Elements of AV Language 2

Watching a movie is uniquely artistic in the way it is experienced: with sound and image. A movie is the experience of watching and listening, and the emotions the spectators experience are cued to them through the audiovisual choices the producers made. In Y Tu Mama Tambien  many of the audiovisual clues came from the juxtaposition between the dialogue and the scene, or the scene showing two point of action at the same time. And the voiceover calls attention to them both.

In  a scene where Luisa, Tenoche, and Julio are in the car together, engaged in a vulgar but amusing conversation about techniques to use in bed, they drive by a scene of police brutality against a poor man on the side of the road. Framed by the car window, the shot gives an element of separation between the upper-class main characters and the conditions of the places they’re driving through. Another example of this juxtaposition is a scene at the beginning of the movie, where Julio and Tenoche are laughing about passing gas while a migrant worker’s dead body is being picked up on the side of the road.  There is a play of duality, an attention to irony, and a call to class distinction.

Many of these scenes which highlight the duality, after the introductions of the second point of action, cut to it. They explain the background of the man on the side of the road using an extradiagetic voice–the voiceover.  These cuts to the other world, or the internal world of a character, further bring attention to irony, duality, suffering, and injustice.  

The visual juxtapositions, the juxtapositions between the audio and visual, and the voice over all serve to heighten the emotion and refine the messages of the movie. They are keen uses of audiovisual language.

Elements of AV language 1: Theatre (September 17-19 )

This week we began a three-week series of readings and discussions about the audiovisual languages of theatre, film, and performance art.  The last two weeks we discussed basic vocabulary of the three media, jointly and separately (acting, performance, stage, camera work, sound, and so on), and now we begin to work with larger building blocks.  What characterizes the audiovisual language of theatre, specifically?  We established the importance of acting, set and costume design, and movement/proxemics.  We discussed the importance of separating the written text (dramatic literature) from the staged performance (spectacular dimension, theatre, hecho teatral), being fully aware that these two dimensions of theatrical semiotics cannot be understood properly unless they are seen interactively.  We analyzed Lope de Vega’s New Art of Writing Plays, the Comedia manifesto in which the playwright established his debt to Ancient theatre, and his thorough knowledge of current theatrical practices: units of space, time, and rhyme; the three acts; the interludes or entremeses; the distribution of the dramatic conflict; and the casos de honra and the difficulty of staging uxoricide.

Wednesday we are going to discuss Augusto Boal’s Forum Theatre and Invisible Theatre.  These two concepts are key to understanding the relationship between the audiovisual language of theatre and its development in LatinoAmerica.  Without understanding this, we cannot fully grasp Latinx Performance Art.  Bring your questions, lacuna, comments, epiphanies, and so on to the table in class during our discussion, and here thereafter.

This is the first mandatory post.  It is due on Saturday September 22 at 5PM at the latest, although you can blog at whatever time you want before that.

Performance and Theatre. Film (September 10-12)

This week we began the comparative discussion of Performance (as a general, overarching concept that will sustain our interpretation of the three artistic media we are studying this semester), Theatre, and Film.  We considered Diana Taylor’s concept of “Spect-Actors” drawn from Augusto Boal’s theory of the teatro del oprimido (theatre of the oppressed),  as well as “Artivists (Art-Activists),” and Adam Versényi’s question “What Latin American Theatre?”  We talked about escrache and H.I.J.O.S., and how social dramas inform performance in Latin America not merely as dramatic literature, but as an artistic form and plateau of individual and social agency.

If you wrote any comments, notes, or questions about these matters, please blog them here for further discussion.

Origins of theatre, film, and performance art (September 3)

On Wednesday, September 3 we discussed the origins of theatre, film, and performance art as we understood them to have happened separately.  Chronologically first, theatre originated in Antiquity, especially Ancient Greece, and then in  the sixteenth- seventeenth-centuries in the Hispanic world with the Spanish Comedia (the first professional theatre of Spain, which Margaret Wilson’s reading helped us see better in a world of ‘controversy’).  Second, film in the nineteenth century as a result of developments of imaging machines, which the reading by Amy Villarejo helped us understand, and we will return to throughout the semester.  Finally, we tapped on the matter of the origins of Performance Art, led by Diana Taylor’s  reading “Performance Histories.”  We talked about the installation Mujeres en la plaza by Patricia Ariza (Bogotá, 2009), which Taylor interprets as an intertext between women and violence in Colombia.

Patricia Ariza.
Hemispheric Institute 7th Encuentro: Staging Citizenship, Cultural Rights in the Americas (Bogot‡á, Colombia, August 2009)

If you have any comments to this piece, or have any doubts, questions, or concerns about anything we discussed in class on this day, please blog away.

Introduction to the seminar (August 29)

On Wednesday August 29 we gathered for the first time and discussed preliminary definitions of our main terms–Theatre, Film, and Performance Art.  We talked a bit about our interest in these media and their relationship to various definitions and understanding of the terms ‘Hispanic,’ ‘Latino American,’ and ‘Latinx,’ among others.

We discussed a clip from Blood Sign, an installation by Ana Mendieta, and its inscription of iconography, gender, materials, and a deconstructed sense of identity.  If you would like to comment on the terms we discussed, or Mendieta’s installation, please respond to this prompter.


NOTE: I ask that you inscribe your posts on the particular string of discussion we are going to establish, according to the weeks of the semester.  If you have a thread DIFFERENT from what we are discussing, you can start a different thread; however, if your post relates to what you have read and we have discussed in class, please choose the respective week/thread, so we can keep these as a sort of virtual conversation.  I am going to upload a prompter like this every week, so you can add your blogpost to the thread.  Let me know if you have any questions or concerns about it.