Adrian Miles's Vogme Manifesto and subsequent thoughts on group philosophies (thoughts via Rupert's email)

I'm on a mail list about net cinema and art videoblogging called "Artists in the Cloud". Rupert posted a message yesterday about Adrian Miles's Vogme Manifesto and subsequent thoughts on group philosophies. I'm posting Rupert's email below in full so I don't have to keep referring back to my email account or the web email account (as they move quickly sometimes & it's easy to lose track). I've added links to Adrian Mile's vog manifesto for reference too.

I don't really know much about film history or theory and I've forgotten most of my art theory, though I keep across net art and new media, I guess I haven't sorted out formerly in my own head what it is that I do when I try to make 'art'-like videos. I'm not sure I need a manifesto, but perhaps it would be a good exercise to think about it. I've looked back at videos that I've made over past years and they do seem to be similar so perhaps there is an unconscious 'manifesto' in play already.

so, last night & today I've been finding some from artists I either admire or have recently been finding out about. and of course, in using the internet, this has led me on some tangents so I've discovered some new artists too. collating snippets here for further thought.


Ken Paul Rosenthal's Film page - I like what he says in this graphic about "I film to..."

also, on his "Why I film" page :

Composing time in the medium of light, exploring frames as windows into the world, and making illusions tactile are rituals of habit and play developed in my childhood before I understood them as relative to a cultivated artform. Light was made available to me, and I responded to the phenomena of the world made manifest via the presence—and absence—of light as a sort of visual osmosis.

& this paragraph

My films are essentially an unscripted string of beautiful possibilities. They are less about taking pictures and more about collaborating with a particular natural or urban space. The notion of a finished film is a glass carrot to me, that is, the goal of completion is not visible. The indeterminate nature of alternative photochemical and organic-based manipulations short-circuits my own intentions, encourages the unpredictable, and inspires me to treat the film emulsion as a living organism. It’s not so much content that drives form, but process that breeds content.


Scott Stark's bio page mentions his thoughts on his films. Scott organizes and manages the Flicker pages. his links page is an amazing resource too - for both film based films and net cinema works. he also archives the frameworks mail list messages

"I see each film/video project as a 'first film' with its own cinematic language, one that the viewer learns and engages with as the piece unfolds. This language is shaped by the particular mechanics of each medium, in the same way verbal language is shaped by the mechanics of the human mouth. Thus each film charts the possibility of a pre-cinema experience, one that might have evolved had not narrative and commerce been cinema's prevailing motivational forces." -- SS


John Cage - I like reading about his music works and writings as he was such an influential mind & composer for both music and film artists. so a few searches on scribd have found these books online. I have "Silence" at home too.

John Cage

Experimental Music - John Cage

Experimental Music : Doctrine - John Cage

Cage - work about the composer John Cage

It's my insanity - john cage after the phone book performance

hatred of capitalism (I need read/skim this one to see how this one's related - scribd scans the contents of pdf so maybe he was mentioned in here ...)


Stan Brakhage
I've been reading one of his books lately to find out more about this experimental film artist. I like his ideas of "closed-eye vision" and also of light. extracts from an interview below about these two things

Stan Brakhage's wikipedia page

google search for Brakhage

by Brakhage: An Anthology - Stan Brakhage DVD of some of his works

a conversation between Jonas Mekas and Stan Brakhage


Brakhage @60 interview

>> You've been involved with film for over 40 years -- as a maker, thinker, writer and academic. Has your sense of film as film changed?

In one sense it hasn't changed: from the beginning I had a feeling for film as vision. I didn't think it was related to literature or theatre at all, nor had it anything to do with Renaissance perspective. I was staggling the time against the flypaper of other arts harnessing film to their own usages, which means essentially as a recording device or within the long historical trap of 'picture -- by which I mean a collection of nameable shapes within a frame. I don't even think still photography, with few exceptions, has made any significant attempt to free itself from that. So I had certain instinctual feelings about film even before I made one.

>> What do you mean by 'vision, and how is it related to film?

