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The Triumph of the Quiet Style - The Awl
"The clearest demonstration of the quiet style—the dominant, most provocative, most interesting aesthetic of our time—is in theater, where Annie Baker created a revolution by slowing everything down, inserting long pauses, setting plays at room temperature. Baker is, in America and for straight plays, the unquestioned superstar playwright of her generation. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2014 and a MacArthur Grant in 2017. Her success is so sweeping that it’s almost hard to remember how weird her style seemed five or ten years ago, and how much it ran against all the prevailing headwinds of playwriting, which, for decades, had been all about making plays faster, more shocking, edgier.

American plays were already fast-paced (quick cuts, overlapping dialogue) and then, in the 1970s, David Mamet figured out a syncopated style that made them even faster. (“Arrive late, leave early,” is his prescription for writing scenes). Neil LaBute, Mamet’s heir, starts his signature play, Reasons to Be Pretty, with the stage direction: “Two people in their bedroom, already in the middle of it. A nice little fight. Wham!” Edward Albee, the reigning granddaddy of American theater, admitted that he wrote The Goat, a play about a man’s love affair with a farm animal, more or less because he couldn’t think of any taboos left to break.

For Baker, studying playwriting at NYU, the contemporary approach to playwriting was a nightmare—a formula to get your turns and reveals as plentiful and as high up in the script as possible, and all of it about as artistic as working in the pit at Daytona. While in graduate school, she had a breakdown (by her accounting, one of many) and, stuck, declared to her mentor that what she really wanted to do was to write a play about her mom and her mom’s “hippie friends sitting around and talking about spirituality for two hours,” which, to Mamet and her NYU professors, would have been like saying that what she wanted most as a playwright was to make sure that her audience had the right atmosphere for a nice, peaceful nap."

"But it’s not as if the quiet style began ten years ago. Chekhov is quiet. Our Town is quiet. Beckett is quiet. French New Wave is quiet. Probably, in every era, ‘serious’ art is quieter and slower than commercial. What I am saying, though, is that something distinctive is happening, and it’s clearly resonating with audiences since the same tendencies are dominant in all these different mediums, producing what for years has been the the most unsettling, most challenging, most talked-about work.

The key figure for the quiet style, the one who lays its sociopolitical foundations, is J.M. Coetzee. In Coetzee, the ruling class relinquishes—reluctantly but voluntarily—all its entitlements and, in humility and debasement, acquires a kind of beneficence. “The alternatives [to the power structure] are not,” he writes in the Diary Of A Bad Year, “placid servitude on the one hand and revolt against servitude on the other. There is a third way, chosen by thousands and millions of people every day. It is the way of quietism, of willed obscurity, of inner emigration.”

For the protagonists of the quiet style, most of whom descend from generations of easy living (their privilege is so patent and so internalized that they rarely deign even to speak of it), institutions no longer have anything to offer them and need nothing from them. They tend to be very willing to relinquish whatever societal power they have to those who want it more than they do. It’s characteristic to be an ex-pat (as in Lerner and Greenwell) or to be in some sort of internal exile (Vermont in Baker’s plays) or to be adrift in the ghettos of the unpublished, unproduced artistic underclass (as in Jarmusch, Baumbach, Heti, Dunham, etc). In other words, to have opted out.

What’s crucial—and, ultimately, what defines the quiet style—is the gesture of abnegation, a recognition by its heroes that success either is not for them or doesn’t matter to them. In spite of its heavy use of naturalism, the quiet style is not realism. Fundamentally, the quiet style is a mode of religious expression and it leans heavily on its confessional aspect, its blind faith that the moments of most abject, most senseless humiliation are also the moments when we are at our funniest and truest and (ultimately) most divine. For me, the great attraction of the quiet style is that it takes the attributes of my much-maligned generation—our restlessness, fecklessness, envy, solipsism—and turns them into something like a prayer."
quiet  quietness  slow  pause  pauses  art  film  theater  samuelbeckett  frenchnewwave  jmcoetzee  2017  style  playwriting  writing  davidmamet  anniebaker  abnegation  restlessness  fecklessness  envy  solipsism  naturalism  realism  antonchekhov  jimjarmusch  sheilaheti  lenadunham  noahbaumbach  filmmaking  taolin  benlerner  mumblecore 
may 2019 by robertogreco
The Art Of Picture Taking — Vantage — Medium
"Q: A lot of artists still struggle with their creative process in terms of what comes first — the imagery or the concept. Can you describe your creative process for us? Which comes first for you?

A: Usually it’s a feeling or an atmosphere I want to express and I try to build a story around that. So I don’t remember if it’s the image or the idea first. But I like to have a free process and to discover things as I go along.

Q: You use the word “discover” to describe your creative process and your short film “The Art of Picture Taking” features a protagonist that you’ve described as “a wandering young man.” The idea of the “wanderer” is quite a prominent one in the image-making world. How much of your own image making is done through wandering?

A: Yes, most of it has to do with wandering and I like to film when I travel because the places are still new and untouched for the eyes. That’s what happened when I shot The Art Of Picture Taking in Seoul, I was only there for a few months. Often I will see a place I like and then I’ll plan to come back to it, or even write a scene that could take place in that location so I can film there.

Q: We noticed the “wandering young man” in the short film is using a Lomo LC-A+! Have you used LC-A+ yourself? Do you have a favorite Lomography product?

A: Yes, it was my own Lomo camera! It’s my favorite product too. I think it’s a great camera, a classic and it’s brought me a lot of joy. Unfortunately I’ve lost it a year ago in Paris. Perhaps someone else found it and is happy with it now.. Also, I’ve never tried it, but I’m very intrigued by the LomoKino.

Q: The LomoKino has a very unique photographic point of view on cinematics. And undoubtedly, there have been films with a photographic quality and photographs with a cinematic quality. What is your take on the interwoven nature of still and moving images? Do you apply photographic concepts and theories in your image making?

A: Film can do things that photography can’t do and the opposite is just as true. I’ve never really thought of this but I guess I enjoy street photography a lot, seeing people caught unaware in their everyday life, minute details that reveal themselves in the photographic instant, and there is no staging in this kind of photography, just the framing. But somehow “ordinary” reality can be even more dramatic. And when you have no money to make a film, it’s empowering to think this way, to realize that you don’t need an expensive set to make a good movie because there’s already a lot of dramatic potential out there.

Q: Indeed, this way of thinking is quite an empowering one — not allowing your creativity to dwindle due to lack of a blockbuster budget is certainly sage advice! Do you have any other advice for young and eager filmmakers and photographers out there?

A: Don’t listen to anyone. Just go and make your art.

Q: What are some projects that we can expect in the near future?

A: I’ve just finished two short documentaries, one called Who is Albert Fallen?, following friends of mine who have an electro band in Paris and are trying to make it. The other is called Memory, about an ex-factory-worker in Luxembourg who comes back to see the steel factory he worked at for 40 years that has now been turned into a creative hub. Other than that, I’m writing a play and I’m working on my first feature film!

Q: And last but not least, we’d love to hear where you draw your inspiration from! Are there any artists whom inspire you in your filmmaking practice?

A: Right now I love Patti Smith, Agnès Varda and Miranda July. I’ve spent almost a decade being taught about male artists, I’m trying to make up for lost time."
catherinedauphin  srg  photography  azinteimoori  lomography  lomo  2016  filmmaking  mumblecore  discovery  creativity  wandering 
february 2016 by robertogreco

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