In Tokyo-Ga (1985) Wim Wenders runs into Werner Herzog high above Tokyo.
Werner says this to Wim:
I don’t complain enough how hard it is. For example, I’d have to climb an 8,000 meter high mountain if I wanted to find images that are clean, pure, and transparent. I can’t do that here anymore.
If I really wanted to search for it, I’d have to go to Mars or Saturn if I could hop on the next space shuttle. For example, NASA has a program to build a SKYLAB space laboratory for scientists and biologists and people testing new technology and tools I want to go up there with a film camera. It’s too hard to find transparent and pure images here on Earth.
When Herzog finishes, Wenders responds by slowly panning his camera out over the cramped edifice of Tokyo.
Since Herzog mentions height, by “clear and transparent,” I would guess he’s talking about the way pollutants or other atmospherical particles “muddy” images.
Artists structure space. Emptiness portends unlimited possibilities for some artists – I think that was where Herzog was at.
Was Wenders agreeing or suggesting there is unlimited possibilities in the dense edifice of Tokyo?
The first thing is to estrange it (articulate form) from actuality…. to give it “otherness,” “selfsufficiency”: this is done by creating illusion…it (articulate form) must become transparent – which it does when the insight into the reality to be expressed, the gestalt to living experience, guides its author in creating it.
Well, I would sooner venture that Wenders was making a quiet little statement about how civilization has crowded out all potential for creativity/invention, hence their discussion far far above and away.
Okay, so he adds the proof to what Herzog was saying by showing the image that he did.
I think I’m going to have to bow out of this conversation, as it is above my head.
…so much so I had to say it twice. :)
I think Herzog might be interpreted as saying just what you said, but could it mean more than that is what I am asking.
When he says a transparent image how does that make sense to those reading what he said?
…but could it mean more than that is what I am asking.
I agree. But I don’t feel well-equipped pr very capable to offer any ideas.
One of the big trends in Herzog films is that he looks for images that exist as if ‘Outside of time’, which are pure, beautiful and speak for themselves.
Krzysztof Kieślowski does something similar. Some sort of illumination in his films.
What I really liked the first time I saw that scene was how genuine Herzog’s anger was, how passionate.
I believe he was talking about how almost a hundred years of moving pictures had devalued images through over exposure and cliches. And this was before the onslaught of digital video. Oh boy! It was also about that time (early 80s) that Hezog stated in several interviews how he would volunteer/pay NASA for the privilige of shooting in outer space to get “virginal images”. The same reason he had for shooting in Antartica and the ocean floor….
“When he says a transparent image how does that make sense to those reading what he said?”
“Standing on the bare ground, my head bathed by the blithe air, and uplifted into infinite space, all mean egotism vanishes. I become a transparent eyeball-I am nothing; I see all; the currents of the Universal Being circulate through me-I am part or particle of God.The name of the nearest friend sounds then foreign and accidental: to be brothers, to be acquaintances-master or servant, is then a trifle, and a disturbance. I am a lover of uncontained and immortal beauty. In the wilderness, I have something more connate and dear than in the streets or villages. In the tranquil landscape, and especially in the distant line of the horizon, man beholds somewhat as beautiful as his own nature.”
I think Francisco gets at it quite well. Think of something extremely beautiful like a sunset, and how it has been photographed, filmed, and used in commercials to sell all kinds of things. A conscious filmmaker becomes reluctant to use such images now that they have become so polluted.
Some of my favorite films kind of lost some of their magic because later filmmakers. video directors, and even tv commercials copied their imagery and technique without any of the artistry of the original. They treated it as just something cool to look at.