The Story of Painting: A Tale of Cognition and Enchantment by Karen David

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A Tale of Cognition and Enchantment


Abstract Readers Guide

THE STORY OF PAINTING: A Tale of Cognition and Enchantment

List of Illustrations & Bibliography

ABSTRACT This essay draws comparisons between Film and Painting to illustrate the mechanisms by which visual space and illusions are constructed, and in doing so, investigating how viewing theories from the genre of Film are interchangeable with the genre of Painting.

READERS GUIDE This main section of this essay The Story of Painting comprises three aspects: 1.

the narrative,


the imagery, and


the footnotes

It is recommended that the narrative be read first in conjunction with the images, and that the footnotes be read secondly, much like a DVD’s ‘bonus feature’ option to watch a film with the director’s commentary.


A Tale of Cognition and Enchantment


THE STORY OF PAINTING: A Tale of Cognition and Enchantment

Preface i. Somatic ii. Mythic iii. Romantic iv. Philosophic v. Ironic Epilogue

PREFACE The science fiction critic Darko Suvin describes books such as Edwin A. Abbott’s Flatland: A Romance of 2

Many Dimensions (1884), and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), as ‘cognitive-parables’ ; where an alternative world is created to explore themes within our ‘real world’.

The book Flatland describes the fictional two-dimensional world of Flatland (inhabited by lines and geometric shapes) as a metaphor for social hierarchy and as an illustration of spatial dimensions. Where Abbot used the ‘Square’ as his main character by which to guide the reader through the land, I will be using ‘Painting’ as the main character in my story (which when awake, thinks of cinematic language, and on sleeping, dreams of paintings).

Simply described as ‘Painting’, and taking as this essay’s writing methodology the practice of Literary Adaptation, or Nicolas Bourriaud’s Relational Aesthetics, where an idea may be used for cross-disciplinatory purposes, our main protagonist in the following story attempts to attain self-realisation through the experience of viewing ‘Hollywood’ films, much like Mary Shelley’s ‘Frankenstein’ self-educates through the reading of books and observing the De Lacey family.

As a structural tool, I will be employing, in chronological order, the stages of cognitive development that the human mind goes through to develop an understanding of the world around it: Somatic, Mythic, Romantic, Philosophical and Ironic, as proposed by Kieran Egan in The Educated Mind: How Cognitive Tools Shape our Understanding (1997). Through a series of film viewings, recollections and a dream sequence, our character works it way through the developmental stages of cognition using Egan’s model of educational theory. Each section in this essay story is headed with a brief description of the learning phase that outlines the discoveries of Painting in the corresponding section.


Darko Suvin, Victorian Science Fiction in the UK: The Discourses of Knowledge and Power (1983).

What this essay is not

What this essay is not, is a critique of Film or an attempt to chart the historical or chronological development of pictorial space. Instead, it is an attempt to explore the mechanisms and the ‘enchantment’ of pictorial language.

I am not comparing superficial visual similarities in Film and Painting;

Fig.1 Film still from Wall Street (1987)


Fig.2 Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea (1809).

or writing about films about painters; but


- rather, this essay aims to illustrate conceptual similarities between Film and Painting.


In the film Wall Street (1987), Gordon Gekko on a „wake up‟ phone call to his protégé Bud Fox, declares „I

wish you could see this... The light's coming up...I've never seen a painting that captures the beauty of the ocean at a moment like this‟ while the camera pans out to a landscape shot ironically similar to Caspar David Friedrich, Monk by the Sea (1809).

The best films are like dreams you're never sure you've really had. I have this image in my head of a room full of sand. And a bird flies towards me, and dips its wing into the sand. And I honestly have no idea whether this image came from a dream, or a film.

