Designing Video Installations with Douglas Gordon

Designing Video Installations with Douglas Gordon

[MUSIC PLAYING] I just started my professorial
duty in Frankfurt on Monday night, actually. I’m the film class professor. It’s very serious. And one of the things I said
to one of the students was that I was a very diligent
student, and I did my life drawing class. And I did my stained
glass window class. I did my mural painting class. The only class that I really
got deliberately ill enough not to be able to attend
was the video class. I always hated it. I knew what I liked, and
what I liked was film. And there was something very
primal for me, in that I don’t really like information to be
shot straight into my eye. I always preferred the idea
that you are getting it in some kind of a third-hand way. You have the celluloid. A light passes through. It hits the screen. And then your eye gets it. And there’s something softer,
even if you’re watching a very hard series of images,
with difficult ideas. I think there’s a
softer landing. It’s very telling that
technocrats and technicians have been pushing video to be as
close to film as possible. Therefore, film is still
on that pedestal. When I started looking at films
in a certain way, and doing almost nothing to them
except re-presenting the way that they would be seen, or
could be seen, that definitely is coming from the kind of
intellectual rigor that I had through my studies in London. But I think the choices of the
films that I worked on were probably coming from
this much more autobiographical exercise. Let’s take, for example,
Hitchcock’s “Psycho” and “Taxi Driver,” for instance. I didn’t see “Psycho,” I think,
until I was about 21. And I didn’t see “Taxi Driver”
until I was about 26 or 27. I mean, there was a lot to do
with the old experience of cinema, as well. And the fact that there was
something happening, I think, in the 1980s, in Britain at
least, that cinema was going down, and TV and VCR
was coming up. And my experience of film was
definitely much more in the domestic situation, rather than
the communal cinematic, or cathedral, of cinema,
which I like to think about sometimes. And then when I got into it, and
hit the French New Wave– and one of the most important
books, which I think is one of the best books on cinema ever,
is the interviews between Hitchcock and Truffaut. And that was kind of a turning
point, I think, for me, when I realized that there were
different types of cinema. They could be deconstructed,
and you could openly seduce people at the same time as being
slightly intellectual. One of my students, actually, in
Frankfurt, said to me, when was the last time you
went to the cinema? I had to kind of lie and say,
I never go to the cinema for moral reasons. But the last time I was in the
cinema was to see my work. Last time I was in the
cinema before that was to see my work. The last time I was in the
cinema before that was to see my work. And that just sounds like
such a load of wank. To a student, sometimes it’s
better not to tell the truth. [MUSIC PLAYING] When I started to work with the
material, and I mean when the material will be a
videotape, and like an innocent person, I did take a
videotape and held it up– and there’s nothing to see. And that’s magical, as well. It appears to be nothing,
but it contains all this information of a different– I suppose it’s the early idea of
the avatar, in a way, that the cinema screen has all
these characters behind. And I think with “24 Hour
Psycho,” when I installed that in Glasgow for the first time
in 1993, I wanted to put the screen in the middle of the
space, so when you went behind it, you just saw the same thing
from the other side, but from the other side. So that’s when I started
to get interested in the mirror image. I went from there into hospital
archives, and started to dig around and for images
which looked magical, because they were shot by
cinematographers, even though they were done, apparently,
for medical purposes. It became obvious that I was
going to have to get behind the camera one day, rather
than stand in front of the mirror. I had to take another step back
and be behind the camera, and behind the lens, also
in front of a mirror. [MUSIC PLAYING] I knew I had to start
making films. And actually, the first film
that I made was called “Feature Film.” Maybe I wasn’t
confident enough to think that I would make anything other than
that, so I had this kind of very teenage, vain idea
