08/23/2004: "A painting or a song?"
I'm a big fan of the hypothetical question. My favorite being, if you had to choose between your sight, hearing, taste, or the use of your legs...which would you give up first, second, third, and last?
I think I'd answer this way: taste, hearing, legs, and finally sight. Then I was asking myself which was a more powerful medium, visual art or music? After all, in the above example I gave up my hearing rather quickly in the hierarchy. But there are other things necessary about giving up sight not related to artistic purposes, such as being able to see where you're going, so I didn't think that was a fair comparison.
A painting or a song seems like a more straightforward comparison. Being a visual artist, I thought right away that “a picture is worth a thousand words” (or notes) but then driving into work this morning an old Neil Young song came on that had an incredible impact on me. A flood of memories, nostalgia, sadness mixed with happiness…all overwhelmed me within an instant of hearing the opening refrain.
I realized that music has always had that kind of power over me, and although I love to create visual art work, I don’t have visceral experiences with pieces nearly as often as I do with music. I love creating music too and I play several instruments, I’ve just never had much of a talent for it. I wonder if I’ve put all my energy into the wrong medium for all these years.
Ultimately (and I’m sure this will sound like heresy) I think that film has the potential to be *the* most powerful medium. You have the written word (with the creation of a really great script, dialog, etc.) as well as music (both traditional songs as well as musical scores) and a moving visual artwork. Not all films, of course. Not Tommy Boy or Giglee, but films like The Naked Lunch, Blade Runner, Delicatessen, Brazil, City of Lost Children, Le Double Vie de Veronique, and The Cook, the Thief, his Wife and her Lover…
That’s why I’d give it all up to a director. In a heart beat.