not only about torture." [1]

 

"Set in an unspecified country, Stowe's character is taken from her home in the middle of the night, accused of embedding anarchistic messages into her book, entitled Closet Land. The book is a story about a child who, as a result of bad behaviour, has been locked in a closet as punishment. While in there, the child is greeted by a group of childhood ally archetypes who innocently attempt to comfort the scared little girl. The seemingly simple content is questioned by the government, which accuses the author of encouraging and introducing anarchism among its audience of naïve children.

While the interrogator is obstinate in his belief that the author is guilty of hidden propaganda, the audience is convinced of the victim's innocence. The audience later learns that the novel was actually created as a form of escapism, providing a coping mechanism for the author, who endured sexual abuse as a child. Near the end of the film, the interrogator claims that he was the man who had sexually abused the author in her childhood. But one cannot be entirely sure he was the one who abused her, as the film suggests he was just using the abuse against her as a way of breaking her down." [2]

 

"Before starting a project, I have to fully understand its content. That involves analyzing and breaking down the script, and talking with the director, producers, actors and other crew members to really grasp the important points of the film. My first task once I begin designing is to face a blank piece of paper and let my mind wander limitlessly through what I want to express. When I have settles upon a direction, I will gather resources as necessary. Research materials are always merely hints for further developing ideas. Period pieces and historical stories naturally require thorough research and an understanding of the visual world of the specific time period, but here too, I will "recook" the historical cues to create my own tableau.

After first listening to a director's vision about the characters and then analyzing and digesting this information, I begin building ideas through a process of trial and error. In other words, I try to avoid handing a director detailed material right away, making my initial idea sketches a way of communicating my genera concept rather than presenting a polished design. Sometimes I make several intermediary sketches before producing detailed, large-scale drawings; other times I jump directly from the initial sketch to the final design. As you might expect, final drawings need to depict every single detail clearly defined and in color, and—above all—convey a unique and compelling design." [3]

"Production designer Eiko Ishioka (Broadway's Madame Butterfly and the Paul Schrader adventure film Mishima) makes the torture chamber/womb that is Closet Land's sole set a monochromatic mixture of decors: classical marble pillars, futuristic black-slab desk/operating table, a primitive chair barely held together by frayed leather bindings, and deep, floor-level drawers that contain nasty tools and information. Like memory, this hard place is a grab-bag of styles, a black-gray-white setting in which a scarlet smear of lipstick or the sullen red of a fired-up barbecue grill signals the reenactment of a child's rape. Or of that wound - every Eve's loss of innocence - that may or may not become the raw material for full-fledged sexuality, character, even art.

Stowe's wound is like Hester Prynne's scarlet letter, an advertisement of gender-based existential guilt. Her old fall permits flying only in the mind, on the green wings of a cat, one of her comforting kiddie-lit animal characters. In the story that has brought her to the attention of The Authorities, a little girl is locked in the darkness of a closet by her mother. Lonely and frightened, the child imagines that the coats and shirts hanging above her are transformed into a friendly menagerie, including the winged cat and a friendly rooster that play with her until her mother returns. In his therapeutic guise, Rickman probes the significance of this core story and its origins: What did your mother not notice? Why was the child locked in the closet? Stowe resists with all her might, insisting her stories are just "cotton fluff". The white magic of her fictions must be preserved. She cannot countenance the eruption of dark forces there, of less-than-sanitized animal life. Flying is only possible if one never looks down. Rickman's gynecological torture - including a crude grope to see if she's menstruating, the application of a red-hot skewer and electrical shocks - forces her to focus on blood and pain "down there", the primary associations that divorce her spirit from her body." [4]

ALL STILLS TAKEN FROM THE FILM CLOSET LAND, DIR. RHADA BHARADWAJ, 1991; TEXT [1] TAKEN FROM AN ESSAY BY RHADA BHARADWAJ, VIA CLOSETLAND.COM; TEXT [2] TAKEN FROM WIKIPEDIA; TEXT [3] TAKEN FROM AN ESSAY BY EIKO ISHIOKA, FROM THE BOOK COSTUME DESIGN BY DEBORAH NADOOLMAN LANDIS, 2003; TEXT [4] TAKEN FROM "FOREIGN PARTS" BY KATHLEEN MURPHY, ORIGINALLY PRINTED IN FILM COMMENT, MAY-JUNE 1991, VIA ALAN-RICKMAN.COM

