Norman Klein is professor at California Institute of the Arts, author of publications such as “Seven Minutes: The Life and Death of the Animated Cartoon” and “The History of Forgetting”. He is currently at work on two books, “The Vatican to Vegas: The History of Special Effects”, and “Missing Los Angeles: A Guide to Ruins, Fragments and Obliterated Structures”. A critic, historian and novelist, Klein also has been working on software narrative forms, one entitled “The Freud-Lissitzky Navigator”, the other “Heat and the Social Imaginary of Los Angeles”.
“Scripted Spaces: The Chase and The Labyrinth” reflects in spatial measures Norman Klein’s well-established methodological approach to media, narrative, perception and memory. It all begins with the chase – the primary expression of the American action film and screwball slapstick. Klein takes one example of director Tex Avery, who reinvented the chase through his cartoon versions. Scripted Spaces opens upon the final catastrophic chase in Avery’s cartoon “Bad Luck Blackie”, reconstructing it as if it were an 18th century peephole Kunstkammer only now enlarged to 16 meters. In this updated version the perceptual-based illusion is replaced by a contemporary assemblage of narratives that include an 18th century social navigator and a Renaissance version of the chase.
The cartoon chase is reintroduced at this monumentalized scale in honor of the overblown entertainment economy associated with the special effects movie the one grand export of Global Los Angeles. Thus like casinos, malls and churches, this is a scripted space for the ‘Electronic Baroque’.
Norman Klein developed the project parameters in link with the invitation of the haus.0 program, thus his concept reflects an institution for resource and inquiry, by introducing both a spatial installation which structures the actual rooms to his notion of the labyrinth as a model for hypertext, and audio, video and print media programs selected for the ongoing haus.0 library ‘plug-ins’.
The second part of his project, “Scripted Spaces: The Chase and The Labyrinth” introduces the results from a haus.0 workshop led by Klein in Künstlerhaus. This workshop culminates in an audio installation entitled “The Global L.A. Pavilion”. Participants selected sound samples from Hollywood films dubbed into German, following initial parameters to develop a shared German perspective on the imaginary of the American West. The selected films were set in L.A. or ‘the West’. Klein considers the workshop as introducing the sounds produced by the filters of a consumer oriented memory from one side of the world to the next. Like the old alliance between European film makers and Hollywood this is an ironic alliance again showing how the global image of L.A. is much more European than the myth suggests.
text: Fareed Armaly
photo: installation view, “Scripted Spaces: The Chase and the Labyrinth”
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