Blonde [acted by] Tilda Swinton. The Limits of Control. Directed by Jim Jarmusch (2009)

THE STORY OF PAINTING A Tale of Cognition and Enchantment

i. Somatic: (before language acquisition) the ability to communicate that precedes the development of language, and the discovery of the physical abilities of ones own body: ‘infant's mind discovering its body’ (Egan. 1997, p.242) _________________________________________________________________________________ As a child Painting began to ask questions that no one could answer. At night, in its dreams, it began to see paintings, but it remained unsure of itself. Now, as an adult, Painting lived in a constant state of flux. While Painting knew it existed, it did not know much more. Painting had always been a curious soul. Its curiosity led it down various avenues in its quest for enlightenment. Although it became well-read in meditation, it couldn’t gain enlightenment even when 4

dreaming of Red on Maroon (Rothko, 1959) . It had dreamt of Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (Friedrich, 1818) but often felt more like the pensive character on the rocks.

It had dreamt of the Swedish painter Hilma af Klint, who painted in a trance-like state receiving information 5

from the spiritual plane , yet it felt no such alignment. When Painting dreamt of Austin Osman Spare and 6

his sigils and automatic writings, it wondered what or who was the ‘automatic’ force.

Fig.6 Mark Rothko, Red on Maroon (1959)


Fig.7 Casper David Friedrich, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog (1818)

Fig.8 Hilma af Klint (1862-1944)

Fig.9 Example of a modern sigil

Mat Collishaw used to sneak books of paintings into church. ‘Nothing disrespectful – Abstract Expressionists like Franz

Kline and Mark Rothko. As the hymns were going off, everyone aspiring to this divine, I'd be staring at these paintings and there was something in their emptiness that was a search for spirituality in the void.' (Collishaw, 2009) 5

The information af Klint received was used to create diagrammatic abstract paintings, representing philosophical ideas. An

influence to af Klint (and also to Mondrian and Malevich) was Madame Blavatsky, who in 1875, founded The Theosophical Society, studying many spiritual traditions which were collated into the book The Secret Doctrine. 6

Sigils are words of intent (similar to positive manifestations, or wishes, if you like) which are drawn into an abstract design,

so that they are not read from left to right as text, but read subconsciously within the pattern. The drawing is then „charged‟ with a metaphysical power and used for thought manifestations.

It knew of Transpersonal Psychology, and the work of Timothy Leary and Robert Anton Wilson and their research into the use of Psychotropic drugs to attain higher dimensions. And that some Amazonian cultures 7

in order to induce a psychedelic state, will ingest a brew containing Dimethyltryptamine (DMT) , but, alas, Painting had its limitations and it was not able to induce a psychotropic state not matter how hard it tried.


DMT is found in high levels in the brains of people who claim to experience Near Death Experience and Alien Abductions.

ii. Mythic: with the acquisition of language, concepts are understood, in particular ‘binary oppositions’ (Egan. 1997, P.37) such as hot/cold, good/evil, crooked/straight, fast/slow, as well as images, metaphor and story-structure. _________________________________________________________________________________ Through Film, Painting would forget its own existential morose and it would lose itself in someone else’s 8

stories of love, sadness, comedy, heroes and villains . At first, just the film viewing experience would be enough, but soon, after many, many hours of film viewing, Painting no longer saw the films as a film-viewer, but began to see them as a film-maker might.

Painting began to recognise the formal constructions and structures of Hollywood films. It was able to decipher the ‘clues’ placed by the filmmaker within the first few minutes of the opening scene. Through the 9

film’s Mise-en-scène , it taught itself to assess the tone of the film, the parameters of the audiences 10

expectations and the directors references, and through the classic motif patterns of the ‘Monomyth ’ it was able to foretell the characters trajectory, the plot and several variations of the ending. The more it 11


viewed films, the more Painting became aware of their formulas and conventions .


The film critic and journalist Roger Ebert quotes „If a movie is really working, you forget for two hours your Social Security

number and where your car is parked.‟. (Ebert, 2003) 9

Mise-en-scène („to put in the scene‟) is the way things are arranged for us in front of the camera that helps to understand

the scene, including; lighting, composition, scenery, actors. 10

The Monomyth is a term coined by Joseph Campbell in The Hero with a Thousand Faces, which breaks down the

archetypal hero‟s journey into a pattern that is used in most every story, from Greek Myths to Star Wars. Campbell quotes in this book „A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.‟ (Campbell. 1949, p.23) 11