Monday
Jul112011

In The Waiting Room: Non-Place, Distance, Purgatory

"If a place can be defined as relational, historical and concerned with identity, then a space which cannot be defined as relational, or historical, or concerned with identity will be a non-place. The  hypothesis advanced here is that supermodernity produces non-places, meaning spaces which are not themselves anthropological places and which, unlike Baudelairean modernity, do not integrate the earlier places: instead these are listed, classified, promoted to the status of 'places of memory', and assigned to a circumscribed and specific position." [2]

"Sat down to read Foucault with pencil in hand. Knocked over glass of water onto waiting-room floor. Put down Foucault and pencil, mopped up water, refilled glass. Sat down to read Foucault with pencil in hand. Stopped to write note in notebook. Took up Foucault with pencil in hand. Counselor beckoned from doorway. Put away Foucault and pencil as well as notebook and pen. Sat with counselor discussing situation fraught with conflict taking form of many heated arguments. Counselor pointed to danger, raised red flag. Left counselor, went to subway. Sat in subway car, took out Foucault and pencil but did not read, thought instead about situation fraught with conflict, red flag, recent argument concerning travel: argument itself became form of travel, each sentence carrying arguers on to next sentence, next sentence on to next, and in the end, arguers were not where they had started, were also tired from traveling and spending so long face-to-face in each other's company. After several stations on subway thinking about argument, stopped thinking and opened Foucault. Found Foucault, in French, hard to understand. Short sentences easier to understand than long ones. Certain long ones understandable part by part, but so long, forgot beginning before reaching end. Went back to beginning, understood beginning, read on, and again forgot beginning before reaching end." [1]

GARBAGE [FT. TRICKY]: MILK

"Val Vista Location Waiting Room", by Valley Women for Women OBGYN, via Flickr

"Tinted Waiting Room", by Toncu, via Flickr

"Dr. Chu's Waiting Room", by southpasadenadentist, via Flickr

"Waiting Room 3", by veggieosage, via Flickr

"Read on without going back and without understanding, without remembering, and without learning, pencil idle in hand. Came to sentence that was clear, made pencil mark in margin. Mark indicated understanding, indicated forward progress in book. Lifted eyes from Foucault, looked at other passengers. Took out notebook and pen to make note about passengers, made accidental mark with pencil in margin of Foucault, put down notebook, erased mark. Returned thoughts to argument. Argument not only like vehicle, carried arguers forward, but also like plant, grew like hedge, surrounding arguers at first thinly, some light coming through, then more thickly, keeping light out, or darkening light. By argument's end, arguers could not leave hedge, could not leave each other, and light was dim... Thought of question to ask about argument, took out notebook and pen and wrote down. Put away notebook and returned to Foucault." [1]

"Totnes Waiting Room", by relex109.com, via Flickr

L: "Hell's Waiting Room", by Sir Twilight King, via Flickr; R: "Waiting Room" by stevelyon, via Flickr

"Manhattan Adult - 346 Broadway - 3rd Fl. Waiting Room" by NYC Department of Probation, via Flickr

"The Waiting Room", by maskingtape, via Flickr

"The Waiting Room", by Donna JW, via Flickr

"Understood more clearly at which points Foucault harder to understand and at which points easier: harder to understand when sentence was long and noun identifying subject of sentence was left back at beginning, replaced by male or female pronoun, when forgot what noun pronoun replaced and had only pronoun for company traveling through sentence. Sometimes pronoun then giving way in mid-sentence to new noun, new noun in turn replaced by new pronoun which then continued on to end of sentence. Also harder to understand when subject of sentence was noun like thought, absence, law; easier to understand when subject was noun like beach, wave, sand, sanatorium, pension, door, hallway, or civil servant." [1]

