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Quote of the Week: Gordon Conducts Vertigo

From a conversation in the latest issue of TATEetc., the magazine of the British museum (tate.org.uk/tateetc), between artist Douglas Gordon and curator David A. Ross. Also participating in the interview was video artist Peter Campus. Below Gordon and Ross are discussing Gordon’s piece “Feature Film” (1999), in which one hears the music to Vertigo, but sees on the screen only an image of a conductor following the score:

DOUGLAS GORDON When Artangel asked me to do a project about fifteen years ago, I was listening a lot to film scores. With such a score you have an image that goes along with it. I thought if I dislocated the score, how much of the original image would still “see”? So I filmed James Conlon conducting Bernard Hermann’s score Hitchcock’s Vertigo with the Orchestra National de Paris. The only thing you is Conlon conducting, and his gestures are, for me, as important as Jimmy Stewart or Kim Novak in the film. It became a game for me to see how people might remember Vertigo. There were those who swore they had seen a frame of Novak in my film, so I told some people that I had inter-cut it with some frames, and others that I hadn’t. So we will keep that mythology alive.

DAVID A ROSS Does the idea of the hidden action behind underscore the whole structure?

DOUGLAS GORDON Well, yes, the two layers of hidden stuff ”“ the first layer being that there really is an orchestra, so he looks like he’s acting, and then there is the film that you know, or at least your memory of it, that is “hidden”beneath the orchestra.

Here’s a screenshot of the Gordon film, courtesy of Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, via the Tate website:

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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