Film has numerous tropes, 400+ are collated by Roger Ebert in Ebert's Little Movie Glossary: A Compendium

of Movie Cliches, Stereotypes, Obligatory Scenes, Hackneyed Formulas, Shopworn Conventions, and Outdated Archetypes with such clichés as: the „One-At-A-Time Attack Rule: In any situation where the hero is alone, surrounded by dozens of bad guys, they will always obligingly attack one at a time. (See any Schwarzenegger movie.)‟ (Ebert. 1994, p.40) 12

Structuralism (in Film) is concerned with the communication of the ideas of the film and how they are „structured‟ and

conveyed. As in Semiotics, the study of signs and symbols, and Saussure‟s concept of the sign, the signifier and the signified, films visual language operates through this inseparable triad, working in unison to create meanings.

Painting remembered the first time it saw the film The American (2010); a Hollywood film starring George Clooney as ‘Jack’, an assassin who, posing as a photographer, travels to a small town in the Italian countryside for an assignment.


Painting had to watch the film twice, because through the first sitting, Painting was completely occupied with a particular photographic ‘aesthetic’ it kept noticing: Sometimes the camera was positioned so an object fills the centre of the frame, such as a car, phone booth or a parcel;

Fig.10 Film still from The American (2010)

at other times the camera catches a vertical line in background architecture that appears to split the screen into two squares, for example; a pillar in a café or a drain pipe;

Fig.11 Film still from The American (2010)


Interestingly, The Limits of Control was made just one year earlier in 2009 by Jim Jarmusch, following a similar plot of a

lone assassin (this time in Spain), also noted for its slow pace and cinematography, capturing a mood similar to The American. Jarmusch quotes „I like to make action movies, just without any action.‟ (Jarmusch. 2009), while Anton Corbijn, Dutch photographer and director of The American quotes „I wanted to make a thriller in which you see people walk a lot. I like to watch people walk. I love body language. I don't like fast editing.’ (Corbijn. 2010)

and sometimes this central line divides Jack from another character, as if the ‘split screen’ is showing us two separate boxes that exist autonomously from each other, highlighting Jack’s ‘loner’ character.

Fig.12 Film still from The American (2010)

As the spoken dialogue is sparse, it aided Painting to see that this specific photographic language was being used as a metaphoric device to communicate elements of the film, and at times the slow speed from frame to frame seemed like a series of still photographs rather than ‘moving image’.

Painting alert and excited, wondered if this was actually a film about the language and processes of filmmaking, rather than a film about an assassin. It wondered, how these visual techniques


are used as

metaphors in filmmaking and it began to consider the director as ‘maker’ setting up modes of language for the viewer, and Painting wanted to understand this cinematic shorthand as best that it could.


Formulism is concerned with the aesthetic techniques that are purely related to the form of a film; such as lighting,

composition, colour, editing – anything that effects its visual medium.

One mode of cinema shorthand Painting remembered was that of time passing. It had viewed Rocky, (1976) and listened to the music soundtrack of Theme from Rocky, while a montage of an intense training regime is broken down into short cut scenes to show the passage of time, ending with Rocky, played by Sylvester 15

Stallone, raising his arms in victory as he runs up the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art .

Fig.13 Film still from training montage in Rocky (1976)

It marvelled at how ‘cinematic time’ can be broken into segments and then be re-assembled again, with an upbeat soundtrack, to be read as cohesive passage of time. That evening painting dreamt of an assemblage of segments being brought together on one surface.

Fig.14 George Braque, Tenora (1913)


This simple montage technique would become a cliché in film. In an episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, „Once More,

with Feeling‟ Rupert Giles is singing the backing soundtrack, while Buffy Summers is doing her training in a montage similar to that in Rocky. Buffy quips „this whole session is going to turn into some training montage from an '80s movie.‟ The „Rocky Steps‟ have become so embedded in our culture that when tourists visit the Philadelphia Museum of Art they will mimic the scene, running up the steps.

