Archive for Jen Luc Godard

Composing the Incompossible – by Katherine Waugh

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 28, 2010 by stereojlg

I’ve just returned from Lisbon, which, with its undulating cobblestone pavements and labyrinthine moorish streets, epitomizes the baroque. I spent some of my time there revisiting the relationship between the writings of Gilles Deleuze and the films of Godard. I should say that just before I left Ireland for Lisbon I had attended the finissage event of artist John Lalor’s Stereo JLG project, in which he spoke, in truly baroque fashion as is his style, about all the creative rhizomes within the work, a literal Borgesian ‘garden of forking paths’ for those present. The actor Robert Wagner emerged ‘conjunctively’ from Lalor’s observations on the redness of tomatoes and led into his thoughts on Baudrillard before an aside on the creative possibilities of red curtains in David Lynch… You had to be there…

John’s work, and way of speaking about it, seemed to me such an intense textual and verbal expression of Godard’s highly idiosyncratic use of montage it set me thinking in Lisbon about why I felt his Stereo JLG project, presented in this latest stage within the pages of The Irish Times, seemed so timely and significant. I even became convinced that the Volcanic ash cloud which had threatened to prevent me from flying, and which had delayed my return, had a part to play in this conceptual matrix.

Re-reading Deleuze on Leibniz (discussing his book The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque) I encountered the lines:

‘The logic of someone’s thought is the whole set of crises through which it passes; it’s more like a volcanic chain than a stable system…a thought’s logic isn’t a stable rational system, it’s like a “wind blowing us on, a series of gusts and jolts. You think you’ve got to port, and then you find yourself thrown back out to sea” as Leibniz put it.’

Deleuze’s writing on the ‘Fold’ in Leibniz in which he describes how thoughts grow from the middle, where everything ‘unfolds’, works so well with his understanding of Godard’s force as a director; Godard’s use of the conjunction ‘and’, an ‘and’ which allows diversity, the destabilization of subjectivity and a radical state of ‘in betweenness’….AND…Lalor’s work aims to capture something of both.

Montage (often described as cinema’s secret weapon) is for Godard essentially rhythmic; film for him being “closer to music”, and yet he also describes montage as being architectural and sculptural. His use of speech, repetition and stillness, whilst drawing on an astonishing variety of sources: painting, music, photography, literary and philosophical texts, give rhythm and movement an extraordinarily complex central role in his films. Godard incorporates language in a unique way into his system of montage, inserting texts and corrections freely within the work contributing towards that Bergsonian sense of past, present and future folding back on each other in a kind of continuous flux and allowing for a profound exploration of memory, both historical and personal. Although Godard said “Texts are death, Images are Life”, his passion for text is relentless and romantic.

Even as I find myself stranded outside Lisbon waiting for my Leibnizian cloud to shift again, Godard’s latest opus Film Socialisme premiered at Cannes, filled with extracts from Heidegger, Beckett, Benjamin, Derrida, and even a woman at a petrol station who refuses to talk to anyone who uses the verb ‘to be’ (echoing explicitly Deleuze’s writing on his work).

Lalor’s response to Godard (specifically his exhibition Voyages en Utopie at the Pompidou centre in 2006) in his text-based art works, takes up this challenge of rhythm mediated through language, pulsing along, breaking off, refusing to contain itself rationally or through punctuation. Deleuze once said in an interview about Godard that he had developed the art of “stammering in language itself”. He went on to say it was easy to be a foreigner in another language, but to be a foreigner in one’s own language is a ‘creative stammering’ which gives Godard his power. I can’t help feeling that there is a resonance here with Lalor–the Irish artist living in Paris for 20 years, caught between two languages and seemingly having developed his own system of conjunctions with which to express himself, and this Godardian ‘stammer’ (or rhizomatic mode of speech in his case), led to Lalor’s fascination with Godard’s work. The context of Lalor’s Stereo JLG project–artistically produced blocks of text, black on red, in a daily newspaper is also important in that the temporality of the newspaper remains unique against the tyranny of digital ‘real time’. ‘Today’s news today’—the print medium’s claim for up-to-dateness appears positively sloth-like in our age of second-by-second twitter updates. The rhythm of Lalor’s text draws us in and creates a frisson against the highly codified temporality of the newspaper, making us think about how the newspaper ‘fixes’ time within a tradition now being dematerialized. Lalor’s interest in Baudrillard and Virilio provide a framework for this strategy; how those theorists highlight the transformation in our experience of time brought about through ‘real time’ news media, especially after the Gulf war (a dematerialization which notoriously led to the misinterpretation of Baudrillard’s statement ‘The Gulf war did not take place’).

