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
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
and on a train ride from Switzerland to Italy
Written and directed by
Nicolas Humbert & Werner Penzel
Original Sound Recording
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
a group of New York artists that included the Minimal painter Ad Reinhardt
the religious philosopher Thomas Merton, a group that exerted a strong
influence on the poets of the beat generation centered around Jack Kerouac
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
critic in New York and as a clown in an Italian itinerant circus, Robert
found the place where he belongs - on the Greek island of Patmos. He has
there for more than 25 years, withdrawn, but at the same time conducting
lively exchange with the world.
In his poetry, Robert Lax pursues a maximum compression of language -
point where only individual words and syllables remain which represent
essence of language. His artistic concept of reduction, in which a pause
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
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
Werner Penzel and the poet Robert Lax. Following the films 'Step across
Border' and 'Middle of the Moment', which were made for the cinema, 'Three
Windows' represents the two artists' first video project, a work that
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,
which three different films in endless loops are shown simultaneously.
films are related to each other and merge into a single work as a result
mutual interplay. 'Three Windows' is both a homage to the poet Robert
an attempt to approach a way of life and a philosophy - by means of visual
aural compositional media - in a way that allows them to be experienced
Haus der Kunst Munich
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
Visions du Réel
Villa Maraini Rome
Part of the collection of
Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art Helsinki
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?
but once. Sit still and it will go away.