iii. Romantic – written language and rational thinking begins, and the limits of reality are discovered. There is a preoccupation with heroes and romantic achievements ‘human qualities of transcendent degree’ (Egan, 1997, p.90) and an ‘engagement with knowledge represented as a product of human emotions and intentions’ (Egan, 1997, p.254) __________________________________________________________________________________ Although Painting enjoyed Sylvester Stallone and George Clooney films, it had a special fondness for Shirley 16

MacLaine and had cried from start to end during Terms of Endearment (1983). One day, while viewing Postcards from the Edge (1990) Painting began to have its very own awakening. Painting liked the film Postcards from the Edge in particular as the story revolved around a Hollywood mother-daughter relationship, and it was written by movie star Carrie Fisher, who herself is daughter to movie star Debbie Reynolds. Painting was excited about a fictional story which pushed the limits of reality, knowing it had parallels to real life. It also enjoyed viewing films that were about film-making, but it did not yet know why. Although it started out as any other film-viewing experience, one scene in the film made Painting think in a way it had not thought before. ‘Daughter’ Meryl Streep is acting a role-within-a-role of a policewoman hanging on by her fingers to the edge of a tall building with her body dangling off the edge. Painting had seen this many times in other films where a character is holding on to the edge of a precipice; usually it is the villain who, on losing his grip, grabs the hand of the hero and is saved from a plummeting death. Recognising this filmic trope, Painting also recognised its - albeit amateur - ability to read the language of Film, and it was pleased by this.

Fig.15 Meryl Streep ‘hanging on’ in Postcards from the Edge (1990)


MacLaine is a devout explorer of metaphysics and New Age spirituality, a believer in UFOs and other phenomenon and

runs the cruise „Spiritual Odyssey‟, which this year had to be postponed due to filming schedule conflicts.

However, in this particular instance, as Streep is being filmed within the film, she sighs and lifts her hands during the shoot to indicate her frustration and exasperation. At this moment the camera pans out, revealing that the tall vertical building is actually a film-stage-backdrop and the camera was positioned on the ground on which Streep is lying. This fascinated Painting for some time. “The film is a film within a film� thought Painting over and over. And because of its constant search for meaning, Painting began to think of itself in relation to this relationship long after the film had ended, and that evening it dreamt of paintings within paintings.

Fig.16 Henri Matisse, Red Studio (1911)

iv. Philosophic – systematic and theoretical thinking begins. There is a belief that truth can be discovered and explained by logic and reason. Patterns are found in data, ordering information into coherent schemes. ‘fitting into communities that use theoretic abstractions’ (Egan. 1997. p.4) ____________________________________________________________________________ The next time Painting viewed a film it starred Meryl Streep again, this time in Adaptation (2002) alongside Nicholas Cage.


Once again there is an element of self-reference, as Adaptation, written by Charlie

Kaufman, tells the story of Donald and Charlie Kaufman as they attempt to adapt the 1998 novel The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean into a screenplay for a film.

Fig.17 Twin-brothers Charlie and Donald Kaufman (both played by Nicolas Cage), Adaptation (2002)

As the film took Painting through the events that led to the screenplay for the actual film it was viewing, Painting found itself almost vibrating with excitement. Here Painting noticed it was subtly different to Postcards from the Edge which was a film within a film, now, with Adaptation it was seeing a film about ‘film-making’, where the film was about the construction of the making of itself. Because the schematics of the film were so overpowering, the storyline, which fell short of describing it in its entirety, was almost lost on Painting.


Nicolas Cage, like Carrie Fisher, comes from Hollywood ‘royalty’, being the nephew of director Francis Ford Coppola.

Although it knew Kaufman’s films tend towards identity crisis


it was now beginning to understand that

their overarching theme is one of constant reflection back to the medium of film. Painting began to 19

contemplate the concept of ‘Meta’ where films incorporate this ‘meta-fiction’, becoming not only a film but also about film; subject and object united. Painting was lost in a deep sleep that night dreaming of the subject / object relationship in painting.