‘Real Time’ rejects freedom of interpretation in that it happens too fast, and tends to lead to a passification of the viewer, and printed text  today struggles to maintain itself against its electronic rival. The ‘crisis of truth’  and battle for authorial supremacy one finds in the print media at a time when truth itself is a fractured ideal, finds a correlation in Deleuze’s writing on ‘incompossibility’ in Leibniz; worlds or narratives which diverge yet co-exist, where completely different stories unfold simultaneously, difference and similarity pushing against each other, as in a Godard film, and also within Lalor’s texts, and in the relation they have to their context. We live in a world of “co-existing incommensurables”.

Foucault wrote of aspiring towards an ‘anonymous murmur’, an anonymity of discourse which allowed de-subjectification to take place; he called it a ‘déprise de soi’ (a withdrawal from oneself), a freeing of oneself from memory and habit and identification, and Lalor seems to push his text towards this ‘fourth person singular’, away from any single, regulating, editorializing ‘self’. This again plays in an interesting way against the norms of newspaper reportage, that pull between ‘objectivity’ and the ‘Charlie Bird’ syndrome of faux heroic journalism; Lalor is commenting but we can’t pin him down–there is no central speaking subject, no identifiable place or tense. You had to make an effort to find Lalor’s pieces within the broadsheet and this too was an important part of his strategy, and resembles the cryptic approach of Godard’s montage. It also made one aware of how one peruses a newspaper, what one finds by accident scanning its pages as opposed to the highly manipulated presentation of cyber-information.

Leibniz’s fold was a “dance of particles folding back on themselves” and Lalor’s rhythmic compositions seem to fold and flow like particles, but also like the complex movement in a Godard film, striving to maintain that ‘in betweenness’ which fosters artistic creativity.

A number of years ago Hans Ulrich Obrist discussed with Paul Virilio the problem of the ‘industrialization of perception’, and how one can resist artistically this process, and Godard’s latest film is yet again his line drawn in the battleground. It seems incredibly appropriate that John Lalor’s work takes up this artistic challenge in the month preceding the general release of Film Socialisme.

Despite the frustrations felt by many, that Ash cloud gave me a secret pleasure in its ability to destabilize capitalism so effectively through its unpredictable movement—like the rhythm of great music, or artistic composition, some things remind us of the importance of the ‘incompossible’.

Katherine Waugh is a writer and filmmaker who recently co-directed the documentary ‘The Art of Time’.


Concluding episode 7 of Stereo JLG at Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin, 6 May

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2010 by stereojlg

The Newspaper and The Artist – by John Holten

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 5, 2010 by stereojlg

John Lalor has placed text into the pages of  The Irish Times. A total of six columns, of distinct black text on red, have appeared over the course of a month or so. The columns were anonymous and dealt with cinematic matters of an esoteric bent; many regular readers of The Times were said to be confused, some becoming agitated, upon coming across the artist’s work.

One of my favourite gestures by an artist in the history of 20th century art was carried out by Yves Klein on November 26, 1960. On the shelves of Parisian newstands, slipped in to those beacons of current affairs, les kiosques de presses, appeared Dimanche – Un Journal d’un seul jour. A one day paper. I don’t know what it is about the French capital that sets artists reaching for newspapers to make their swats at the everyday. Libération has had a whole plethora of them redesign its pages down through the years. The art critic Félix Fénéon wrote hundreds of short stories in three lines (republished in a wonderful NYRB edition, edited by Luc Sante) for Le Matin. It was no surprise then to hear that John Lalor, an adopted Parisian, had turned his gaze to a newspaper.

