ANZAC Georgetown University
Pentagon, Hall of Heros Speech
The Big Picture
St Paul's Opening Address
|Gary Schofield - The Big Picture|
Distinguished guests I am honoured to be here.
The Ambassador has asked for the Big Picture of the Arts and Film and so I will start thirty thousand years ago deep in a cave in Lasceau France. An Artist finished his paintings of now extinct animals and signed his work with technology that would become fashionable in the advertising industry of the 1980s. He used airbrush.
He created a negative image of his hand by blowing paint from his mouth.
Generations pass empires rise and fall new technologies develop the laser, the computer, electronics but the essence of art remains the same. The use of a medium for expression, for communication.
Just look at the Venus of Willendorf 20,000 years old , the Gold Mask of Tutankhamen, or the exquisite and extraordinary carvings of the New Zealand Maori using stone tools. Consider too the Maori facial Carving using stone tools. All human beings from every
culture throughout history are sophisticated and resourceful and find a way to express this regardless of their technology.
Yellow ochre from Clay, tyranian purple from crushed snails form just as powerful an ancient image as today’s industrial chemicals. Reds came from the crushed bodies of insects called Kermes from which we get the word crimson. In the C16 Renaissance painters Da Vinci and Michelangelo used egg white, egg tempera. Art will always transcend the medium and the technology.
So stone tools gave way to Bronze and a significant breakthrough was made: The ability to cast as well as carve a sculpture . The Artist could model is wax and cast in metal. She or he did not have to only carve.
It was called the lost wax bronze process. …Tape… “ New Dimensions”
Centuries passed and not much happened technologically. The life for the average person hardly changed at all. Today we are used to developments weekly but in history we blundered along painfully slowly. We like to look back and consider it all a great success but in reality the steam engine, the core of the industrial revolution, was invented over two thousand years ago by a Greek named Hero who used it to open the gates of the Athenian temple during the time of Ptolemy. We could have been going to the stars by now...if we were not so intent on destroying every past human civilization. .. Audio harpsichord…
In music technological development did make a difference but only changed the style
It is not a coincidence that playing a Harpsichord, where strings are mechanically plucked and there is no sustain, Bach would have produced crisp contrapuntal music with an emphasis on melody. Sometimes even two melodies at the same time! Then came the invention of the piano the Piano Forte the soft loud… Audio piano…which allowed Beethoven new frontiers of expression.
Here is an interesting thought ..we may never have had Bing Crosby if the microphone had not been invented. How could we hear a crooner in the C17? The human voice always had to project in an operatic style to be heard. Technology has shaped even how we hear the Human voice.
Next came the Industrial revolution. Great feats of construction were possible an Artist
could even sculpt using explosives. Sculptures were stories high and culminated in the showcase of the British Empire itself, the Crystal Palace .
Then came a technology that shook the very foundation of the Arts : Photography The visual arts were never the same again after the 1840.s
Artists were terrified of being replaced. Impressionism was born as a reaction against Photography. Impressionism : an image of reality but not one you could get with a camera. Daubs of light, color, sensation, impression. Again it is not a coincidence Debussy, Ravel the impressionists in music appeared at the same time. Emphasis on light shade, chords, color an impression of melody or Philosophy or even Psychology. Freud said “Life is Sensation.”
Let me show you graphically a wonderful example of the birth of a technology reflected in Art it is by Marcel Duchamp and is called Nude Descending a Staircase. ..Roll tape …Can you see what new Technology this work is depicting . You will see it when I say it….
Film Making and the Movie camera. Today in the industrialized western world art can be a reaction against the standardization and mechanization of life and ironically in a Century with more technology than ever before we find Minimalism . The anonymous, impersonal aspect of the machine Ronald Bladen 1967.
Today we are so sure that technology will change everything but the Internet is like walking into a library where all the pages have been torn from the books and are lying on the floor. It is all there but what is worse, pages from the tabloids are scattered amongst them and you can not tell which is which.
Before this Century if you pushed an object it moved if you dropped an object it fell . The Universe was seen though Newtonian Physics but Einstein discovered that the Universe is very much stranger than that. Energy and matter are linked and interchangeable . That the very presence of matter warps the space/ time continuum and creates gravity. That forces we consider so separate and distinct can be the same Magnetism is Electricity and electricity is part of the Nuclear week force. Ironically it is called the Nuclear week force even though it gives us radiation, isotopes, and leads us to a massive Nuclear explosion… from which we also get an Electro-Magnetic Pulse . This Century we built Machines that can accelerate matter to speeds approaching the speed of light and smash it into antimatter. For a fraction of a second on planet earth Human Beings recreated conditions approaching the temperature of the Big Bang and discovered, under those conditions, the Nuclear week force is the nuclear strong force .The force that holds matter, the very Quark, into existence.