Fig.18 Paul Nash, View R (1940)


Another film of Kaufman‟s is Synecdoche, New York (2008) the story of Caden Cotard played by Philip Seymour

Hoffman. Named after „Cotard's Syndrome‟ where the patient denies their own existence, Cotard is a theatre director who, after winning a fellowship, begins a lifelong project of replicating to scale a theatrical version of New York City with actors and actresses going about their lives and including an actor who plays him making the play, stating that he wants to make something „pure and truthful.‟ The tag line for the film is: „the story of an anguished playwright who is forced to deal with several women in his life‟, again falls short of describing its schematics. 19

In this instance „Meta‟ (meaning „about‟) would go before the word „film‟. Meta-film; meaning a film that is about the film.

Another example is „Meta-fiction‟ where the nature in which the fiction is written, with self-referential techniques – always pointing back to itself as a story, thereby commenting on „fiction‟. Sometimes the characters would slowly become aware of themselves existing as characters in the book - like Sophie and Alberto in Sophie’s World (1991) by Jostein Gaarder, at other times a „Meta-fiction‟ technique can be displayed in narrative footnote that comment on the main text – as in the writings of David Foster Wallace, in particular Infinite Jest (1996) which has 388 numbered footnotes.

v. Ironic – recognition of our lack of mental flexibility in our explanations of the world around us, while at the same time, by using philosophical tools with greater flexibility, the ability to consider and combine competing systems of ‘truths’ to gain understanding of the ‘ironic’ kind. ‘gains the theoretic generalizing capacity of Philosophic understanding while keeping ironically in check the easy belief that truth resides in general schemes’ (Egan. 1997. p.157). _____________________________________________________________________________ Painting noticed that in the films it enjoyed the most there included a character that played the role of an artist making their art; the movie actress Suzanne Vale played by Meryl Streep in Postcards from the Edge, the writer Charlie (and Donald) Kaufman both played by Nicolas Cage in Adaptation and the director Caden Cotard played by Philip Seymour Hoffman in Synecdoche, New York, and while counting these characters, Painting drifted off to sleep. ..................................


In its sleep, Painting dreamt of stories it had heard, like the old story of Las Meninas (1656) by Diego Velázquez, where the artist (presumably Diego Velázquez) portrays himself in the scene standing by a large canvas. Velázquez peers around the canvas he is working on and looks out toward the viewer, looking right 21

in their eyes, and by doing this acknowledges their presence .

Fig.19 Diego Velázquez , Las Meninas (1656)

Fig.20 (Detail of mirror) in Las Meninas,


Dream sequence begins.


„In appearance, this locus is a simple one; a matter of pure reciprocity: we are looking at a picture in which the painter is in turn looking out at us.‟ (Foucault, 1994, p.5)

Painting dreamt of the existence of the viewer and tried to calculate where the viewer stood in relation to Velázquez, and where Velázquez stood in relation to the viewer. Painting imagined a thin membrane between the two and how easy it is to slip in and out. Velázquez had made this interface apparent here and where there previously existed a one-way ‘portal’ into which a viewer might go when viewing a painting, now this became a two-way ‘slip-stream’.

Painting dreamt of another story of the painting The Arnolfini Portrait (1434) by Jan van Eyck, where a mirror reflects the backs of the two figures and the two witnesses of the marriage taking place. In this painting the mirror on the back wall also reflects the front of the room so in theory it suggests a 360º view of 22

the room - whereas the mirror in Las Meninas seems only to suggest the reflection of the heads of two figures (possibly the King and Queen) and not 360º view. Painting dreamt of the subtle, but seemingly crucial difference between the uses of these two mirrors. Although it couldn’t pin-point the difference, it knew that both paintings were asking the viewer to participate in some way in the scene taking place, and Painting felt this might be in some way connected with a space being created in our minds, a mental shift. ..................................



The arcade game Space Invaders (Tomohiro Nishikado,1978) employs simple two-dimensional (2D) visuals, where the

movement of the firing laser is restricted to either left or right on the line at the bottom of the screen. In more recent years, computer gaming has „advanced‟. The video game Modern Warfare 3, simulates three-dimensional (3D) visuals; the player‟s point of reference is a gun that stays fixed at the centre of the screen, but when rotated left or right within the game, the landscape moves giving the illusion of there being a 360º infinite landscape. Nishikado designed the (now vintage) arcade game Space Invaders (スペースインベーダー Supēsu Inbēdā) in 1978, partly inspired by the aliens from the 1935 film adaption of The War of the Worlds. 23

Dream sequence ends.

