So in the second week of MEDA302 the set reading we were given was ‘An Attempt At A “Compositionist Manifesto”‘ by Bruno Latour. This set reading was a highly difficult read for me, and on first read doesn’t mean much at all. But upon the second and third read it begun to make sense to me to an extent, though still was a lot of information to absorb.
The most important word of this text was the word manifesto just off the first few paragraphs so I looked at the meaning of the term which was: “a public declaration of policy and aims, especially one issued before an election by a political party or candidate”
To add context to points Latour delves into, in the introduction he talks about the fil Avatar, and how it is an onscreen example of modernist humans meeting Gaia. These references are throughout the text, and really they just offer a backdrop to the information he gives. At points just sounds like he’s saying the terms Pandora or Gaia just to sound pretty. But he uses Avatar as a way to represent where humans are at this point in time.
Latour describes that in war times the manifestos were a sign of progress, and that though now manifestos aren’t a thing, it is a method to create progress, but the type of progress which allows you to process forward and meet new prospects . He breaks down there is a difference between progress and progressive; “It is as if we had to move from an idea of inevitable progress to one of tentative and precautionary progression”. Latour calls it the “Compositionism manifesto.
This certainly does makes sense to me, as I perceive the manifesto to be not only a plan of action, but a carefully constructed agreement to progress in an effective way. Like in the process of creating a work, it’s like a finalised and detailed storyboard. Well that’s my perception. A manifesto would create set structure, something important to me in making films. But I feel by using a manifesto approach to creating work, it would eliminate “on the spot” improvisations that could be magic.
Ultimately, as the text continues, he makes a case where the three ingredients of modernism is critique, nature and progress. They have to be decomposed and recomposed.
Compositionism can be viewed as an alternative to critique (the second hand type of critique). The point he makes is that in a post modernist sense, what makes critique cannot also compose. With a hammer you can break walls and create all sort of damage, but can’t repair those walls. The mistake of modernism is how we critique, how we look at a work and say “Shouldn’t be like this, but it should be more like this”
The parts of this reading which spoke to me the most was the importance of the manifesto, the observation of critique and progress. Mostly because I was able to understand to an extent the points he was making, but also that I could relate it to how we can create works of art. The nature aspect didn’t really speak to me though I understand how compositionalism is like nature, though more built on, as if it was a successor
All in all, this text was extremely hard to understand, though the main and obvious points, that relate to composing work, and the processes involved did speak to me