For me vision is what you see, to the least extent related to picture. It is just seeing -- it is a very simple word -- and to be a visionary is to be a seer. The problem is that most people can't see. Children can -- they have a much wider range of visual awareness -- because their eyes haven't been tutored to death by man-made laws of perspective or compositional logic. Every semester I start out by telling my students that they have to see in order to experience film and that seeing is not just looking at pictures. This simple idea seems to be the hardest to get through to people.

>> But is it really so simple? In your films, to see without picturing is a composite of many visual processes, only one of which is open-eye vision, or what we call normal everyday vision.

Open-eye vision is what we are directly conscious of, but there's much more going on that we ignore. Seeing includes open-eye, peripheral and hypnagogic vision, along with moving visual thinking, dream vision and memory feedback -- in short, whatever affects the eyes, the brain and the nervous system. I believe that all these have a right to be called seeing since they enable us to inherit the spectrum of on optic and nervous system.

>> Can you define them?

Hypnagogic vision is what you see through your eyes closed -- at first a field of grainy, shifting, multi-colored sands that gradually assume various shapes. It's optic feedback: the nervous system projects what you have previously experienced -- your visual memories -- into the optic nerve endings. It's also called closed-eye vision. Moving visual thinking, on the other hand, occurs deeper in the synapsing of the brain. It's a streaming of shapes that are not nameable -- a vast visual 'song of the cells expressing their internal life.

Peripheral vision is what you don't pay close attenion to during the day and which surfaces at night in your dreams. And memory feedback consists of the editings of your remembrance. It's like a highly edited movie made from the real.

>> How is film predisposed to embody these?

Over the years, I have come to believe that every machine people invent is nothing more than an extension of their innards. The base rhythm of film -- 24 frames per second -- is sort of centred in its pulse to our brain waves. If you start a film at 8 frames per second and with a variable speed motor slowly raise it to 32, you put the audience in the first stage of hypnosis.

So the natural pulse of film is a pulse of Film is a corollary to the brain's reception of everyday ordinary vision. Then film grain approximates the first stage of hypnagogic vision, which occurs at a pulse within the range of film's possibilities of projection. Also, during editing, film comes close to the way you remember. And finally, if you cut fast enough, you can reflect within 24 frames per second the saccadic movements of the eyes, which people aren't ordinadly aware of, but which are an intrinsic part of seeing.

>> So virtually all your experiments were aimed at developing this relationship between film and seeing?

My cutting has always tried to be true to the eyes, to the nervous system and to memory, and to capture these processes, which happen very rapidly. At one point I felt my montage -- inspired by Griffith and Eisenstein -- had to evolve to do justice to memory recall, so I began to use the single frame to suggest what the mind can do during a flashback. Then I began to use superimpositions because these occur constantly in the saccadic movements of the eyes and in memory feedback and input.

I've done as many as seven superimpositions at one time -- in Christ Mass Sex Dance (1990) -- and I wish I could do more because there are more in vision itself. Then I shot out of focus to capture peripheral vision, which is always unfocused, or used flares to give a sense of the body when it has an overload in feedback and literally flares -- something you can see with your eyes open.

In Loving (1957), a couple make love in the sun and their optic system flares -- it's really the nervous system's ecstasy -- in oranges and yellows and whites. I had noticed that when film flares out at the end of a colour roll, you get those same colours, and I put them in because they are intrinsic to human vision as well.

>> But of all these possible seeings, the hypnagogic has been the most important to you.

Yes. I sometimes like just to sit and watch my closed eyes sparking, or the streamings of my mind. They're the best movies in town! But the flow is so rapid that to document it would call for a camera that would run 1,000 frames per second. All I can do on film is to grasp a little piece of it and then make a corollary. So my films don't reflect what I see when I close my eyes -- only a symbol of that. The extent to which I accept that is the extent to which I can be true to what film can do.

on light ...

>> The fllms are also meditations on light, which is not new to your work, except that this light is different, situated deep within the pre-conscious.

What is film, afterall, but rhythmed light? I've always agreed with that line in Pound's cantos: 'All that is is light. That's us and everything we're seeing, the dance of the light from the inside mixing with that coming from the outside in.

on film as 'visual music' & also on 'aesthetic ecology' :

>> One can enjoy these films on another level, as analogues to music. You've even called them 'visual music.