This century we have delved so deeply to search for the underling principal that will combine everything with everything else. One beautiful, profound yet simple idea that will explain and describe the Universe. Scientists call it the Unified Field Theory.. and this is exactly what we are doing in the Arts… and we call it the Cinema .
We have taken the visual Image, music, literature, and combined them in to one expression. It is not the ultimate expression but it could be. It has been shackled by a lack of expectation.
I have never met anyone walking out of a beautiful Renoir exhibit or Beethoven’s 9th to say “That was really entertaining. “ Perhaps moving, profound, shocking, touched by something of the Artist . Throughout History Artists, dead for a thousand years, communicate directly to us what is to be human. To merely seek entertainment is to play cards waiting for the guillotine instead of exploring and expressing this fragile existence. That communication is the Arts. Film is also a blank canvas. No matter how much white I add to my white canvas I still can not show light . To show light I must add darkness.
In the same way now matter how many spectacular explosions push the edge of safety and, even though hardly any of the crew has been killed, the destruction sequence follows the chase. Suddenly silence… It is the whisper that will get your attention..
In the same way that every individual brings a life and perspective to the Arts so does each country and New Zealand has a unique perspective in its film industry and its cultural story.
We are the sum of our experiences. Our European settlement was mainly British Army, a few whalers and a surprisingly small number of escaped convicts from Australia. Men and women had to make the best of things in remarkable isolation Britain the home nation was on the other side of the planet. We get the name Antipodes from that. A “do it yourself “ agricultural community can not wait for the help or technology from Europe. A country much like the US that could forge its own identity throw off the Old World thinking. In 1893 New Zealand was the first Country in the World to give Women the Vote. In Jane Campion’s emotive film the Piano we see a Women literally muted by the old Patriarchal nature of Society. The film employs symbols and analogy. The characters powerful emotional expression and strength. … Here is a segment from the piano together with personal views from New Zealander Sam Neil… Tape
The settlers found a rich tradition in the Native Maori people. Colonialism in New Zealand was not the same as in nearly every collision between every county in History steeped in atrocity and extermination. It led , no matter how imperfectly , to a partnership.. It was good fortune, perhaps the unique rapport between the races, or maybe it was because the war was not overwhelmingly decisive and anybody seeing a Haka at the beginning of a rugby match may reason why. This encounter is filled with irony the one city sacked by Maori was Kororareka , Russell, the European Capital and it was sacked because the Europeans left. They moved the capital to Auckland disadvantaging the local tribes.
The presence of the European did grievously upset the balance of power between the tribes because the northern Ngapuhi received the gun from trade. .Territoriality and war were based on a different principal than the Napolionic style of the time . Relations were constantly asserted and interlaced with personal power and prestige called Mana infringement necessitated Utu ; revenge. Insightfully Utu can also be translated as compensation.. Geoff Murphy’s film Utu dramatizes these sophisticated New Zealand relationships. Maori/Maori, Maori/ Pakiha Geoff Murphy, now a producer in the American industry was the lighting technician and Saxophone player for a NZ rock group call Blerta. New Zealand’s do it yourself attitude can help. The drummer of the band Bruno Lawrence plays the character who by his own foolishness looses his wife and his home and ironically he too seeks Utu. The character of Te Wheke played by Anzac Wallace is based loosely on the warrior Te Kooti…Tape.. Utu
In 1915 Gallipoli. Shook the very foundation of New Zealand society. Europe was destroying itself. It was the War to end all wars. Britain was in trouble New Zealand must help . Incidentally New Zealand is also one of the only countries to fight alongside the United States in every major conflict this Century. My grandfather and his compatriots , young men from a young country, came ashore at Anzac cove into a blizzard of lead and sheets of machine gun fire. Baked by the merciless Turkish sun for months the Anzacs fought for very inch of the rocky arid ground. The air was buzzing with flies and the incessant cries of combat ..I remember an old man with a far away look in his eye who had seen his comrades fall like flotsam on the water trying to tell me, his age at the time what it was like…Tape.. “ Bad Blood”
Physical casualties alone for New Zealanders at the Dardanelles were 87%.
