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The Way Things Go
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THE WAY THINGS GO is a film by "the merry pranksters of contemporary art" (New York Times) renowned Swiss artists Peter Fischli & David Weiss, that chronicles the lifespan of their most famous kinetic sculpture as it amazingly self-destructs.
Inside a warehouse, Fischli and Weiss build an enormous and precarious structure made out of common household items such as tea kettles, tires, old shoes, balloons, ladders and wooden ramps. Then, with fire, water, gravity and chemistry, they create a spectacular 100 foot long chain reaction performance of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos worthy of Alfred Hitchcock.
"Comparable to no other film ever made" (Riverfront Times), THE WAY THINGS GO has appeared in hundreds of galleries and museums, and has been applauded by critics worldwide.
Ingeniously choreographed...a Duchampian extravaganza! --New York Times
Dazzling, amazing... downright hypnotic! --Time Out New York
A Rube Goldberg drawing come to life.... how did they do it? --Chicago Tribune
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Top Customer Reviews
"The Way Things Go" is a 30 minute film of a building-size Rube Goldberg or Mousetrap Game-like machine made out junk, tires, ladders, common chemicals, a pair of old shoes, things that burn easily, candles, rope, string, bowling balls, second-hand kitchen utensils, soap, ink, hand-tools, pipes, boards, plywood, tables, pallets, boxes, trash-bags, and odds and ends that appear to be at home in the abandoned factory it seems to have been filmed in. There are a lot of other things as well but no sense in spoiling the fun.
The action starts directly, with a dark, plastic bag, seemingly filled with trash, unwinding on the rope it is suspended by. As it undwinds, it descends, slowly. At some point, it knocks into something else, and we're off! This causes a third item to be released, which is delayed, but eventually bumps into the fourth bit. The movement continues, left to right, with the camera pacing along with at the front edge of the transition from prepared, loaded, cocked, standing-up, organized stuff to knocked over, burned up, scattered, fallen over, poured out, disorganized, stuff. It is, in short the march of entropy, inflicted on a chain of improbable constructions and cunningly made objects, each of which triggers the relaxation, disillusion, demise, dilution, dissolving, consumption or destruction of the next, but not before the impulse is passed along.
At first its just like history- one darned thing after another- but after a while you realize there is a rhythm to it, things which repeat or nearly repeat, variations on a theme. It seems to be a HItchcockian continuous shot, but you eventually realize that one of the rhythms involves the camera pausing on the curious contents of a kitchen or serving tray, and there is a brief cut, then movement continues. That's how they get around the film magazines being shorter than the film itself. Whether the whole business really happened in one 30 minute interval of real time, or it was filmed in magazine-size episodes, the presentation is as if it was continuous. In fact, you don't see what releases the initial moving thing, and the motion doesn't stop, the film ends. For all we know its still running, art students and rogue engineers, chemists and physicists feverishly setting it up, outside the view of the cameras, while the edge of motion, the impulse, travels the length of the building, turns around, and returns to where it started. Over and over.
Sometimes one thing knocks over another. Some times something unstable is jarred into releasing potential energy in motion. Often the potential energy is height above the floor, but some times its torsion or compression of a flexible part, or a combustable item set alight. Sometimes its pressure in a container, or simply the contents of a container which run out for one reason or another. The pace is delayed by unwinding and unwrapping, by shallow inclines, by sticky surfaces, the time it takes an object to cross a distance. But something is always going to happen next, if you just wait for it.
I first saw this on Public Television in the middle of the night, about the time it was first released, and I was utterly enchanted with what I saw. Years later, my brother says, "Have you seen "The Way Things Go"? I have a copy of it" and I have no idea what he's talking about, but as soon as he starts describing it... well, I realize I've found whatever that was, again! And its glorious. I take the tape home, where the young child watches it all the way through, laughing, pointing, but mostly rapt. It ends, and all the child wants is to rewind the tape and watch it again! Its a 30 minute, maybe 31 minute, film, but you need to set aside at least an hour if you watch it with children. They'll want to see it twice.
Product Details The Way Things Go 100 feet of physical interactions, chemical reactions, and precisely crafted chaos worthy of Rube Goldberg or Alfred Hitchcock – a discussion starter for …
[...] Trailer: [...]
In an old warehouse, artists Peter Fischli and David Weiss, who must have pillaged a local junkyard, create an extensively elaborate set up involving tires, chairs, rocket tea kettles, spray bottles, sugar cubes, old shoes, wooden ramps, small carts, garbage bags, balloons, fireworks, pools of liquid (sometimes flammable), gelatinous goo, along with other common, household items, with a result that I can only describe as a wondrous adventure in `planned chaos'. I used to do a similar thing with dominoes, spend hours lining hundreds of them up, only to watch them all fall within a matter of minutes, but this is so much more. Fischli and Weiss use all forms of matter, fire, water, and gravity to effect the forward motion (illustrated by transformations, propagation, reactions, and kinetics) of contraptions and such, resulting in constantly evolving concept of one thing leading to another, or, to put it another way, an artistic representation of cause and effect. I say it would be useful to show this in school science classes, as it's an implicit demonstration and display of the laws of thermodynamics, and presents the material in such a way that one may forget they're actually learning something, being mesmerized by the events occurring on the screen. It could also me a valuable tool in an art class, as it shows the simplistic beauty that can be drawn from very commonplace objects arranged in such a way to illustrate lifecycles through normally inanimate objects.
I enjoyed this short piece a lot (it runs 30 minutes), as I found myself constantly trying to guess what was going to happen next (synapses firing...mind stimulated...brain functioning...), and often trying to figure out what just happened. Most of the time the events were relatively easy to follow, but ingenuous in their simplicity. The camera work here is strictly for utilitarian purposes, following the seemingly constant reaction (the spark of life, if you will) and there is no music, but only the occasional sound effect from the noisier reactions. I do agree with some of the other reviewers that there may have been some cheating going on here (`hands on' manipulation), as sometimes the camera moves forward when a particular reaction seems not to have produced the intended result, but often, during the more precarious events, the artists appeared to have understood the possibility of failure, and worked contingencies within the set up. Even if they did supply some assistance in the form of tricky camera work, I'm willing to cut them a great deal of slack as it's the ideas presented within that I found fascinating, the intricate, linear chain of events that must have taken a great deal of time to plan, test, and produce.
As I said, the feature piece runs 30 minutes, and there are a couple of extra features like biographies of the artists and a little text regarding the actions in the film. I would have liked to see a little more, perhaps a scientific commentary track delineating the principals involved during the sequences within the film, but maybe it's better there's not one, as it may pique someone's curiosity enough to try and learn more about it for themselves. I am interested in some of those chemical reactions, specifically the ones that created a great deal of foam, as I often find myself in need of ideas for practical jokes (leave it to me to take something beautiful and twist it for my own, devious means). The price seems a bit hefty for the DVD, but the replay value is here, so I think I'll get my moneys worth.