Fig.21 Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait (1434)

Fig.22 (Detail of mirror) Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Portrait (1434)

When Painting woke from its dream state, with the lingering memory of a thin membrane between painter and viewer, Painting was no longer able to think of Film as images and light projected on a screen, but instead, now, in terms of depth and paradox.

Painting sleepily remembered viewing a film in three-dimensions (3D). It found the experience strange, like eating salty chocolate. Firstly, as it was not convinced by a two-dimensional (2D) medium ‘pretending’ to be 24

three-dimensional , but also because it noticed that the visuals inverted into the screen


rather than


came out of the screen - surely then it is the very opposite of 3D, even ‘anti-3D’? It thought of mirrors which draw in space rather than extend it out. With all the thinking of the three-dimensional nature of the fictional pictorial plane, Painting felt like it was in thick, deep, muddy waters, where it struggled to stay afloat. To remedy this confused feeling Painting viewed an old favourite film called Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) hoping this would help it calm its thoughts for a while.


In painterly terms this could be the equivalent of the flat surface alluding to perspective, depth of field, illusion and

figuration, as in a landscape painting such as Frederic Edwin Church, The Heart of the Andes (1859) , rather than the „flatness‟ of Abstraction painting such as Barnett Newmans‟ Midnight Blue (1970). Clement Greenberg‟s concept of „flatness‟ is understood to be speaking of the two-dimensional physical qualities (and limitations) of paint. To be true to its medium („medium-specificity‟) Greenberg proposed paint should not be used to depict objects that are three-dimensional or create illusions of space; medium specific work must be true to the qualities of its raw material. He believed that in the „flatness‟ there was a purity that would allow for the true aspects of painting. 25

positive convergence


negative parallax

During the end credits of the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) Ferris, played by Matthew Broderick, looks directly into the camera and says; ‘You're still here? It's over! Go home! Go!’, which momentarily disarmed 27

Painting, but soon it recognised this as a technique known as “Breaking the Fourth Wall” and realised that in this instance Ferris was not directly addressing Painting through the screen, but instead the director, John Hughes, by way of his character Ferris Bueller, is acknowledging that there is an audience viewing the film, and furthermore, that Ferris is aware of himself being a character in a film that has just ended.

Fig.23 Ending credits of Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986)

There were other examples of the Fourth Wall being broken in film, where the film itself acknowledges its medium and expands beyond existing as a self-contained fantasy and into the realm of the viewer. Often this happens in the rolling credits so as not to interrupt the main storyline. Painting remembered the credits of Scrooged (1998), when Bill Murray looks directly into the camera and addresses the audience asking them to sing along with the song Put A Little Love In Your Heart. Pointing directly to the cinema audience, Murray addresses the viewer who ‘was talking throughout the movie’ to sing along too.

Painting wondered how an object can be aware of its limitations, making a point of highlighting them, while still remaining believable as the object itself.


The Fourth Wall is a term that originates in the theatre; the stage having three walls, the fourth being the invisible wall

between the stage and the audience. The theatre tradition of acting on stage, as if the audience were not there, is broken when an actor talks directly to the audience, thereby „breaking the Fourth Wall‟. Normally, as viewers, we sit back and follow the authority of the author, but when the „Fourth Wall‟ is broken, audience and author have a direct dialogue where there exists is a „co-dependent‟ relationship.

Painting was amazed to hear that a 50 second silent film by the Lumière Brothers of a train arriving at a platform named L'Arrivée d'un train en gare de la Ciotat (1895) sent viewers running screaming from the impending train, and it laughed to itself when it realised that in Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) something similar had happened where the young cinema audience would look under their seats for ‘Gremlins’ in the auditorium.