"IL-Wood River - waiting room", by plasticfootball, via Flickr

"Before and after sentence about sand, civil servant, or pension, however, came sentence about attraction, neglect, emptiness, absence, or law, so parts of book understood were separated by parts not understood. Put down Foucault and pencil, took out notebook and made note of what was now at least understood about lack of understanding reading Foucault, looked up at other passengers, thought again about argument, made note of same question about argument as before though with stress on different word." [1]

"Waiting Room Chairs", by mixie on film, via Flickr

ALL IMAGES VIA FLICKR, CITED IN CAPTION; "MILK" BY GARBAGE [FEATURING TRICKY]; TEXT [1], "FOUCAULT AND PENCIL" BY LYDIA DAVIS, TAKEN FROM THE COLLECTION ALMOST NO MEMORY; TEXT [2] TAKEN FROM MARC AUGÉ'S NON-PLACES: INTRODUCTION TO AN ANTHROPOLOGY OF SUPERMODERNITY

Monday
Jul112011

Sound and Vision: These Fields 

[ED: These Fields is a project edited by Mathias Renner. All images via These Fields]

Luis Barragan, Casa Gilardi, 1976

L: Setsuo Kitaoka, Twilight Nightclub; R: Shiro Kuramata, Axis Building/Hishinuma, Tokyo

Carlos Cruz Diez, Chromosaturation, 1965-2011

Sol Lewitt, 140 Franklin Street Lobby, New York

David Hockney, Set Design

Dan Flavin, 1986/89

Tuesday
Jun212011

Certificate of Absence: "Marvin's Room" and Fiona Apple's "Criminal"

▶ TEYANA TAYLOR: HER ROOM [MARVIN'S ROOM REMIX]

▶ JOJO: MARVIN'S ROOM [CAN'T DO BETTER]

▶ ROCHELE JORDAN: MARVIN'S ROOM

ALL SCREEN CAPTURES VIA YOUTUBE, TAKEN FROM THE MUSIC VIDEO FOR FIONA APPLE'S "CRIMINAL", DIRECTED BY MARK ROMANEK, CINEMATOGRAPHY BY HARRIS SAVIDES; ALL REINTERPRETATIONS OF DRAKE'S "MARVIN'S ROOM" BY TEYANA TAYLOR, JOJO, AND ROCHELE JORDAN RESPECTIVELY

Tuesday
Jun142011

For The Boys: MONDOBLOGO, Gaetano Pesce and Marc-André Hubin

[ED: This post is intended as a supplement to Patrick's previous post on Gaetano Pesce's 1986 Parisian apartment, created for Marc-André Hubin.

Additionally, I apologize for using the photographs taken by Elizabeth Heyert at the Paris home of Marc Hubin for her book METROPOLITAN PLACES without permission from the photographer. This was illegal and in violation of her copyright.

Elizabeth Heyert's work can be seen as follows:

http://www.elizabethheyert.com/
http://www.elizabethheyert.com/books/metropolitan-places
http://www.elizabethheyert.com/archive/images/work ]

ABOVE: "The guest bedroom walls are zinc, "like Parisian roofs," according to Hubin. One enters the room through a very low doorway. The bed takes up most of the room, giving the illusion that someone managed to put a package, much to big to fit in the door, into the tiny room. The rigid "package" bedspread can be lifted mechanically, to become a canopy and reveal an ordinary bed underneath." [2]

ABOVE LEFT: Drawing of the luminous balustrade on the messanine; ABOVE RIGHT: Drawing of the bed cover. Col.: Marc-Andre Hubin, Paris [1]

"On Avenue Foch, in a building constructed during the thirties (a fine example of Art Deco architecture), Gaetano Pesce has restructured and furnished an apartment for Marc Andre Rubin, a photographer and collector of design objects.

