Sabtu, Ogos 09, 2008

Architecture : Cinema

What is architecture? My ex-boss Jimmy Lim used to say that, “a bicycle shed is not an architecture, a building is an architecture.” Well I reject his idea. I used to ride a bicycle to school, about 1 km. One day, after school, it rains heavily. I sit on my bicycle under the shed waiting for the rains to stop. I’m not alone, most of the boys sat next to their bicycle too. We stay under the shed instead of waiting in the corridor or canteen. I’m not sure why. We feel the rain spatter at us. But one thing for sure is that we feel sheltered. The feeling is like when you shelter under a deciduous trees from light rain. You get wet a bit, but you feel sheltered. Like a kitten stay close to its mother. To me, a bicycle shed is architecture.

Academically architecture consists of 3 elements: function, structure and aesthetic. The function of this bicycle shed is to shelter the bicycle from heat and rain – climate. Yes, it sheltered a bicycle and got nothing to do with the people, but there’s this strange relationship between a boy and his bicycle, like what I just explained above. What is the function of a film? What is the purpose of making a film? Is it for the sake of entertainment, education or propaganda perhaps? Each of this so-called filmmaker has his or her own reasons. A bedroom is a bedroom, a bathroom is a bathroom. 10 Tahun Sebelum Merdeka (2007) a documentary by Fahmi Reza is somewhat guerrilla propaganda to me. He produces it free for the people to watch and download it from the net. In fact when I was staying in my small garret in Puduraya, bored, I go to Central Market for a book fair. There I met Fahmi Reza reading his historical books at the same time selling his DVD. I – wearing shorts and t-shirt with my name on it (using fabric crayon) – approach him. I asked for any discount on his DVD, but instead he gave it to me. At that moment, it felt like the ending part of Rashomon (1950) by Akira Kurosawa, the monk giving the baby to a peasant. I feel touched.

Structure in architecture if literally translated, is plot and narrative in film. For academician, plot and narrative can be divided into two. But since I’m not an academician, I divide it into three main structural forms: linear narrative structure, nonlinear narrative structure and pure cinema. What is pure cinema? Pure cinema rejects the idea of narrative itself, but I personally see it as a structure. Pure cinema is like invertebrate, without a backbone but it itself is a form. All structural form that was introduced from Greek temple to Modernism era is somewhat linear narrative structure to me. Post and beam construction, load-bearing wall, everything follows the structural order. Starting with Post-modernism (that reject Modernism), they try to recreate everything in a new way. The most notable Post-modern genre in architecture was Deconstructivism led by Peter Eisenmen (with Jacques Derrida) and Bernard Tschumi. Frank Gehry, Daniel Libeskind, Rem Koolhaas, Zaha Hadid and Coop Himmelb(l)au later join. These people reject the traditional structural method.

Last but not least, Pure Cinema. There is a lot of notable film/ filmmaker, but I will only give one example. His name is Stan Brakhage, He is one of the important experimental filmmaker of the 20th century. Most filmmaker and student don’t know him, which makes me sad. When he was young, he met Maya Deren, which is an avant-garde filmmaker and film theorist. Most filmmaker and student don’t know her, which makes me even sad. When she was young, she met Marcel Duchamp, which is well related to Dadaism and Surrealism. If you say you like Pop Art and Andy Warhol and don’t know who Marcel Duchamp is, I think there is something wrong with this world. Pure Cinema is somewhat like Archigram to me. Archigram is an avant-garde architectural group led by Peter Cook. It is expressed through hypothetical projects using pamphlet. There are no real structure, only structural ideas on their pamphlet.

Aesthetic in film is the same as architecture. Beauty. What’s beauty? It’s up to you. If you have a room, and let say you want the concept ‘back to nature’ what will u do? Will you paint it green? Will you put a lot of trees in it? Will u tear the wall apart? I prefer to scratch the wall paint and revealed the material—truth to material. If it’s concrete, then concrete it is, if it’s brickwork, then brickwork it is; back to nature. Some people might thing this is ugly, but that is beauty to me. I’m quite a follower of Schopenhauer. The poet living in a garret (Khalil Gibran), the absent-minded professor, Vincent van Gogh in the madhouse, are all examples of Schopenhauer’s geniuses. In fact I did a film (Ah Long) based on a poet I wrote when I was living alone in a garret in KL. Always lack of money to buy food. I am surrounded mostly by Pinoy, Sikh, Indian, Indons, Banglas, Malay and Chinese. At that moment, I considered myself as a Citizen of the World. I don’t need to travel all around the world to reject prejudice and understand truth and the true meaning of beauty; it’s all in Puduraya (not to be confused with Putrajaya). Thank you.

Ridhwan Saidi

p/s: Sorry English serabai.