Media artist Matthew Barney has a lot of interesting things going for him. After a childhood spent doing normal things in boring middle America, Barney attended Yale University, did some modeling, had some kids with partner Bjork and created one of the most famous visual art pieces on film, the five-part ‘Cremaster Series.’
Barney’s less publicized series, ‘The Drawing Restraint Series,’ delved into an experimental approach to drawings. With an athletic background, Barney’s artwork has deep undertones of athleticism. After becoming fascinated with the hypertrophy and resistance training, Barney wished to apply such methods to his artwork.
In ‘The Drawing Restraint Series,’ Barney places physical restraints on himself while he makes drawings. Such restraints include a complicated system of pulleys and wires which restrict his physical ability to draw. In another constraint, he jumps on a trampoline-type contraption and makes a self-portrait on the ceiling.
This month, a narrative version of the Drawing Restraint Series, a film entitled ‘Drawing Restraint 9’ will be released in 18 cities worldwide, including Irvine at the Edwards University Theater. ‘Drawing Restraint 9’ follows two newlyweds, played by Barney and Bjork, who also composed the score, on a Japanese fishing boat filled with petroleum jelly headed for Antarctica. The film runs at least two-and-a-half hours and only has one scene with dialogue.
I became intrigued by Barney’s use of restraints in creating his art. I felt compelled to adapt his approach to drawing to critiquing films. Thus, I have created my own restraint series, ‘Reviewing Restraint 1-4.’ Because I can’t put restraints on myself and watch an entire film, let alone several, I decided to review the trailers for upcoming films on the http://www.apple.com. The following four attempts are reviews of four films picked randomly while under different physical and emotional restraints. Note: I actually did all these things.
‘Reviewing Restraint 1’: Subject places laptop next to wall as assistant sets up undisclosed trailer. Behind the laptop a baseball bat is laid out flat. Subject performs handstand against wall while viewing trailer. Once the trailer finishes, subject releases handstand, stands up and places forehead on vertically placed baseball bat. Subject then spins around the baseball bat 15 times before sitting back down and reviewing trailer.
Result: Superman upside-down makes absolutely no sense except for the very last scene which is actually an upside-down shot. All I know is that Kevin Spacey seems like a lame Lex Luthor, even as blood rushes to my head and that Superman is played by someone I’ve never heard of. I think there was a scene in an airplane, which means I probably won’t see the movie. But then again, that’s what I said about ‘United 93.’ The graphics look pretty good, even upside-down.
‘Reviewing Restraint 2’: In ‘Reviewing Restraint 2,’ the male subject removes hair on his legs with wax for the first time while watching and reviewing trailer on laptop.
Result: Subject is unable to locate self-applying wax hair removal at three different supermarkets and gives up. Subject sufficiently creeps out Vons cashier after being referred to Nair by replying, ‘No that’s okay, I need it for the pain.’
‘Reviewing Constraint 2 [revised]’: Subject sits on couch and watches and reviews trailer while having eyebrows plucked for the first time with tweezers.
Result: As Sydney Pollack discovers Frank Gehry, reportedly not knowing anything about architecture or documentary, I am discovering how painful it is to groom one’s eyebrows. If I had to do this once a week I’d kill myself. The Gehry documentary seems interesting, though again it is hard to concentrate when my eyes are watery. In between painful groans, I realize how many famous buildings this guy had. I’m interested to see the movie, but not while getting my fucking eyebrows plucked.
‘Reviewing Restraint 3’: In ‘Reviewing Restraint 3,’ subject watches trailer at home and then leaves home and travels to Castle Nails, where subject receives pedicure from Vietnamese females for the first time while writing review on notepad. This restraint is emotional, challenging the reviewer’s ability to write as masculinity is challenged.
Result: Pedicure ends up being extremely relaxing and enjoyable. Subject’s feet are cleaner and more well-groomed than since he was a small child. Setting is perfect for writing a review as I am comfortable. Masculinity is not challenged until hours after the review is already written when a younger sibling of the subject claims that he is a homosexual. There is no restraint, thus resulting in failure.
‘Reviewing Restraint 4’: In ‘Reviewing Restraint 4,’ subject becomes inebriated with alcohol and then watches and reviews a trailer. Subject succumbs to female companion’s wish to try Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix and then drinks six-pack of Guinness extra stout before watching and reviewing.
Result: Subject becomes upset when it becomes apparent that Jose Cuervo Margarita Mix has far less alcohol than expected. Subject moves on to Guinness and then back-up stash of Cutty Sark. Subject overdoes compensation for disappointing margarita mix and falls asleep on couch while not being amused by ‘Saturday Night Live.’ Restraint failed.