Minimalist: Breaking the Ice

MINIMALIST: Breaking the Ice

a commentary

December 4, 2008

~an short essay by Adrian Mendizabal~

Brisk at dawn, the air inside the room bled and smelled romanticized apples. Conveniently, i stepped from my bed and looked at my watch with big eyes: 7:30 AM. I lurked like some bird of prey, placid and quiet, surveying my room, looking at it from a different angle. I paused and took a deep breath. I stood still and wondered about what pertinent plans and notions tasked for the day. I always wanted to know before anything else the movement of my time, my clock, so i wrote plans the night before. I suddenly surpassed my chair, and as i thought of my obligations and concerns, i mended my way to open my laptop and fetched the sodden pail. I moved out of my room consternating between less prioritize activities like technological exhortations with Louise and Almira(referring to the act of service to resolve technological difficulties with their computer) and most prioritized ones, like intensively solve problems for my ES 12 exam by 10 AM.

The intricacies of waking up inside the Residence Hall constrained my own self-content of meeting my deadline hour of 8AM. Beyond my doors, where my roommate laid on his back still sleeping like a lap-dog, vanished a peculiar array of boundaries. The lobby, self-made and ethereal, woke up from the dead of the night. Miniature ants crawled beside the conflicted trash bin, wombed by the shadows of bathroom divide. I plunge towards this mysterious cavern like a lark but black. I carried with me my green, ominous pail. When i entered the bathroom, common male figures precariously stumped their foot, either left or right, waiting for their turns.

3 cubicle and nothing more. Blue light bathed the room. The floor tiles, in yellow, more like mordant tangerine, inconspicuous but thriving. I waited in line, sucking my thumb. I hid my face with inflicted mannerisms like the methodical stretch of limbs and bones, or the joltscratch on my head. I waited, impatiently.

As soon as I finished by bathe, i packed my bag and left.

ARS POETICA(assuming I'm an expert writer!)

I wrote the essay above with a thought of creating the notion of my methodical morning ritual inside my dormitory. I have this preconceived idea awhile ago, after my consuming ENG 10 subject, to create my own Ars Poetica about an essay on methods and routine.

To create a piece of writing, I juggled my ideas on Samuel Bickett's beautiful, minimalist play (which i will be tackling on the latter part of this post) and a music video from another minimalist, Steve Reich. I also struggled with some random thoughts of putting together 'auteurs', Theo Angelopoulos, Abbas Kiarostami, and Gus Van Sant into a unifying concept in cinema. These directors are known for their poetic, almost deceiving form of cinematic experience. Angelopoulos created the film Eternity and a Day(1998); Kiarostami, A Taste of Cherry(1997) and The Wind Will Carry Us(1999); Gus Van Sant, Elephant(2003) all, but mingles into the attic of my soul. I saw them as very basic, very fundamental types of films.

The films, particularly the style and technique the 'autuers' applied, surpasses ordinary superficial cinema. Inspired, i wrote an essay to capture a certain part of my everyday life into a different, almost, like the films, to its most rudimentary level of experience. I confronted some of my own personal thoughts about our discussion on Annie Dillard's TRANSFIGURATION in English 10. My teacher taught us about Ars poetica, which is what i am doing, and the WRITING PROCESS. I enjoyed the discussion and thought of making the 'impossible' Ars Poetica with a self-made essay.

I certainly produced the essay from my mind, and also from the stillness of my room. Anyone can be aware that i wrote articles after midnight. it is pleasurable to write without bothering if someone disturbs you, like the petulant Mr B who always barge into my room without any knock or sign. I wanted to shed my experience of running my routine everyday.


This brings us to the main point of the post which sets a proposition that Minimalism is essentially a formal tool for describing and answering primitive dilemmas of man.

The minimalism movement was primarily a with stripping down art to it's primal level. It is opposed to another post-World War II movement, Abstract Expressionism, which delves the subconscious, spontaneous level of creating a artwork.

The style of achieving the minimalist form branched from painting to cinema and theater. It was the bridge from the post-World War II world to the POSTMODERN world we now thrive and exist. The formal system of minimalism is adeptly simple and plasticized. It can be explainedby non-rhetoric icons by presenting three paintings:

Fernando Amorsolo - Winnowing Rice - 1936
source: click here!

Ad Reinhardt (1907-1967)
Painting, 1954-58, 78 x 78 inches, Oil on canvas
source: Click here!

The first image is made by Fernando Amorsolo. it is a narrative painting because it narrates an account of a day or instance in the lives of the women winnowing rice. The scenic background of the painting suggests that this was before world war II. However, on the next painting by the famous abstractionist, Jackson Pollock, the scenic painting is reduced into rugged, almost unrecognizable patterns of paint on a canvas. Further, on the next painting, entitled, Painting, by Ad Reinhardt, pattern developed by Pollock is stripped down to it's most basic element which is a paint.

Painting the canvas with gray color, for Reinhardt, is the most fundamental approach to painting. The act of painting a canvas with a paint is, itself, an actualized idea of Painting, thus the idea of minimalism is implored.

In the language of cinema, minimalist is highly used for drawing out not only the act of filming a film, but also the basic retorts of existence and being. A short film entitle, "Goad" directed by Ariane Anthony and Noe Kidder, explores the very intensive nature of man and also the elemental form of film. You can watch the film below:

The 'auteurs' explored the concept of man. Goad is a term referring to a sort of stick that urges an animal. The goad is used extensively in the movie, in this case, to urge man to come out of sack. Certain elements were repeated, and there were also contrasting descriptions of man. The first one is established as man in melancholy and the other second one as man in exuberance. They performed similar tasks, routines of getting ready for the morning.

Anthony and Kidder shot it on a black and white screen and as a silent movie to implicate the true and elementary form of film, which is the motion of moving pictures. The film "Goad" was inspired by another minimalist theater artist, Samuel Beckett, by his play, Act Without Word II.

Samuel Beckett's original theatrical version is as poetic and powerful as the film version. It also contains similar elements but here, a certain order is achieved. On the span of the stage, shown part of a reel of film, the characters move continuously to the right provoked by the identifiable goad.

It is not only explored in the language of cinema and theater, but Minimalism is also explored in the language of music. Steve Reich is a talented minimalist composer who introduced minimalism in music with a film musician Phil Glass. Steve Reich's strong sense of music can be demonstrated by video of his minimalist song, 8 Lines:

The value of a routine life is human feat, it tells us the significance of the moment we open our days for the fresh day, and plunging into the mysteriousness of the succeeding events the we usually do in everyday of our lives. I explored my own version of routine in my essay, Mobility of Light. Film makers and playwrights alike consider it as fundamental to the existentialist view of human nature. They emphasized the idea, in order to be human is to undergo the same routine of actions, activities, and events in everyday of lives.