Žiga Kariž, Tobias Putrih: MOVIE TALES

In their joint project, the Ljubljana based artists explore different contemporary film phenomena. In a time governed by electronic media and technological progress, each artist has a different approach to the moving image.

In his project named Cinema Solution, Tobias Putrih questions the role of the cinema theatre as the result of the dark, unseen room, where the viewer “gets rid of his own body”. The basic idea of Tobias Putrih is “to build different, personified cinema theatres… Constructing the personified cinema theatres as a simple model for the objects of pleasure, high-tech objects, spectacle-producing mechanisms. Their recognition is in immediate confrontation with my body.” He will exhibit four models of cinema theatres which are based on historic and even utopian concepts of the visual field. These are as follows: the exploration of the visual field by Friedrich Kiesler, manifested in 1929 in the construction of the New York Film Guild Cinema; the visionary work of Herbert Bayer, who connected the Bauhaus tradition with the ideas which later developed into corporative thinking in the industry of culture; the design of the underground cinema, which remained unrealized, by the land-art artist Robert Smithson; and the vision of the dream cinema journey into time and space by Chris Marker. Putrih’s models of these designs represent a unique overview of more than a hundred-year-old tradition of cinema theatres and are at the same time a personal, intimate response to the present-day globalized and computerized theatres.

The project High Concept Monument by Žiga Kariž reflects the contemporary trend or movement of the Hollywood film industry – High Concept, which is presented by the “oeuvre” of one of the commercially most successful producer teams in contemporary Hollywood – Simpson & Bruckheimer. Twelve movies made by the two in the last twenty years will be displayed. The projected films are assorted into three historical segments. Each screen will be accompanied by posters containing the basic data about films and the circumstances, mostly financial, they were made in. By giving concrete examples, the accompanying text explains the widely known fact that the nature of such films is determined by the pursuit of refunding the invested money and earning as much profit as possible. The series of films which, so to say, epitomizes the Hollywood system, can be compared to the international system of art – the connection of course being the logic of money by which both are governed. “High concept”, as the approximately two-decade-old Hollywood phenomenon has paradoxically been named, most adequately describes the period that has ruled the American cinematography since the beginning of the 1980s. The term describes the film genre, the story of which can be summed up in a single sentence. Or, as Steven Spielberg, one of the greatest masters of the genre, described it,: “I like ideas, film ideas in particular, which you can get a grip on. If someone can present an idea in 25 words or less, a pretty good film just might be made.” The term is in fact impossible to translate and the paradox is quite obvious; the concept or the idea of every such film is so low that the whole thing truly deserves the name “high concept” (American films with a more complex plot are called “low concept”).

Thus Tobias Putrih and Žiga Kariž approach the question of the present-day function of the cinema theatres and the film medium in its cultural and social role each in his own way – from two different points of view and by different methodological approaches. But still, Movie Tales remain above all personal stories.

Gregor Podnar

(from the press release for Movie Tales exhibition, Škuc Gallery, Ljubljana, 2001)