The timing of this intervention seems propitious. Just as the quest to resurrect the avant-garde gesture asserts itself once again in a digital age, print newspapers are fumbling around, scratching their heads as to how to go on surviving in the age of the Internet. The Murdoch Machine seems to be barking about charging users every week these days. The Irish Times then, the newspaper of record for a country recently shaken to its core in matters economic, religious, social and European (with the referendum on the Lisbon Treaty), seems to be a challenging locus for a decidedly French interlude amongst its sombre columns.

Lalor after all is concerned here with Jean-Luc Godard. We see straightaway Jean Seberg strolling along the Champs-Élysées, crying out ‘New York Herald Tribune, New York Herald Tribune.’ Godard is many things to many people and in a way his work with cinema, that most avant-garde of 20th century new media, offers the perfect blueprint for renovation, reappraisal and reinvention in a medium that finds itself seeking fresh definitions. The entire text, delivered in Lalor’s increasingly characteristic – can one really say recognisable? – rolling semantics would seem to be a sort of academic quest for who said what about who, sparked by a visit to the Beaubourg’s Voyage(s) en Utopie overview of the French-Swiss director’s work. A mystery saga that hooked the readers of The Irish Times for a number of weeks, the anticipation of tracing a thin line of investigation in the history of modern cinema barely controllable.

I like to view Steoro JLG as a reminder to us that the realm of the everyday is open for the artistic, avant-garde (mainland European) gesture, that the facets of advertising and marketing can be used to bring art to new audiences or, while we’re at it, that empty buildings can house non-profit ‘businesses’, or redundant institutions aren’t the only givers of education and tradition. Such facts are exactly what The Irish Times is full of these days.

John Holten is a poet and novelist living in Berlin.

Context: Stereo JLG / the editing of the trailer

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , on May 3, 2010 by stereojlg

The artwork currently unfolding in the pages of the Irish Times is the latest iteration of an artwork which Paris-based artist John Lalor created 4 years ago at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, in response to a major exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, Voyage(s) en Utopie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1946-2006, A la recherche d’un théorème perdu, celebrating legendary Franco-Swiss filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard. 

Installation photos: John Lalor, Red Marker = Video, Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, 2006:

Photos Barbara Laborde 2006

John Lalor’s Statement: stereo jlg/the editing of the trailer

Cross hatching and depth of field

So the use of the red alcohol marker being a type of metaphor for video regarding its usage, its history, its very invention, leading eventually to its relationship to cinema. How it would be regarded as a type of impertinent art form, in some way democratic perhaps like bleaching agent with its arrival into every home in the latter part of the 20th century. Then video’s rapidity, its eventual exclusion or omission of laboratory developement. Compared to red marker and its position in relation to pencil/crayon or classical rendering ie. the instant drying of red marker. Imagine drawing classical landscapes with a red marker with its constant emphasis on cross hatching. Would the red marker be compared in some way as comics to literature.


The text on Godard stereo jlg/the editing of the trailer will be rendered in red marker instead of red paint, rendered in 7 columns on three walls taking the aspect of a wall painting, thus addressing the space in its entirety in a three dimensional way. In this case only one thousand words will be rendered giving a glimpse of the text. The corrective editing furnished by the word processor recognises the name Godard but not that of Ken Loach, resulting with a capital letter for the first and not for the latter. This logic will follow through on the wall painting but not on the printed text on paper, the entire text will be found according to the wall plan of the room printed on paper also in 7 columns.


An actor will be asked at a later stage to talk the text out, walking from room to room rather like Belmondo in à bout de souffle, smoking a cigarette, just talking out the text which he will evidently have learned. The event will also be filmed, a camera tracking the actor from behind, the event will be treated as a suprise performance rather than a problem of re-presentation in a classical way. The actor will also be given the choice of learning either the entire text or just his favourite parts once again emphasizing the idea of editing.