Of all the arts, music is closest to film: and I've had a long infatuation with music and film. I was very inspired by Charles Ives, who has several different sound sources going on simultaneously -- a brass band on one side of the stage, a choir on the other and an orchestra in the middle -- each playing their own music and it all interweaving. So I tried in combining sounds and visuals to push to the furthest possibility of a corollary between music and film: which is similar to Ives's combinations of different musical pieces, each retaining its own aesthetic integrity.

>> At the same time, you've always held that sound in film is an aesthetic error. In fact most of your films have been silent.

Film is obviously visual and, from an aesthetic standpoint, I see no need for a film to be accompanied by sound any more than I would expect a painting to be. At first I did make sound films, but I felt sound limited seeing so I gave it up. My films were complex enough and difficult enough to see without any distraction of the ear thinking. But if I felt a film needed sound, I always included it. In the last few years, I've even cut film to music -- take Passage Through: A Ritual (1990) which I edited to a piece by Philip Corner -- but that seems to be coming to an end. I believe now that you can only go so far with music, and then film is not music. It first became apparent to me 15 years ago when I tried to cut exactly to the measures and shifts of a Bach fugue and the result was a mess. Since film clearly isn't music, I am now trying to find out what it is that film can do that's purely film. I really wish to open myself to that difference. I want to make films, that are not even corollaries of music, that wouldn't even make you think of music.

>> So a film that ...

... will not be about anything at all. I wish I could be more precise, but it's hard to describe this in words. It was in a chapel -- the Rothko Chapel in Hocton -- that I had a sense of nothing. What I felt looking at those paintings was completely distinct from a religious experience, something purely organic and sensual but that drew me out to the very limits of my inner being. That's where I think it all begins -- in the sense of the ineffable -- and I want that to come through me into my work. I want that appreciation of nothing being everything.

>> And anything that is referential deflects and limits that to some extent?

Yes. A work which is too referential to things outside the aesthetic ecology, too dependent on something extrinsic, is not art. All this slavish mirroring of the human condition feels like a bird singing in front of mirrors. The less a work of art reflects the world, the more it is being in the world and having its natural life like anything else. Film must be free from all imitations, of which the most dangerous is the imitation of life.

>> So when you speak of an 'aesthetic ecology', you're speaking of the artwork as a self-enclosed object?

A work of art must be something with a world of its own in which everything that exists is interrelated so that it forms a whole, as do Rothko's paintings. And it must convey a sense of itself -- for example, a film must show at all times some sense of it being an on-off projection of stills that flicker in the opening and closing of the shutter. The great films always do this -- even narrative films have ways in which they do it. When I first scratched titles on film -- in Desistfilm (1954) -- I became conscious at once that they directed the eyes to what film is. Paint on film does that too with its irregularities and its rhythms.

on filming the trivia of daily life - which is what a lot of videoblogs (mine included) tend to do :

>> In almost all these films, there is a celebration of the trivia of daily life, a sense that the commonplace is itself sacred.

For me, that's where we really live, that's what we really have. To stop the overwhelming influence of drama in film, I began to concentrate on the glories of an undramatic present, which is literally the tabletop. That is what peripheral vision is most involved with -- the so-called mundane, which people use as a word of contempt when they really mean 'earth'. What they don't see is the potential for glory, for envisionment that's inherent in even doing the dishes, in the soap suds with their multiple rainbows, or in the dull edge of a plate that has to be scrubbed. If they could only see, only get involved with the wonders right under their noses -- more specifically, if they could only see the movie playing on either side of their noses. All they have to do is close their eyes and look.


Len Lye

google search on Len Lye

Len Lye's collection at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery in New Plymouth, New Zealand

Live Cinema Language and Elements
by Mia Makela

Visionary Film - The American Avant Garde 1943 - 2000

Digital Cinema and the History of a Moving Image

What is Digital Cinema by Lev Manovich (view this version online)

Len Lye
Figures of Motion - Len Lye - Selected Writings

(page xi)
Isolated, he turned his punishment [at boarding house during childhood] to advantage by developing a memory game. As described in 'Beginnings' this was a matter of 'sharpening' his senses by systematically reliving the sensations of the day.