that in my life I always wanted to write a short novel,
make a record, and make a feature film. So at least I got the
feature film done. And having done that, which
was a study of a conductor with an orchestra– the orchestra are never seen, so
how would you know that he would be a conductor? And the orchestra are playing
the score to Hitchcock’s “Vertigo.” [MUSIC PLAYING] And when we showed that, some
people who saw it had asked me questions like, how many little
images did you slip in from “Vertigo?” Because they
really think that they saw James Stewart or Kim
Novak in my film. And it never happened. But cinematic experience and
the music obviously was powerful enough that images
were coming from inside of their head, and they were
projecting their images onto my film. And I thought that that’s an
incredibly sophisticated and perverse thing to happen. After making “Feature Film,” and
I was quite confident by that time then about working
in the industry. So the premise for “Zidane” was
what if we make a feature film which is a portrait, and
why not make it around a football player? And of course when we went to
see Zidane it became three questions– what if, why not, and
Zidane said, why me? And we said to him, no
one really knows what aftershave you wear. We don’t know if you go
out to nightclubs. You exist from the first
kick of the ball until the final whistle. And that’s what’s incredibly
special about you as a player. He represents something
which is exclusively him, completely chimeric. So he becomes everyone else. The day before the match,
that’s when our crew started to arrive. And you can imagine 17 or 18
cameras, each camera having an operator, a focus puller,
a loader, and a runner. I think the crew was about 150
or something like that. The pressure was on. And still the producers were
saying to us, you have to make a storyboard. And we said, we can’t. It’s a live event. And they said, but you have to
be able to say something to the operators about what
it is that you want. So Philippe and I had
a little chat. The collection of portraits in
the Prado is probably one of the best in the world. So we took our camera
guys there on the morning of the game. And they opened up the doors to
the Prado, and we walked in through the Goya entrance. And you have this vast corridor
of portrait after portrait after portrait. And we said to the film guys, to
the operators, this is our storyboard. Look down the corridor, and
imagine that every painting is a film still. And as we’re walking past,
please look carefully at every still that you’re seeing. Now, we’re shooting at 24 frames
a second, but we want all of the information that
you’re seeing from this Goya, which probably took about
a year to paint– we want a year’s worth
in everything. So we obviously set the
bar pretty high. And it was astonishing. These guys who shoot, who look
at people, and look at events as their daily bread,
had never seen anything quite like that. One of the most beautiful
memories that I have is standing in front of these two
paintings of the Duchess of Alba, I think it is,
both by Goya, same woman lying on a chaise. One she has her clothes on. One she is not wearing
clothes. But the angle of observation
is slightly different. And Philippe and I were saying,
we don’t really know how to explain what’s going on
here, but look at the dynamic between the two pictures. It’s a phenomenon. So we got the most expensive
storyboard in the history of film done, because we
used the Prado. I don’t think that anybody that
I really respect thinks of themselves in any world. The best chefs I know
are always involved in something else. The best filmmakers are always
involved in something else. The best singers are always
doing something else. I think you can be a hermetic,
but within your little hermit cave or whatever, I think it’s
important that you have something else happening
somewhere else in the world. One of the best comments that
a teacher ever made to her class in Glasgow was, you’re
here for four years– don’t feel that you have to
leave and be an artist. Just enjoy this four years that
you have here, because you’ll never have this amount
of freedom again. And as a little lotus eater
that I am, I wanted to perpetuate that four years
for as long as possible. So that’s why I don’t really
have a huge engagement with what’s perceived to be the art
market, or the art world, or the film world, or
anything else. People will always put
you in a pigeonhole. Why would you fly
in on your own?