Grief wounded so deeply the national psyche it solidified what we are. Wary of pretension, with a sense of fair play, and a social consciousness I have not found anywhere else. In some ways we are more British than the British , we have a stiff upper lip to the point of not communicating at all . We don’t complain and we wont tolerate anyone stepping out of line. In literature Katherine Mansfield, Janet Frame , John Mulgan have captured the subtleties of these generalizations and Roger Donaldson brings them to life in Smash Palace. Tape “Smash Palace”
…but an important point in the movie Smash Palace was that the bloke who was the cop was also his best friend , who was also the one having the affair with his wife. The movie is also about the turmoil of a complicated European woman’s relationship to an insular and driven NZ man. This relationship is intertwined with the breaking of a powerful New Zealand bond . The bond between a man and his best friend.
Earlier Roger Donaldson made Sleeping Dogs and introduced the world to New Zealander actor Sam Neil.. …Tape…Sleeping Dogs
All those guns in the movie were made of wood. Roger was restricted in weapons explosives and special effects but we are still drawn just as deeply into Smith’s Country.
Like words on a page, paintings in a gallery or a guitar solo, a film can never be reduced to just one meaning.
Roger Donaldson would go on to bridge the gap between human expression and business to make:
Mutiny on the Bounty 1984 with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins,
Nutcase 1986 the plot to blow up New Zealand’s volcanoes,
No Way Out in 1987 was set in Washington, D.C. where Kevin Costner played a Naval Commander, a hero, brought to the Pentagon to work at high level. He is brought into an investigation to find a mystery Russian agent having an affair with the Secretary of Defense’s mistress. What is worse the Secretary of Defense has killed her and soon Costner realizes the person he is looking for is himself. Roger Donaldson who also directs this movie, builds the drama into an intensity of intrigue and suspense.
Interestingly the only piece of evidence Kostner has is the record of a gift to the dead woman not cleared by official protocol …Tape…No Way Out.
The irony is that my connection is with the actual secretary of Defense and his official and Diplomatic gifts to World leaders. Secretary Perry , who is very different to Gene Hackmans’s character is a visionary man and during his term he was intent on the United States military role being Proactive. To seek out with preventive defense crises before they happen and to strengthen Military alliances with countless, inexhaustible missions. The Secretary and now the current Secretary used my work of the Pentagon Full Honors Ceremony as a symbol of that alliance as nations have done throughout history.
My painting as well is steeped in symbol and history and if there is time or interest latter I would be happy to explain it.
Roger Donaldson made Dante’s Peak this year. It is a spectacular movie. He combines the intensity of .suspense with his own rich personal history… Interestingly Auckland New Zealand is built on many dormant volcanoes…Tape…Dante’s Peak
Roger is now in New Zealand working on his next project . It will be Everest and will be based on the recent tragic loss of eleven climbers on the mountain several from New Zealand.
In the 1980s I was adamant that New Zealand was a film makers paradise. Where else can you find the sparkling beaches, primeval forests and snowcapped mountains and shoot them all in the same day. Where else the local expertise from a people that do not like to make to big a fuss about themselves . Sure enough in case you didn’t know Xena and Hercules are filmed in New Zealand. Years ago I needed someone with knowledge of the classics for a production I was making and I found Aileen Kemp . Aileen Kemp now designs the sets for Zena and Hercules and has taken Greek styles and mixed them with South Pacific and Polynesian ideas. What a style you get when you mix New Zealand back into the old world….Tape.. Hercules, Xena
No one should underestimate the importance of the outdoors in New Zealand life. In a country where 90% of the population live on the coast , there is the sailing, tramping , climbing, netball, flying, cricket rugby and such a temperate climate. Although be warned temperatures inside the house may match temperatures outside.
From the cradle New Zealanders learn about life through the parables of the game and philosophy of Rugby. Rugby not only was the inspiration for your American football it also inspires our small country in the values of being a team player.
In my rugby days I was the smallest player and captain of a team called the Barbarians.
The Romans coined the name because to them any non Roman just said “Bar Bar” we called ourselves Barbarians to frighten the other team. My position was Hooker, nothing to do with the Civil War’s Fighting Joe Hooker from whom we get the term for ladies of the night.
The hooker hooked the ball from the melee back to the running stars of the play, really the cavalry. The idea is that the hooker has two massive props on either side of him facing down the strongest the enemy can muster. Between the Hooker and the props push the locks behind them the No. 8 and you can guess who end up at the bottom of the pile when the scrum collapses… the Hooker . but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Can you imagine what would happen if the New Zealanders passion for equality and fairness were to collide with their passion for Rugby. Well it happened. It was in the 1980s and over the issue of playing ruby with the then apartheid South Africa….
