Gallery of Digital Sculpture based on Nijinsky Photographs

July 2, 2012 § 2 Comments

French sculptor Christian Comte’s film Nijinsky 1912 premiered at Cannes in 2009.

And he recently posted what seems to be a fragment of Nijinsky’s Rite of Spring to his YouTube site.


Nijinsky illustration by Tom Bachtell — New Yorker, June 2009.

These films are fascinating in that they initially seem to be period recordings of the original Ballets Russes’ productions, complete with constant flicker, light that fades in and out, and optics that fade into black at the edges of the screen.  Our uncanny sense that this astonishing “realness” is too good to be true is confirmed once the dancers start moving.  There is something terribly “wrong” with the actual movement that cannot be explained by the flicker characteristic of early film technology.  As Joan Acocella describes in her 2009 article for the New Yorker magazine, “Fool’s Gold Dept.: The Faun,” these may be real digital works of art, but they do not bring us closer to the original works of art.  Comte has created moving images from still photographs taken of the original productions, sculpting plastic images from still photographs.  The original photographs were intended to evoke the movement which inspired them.  These moving images painstakingly set to the music which inspired [this relationship is complicated than mere inspiration — must unpack] and accompanied the original movement seem to bring the choreography full circle.  And yet they also lead us further from the source, to a new creation with its own rules of authorship and engagement. These rules of authorship and engagement are part of what interest me in my historical analysis of The Rite of Spring over its 100 years of continued collaborative creation.

Here Comte is interviewed at the time of the Cannes festival in April 2009:



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