Fig.24 Arrivée d'un train en gare de la Ciotat (1895)

Fig.25 Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990)


The film we are watching is suddenly interrupted, showing instead a blank white screen with hand-shadow puppets made

by the „Gremlins‟, giving the illusion that the actual screening of Gremlins 2: The New Batch had been disrupted by creatures running amuck in the projection booth of the cinema you were watching it in (until Hulk Hogan shouts at them to stop, and then talking into the camera apologies to the viewer for the interruption).

Epilogue _________________________________________________________________________________

This is the experience of the child discovering the world, to whom every object is new. He sees a light, wishes to take hold of it, burns his finger and feels henceforward a proper respect for flame. But later he learns that light has a friendly as well as an unfriendly side, that it drives away the darkness, makes the day longer, is essential to warmth, cooking, play-acting. From the mass of these discoveries is composed a knowledge of light, which is indelibly fixed in his mind. The strong, intensive interest disappears and the various properties of flame are balanced against each other. In this way the whole world becomes gradually disenchanted. Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art (1911, p.29)

When viewing Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984) as a child, Painting reminisced of a time when 29

it viewed film comfortably from its side of the ‘silverscreen’ . During the film, Painting went on a rollercoaster journey of action, romance and danger with Indiana Jones fighting the ‘baddies’ to save a village in India. There were monkeys and elephants and caves and falling rocks that were fun and simple to watch, and Painting knew where it stood. The barrier between film illusion and reality remained firmly in place, with Painting on one side and Indiana Jones and the elephants on the other. Painting remembered being blissfully unaware of the mechanisms behind the language of Film.

But now through its own journey and discoveries through the language of pictorial space; it had taught itself to read the basic formal constructions of Film, the story’s structure, to recognise motifs and cinematic shorthand and meta-film. Painting was now able to examine the very essence of visual language in filmmaking and the unwritten, unspoken participatory dialogue between viewer and director, to ponder over this two-way ‘slip-stream’ and the 2D/3D paradox. Painting wondered where this might lead to.


The term „silver screen‟ is used as a metonym for cinema. Known as „silver lenticular‟ the screen had silver (or aluminum) embedded in its surface to help make the screen reflective. Metallic screens are now being used again for 3D film projection.

In its quest for enlightenment, Painting had always been a curious soul, and even though its wide-eyed enchantment had been replaced by cognitive explanations; it still suspected that a space might exist between knowing the mechanisms of illusion and falling for the magic of enchantment.

Painting fell asleep early that night, this time dreaming of jungles and tigers in faraway lands.

Fig.26 Henri Rousseau, Surprise! (1891)

The End

List of Illustrations Fig.1. Wall Street (1987) [film still] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.2. Friedrich, Caspar David. (1809) Monk by the Sea [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.3-5. Film covers for Frida (2002), Pollock (2000), Basquait (1996) [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.6

Rothko, Mark. (1959) Red on Maroon [online images] Available at: < whats-on/exhibition/rothko/room-guide/room-3-seagram-murals> [accessed July 2012]

Fig.7. Friedrich, Caspar David (1818) Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog [online images] Available at: <>[accessed July 2012] Fig.8. Portrait of Hilma af Klint [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.9. Modern sigil [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.10-12. The American (2010) [film stills] 43,18 and 28 mins. Taken with digital camera from television screen Fig.13. Rocky (1976) [film still] 72 mins. Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.14. Braque, George (1913) Tenora [online images] Available at: <>[accessed July 2012] Fig.15. Postcards from the Edge (1990) [film still] 41 mins. Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.16. Matisse, Henri (1911) Red Studio [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.17. Adaptation (2002) [film still] 33 mins Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.18. Nash, Paul (1940) View R [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.19-20. VelĂĄzquez, Diego (1656) Las Meninas [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.21-22. van Eyck, Jan (1434) The Arnolfini Portrait [online images] Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.23. Ferris Bueller's Day Off (1986) [film still] 102 mins. Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.24. L'ArrivĂŠe d'un train en gare de la Ciotat (1895) [film still] 30 secs. Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.25. Gremlins 2: The New Batch (1990) [film still] 53 mins. Available at: <> [accessed July 2012] Fig.26. Rousseau, Henri (1891) Surprise! [online images] Available at: <!.html> [accessed July 2012]

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