Just some random thoughts post-authenticity discussion in class..rambling, no need to read! In summary: I feel that the term authentic as used to describe an object or an experience is very difficult to use constructively. I guess though that in the sense that it is used in class i.e. Authenticity with a capital A it kind of works OK. For me though, it is something difficult to fake and we shouldn't even be bothered trying to apply it to our work. Authenticity is the result of a process that occurs, not something that can be applied like a technique....
Authenticity So what is it? Interesting discussions and points raised.
I raised in class 2 main points which are really important to me, I elaborate further here:
1/ Think of a physical object like an old table: what makes it an authentic table and why do we prize it as being genuine or authentic?
Having been involved in the creation of faux antique furniture with our boss selling it as highly desirable authentic French antique furniture, I can definitely say that it takes a lot of skill and hard work to pass off the inauthentic as authentic. What you try and do is create a sense of the experience of the life of a table in its surface or its patina. Perhaps thousands of times people have chopped their veggies on its tabletop, dropped their keys on it after work, perhaps it was used as a writing desk for many years, the history of an object is written into its surface. These patterns of use the distressor of faux antiques imitates in order to sell the piece to an audience that appreciates that sense of authenticity albeit just an illusion of it.
How does this relate to filmmaking and art creation in general? All art in a way is etching or marks on the walls of our caves , albeit not so literally anymore. As children there are few greater joys then just scribbling on a piece of paper with a crayon. As a child and then teenager what is more exciting than scribbling your initials where you shouldn't? Getting a stick and scratching your name into a piece of freshly laid pavement concrete! This is what is truly authentic. Everyone has this need to experience the thrill of leaving their unique mark on the world and their time within it, and everyone has different levels of obsessiveness regarding this need.
I would posit that the painter Vincent van Gogh was not attempting in any conscious way to be "authentic" likewise Lars von Trier in Melancholia was not trying to create an illusion of authenticity by using dizzyingly manic hand held camera work in Melancholia.
On van Gogh, I just stumbled on a bunch of quotes on this website http://www.biography.com/people/vincent-van-gogh-9515695#earlylife The sweet irony and innocence of this statement “As for me, I am rather often uneasy in my mind, because I think that my life has not been calm enough; all those bitter disappointments, adversities, changes keep me from developing fully and naturally in my artistic career.”
“I am a fanatic! I feel a power within me…a fire that I may not quench, but must keep ablaze.”
“As my work is, so am I.”
“When one has fire within oneself, one cannot keep bottling [it] up—better to burn than to burst. What is in will out.”
“What is wrought in sorrow lives for all time.”
Unless one is only trying to create the illusion of being an artist, then authenticity can't be a goal in itself. The appearance of real authenticity is only a consequence of an internal creative process i.e. the desire and at times compulsion to inscribe one's mark on the metaphorical walls of space and time. As in the example of a truly ravaged antique French table (as opposed to the faux object, cleverly convincing as it may appear) the more it has the marks and etchings of time and human interaction the more we treasure it. As humans we crave the interactions with the etchings and marks of others.
Imagine 2 musical instruments, violins for instance of equal age and level of craftsmanship: One is in perfect condition, unplayed for 400 years, the other has been passed from virtuoso to virtuoso, from Paganini to Viuextemps and Menuhin. The one that is most prized by people is generally the one that has the history.( http://www.cmuse.org/12-most-expensive-violins/ ) The figurative or literal marks of time render a power to the object that is almost spiritual or magical in its intensity. Interesting to note here that at times our perception of a physical object like an antique table or an amazing narrative accompanying a famous violin, is sometimes found to be untrue i.e. the prized painting that turns out to have actually been a fake. We feel like we need to be on guard against the possibility of being seduced by something that is non-genuine, fake or pretentious. We are so obsessed with authenticity and crave its meaningfulness in our lives. We hate being taken for fools but we can't help but be seduced at times. The marks on the wall of the cave are the marks of the social collective, these marks affirm our togetherness and our shared experience, as well as our uniqueness and individuality. If these marks are made not in a desperate need or compulsion to purely leave one's mark, then what about our society is actually to be trusted? So much of the markings of our time, are trying to convince us as to their authenticity, so that we reach out to purchase and consume them. The apparent authenticity gives us that sense of collectivity and shared narrative that we all desperately crave. By attempting to create authenticity in our work are we not just setting a trap for the unwary? We tell stories to our audience that may be convincing them as to an authenticity of experience, resulting in the attaching of a socially worthwhile and then added commercial value on the product. Is engaging in this process actually OK ???!!!
Are we not all engaged in an infinite social and individual process to leave our mark? "Rage , rage against the dying of the light". We want those initials that we scratched into the pavement all of those decades ago to still be there. We enthusiastically pore over the photographs and the letters of our grandparents and our great-grandparents, our personal, social and family histories, these validate our own sense of identity and our collective group, in a world which deep down we know will ultimately fade. The most artistic and creative are railing against that dying light in obsessive and ever more elaborate ways.....
This blog is my process journal for my Master's course at AFTRS