(Audio Visual run tape ...)
Although this film maker Merata Mita sees this as a deep seated racial confrontation perhaps the more remarkable thing was the lack of bloodshed rather than us actually having an issue to deal with. As the country lined up on each side of this issue the lines became more blurred . It is an ancient story that in politics as an intensity creates an extreme group ready to use force, violence, or intimidation miraculously there will a appear another group from the opposite spectrum.. Suddenly the country saw the unthinkable and both sides backed away.
Manipulation by sound . If we were to take my talk today and play it back accompanied by a melancholy, sad, melody no matter how powerfully how seriously I spoke my words would sound the tragedy of the film industry. We had tried,… International competition was immense, we struggled but we managed to get some of our film through this curtain.. It sounds like we failed. The same words to a trumpet fanfare…Audio.. Fanfare for the Common Man… will herald optimism and progression. International competition was immense, we struggled but we managed to get some of our film through this curtain.. it sound progressive optimistic a Triumph! and if everything I said was set to circus music I would sound like a clown. We are wonderfully manipulated by television and the film industry. Music is so subtle in Movies because, if used well, we are not even aware it is there. Imagine the News with Peter Jennings and every story about an enemy of the United States foreign policy is set to ominous cellos and every ally a bright shining symphony, a revolutionary or a program you don’t like maybe Jimmy Hendrix. Unthinkable? This is exactly what we do in the Film Industry and we have gone further still. We have created a new art form altogether called Editing.
The order and the way in which we disclose images and sound is an art form and three dimensional chess. It gives the rhythm and heartbeat.. It works through the skill of the editor and we understand it because we Blink. We blink and a new image can appear ,it is a cut. In its short history it has evolved and television has channeled it. People are often distracted when watching television and so it has been filled with promos and inserts constantly telling you what will happen next ..to keep the audience. this is called telegraphing and it has been reflected back into films. Grandma is going to be a liability, notes are left , repeated clues. Unfortunately this can often leave no work for the audience and the audience becomes merely a consumer. All countries film industries must be wary of so much. Telling you these thing is like the first time I was told about the white circle flash in the corner of screen to tell the projectionist when to change reels. You, like me, now will be cursed with seeing it for the rest of your life.
With the British return of Hong Kong to China over the last few years New Zealand has received a increased population of Chinese immigration. This also should be an interesting artistic evolution in the development of the Kiwi. The Chinese have known for centuries that everything is connected to everything else. They do not see the world in the same categories or boxes as we in the west .It is obvious that threads run through everything. There is Yin and Yang . Each making up a part of the Whole Art is not just expression it requires perception observation even analysis qualities we normally associate with the Sciences and any Nobel peace prize winner in the sciences must have creativity.
The Chinese also have an interesting perspective they skip all these categories and declare a notable person “a living work of Art”.
We all grew up watching aspects of the American way of life ways of speaking but you did not get to hear us. For the most part you missed experimental film makers like Len Lye or even Haywood’s Riwi Maniapoto’s Last Stand . We will fight you Ake Ake Ake forever and ever and ever. Many film makers: Vincent Ward, Ian Mune, Michael Firth. here is a short montage…………Tape.. Early NZ, Len Lye, Lew Prime, Ian Mune, The Quiet Earth, Vigil, Bread and Roses, Angel at My Table, Once Were Warriors, etc.…
Today there are filmmakers like Peter Jackson and Lee Tamahori who seek and find box office success. In October 1994 in New Zealand Once Were Warriors passed the record set by Steven Speilberg’s dinosaur epic Jurassic Park and was eclipsed only by Forrest Gump a film which actually I found myself in. For three days I watched Robert Zemmekis direct this film and, also as a Senator I watched him direct in Contact. As Frank Kapra said there are no bad actors only directors.
If you watch the credits on the film Contact you will find the New Zealand special effects team . Peter Jackson with his success with Heavenly Creatures and the Frighteners in his refusal to work in Hollywood and forced the Film technology of New Zealand onto the world stage. …..Tape Heavenly Creatures.
The film industry is a business and business decisions are sensible they have to be so its sensible to do something that has proven to work. So a sensible business will make the same film over and over again. Its sensible to poll the audience for the most popular ending. But life is seldom sensible and its ending is always profound and unexpected and what people want most of the time is not what they want all the time.
I hope today I have introduced you to something more than just the techniques of the artist … a way of looking from our perspective at the world and way of understanding. It is not an academic understanding but is something that is there within all of us and the only bounds that are set are those that we set ourselves.