Cobbles | montage and the urban street
with Adam Feldmeth
Sundays 11am-1pm & Tuesdays 5-7pm PDT/PST
Oct. 20 - Dec. 1, 2020
Southland Institute Fall 2020 Open Curriculum | Intersecting Architectures

Poster Design: Quentin Gaudry

What proximities does montage hold to the cobbled stonestreet? Both lay a veritable groundwork for treaded confluence. Each provides from an abutted expanse the dislodgeable fragments of projected provocation.

When embedded underfoot, these stones integrate into a surface network of civic infrastructure: cut in semi-uniform measure, each laid adjacent to the next, rounded by transit, socialized by time. In hand, one’s unearthed status carries greater dimension and weight, its displacement cast as a projectile, cutting through the air – each becoming in-itself, an autonomy of means, arising from the multitude. So too with the images we cast on the move?

Sergei Eisenstein’s images of collision in contra-distinction to Lev Kuleshov’s ‘brick by brick’ methodology. Harun Farocki’s editing table realpolitik of simultaneous picture-in-picture movements and colleague Hartmut Bitomsky’s handheld shuffle of stills. Arthur Jafa’s velocity compilations laying bare what inequity has wrought, what bell hooks has called an exemplar of “the decolonized gaze”. Has a de-centering of this cinematic lineage – from screen, to monitor, to screen – founded on a poetics of industrial assembly and the con-sequencing of shots become the at-hand material of a publicly accessible dialectic of resistance within reach today? To what extent are tweets, grams, snaps and tik toks the new grounds hurtled into the fray, rupturing the quo while a pile of interpretations in meaning mount?

Montage serves as a utility, foundational to moving image praxis. Has a dismantling of its historicized position as a staid technique been underway through a peoples’ media-tion via corporatized technologies? To what extent is a reprioritizing of this politico-aesthetic strategy to induce affect from projected excerpts now the stuff lobbed via mobile phones, mobilizing unsettled states in wake?

What do we jettison when we project that which provides us traction?

One trajectory to be negotiated is the lineage of Georges-Eugène Haussmann's authoritarian-devised beautification of 19th Century Paris, the logic of which, in part, aimed to suppress future uprisings in post-Revolutionary France – A subdued, early privatization of public space. In May 1968, the streets Haussmann designed became the very material of provocation – cobbles become handy as agents of collision. This same year, french filmmakers Agnes Varda and Jean-Luc Godard independently directed attention to the work of the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense. In Oakland, California, Varda gives party members a platform to speak towards their steadfast resolve while local police hold Huey P. Newton captive, aiming to break the cohesion of their political demands through the rupture of his image. In London, Godard records party members occupying a salvage yard, tossing rifles down the line as exercise and reading aloud from revolutionary texts; meanwhile, the Rolling Stones are profiled in-studio, struggling to hit their notes in a return to appropriation Blues that marked their earlier ascension.

Half a century later, while at times a continued use value is relayed in roads elsewhere, the clearance of such laid grounds from major urban centers is underway. An instance of capitalizing upon these dislodged remnants as trinket souvenirs –The image searches of our time.

This 7-week seminar will involve an ongoing discussion which actively considers examples both historical and actual. Gatherings will occur on Zoom. Weekly syllabus contents will be shared with the group in advance of each meeting. Participants are encouraged to keep an active log on the browser-based whiteboard Miro of any examples they encounter in their own searches towards a collective publication. Please arrive promptly to class meetings having read, viewed, and given preliminary consideration to all accordant materials.