In conclusion the text stereo jlg/the editing of the trailer will also make its way into journalism being printed in 7 red columns again and then simply scattered throughout the newspaper, wherever it lands ie. through tragic or joyful headlines, through the sports pages, deaths wherever it lands literally. Rather like the  tv series Twin Peaks existing through, news headlines, the various commercial breaks, advertising, etc.

john lalor 2010

“Voyage(s) en Utopie” – a major exhibition designed by Godard – was the result and  residue of an initial project “Collage(s) de France”, conceived by the filmmaker with the former director of cultural development at the Pompidou, Dominique Païni. This exhibition was abandoned in 2006 after much public and media controversy.  The final exhibition carried the traces of the initial project – an exhibition about a failed exhibition – as attested by the many maquettes, the hand-written sign bearing the name of the unfinished project crossed out forcefully in marker and the official museum disclaimer at the entrance of the exhibition justifying the abandonment of the project for artistic, technical and financial reasons.

The end result was an experimental exhibition at the crossroads of cinema, theory and the visual arts – a plethora of objects, symbols, signs, found texts, films – a veritable construction site presented and laid out according to the various methodologies of collage, montage and juxtaposition constituting a highly personal vision and theory of cinema – a gigantic puzzle.  Museum audiences, usually presented with paths and pre-digested accounts, had to rely on nothing but their intuition to guide them.

Installation Photos: Voyage(s) en Utopie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1946-2006, A la recherche d’un théorème perdu, Centre Pompidou, 2006

Lalor’s text grew out of his encounter with and response to Godard’s exhibition. It flows along, unpunctuated, personal and authentic – walking in his mind, sketching things out, a flâneur amidst his own thoughts and ideas.

The latest version of the artwork ‘Stereo JLG’ – currently published in the Irish Times – constitutes an exploration of  ‘Journalism’ –one of the 4 modalities the artwork investigates, as outlined in Lalor’s statement above.

Christina Kennedy on ‘Stereo JLG / the editing of the trailer’

Posted in Art with tags , , , , , , on April 23, 2010 by stereojlg

The next episode of Stereo JLG / the editing of the trailer will appear in the 24th April issue of the Irish Times.

Introducing Stereo JLG/ the editing of the trailer

Posted in Art with tags , , , , , , , , on April 7, 2010 by stereojlg

Stereo JLG / the editing of the trailer is a text- based artwork by Irish artist John Lalor, which is currently emerging within the pages of the Irish Times.  Characterised by black text on a red ground, the work is arranged in 7 episodes.  The pilot and the first episode appeared among the World News pages on 8th March, on the Bulletin page on 13th, another on the 27th March, with forthcoming episodes scheduled for the 10th and 24th April issues. The concluding episode will coincide with an event at the Oonagh Young Gallery, Dublin on 6th May.

This is the latest iteration of a piece which the artist created 4 years ago, in response to a major exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, “Voyage(s) en Utopie, Jean-Luc Godard, 1946-2006. A la recherche d’un théorème perdu”, celebrating legendary Franco-Swiss filmmaker Jean- Luc Godard, where Godard in true fashion subverted the museum’s curatorial machine to render an event which itself defied any pre-digestion for its audience.  Lalor’s text grew out of that encounter, and flows along, unpunctuated, personal and authentic,  a spinning wheel of images and ideas.

Working within the organisational system of the Irish Times,  its language, format, house style – the siting of each episode depends on the sub-editor’s layout decisions. Modest in scale, it fits in and presents as a piece that can change itself and items around it. It is quietly radical. It re-shapes the landscape of the newspaper as it passes through.

John Lalor attended Limerick School of Art, Ireland. He lives and works in Paris since 1988 and has exhibited widely in both countries, most recently in Pallas Contemporary Projects, Dublin; Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris; Temple Bar Gallery, Dublin; and
 Glassbox, Paris, along with film-screenings
at SUB:URBAN, Rotterdam, La Fémis cinema in the context of ‘Pointligneplan’, Paris, Centre international d’art & du paysage, île de Vassivière; and Temporarycontemporary, London. He was an
active member and director of Glassbox, a pioneering artists-run space from 2004-07 in Paris.  John Lalor is currently working on the publication of a collection of his writings in English and French, entitled ‘Found in translation’, as well as as film project entitled ‘Un incident urbain’ (An urban incident) around French architect Dominique Perrault’s BNF building (the French National Library) and Marin Karmitz’ nearby MK2 independent cinema, featuring actor Jean-François Stévenin and André S. Labarthe (actor, critic, film producer and director).

John Lalor and  C/K Projects

Next episode will appear tomorrow in The Irish Times.