Sunday, July 11, 2010

Found Footage - Part 2

Part 1 here.


We see Shuchikar in the recently deceased Andy Umbrage's office located on the sixth floor of the Arts and Cinema Studies department. He was informed of his late mentor's bizarre suicide by a call from Umbrage's lawyer who let him know that it was the express wish of the late artist that his one time protégé Shuchikar be informed of his demise wherever and whenever it comes to pass and that his many unreleased (and some of them incomplete) films, still housed in his office in the University be made available to him and that Shuchikar be the sole custodian of the same and decide on whatever he thought was appropriate vis-à-vis their release to the general public/art/film/academic community.

So we see our hero in the environs he hasn't visited in quite a while and we watch him sympathetically - indeed somewhat admiringly as well (he's the hottest underworld filmmaker these days) - as he lazily casts a glance around the office that used to be such an important part of his life a few years ago. The place is stacked with books that lie around somewhat haphazardly not just on the shelves but also on tables and the floor. The walls in front of him are bare except for a giant poster of Takahiko Iimura playing chess with Michael Bay who's dressed in black cape as Death, recreating the iconic scene from The Seventh Seal by Bergman.

The table in front of him carries on it a sealed box with Umbrage's unreleased films. He's decided to take them home and watch them on his projector and write short reviews of the same before deciding their fate as regards their release. He's also decided to not participate in the discussions on and regarding the death of his mentor and the symbolic significance/interpretations of the particular manner in which he killed himself, the latest of which is that Umbrage's head-in-the-sand-legs-in-the-air suicide was supposed to mirror the ostrich's cowardly behavior. As a dyed-in-the-wool symbol-minded artist, Umbrage would have been thoroughly amused at this turn of events, Shuchikar thought. Indeed, nobody in the present art world championed Duchamp's art semiotics more than Umbrage who's first major performance was opened by the following lines:

The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.

Interestingly, the aforementioned first major performance of Umbrage had ended in disaster (for him personally) as he, just after quoting Duchamp had jumped off a small cliff, all naked but for a quill in each of his arms and had fallen down thirty feet or so directly and had broken every major bone in his body. This piece had created a sharp rift in the art community where some praised the artist for his extraordinary courage, some praised him for symbolizing man's eternal quest for flight which in turn was interpreted as progress, some praised him for choosing ostrich quills as symbolic feathers (since quills also stood for 'the pen' which is not only mightier than the sword but metaphorically represents all creativity itself and in having chosen an ostrich quill, Umbrage had underlined the inevitably tragic nature of all such creative, artistic endeavors) and the remainder praised the act and its dénouement (or the lack of it, as some commentators quipped) as standing for the personal danger to bones and (remaining) limbs that artists the world over have to face up to alone, singlehandedly, notwithstanding the collaborative nature of art and the jaded spectator's as-important-as-artists role of bringing out the art in art.

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