Behind the conversion and decoration of this apartment lie a number of discoveries and encounters: the collector's recent enthusiasm for contemporary design, following after Japanese furniture of the thirties and the design of the fifties and sixties - especially the furniture of Molino; his admiration for the Sansone table; his meeting with Pesce in Milan, in 1985; the ghostly presence of Pablo Picasso, who painted several doors in the apartment that opened onto the upper floor; and finally, a small box in the form of a book that Pesce sent to Rubin from New York a short time before they first visited the apartment together (inside was the model of a brick wall, an evocation of a construction material that is both ancient and contemporary and an indication of first intentions). Like the five doors on the mezzanine floor Pesce designed shortly afterward, this small and enigmatic object reflects the approach that prevailed in the decoration of Rubin's apartment, an approach that started out with the detail, the incident, the fragment." [1]

ABOVE LEFT: Drawing of the guest room bed; ABOVE RIGHT: Plan of the main level and of the mezzanine. [1]

ABOVE: "The door to the right, designed to look like a vault, leads to a filing area. To the left is the low door to the guest bedroom. The drawings, by Pesce, were originally inspired by Picasso." [2]

ABOVE LEFT: Sketch of the fireplace; ABOVE RIGHT: Drawing of the bathroom door, on the mezzanine. [1]

"The project restructures the apartment in a simple way. It breaks down the divisions of the space, unifying it horizontally and vertically. It encloses the space with large expanses of smooth, white wall that punctuate, on the mezzanine level, the series of redesigned doors leading to a suite of service rooms and the large gaping hole giving onto the master bedroom. Punctual, fragmentary interventions qualify it: large sections of wall or floor, textured and colored, polarize it, while the various finishing elements tell a multitude of stories. At the foot of the walls, a plinth cut out of dark marble, contrasting with the travertine in the living room and the red synthetic facing of the mezzanine, outlines the silhouette of Venice. The doors, which are all framed by different drawings and have irregular, sometimes human shapes, speak of the activities that they protect, at times in an aggressive manner. The entrance door has heavy panels of Brazilian rosewood that are covered with bronze and studded, like the entrance to a public hall. The squat and trapeziform door of the upstairs guest room obstructs passage, forcing anyone using it to stoop; it gives access to a room that contains a large bed inserted in a piece of furniture faced with lead, a reminder of the roofs of Paris. The rigid bedspread resembles a gigantic parcel tied with string and is lifted off like a drawbridge by a system of cables and pulleys. The somber wall of the lounge beneath the mezzanine recalls Pesce's gift to Rubin: it is an irregular accretion of bricks and concrete against which is outlined the mantelpiece of the fireplace, a giant figure, a good-natured monster, the architectural ancestor of those little Star Wars figurines which have become familiar children's toys today. Another one can be found embedded in the wall alongside the entrance doorway. Pesce brought this object back from a walk through Paris, and some see it as a comment on the relationship established between the owner and the architect over the course of the work - a relationship at once close and distant, friendly and stormy. Rubin gave carte blanche to Pesce, who, on several occasions, abandoned his role as a designer to assume the mantle of the craftsman. Rere, as always, he entered into direct contact with the materials, cutting the plinths, casting the squares of colored urethane that break up the continuity of the marble facing that has been retained, finishing off the doors with drawings traced on the surrounding wall space, and even building some of the furnishings. Re completed the work begun by French and Italian craftsmen (many elements were made in Venetian workshops)." [1]

ABOVE: "All furniture in the apartment was designed by Gaetano Pesce. The chairs, made of resin and felt and bent by hand, were prototypes for Pesce's most recent furniture collection. Pesce used felt because "it has existed throughout civilization." The small table in the foreground is the prototype for Pesce's Samsone table, made by Cassina. The Egyptian head is from 500 B.C. The sideboard, faced with lead, and the light fixture are unique, designed by Pesce. The tricolor curtains are hand-painted by Hubin. The bedroom is visible through the back wall of the living room." [2]

ABOVE: "Shelves, screen, and chair are all Pesce designs. The wall painting is one of many unique tiny paintings found throughout the apartment, which, says Pesce, "create surprise and keep the architecture non-homogenous, non-coherant."" [2]

ABOVE: Details of the bookcase, on the mezzanine [1]

 ABOVE: Drawing of the laboratory door, on the mezzanine. [1]

