Tropes, Elasticity

Looking forward to the upcoming, big V&A show on Postmodernism — and making adaption, account of it in our Camberwell programme-to-be. Just read Ryan G. — or R. Gerald —Nelson's DDDDoomed — Or, Collectors & Curators of the Image: A Brief Future History of the Image Aggregator (2010). Now reading Jan Verwoert's Apropos Appropriation: Why stealing images today feels different (2007), published here. Early in the piece, he describes the act of appropriation as a 'radical temporal incision', in the context of the late 1970s, by artists whose "works convey an intense sense of an interruption of temporal continuity, a black out of historical time that mortifies culture and turns its tropes into inanimate figures, into pre-objectified, commodified visual material, ready to pick up and use."

Spike Jones' Cocktails for Two (1945).

I'm gathering interest in the 'trope', as a form and a gesture. Certainly in drawing reductively, there is a queasiness that comes with use of a spiral or an oval. Others, such as the stack of three tapering, lozenge-ended lines or an upward-widening arc, appear so often in tattoo or moulded relief on household object, as something parked between euphemism and aspiration. Classically, in grainy pastel Eurocoach livery. But then also a set of properties, borne of boiling something too long.

Two Cooks and a Cabbage (1941), directed by Alex Bryce.

A farty, khaki-cooked elastic slapstick. I think given its hue by late 1970s powercut, candlelit readings of Whizzer & Chips comic. And the puce-face of Windsor Davies against a bobbled, electrostatic mustard poloneck squeezed into a caravan with Bernard Breslaw, leering through the condensation out onto a damp squib campsite of late, tired Carry Ons.

Tom Paterson's line — and roll-call of wafting sock, bulging pocket, belching orifice — made an impression lasting to date. Each prop described as if held, with special attention on how one thing plugs itself in another. Not so tricky to unpack, I guess.

It took me (via Sonic Youth's Dirty) to looking a lot at Mike Kelley in the early 1990s. This, Ectoplasm Photograph 10 (1978, 2009), via.

But I enjoy how solid, satisfying the tics and devices are, even when isolated.

The elasticity of everything.

St. James' Infirmary, from Snow White (1933), sung by a rotoscoped Cab Calloway; animated by Roland Crandall for (Max) Fleischer Studios.

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