(page xi)
"My art teacher [H. Linley Richardson] gave me the great revelation ... by telling me that a person who had his own theory of art, right or wrong, was better than he who was sweating it out with somebody else's theory."

This remark inspired the teenager to hunt for his own conception of art. Eventually he was 'hit' by the idea of composing motion, 'just as musicians compose sound'.

(page xii)
Lye searched New Zealand libraries for scraps of information about modern artists such as the Futurists and the Vorticists. Ezra Pound's book "Gaudier-Brzeska" was an exciting find.

(page xiii)
His earliest work in London reflected a variety of influences: Brancusi, Vorticism, Meyerhold stage designs, Aboriginal art. These influences gradually dropped from sight as he developed a style of his own, less 'hard and definite', more painterly and calligraphic. This style was based on 'doodling'. Like the 'automatic' method of drawing practised by the European Surrealists, Lye's doodling was a process of emptying the conscious mind and freeing the hand to follow its own impulses. This heightened the kinesthetic or 'body' elements in the act of drawing or painting. Doodling became increasingly important to him as a source of images and 'energy signs', and as a method of transferring power from the 'new' brain to the 'old'. 'Old brain' is a term used by biologists to mark off the most 'primitive' part of the brain, which can be traced back to the beginnings of human evolution. Lye preferred to speak of the old brain rather than the unconscious as the source of deep images and intuitions such as those he found in tribal art or in the most mysterious products of his own doodling.

(page xiv)
Particularly relevant to direct film-making were the years he had spent studying tribal designs (including Samoan and Hawaiian tapa patterns) and cave art (prehistoric drawings on the roughly textured walls of caves).

(page xv)
His colour inventions were not confined to direct film but also involved manipulating the three matrices of the new colour-separation film stocks such as Technicolor and Gasparcolor. Many film-makers regarded them as an opportunity for greater realism but Lye 'wasn't interested at all in naturalistic work'. As he explained in 'Voice and Colour' and 'Experiment in Colour', he saw the separation process as a way 'to present objects in grades of abstraction'.


and reading about Len Lye makes me want to go to the SCANZ symposium in a couple of weeks in New Plymouth. it's going to be at the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery where Len Lye's collection is held. my friend Trudy is involved with the organisation of SCANZ so it'd be great to see it. for some reason I thought the project was just for the selected artists - but this is only the 2 week part. there is a symposium at the end which is open to all (not sure why I always missed this!)


Mark Rothko

Rothko's wikipedia page

"Rothko" by Jacob Baal-Teshuva ( book link)

page 37

Mark Rothko and Adolph Gottlieb's manifesto :

"The point at issue, it seems to us, is not an 'explanation' of the paintings, but whether the intrinsic ideas carried within the frames of these pictures have significance. We feel that out pictures demonstrate our aesthetic belief, some of which we therefore list :

1. To us art is an adventure into an unknown world, which can be explored only by those willing to take the risk.

2. This world of the imagination is fancy-free and violently opposed to common sense.

3. It is our function as artists to make the specter see the world our way - not his way.

4. We favor the simple expression of the complex thought . We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivical. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth.

5. It is a widely accepted notion among painters that it does not matter what one paints as long as it is well painted. This is the essence of academicism. There is no such thing as good paintings about nothing. We assert that the subject is crucial and only that subject-matter is valid which is tragic and timeless. That is why we profess spiritual kinship with primitive and archaic art.

Consequently, our work embodies these beliefs, it must insult anyone who is spiritually attuned to interior decoration; pictures for the home; pictures for over the mantel; pictures of the American scene; social pictures; purity in art; prize-winning potboilers; The National Academy, the Whitney Academy, the Corn Belt Academy; buckeyes, tripe, etc."


Will posted a link to Duchamp's manifesto :


aphorisms by Francisco Lopez

I like some of these sayings from the essay "Towards the blur" by Francisco López November 2001 - most are more music related than video :

"Composition or performance are not essential for music creation; listening is. Understanding the consequences of this makes a radical change in our role and our possibilities."

"To think that music is only certain sounds or all sounds is the same mistake: music is not an aural entity -whatever the kind- but an act of will and spirit upon it."