"In the Parisian apartment created by the architect and designer Gaetano Pesce for his client Marc Hubin, a bed is wrapped like a brown paper parcel. Floor tiles are unexpectedly mirrored at random intervals. A door shaped like a hand stands only three feet high, forcing a visitor to crouch to enter the room beyond it. Walking on the mezzanine level, one is protected from falling over the edge only by narrow metal tubes with glass bulbs at the top, which seem to have sprouted along the border like avant-garde flowers. Slippery uncarpeted stairs have no hand rails. Chairs that look like soft, inviting shawls are actually hard, with strange sketches of unsmiling faces on some of them. "Like a city," says Gaetano Pesce, "the architecture within a home should always create surprise."

There is an exquisite logic behind Pesce's unique design for Hubin's apartment. "Function is important," he admits, "but if we can also express something, why not? Bed is always a surprise," he explains when asked about the hard shell which converts the bed in a guest bedroom into an anonymous package tied by rope. In bed, Pesce reasons, we never know what to expect. "Good dreams, bad dreams, no dreams, or will we sleep at all?" he asks. "And if someone else is there with us ... more surprises... . To Pesce, a wrapped and unmarked package, with no outside clue to its contents and no identifying decoration, symbolizes what we experience during the surprises of the night." [2]

ABOVE: Bed in the master bedroom. [1]

ABOVE: Door of the bedroom, on the mezzanine; ABOVE RIGHT: Detail of the guest room bed. [1]

"That Hubin's avant-garde apartment is located on one of the grandest, most conservative avenues on the Right Bank is an irony not lost on Pesce. The tricolor curtains on the windows of the huge living room were inspired by the proximity of the apartment to the Arc de Triomphe, which can be seen from an outside balcony. Pesce enjoys the relationship between the view and the architecture, and, as with every detail in the apartment, sees it as imbued with a meaning beyond the obvious. "We cannot just live with symbols," he insists. "A flag is important, but wouldn't it be better as something useful? Why not make a curtain out of it?" Pesce and Hubin recount with amusement that the curtain was seen by Paris soccer fans after a match one night when the painted fabric was hung outside the window to dry. The patriotic fans saw the curtain as a symbol of national pride, and soon a cheering crowd had gathered in front of Hubin's building." [2]

 

"Pesce worked with artisans in his native city of Venice to make the cabinets and doors for Hubin's apartment but he welcomed Hubin's participation, even in the craftsmanship. Hubin, who speaks of Pesce as though he were a brother, cut and installed the wooden moldings and painted the tricolor curtains. Pesce crafted and hand-painted the floor. Of Hubin he says, "He is still curious, which is rare today. The apartment is not mine but his, a fresh place, never boring." The last painting Pesce made in the apartment before its completion is a small airplane on the wall at the entrance. "It is a strange warrior symbol," he explains with a smile. "It represents a good fight, the give and take between the client and the designer.' The real challenge for Pesce was to express something different and original in each design. "For me," he says, "a work of art is merely a useful object with meaning."" [2]

ABOVE: The master bedroom, seen from the mezzanine, has a circular bed placed precariously close to the edge of the room. The room can be sealed from view by mechanized aluminum doors that work like the doors of a garage. The clock is unique, a prototype for a smaller verson by George Sowden. The portrait of Hubin, made by Pesce, was created by drawing on a iquid material that is then allowed to solidify. Pesce describes the process as "a fight with the material," because he must finish the drawing before it begins to harden.

ALL IMAGES TAKEN FROM GAETANO PESCE: ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, ART, BY FRANCE VANLAETHEM, 1989 [1], AND FROM METROPOLITAN PLACES BY ELIZABETH HEYERT, 1992 [2]; TEXT AND CAPTIONS [1] TAKEN FROM "AN APARTMENT IN PARIS, 1985-1986" WITHIN GAETANO PESCE: ARCHITECTURE, DESIGN, ART; TEXT AND CAPTIONS [2] TAKEN FROM METROPOLITAN PLACES

Page 1 ... 5 6 7 8 9 ... 21 Next 5 Entries »