MICHAEL HAUSSMAN: GRAVITY – By Moholy Ground

This first person text by the artist examines gravity’s effect on human emotion, told through five high definition video sequences filmed at 2,000 frames per second. GRAVITY debuted in Los Angeles at Young Projects this past February as a video installation. MOH presents GRAVITY’s most dramatic moments in still images alongside Mr. Haussman’s exegesis and a video taken at the original exhibit.

Each of the five subjects is filmed in slow motion, floating upward then descending down to the earth, where they bottom out in gravity’s clutch. Yet each person is magically stationary. They do not move an inch. All that moves is their skin, cellulite, muscles, bones, and expression, creating a disturbing yet beautiful shift in body mass and emotion. Even the background stays perplexingly still. The total effect is that of a moving painting.

This slow motion study reveals the shocking effects of gravity upon our body. What is normally missed in the blink of an eye, is poetically recorded in extreme slow motion, as gravity takes hold and pulls the body down to earth, causing the skin, cellulite, muscles and facial expression to sag down, with a weariness, as if the subject has suddenly aged thirty years. It appears like a special effect, the force ripples from the legs up, turning the body wrinkled and saggy, with a worn, older face that is defeated and depressed. Then the exact opposite effect and emotion overcomes the subject as they are made weightless and set free. We observe the body becoming youthful, rejoicing in it’s expression and flawless skin texture, as it soars away from the earth. All physical and emotional expressions seem to float effortlessly upward in a positive, beautiful direction.

The lighting and color palette is created by a strong heavenly top light, used by Renaissance masters, which dramatically exposes the flesh as if it were moving brush strokes and reemphasizes the relation with the heavens, gravity and sheer weight of the world.

This emotional shift from optimistic youth to depressed old age provokes a very strong, emotional effect. Therefore, each person interacts with a simple, yet symbolic prop in order to gain more depth into this radical emotional shift.

Read the Full Article at Moholy Ground 


The Powerful Effects Of Gravity On The Human Body Are Shown In Their Full Glory In This Artistic Video – By Lost at E Minor

For Michael Haussman’s Gravity installation at the Young Projects Gallery in Los Angeles last year, he revealed a beautiful video shot at 2,000 frames per second to show the powerful effects of gravity on the human body. The video was made by synching the camera to the movement, so it actually seems like the subjects are standing still as their body wobbles, and jiggles and does just what it’s meant to under the intense pressure of gravity.

As Haussman says: ‘Each of the five subjects is filmed in slow motion, defying gravity, floating upward, then descending downward, bottoming out in gravity’s clutch; yet each person is magically stationary’.

Read the full article on Lost At E Minor 


A Sense of Gravity with Michael Haussman – From Shots Magazine

Published on 28th March 2013 | Issue 143

Director Michael Haussman discusses his art installation project about the emotional & physical effects of gravity.

Director Michael Haussman‘s recent installation at the Young Projects Gallery in Los Angeles was an eye-opening experience. 

The installation, called Gravity, which was on show in February and March, and which will be moving to Berlin and Barcelona soon, features a selection of people, shorn of their clothes while jumping on a trampoline. Haussman shot the activity at 2000 frames per second aiming to showcase the experience of aging in an extremelly condenses period of time.

Below Haussman discusses the thinking behind the project and how it all came together.

Where did the idea for Gravity stem from?

I had seen a documentary on one of the Apollo missions to the moon and heard the recordings of the astronauts trying to explain the euphoric feeling that they had while being weightless, or unchained from gravity. They were almost stoned or giddy.

Ground control just sort of cuts them off and tells them to stick to the facts. So I guess the idea of recording man’s sort of “high” emotion without gravity became the first germ, or search for the effects of gravity.

What then transpired was the opposite. Sure it was nice to see the happiness of a person weightless, but to see the burden that gravity really has on our bodies in an aging process, being pulled down, that happens suddenly in front of the eye, caught in slow motion, was incredibly profound and emotional. It was as if you could predict what every person will look like in thirty years time, after living under the constant strain and pull of day-to-day gravity. Not just the physical effects to the body, but the emotional burdens in the expression on the face.

Is the process of aging, or perceptions of aging something you’ve always been interested in?

Aging. Not really. But I have always been interested in man’s relationship with the Earth in every sense of the word, and in my work. I find certain strength from being firmly grounded, or having one’s feet firmly planted on the ground. I think true strength comes from this. Escaping up to space or out of the head is a very scary thought for me. Maybe because I spent too much time when I was younger trying to escape.

