Materiality of Nothingness: Inspiration, Collaboration, and Craft in Devised Filmmaking

Authors: Alex Lichtenfels

If documentation is to have any value for practice, it begins by acknowledging that it is not capturing practice as objective knowledge, but according to its own craft of documentation. This article tries to document a workshop while performing a craft that attunes to the affective force of that workshop. It is also a metacommentary on documentation that performs a research role where knowledge is generated not as an articulation of practice, but as an attunement to affect through which a part of one practice unknown to another becomes embodied.

Craft’s dilemma is that craft is necessary to artistic integrity but is also the basis of industrial process. The challenge is to create contexts where the artist uses their craft in new ways, augmenting that craft’s practice. We experimented with a workshop in which the philosophy of practice was that the process was always itself in process. Stories told in the moment generated scores that made performance machines that would break themselves in the process of being embodied. The processes took on their own movement, structure, momentum: moments of resonance emerged unexpectedly, from some inarticulable place. Yet if our work had value, it was in the way a collective momentum gathered to create such forces and affects.

The article intersperses Sartre’s concepts of being and nothingness to explore inspiration and collaboration as ways of approaching intuition as an intending of craft that breaks being from itself and generates the materiality of nothingness—those forces and affects that lead to moments that resonate. The documenting considers the camera as a place where information is stored as well as being active in performance and suggests a form of montage to create a context between filmed machines that allows the audience to experience the breaking of them, thereby generating affective resonance.

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