Saturday, January 23, 2010

Aborted Documentary of Jackson Pollock

Having seen a film recently about whether a particular painting was a genuine Jackson Pollock (reviewed on this blog), and having some background on Pollock from Francis Schaeffer's critique of his chance work, I have become more interested in his abstract expressionism and life. Given this curiosity I attempted to watch A&E's documentary on the man. I lasted less than seven minutes.

Given that his documentary was done within the past few years, it exhibits all that is bad about television. (There is a spectrum of value in television; typically, the older, the better; but all of it humiliates discourse through the moving image.) Talking head comments are limited to about 10-15 seconds; scenes often last less than a few seconds, and this includes scenes of his paintings; special effects abound, including making his paintings move. This effect is ironic, given that one of the art experts talked about the "life" in his strange paintings. Of course, for TV, no inert object is allowed to be. Everything must move, be transformed through special effects; the human being is not allowed to develop any ideas through discourse or express art through sustained reflection on the painting itself. Moreover, there was some actor doing short scenes as Pollock, who was too heavy to even look like him! Pollock was colorful enough without needing a stunt man!

I lasted less than seven minutes. I will occupy myself with books of his paintings and books and articles about his life. Call it another lesson in "the medium is the message" (McLuhan).

1 comment:

pgepps said...

I concur with your dissatisfaction with TV as a medium of discourse, though I think the medium does not *need* to debase the message in this way; the conditioning of the viewing public to "daily" news, now to hourly meaningless "breaking news" updates, began with newspapers (which have never recovered from it), and the advertising-sales model ensures that anti-thought conditioning will be the driving force shaping the messages of "the media" in every medium.

At first I thought "lessen" near the end was a typo; then I realized it was a comment all by itself.