"Today, any sound recorded on an audio CD and marketed as music is socially recognized as such, regardless of the aesthetic opinions on it. In this situation, individual will is only respected through market. Another amazing twist of social self-control."

"The nomad doesn't "go out to see the world". He / she lives it, and "out" has no meaning for him / her."

"The best virtue of the nomad: to not rely upon possessions, neither material nor personal."
-- still working on this one... music, books & dvds are my downfall

"An unnoticed revolution: in the last two decades of the twentieth century, music has been socially liberated from the grip of musicians and composers."

"Purposelessness, that's what we really need."

"I work really hard to create useless things. And I'm proud of it."


Rupert's message titled :
Adrian Miles's Vogme Manifesto and subsequent thoughts on group philosophies

I thought I'd trot this out again. Not to promote it as something to
adopt, just because it's fun/interesting to read. It's been eight
years since he wrote it.

From the few that I know, there's invariably a conservatism, elitism
and othering in artistic manifestos that I dislike. They seem to me
to be more helpful as a promotional tool for groups of artists to gain
media attention than they are in generating a sustained stable of
interesting work. But this one is sweet. Rather than just being the
usual angry list of things you can't do because they're inauthentic or
corrupt, it's almost like a wishlist for what artists might do with
video. You can feel his excitement about what online video might lead

- - -

Adrian Miles' vog manifesto

December 6 2000
1. A vog respects bandwidth
2. a vog is not streaming video (this is not the reinvention of
3. A vog uses performative video and/or audio
4. a vog is personal
5. a vog uses available technology
6. a vog experiments with writerly video and audio
7. a vog lies between writing and the televisual
8. a vog explores the proximate distance of words and moving media
9. a vog is dziga vertov with a mac and a modem

Added on February 2, 2002

10. a vog is a video blog where video in a blog must be more than
video in a blog

- - -

What follows is mostly going to be just waffly thinking aloud - skip
at will. But I started thinking about this today while writing new
stuff - fiction - because I've become aware of how unable I am at the
moment to create anything with a Fourth Wall. Of course, I realise
that the vast majority of scenarios require an invisible camera/
director and a suspension of disbelief to create interesting intimate
moments with fictional characters. But at the moment, I find myself
irritated and bored by the thought of inventing and recreating those
types of situations. I want to embrace the presence and influence of
the camera, and tell intimate stories within that restriction.
Obviously this in itself is not an original concept - but since it
excites me more, I think it makes it easier for me to try to find more
originality and vitality within each moment. It'd be easy to dress it
up as an intellectually or politically superior choice, but really
it's mostly just gut. Videoblogging has broken me in some way :)

So anyway, it's effectively a rule that I am imposing on myself. This
then made me think about Dogme, and about what was in Von Trier's and
Vinterburg's heads when they wrote their Vows. It seems to me that
they were full of excitement about the possibilities of the aesthetic
they'd been playing with, and on cinema's 100th anniversary they were
looking forward to what the next century of cinema held. Even though
I disagree with the largely negative and restrictive way they chose to
articulate it. It became mostly a list of pedantic technical

But I wonder whether, if you do it in a positive way like Adrian
Miles, it might be interesting to set down your hopes and personal
preferences: what it is aesthetically, technically, emotionally that
you're moving towards in whatever you make, and what you're moving
away from. Not so much a manifesto of rules, more a kind of woolly
abstraction of what your artistic 'voice' is right now, a cloud of
ideas, a current philosophy, a statement of passions and interests.
Strong ideas, held lightly.

And rather than a group of like-minded artists signing up to a common
creed, that they each do this separately. The individuals'
differences would be as revealing about the group as the

As I said, though, I actually have a fairly limited knowledge of the
many, many Manifestos and Theories that are regularly published by
groups of artists. So I'd be interested in other people's thoughts
about identities and philosophies of other groups of artists and of
individuals, and how they might relate to the motley crew of Artists
in the Cloud gathering here - and any group efforts we might
collaborate on, like a journal.

As we organize, and make editorial decisions, these things might
become more important. A decision to reject a statement of any common
philosophies is surely as important as a decision to try and identify
and state them.

God, I haven't waffled on like this for ages. Time for bed.


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