But I think that being firmly attached to the ground is accepting that relationship with Earth and all that is being pulled back down to it. This is in a sense aging. To me it is certainly not a grotesque or sad stage, that needs to be hidden, manipulated or avoided, but as natural as an apple falling from a tree and becoming nutrients to the tree eventually.

What emotions were you aiming to elicit with Gravity?

The emotions were to see completely different people, strangers, that suddenly go from their 20sto the 70s in front of our eye in a natural, real way and to interpret that lifetime however we want.

It is their own bodies pulling them down, nothing is manipulated in the film, so all the wrinkles and pulls to the body will most likely be exactly those in thirty year’s time. So, in essence, we are watching a person’s lifetime. It is no doubt an emotional journey, and what we see is a person becoming weighed down can be maybe confused and not giving in, or surrendering happily to the elements, or in one case surrendering their child to the earth.

We watch each wrinkle and pull to the body happen and interpret ourselves why we think it was caused. It is a person’s life passing in front of our eye, that we can walk around and discover, observe and that is a pretty great movie.

Can you tell us a bit about the Young Projects Gallery?

Paul Young is the most interesting, knowledgeable and passionate curator of film and video as ‘art medium’ that I have come across. His care to curating a show is always museum quality and hand crafted. With my show, the content was one thing, but how he curated and displayed the show in the Pacific Design Center added a 3D element to viewing and walking around each piece that was very powerful.

How different was making Gravity from working on a TV commercial or TV project?

Completely different in its end result, but not so different in the execution. Rodrigo Prieto was the DP. We worked together in the past on other projects. We were setting out to light and create emotional life stories with each person and referenced lighting from early Renaissance masters like Caravaggio, using a high frontal light, that captured all the wrinkles in a beautiful way, but did not give up the movement or traveling body.

This is the same sort of task we, as filmmakers, deal with all the time, this and similar riddles. So the execution was normal territory. But to exhibit these pieces in a vertical fashion, where the screen is no longer just a screen to display a narrative or moving film, but now a frame in which to see art. That part is very different and very enlightening to add to one’s film experience.

How did you choose the subjects for the installation?

The subjects were chosen in a normal casting fashion. But once you start casting your net for people willing to jump naked on a trampoline for an “art” film, you start to gather some very interesting people. These are people with real lives and very interesting backgrounds, and their real character is the character we watch. They were not given direction to be anyone else. They are playing only themselves, and we see who they are in a very revealing way.

Did they choose the props they carry themselves or did you make that choice?

I made the choice of props after choosing the people. I thought each of the pieces would add something more in the search into their life. For example the woman holding her red underwear tells it’s own story. When you see her weightless and young, the underwear is provocative, sexy, and even slightly devious. So is her make-up and earrings. When she is weighed down with age, it becomes like a “Sunset Boulevard” Tragedy. The underwear seems to stand for a lifetime of trying to maintain a youth and beauty and is no longer sexy or provocative, but sad with routine and fruitless attempts to fight gravity.

Are you working on any further art installations or projects at the moment?

At the moment I am setting the next venues from Gravity in Berlin and Barcelona and also yes, always working on new ideas…

Read the full article from Shots Magazine 


‘Gravity’ By Michael Haussman Speeds Up The Aging Process – By Huffington Post

Gravity isn’t kind to aging bodies, but the decades-long transformation makes for a gentle easing into wrinkles, cellulite and skin flaps.

Not so with “Gravity,” a video installation by Michael Haussman. The artist asked his subjects to jump on a trampoline while he shot them at 2,000 frames per second. In the post-production stage, he steadied the subjects in the frame so that only their skin, muscles and fat jumped up and down. Add some spooky music and the finished video becomes a haunting homage to aging and decay.

“The overall effect is somewhat disturbing,” explains Haussman in the description of the video on YouTube. “We see a singular subject who does not move, and yet the way in which his or her skin moves seems to suggest a kind of time-lapse aging, where they suddenly go from 18 years-old to 55 in a matter of seconds.”

The hyper-aging process can transform one’s perception of a subject, all of whom are naked and holding a prop. Take, for example, Haussman’s first subject: a blonde woman holding her bra and panties.

“She is obviously not coming from a good place, and when she’s at the bottom of the jump, she suddenly ages forty years, making her a Sunset Boulevard tragedy,” says Haussman. “However when she soars up, her body is flawless and attractive and she exudes a confident beauty, making her red underwear sexually promiscuous and enticing.”

h/t Boing Boing

“Gravity” was on display at Young Projects Gallery from February to March in Los Angeles, Calif. The exhibit is over, but check out photos from the installation courtesy of Young Projects Gallery.


