Three Windows, hommage à robert lax

a film triptych

Simultaneous projection of three synchronized films
on three separate screens as endless loop

black&white / stereo / duration of loop 45 min.
shot on Super-16mm and digital video
produced 1993-99
released 1999

produced by
CineNomad, Germany
Kunsthaus Zurich, Switzerland
Haus der Kunst München, Germany
P3 art and environment Tokyo, Japan
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki, Finland
Bayerischer Rundfunk - Hörspiel und Medienkunst, Germany

Shot in
Patmos, Greece
and on a train ride from Switzerland to Italy

Written and directed by
Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel

Cinematography by

Original Sound Recording by
Jean Vapeur

Video Editing by
Nicolas Humbert, Werner Penzel, Henry Hauck

Digitizing and computer-programming
Thomas Sauter, Jörg Schaub


In September 2000 the American poet Robert Lax died - one of the last grand
old men of the generation of classical modern poets. His name is associated with
a group of New York artists that included the Minimal painter Ad Reinhardt and
the religious philosopher Thomas Merton, a group that exerted a strong
influence on the poets of the beat generation centered around Jack Kerouac and
Allen Ginsberg.

At the beginning of the 1960s, after leading a nomadic life for decades, moving
between America and Europe, working as a screenwriter in Hollywood, as a film
critic in New York and as a clown in an Italian itinerant circus, Robert Lax
found the place where he belongs - on the Greek island of Patmos. He has lived
there for more than 25 years, withdrawn, but at the same time conducting a
lively exchange with the world.
In his poetry, Robert Lax pursues a maximum compression of language - to the
point where only individual words and syllables remain which represent the
essence of language. His artistic concept of reduction, in which a pause becomes
as important as the things said, makes Lax a kindred spirit of the American
composer John Cage. It is no coincidence, therefore, that they shared a strong
affinity to Oriental art and philosophy.

The video installation 'Three Windows' is the outcome of a long-standing
friendship and collaboration between the two filmmakers Nicolas Humbert and
Werner Penzel and the poet Robert Lax. Following the films 'Step across the
Border' and 'Middle of the Moment', which were made for the cinema, 'Three
Windows' represents the two artists' first video project, a work that combines
the narrative forms of film with the characteristics of a spatial installation.

'Three Windows' was a long-term project. From 1993 to 1999, Nicolas Humbert
and Werner Penzel spent several weeks every year with Robert Lax on Patmos,
where they filmed with the poet and created an extensive body of material -
images and sounds that they have compiled into a film-triptych.

'Three Windows' is conceived as a cinema space within a museum - an empty
space with three picture-windows in the form of a large-scale video screens, on
which three different films in endless loops are shown simultaneously. The
films are related to each other and merge into a single work as a result of their
mutual interplay. 'Three Windows' is both a homage to the poet Robert Lax and
an attempt to approach a way of life and a philosophy - by means of visual and
aural compositional media - in a way that allows them to be experienced through
the senses.

Cine Nomad
Aventinstrasse 1
D-80469 München

Exhibited at

Haus der Kunst Munich 06.08.-24.09.1999

P3 art & environment at Tokoji-Zen-Temple Tokyo 07.10.-24.10.1999

Intermedium 1 / Academy of Arts Berlin 19.11.-21.11.1999

Kunsthaus Zurich 26.11.1999-06.02.2000

Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki 18.02.-02.04.00

Kunsthalle Bielefeld 20.02.-21.05.2000

Visions du Réel Nyon 01.05.-07.05.2000

Villa Maraini Rome 12.11.2000-07.01.2001

Rudolfinum Prague 03.10.-25.11.2001

Part of the collection of

Kunsthaus Zurich
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki


Alien Intelligence and Zen-Intelligence

As a contrast to Alien Intelligence (an art exhibition in Kontti of Kiasma) is a video exhibit entitled "Three Windows" about the American Poet, Robert Lax. It is not a critical examination of, or commentary upon the poet's work, but a simple statement, as is Lax's poetry itself. "Three Windows" functions both vertically (the passing of time) and horizontally (three parallel picture-frames presenting different contexts), creating an epic panorama about the life of Robert Lax. The static style it is shot in functions as a metaphor of the slownes of life, of sole existence. Nothing happens, and here lies the Zen message of the work. The modesty of the man is emphasized, making the aura of the poet visible.
Over the course of six years, Nicolas Humbert and Werner Penzel visited Robert Lax on the Greek Island of Patmos, where he lived as a hermit for many years. A natural communication developed among the three men centered on a kind of shared "Beat mentality". The resulting film-triptych has aroused interest in the art world. Before it was brought to Finland, it was shown in several museums around Europe, and from here it will travel to Tokyo and New York. Thus, through Humbert and Penzel, the poetry of Robert Lax ( who says that only ten percent of his work has been published) will reach a wider audience. He writes about sounds, light, about not striving and passing up opportunities with the intensity of presence that is only possible through complete and absolute devotion to existence.

Why should I buy a bed when all that I want is sleep?

Opportunity knocks but once. Sit still and it will go away.

(Helsigen Sanomat)