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R.U.N.
A Short Statement on the Work

Paul Gazzola

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R.U.N. began as an experiment in 2001 that aimed to explore the filmic


relationship between the camera and the body and the use of video as an
extension to the performance pieces I was making at the time. One that would
expand and unfold other viewpoints of the performing body. The process was
born out of my interest to the early experimental films of German avant-garde
artist Hans Richter.1 I had become highly intrigued by his abstracted use of non-
representational forms and structural elements in opposition to each other
(specifically the rectangular and square shapes in Rhytmus 212) that focussed on
their fragmented positive-negative rhythmic interplay. This ordering and
organising of the relationship between parts and his move towards the
dissolution of the subject3 spoke directly to my interests as a choreographer/
performance maker, as I had begun to move away from formal narrative
structures and storylines to concentrate more on the physical arranging and
spatialization of movement and scenographic elements.

I had also at this time been reading the Phenomenology of Perception from
Maurice Merleau-Ponty, and his positioning to the need of a second body to
observe ones own self, which I understood as a form of knowing through
surveillance. This idea became complicit in my undertakings as I sought to

Paul Gazzola. “R.U.N. A Short Statement on the Work.” Inflexions 4, “Transversal 279
Fields of Experience,” (October 2010) www.inflexions.org
display ‘a perspective of the body in reference to itself’ through a cinematic
experience.

Hence with R.U.N., I began to explore the rhythmic potentiality of movement in


film where the body became another element of the whole - forgoing any
emotional semblance or narrative structure as its guide. And as the work was
initially intended to be screened in connection to the live performance - Bird Talk
#1 -74, I sought to a ‘display an unfolding of time’ as an active process, parallelling
the live experience - by emphasizing movement and the shifting relationship of
elements in time.

One of my initial interests was in the ‘close up’ – in how to show a ‘section of a
whole’. I had just finished working on a project in Belgium, and while there I had
gotten into a conversation with a friend about his fathers’ paintings and what he
thought about them. He said, “Well I don’t like them so much as a whole but there are
parts that I like a lot”. Following this idea, ‘to just to show a part of’, was inline
with my readings of the early Richter films and inturn would offer a
counterpoint to the mode of exaggeration that I saw as quite problematic at times
within the staged body. Through the camera’s lens, I would be able to work on a
‘micro field’ of observation within the grand scale of the stage. Opening up
ground to how the fine detailing of the body could be enlarged and screened in
juxtaposition to the onstage figure.5

Around this time I had also seen two filmic works that had impressed me deeply
through their staging of the camera and use of long unedited durational shots
that gently swept over the human landscape, giving over a heightened sense to
an unfolding of time and space. The first being the installation, From the East:
Bordering on Fiction by Chantal Ackerman and the second, the memorable
opening sequence of The Player from Robert Altman. Both of these works gave
me an insight into how the movement of the camera, played against the body

Paul Gazzola. “R.U.N. A Short Statement on the Work.” Inflexions 4, “Transversal 280
Fields of Experience,” (October 2010) www.inflexions.org
could draw out other readings, reflecting the rhythmic flow of things, events and
people. S o I got to thinking about how I could develop a work where the
camera movement would match the speed of the moving body and how they
both inturn, could adjust themselves in direct relationship to the other.

Via my own limited financial means, I set out to explore how to make a camera
move whilst still maintaining its framing from a solid viewpoint. A number of
early experiments were made, purely hand holding a camera as well as using
home made versions of expensive steady-cam devices but I quickly came to a
point where the jerky and bumpy nature of this method asked me to search for
another more stable approach. I was also unhappy with the idea that this device
would be fixed to another body as I had the impression that the framing needed
to remain a constant but its motion should be fluid. And that it was also not
about the camera becoming connected to another interpretive being. So when
the idea for R.U.N. became clear, the use of a car as ‘steady cam’ seemed the
most logical choice.

It was in the combination of these ideas that set the ground for this work, R.U.N.

R.U.N. - Filmed one Sunday morning just outside of Fremantle, Australia on a


deserted down hill road. A mini-dv camera was secured to the back of a moving
car and my task (as the runner) was to maintain my position within the frame.
Over the short journey of around 4:30 min, the camera recorded this
‘performative run’ whilst a three-way conversation is heard between myself, the
cameraman who sat on the folded down tail–gate of the station wagon and the
driver. These verbal instructions, re-laid back and forth on whether to speed up
or slow down served my ability to run alongside the car and stay in the ‘shot’.
The editing process that followed saw the omission of certain frames whilst
leaving the sound track as a constant. Offering a disjointed view of the body in
continuous motion related to its shadowed self.6

Paul Gazzola. “R.U.N. A Short Statement on the Work.” Inflexions 4, “Transversal 281
Fields of Experience,” (October 2010) www.inflexions.org
Notes

1Hans Richter - April 6, 1888 – February 1, 1976. Painter, graphic artist, avant-
gardist, film-experimenter and producer.

2 See - http://www.ubu.com/film/richter.html

3 Influenced by cubism and its search for structure, but not satisfied with what it offered,
I found myself between 1913-1918 increasingly faced with the conflict of suppressing
spontaneous expression in order to gain an objective understanding of a fundamental
principle with which I could control the ‘heap of fragments’ inherited from the cubists.
Thus I gradually lost interest in the subject – in any subject – and focused instead on the
positive-negative (white-black) opposition, which at least gave me a working hypothesis
whereby I could organize the relationship of one part of a painting to the other. - Hans
Richter, “Easel-Scroll-Film”, Magazine of Art, No. 45 (February 1952), p. 82.

As taken from the Online Journal - Senses of Cinema and the essay on Hans
Richter by Richard Suchenski, a joint Ph.D. candidate in Film Studies and
History of Art at Yale University.

4 The Bird talk series began in 1997 as Bird talk #3 - a 20-minute study on the role
of mimicry and repetition in our education and how this forms the basis of
learning processes. The ongoing nature of this project saw its expansion to an
exploration of uniqueness in choreographic practice and the follow up work -
Bird Talk #1 -7 in 2002. Performances have taken place in Australia, Germany,
Portugal and South Africa.

5 My ongoing interest to the relationship of the body and film continued on


within many works at that time such as Spin Solo/Spin Double and the Assisted
solo series. Other works that have been created since include YEP/Video
playback, TWO and The Street Walk series. See www.paulgazzola.blogspot.com
for more information.

6 In this notable work, Gazzola established the ground-rules for his many subsequent
projects – of movement vs ‘dance’; performer vs spectator; illusion vs revelation. And
through it all, the tense dynamic of a body framed whilst subjected to ‘the gaze that is
outside.’ Andrew Gaynor – Points of View. Catalogue essay. Sara Asperger
Gallery, Berlin 2009.

Paul Gazzola. “R.U.N. A Short Statement on the Work.” Inflexions 4, “Transversal 282
Fields of Experience,” (October 2010) www.inflexions.org

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