100 thoughts on “Designing Video Installations with Douglas Gordon

  1. Vice puts some videos up that I would usually not watch or be interested in. I have watched the last couple videos they put up and to be honest I get very intrigued in them and enjoy them very much. Thanks Vice!

  2. I'm on my last free 4 years and i have a project on video installation and this was terrible but i learnt about how to talk good bullshit so thanks again Vice

  3. I recommend this BBC show; imagine…, Summer 2012, Glasgow: The Grit and the Glamour. If you enjoyed this vid, it explores how Glasgow has become known for Turner Prize-winning artists. Douglas features in it as well as several other Glasgow artists.

  4. I have to say that since i started watching VICE I have had another look on the world. I can now see alot of things my friends and family dont. You have given me the power to think about things i normally wouldn't. Thank you, Everyone on the vice crew!

  5. When Gordon explained how the collection in the Prado Museum was the only thing appropriate enough use as a storyboard for his film, that had to be the most pretentious thing I've heard from an artist. Here's why: It felt like he was trying to come off as some great visionary artist as if he was a director like Terrence Malick (who is actually a master of abstract impressionist cinema on many levels), but Gordon is more like a professional student in the way he executes his work.

  6. Meh, this was not what I would call good art. Best "art" I've looked at lately is a silent beauty called Samsara…. far more interesting and kept me thinking hard for hours.

  7. This is the most pretentious thing I have ever seen. Art needs a purpose, all good films have something to say about an issue or idea relevant to real life, lots of good painting also do this, or they invoke a strong emotional response. Making a film about you finger fucking your hand and calling it 'Blue' to be risque is just stupid and pretentious. I can see why this guy never went to the cinema, not edgy enough for him, they might actually have a relevant message.

  8. Have you even watched the whole film Blue? or do you just watch 15 seconds on a Vice video and think you understand it? Fucking idiot.

  9. Please someone tell me what perverse obscenity could possibly be on this guys shirt that it would require vice to blur it out. I could barely follow the interview this blur was so distracting I didn't know if he was giving the finger or doing something even more obscene with his hand.

  10. Quality over quantity, please. As the comments and ratings on your "Trolling celebs" videos showed you how bad those were.
    I subscribed to you ppl after seeing several of your older full length docus. That was the most interesting stuff!

  11. Winker!!!! Fucking postmodernism!!! ask an arsehole to take a crap put it into a gallery and voila instant art!!! this man work is a brain fart!!!

  12. i figured something out. if you wear skinny jeans, grow a mustache, rent a big, white loft space and say with a straight face, "That pile of old G.I. Joes in the corner is a $5000 piece of art." people WILL buy into it.

    Also you cant smile. Ever.

  13. i love vice'es stuff there documentaries are raw real life shit ya'll find the best topics its like there in my head pulling out shit i would buy/rent to watch keep the awesome shit coming vice

  14. The blurred part of his shirt is the logo of a company that didn't want to be associated with this guy and/or this documentary

  15. He doesn't like information shot strait into his eye ! Get it ? Not everyone has to think like you. You have to accept it. I just like him because he is thinking out of the box.

  16. It's such a depressing slog to discover that you are an artist. And you do, you don't choose to be one. It's awful. You're going to labour your whole life on illusions you can't release. Everyone, EVERYONE, will pile scorn and abuse on you and the things you make. But, there's almost no reward in it to begin with, so, they can't remove the reward from it, they can't take away the incentive to make.
    Maybe making art that doesn't sell is indefensible in a world where profit is all. Money is all.

  17. And once your art is made your peers outside the art realm then ask you "so how do you pay your rent with this?". As if to imply that either you live for free on hand outs, or that somehow you have compromised your art by maintaining a steady career. Most art comes from inspiration and the freedom to let your expressions flow freely. On the one hand if life is too easy no grit to the expression, yet too hard and most would say why bother. It is a fight that most often cannot be won.

  18. True, yes. It probably cannot be won, except in some vastly rare circumstances. (Basquiat, say. Or a David Choe) But it's a personal commandment to fight anyway, even though you're more likely to end up with the last words of Van Gogh on your lips, (Google them). Or worse even, since he was vindicated after death. Just total oblivion, forgotten by everyone forever. I'll absorb the toil of day-jobs, a prayer of humility, if I can make art too. Good luck, Eddie, in your version of same.

  19. If you actually listened to what the guy said, or at least what I thought he said was along these lines. The Last few films HAVE been his and feels slightly embarrassed about that fact in front of students. How often do you guys go the the 'CINEMA' ? He found inspiration in two films he saw at quite a late age in life, 26-28. Taxi Driver and sorry I can't remember the other. There is story including between the frames; each has or possibly has new meaning. See Zidane example of work…

  20. Wait, its okay to show piles of dead children and how to explicitly produce and take heroin, but if you show an adidas logo…
    God have mercy on your soul.
    The first amendment is weird..

  21. LOVE how you strived to obscure the slogan on Doug's T-shirt – and to do so installed him on the chair like a statue on a pedestal – great piece !

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