Saturday, November 17, 2012

Writing and Directing Sculpture, and the Failure of Communication

by Drew Martin
My very first post to this blog more than three and a half years ago was Synesthetic Interpretations: Arthur C. Clarke and Stanley Kubrick. The article was originally published shortly after Clarke's death in the Czech art magazine, Umělec with the title Writing and Directing Sculpture. The text was locked up in a black rectangle like a monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although the text of the magazine article and the blog post is the same, the magazine title emphasizes the idea that the monoliths, which helped creatures intellectually and emotionally evolve on Earth, were not unlike the objects of art that influence us on a much deeper level then our sensory interactions. The blog title focuses on Kubrick's creative and conceptual leaps.

I was always kind of proud of this article but I was just told by a friend that I have it all wrong. Kubrick did not work from Clarke's book, they developed the screenplay together while Clarke concurrently developed the book on his own. A starting point for all of this was Clarke's short story, The Sentinel, written two decades earlier, in 1948.

The Kubrick show at LACMA and the buzz around it got me thinking about all of this again. Perhaps my theme should have been about synesthetic interpretations by both men of a shared vision. That being said, Kubrick does it three years later with A Clockwork Orange based on Anthony Burgess' novel. Moments that Burgess triggers with names and words, are detonated by Kubrick with sounds and music.

There is a quick interview with Woody Allen on YouTube in which he talks about his evolved understanding and appreciation of 2001. I watched 2001 again the other day and was actually a little disappointed this time around. I followed it up with the 2002/George Clooney version of Solaris.

Solaris is a 1961 sci fi novel by the Polish author, Stanisław Lem. It was published in English in 1970 and turned into a film in 1972 by the Russian director Andrei Tarkovsky as a response to Kubrick's 2001. While 2001 is certainly an American theme of the solitude of exploration, Lem's story is more philosophical, with a European existential pang. It is about the failure of communication between humans and an extraterrestrial life form.