LA Weekly: No Satisfaction Yet in the Search for Captain Henry Morgan’s Satisfaction

| JANUARY 18, 2013 | 7:00AM
The Unsinkable Henry Morgan isn’t your typical documentary. Following the search for the eponymous Captain Morgan’s lost flagship, The Satisfaction, the film reads more like an episode of MTV’s Laguna Beach or The Hills than anything you’d see on The History Channel. But that decision was intentional on director Michael Haussman’s part: to treat these eight specialists, led by underwater archaeologist Fritz Hanselman, like characters in a feature charged “to move the storyboard” along.

This approach fits with Haussman’s goal of finding the narrative in any medium, be it music videos (such as Justin Timberlake’s Sexyback or Kanye West’s Jesus Walks) or commercials. But also, when Michael first got the call about directing the 30-minute film, he thought he was going to be making a mockumentary. “I didn’t even know Captain Morgan was real,” he explains to a small audience that’s gathered at the film’s pre-Sundance screening at the Downtown Independent on Jan. 15.

Like many, he thought the pirate was simply a fictional figure chosen by the rum company, who helped fund this project, to represent their brand. So, the central question of the film became: “How do we put a true identity around him?”

Hoping to avoid the unnecessary drama and gravity of many documentaries of this nature, Haussman intentionally introduced these experts in a comedic fashion. “The point was to knock the pretentiousness out of [the documentary],” he tells the Weekly. “So let’s make everyone fuck up in the beginning — not in a clichéd way. Make everyone unknowing.” We see the archaeologist Hanselman struggling to describe his feelings over finding Captain Morgan’s guns, the biographer snoozing on the boat, and the model maker asking everyone the same question, “How long is The Satisfaction?”

At first, you wonder why the documentary would feature a model maker or Academy Award winning costume designer Colleen Atwood painstakingly creating imagined replicas of Henry Morgan’s ship and coat. Wouldn’t actual artifacts be preferable? They would.

But, by the end, you realize that these recreations are necessary to augment the quest for Morgan’s flagship and its related contents during this two-week shoot. Because the sunken ship they excavate proves to be not The Satisfaction after all.

Archaeology is a waiting game. And by endearing Hanselman and his team to the audience, the director hopes we will remain invested as the archaeological team optimistically returns to Panama next summer in search of The Satisfaction. Hopefully, this time, they will be more successful in their treasure hunt.

In the meantime, though, we’ve still got the rum. (“Drink responsibly. Captain’s orders!”)

The Unsinkable Henry Morganairs this Sunday, Jan. 20, on the Sundance Channel at 9:35 p.m.

You can catch Haussman’s art show, Gravity, starting Jan. 17 in the Pacific Design Center.

Read the full article on LA Weekly


Madonna: Songs We Love – Hear Some Of The Singer’s Greatest Hits, With Commentary From NPR Staffers

August 16, 2011 12:06 PM ET

Keith Jenkins, NPR Multimedia Senior Producer

  • Take a Bow
  • from Bedtime Stories
  • by Madonna

As a magazine photographer who came of age in the 1990s, I owe a debt of gratitude to Madonna. If Michael Jackson introduced us to the concept of music video as short film, then Madonna raised it to high visual art. Just as her music evolved into lush, ever-changing canvases for her various incarnations, the “pictures” of her metamorphoses were often re-created in her videos. They never left much to the imagination; rather, they became your imagination, with Madonna’s vision for her songs drilling into your brain, unlocking your waking eye. Director Michael Haussman’s 1994 “Take a Bow” does that for me; its rich, sensually framed sepia tones only partially obscure the song’s meditations on love, sacrifice and death. Because of its Spanish, Catholic and bullfighting themes, many read it as Madonna’s attempt to lock up the role of Eva Peron in the film version of Evita. I, however, think Carmen, as Madonna gives us a four-and-a-half-minute opera channeling Bizet’s classic, at least in my eyes. “Take a Bow” is a slow, smoldering visual feast, and its music washes over you and gets your blood boiling. You may not walk on water after hearing it, but you may want to get your focus back by walking on broken glass.

Read the full article from NPR 


The Last Serious Thing

Last Serious ThingThe Last Serious Thing follows the lives of two of Spain’s most famous matadors, Francisco Ordonez and Emilio Munoz, as they compete during the 1999 Bullfight season. It contrasts the difference between art and sport and rides the tension of one on his way up and the other near the end of his career.

Click the image above to view the trailer.