A movie can be an expression!

A movie can be an expression!

« The Cremaster Cycle » is a famous artwork by the contemporary artist Matthew Barney. It is an impressive film which really attract me to know more about the content.

Matthew Barney, born in 1967, is a famous American artist who works in sculpturephotographydrawing and film. He firstly studied in Department of Medicine in the university and then transferred to the Department of Fine Arts in year 2. Even so, his short-term medical background still have a profound impact of his work.

His first work is called “Drawing Restraint” and then started this artwork of « The Cremaster Cycle » from 1994 to 2002. The « Cremaster Cycle (the Cremaster series) » is consisting of five feature-length films that explore processes of creation.

Some regarded « The Cremaster Cycle » as the scale of today’s work and funding the largest experimental film. It is published in 2003 by The Guggenheim Museum. And it can be said that this artwork is the best-known work of American visual artist.

  Cremaster 1 (1996)                  

 Cremaster 2 (1999)

    Cremaster 3 (2002)   

   Cremaster 4 (1995)  

   Cremaster 5 (1997)

« The Cremaster Cycle » is a series of avant-garde films created over a period of eight years by Barney which focus in part on his sculpture and installation pieces. Its conceptual departure point is the male cremaster muscle, which controls testicular contractions in response to external stimuli.

The content of the project is rife with anatomical allusions to the position of the reproductive organs during the embryonic process of sexual differentiation. Barney present the existence of human with his medical background that the fate of human sorrow begin when gender differentiation appear.

He want to present the endless loop of fate of human sorrow from their instinct.The Cremaster 1 represents the most « ascended » or undifferentiated state and Cremaster 5 represent the most « descended » or differentiated.

Among the five films, my favourite one is “The Cremaster 1”. Therefore, I would like to forcus on “The Cremaster 1” in my report. It is talking about three interrelated themes – the landscape as witness, the story of Gilmore, and the life of bees – that metaphorically describe the potential of moving backward in order to escape one’s destiny.

The film depicts a murder of a Mormon gas station attendant in both sculptural and dramatic forms. It isInferred that the murderer killed out of a longing for union with his girlfriend.

The film starts from a dream with a silver saddle opening slowly, Matthew Barney move the dream to the myth of the American West. This film regard a American famour murder as a center, with random jump in the time axis including the house of the murderer’s grandparents, a group of cowboy on ice sheets. Matthew Barney plays the role of the murderer in the film.

CREMASTER 2 is rendered as a gothic Western that introduces conflict into the system. On the biological level it corresponds to the phase of fetal development during which sexual division begins. It shows that Matthew Barney want to apply his medical knowledge to the artwork.

In Matthew Barney’s abstraction of this process, the system resists partition and tries to remain in the state of equilibrium imagined in Cremaster 1. I think Matthew Barney would like to embodies this regressive impulse through its looping narrative in Cremaster 2.


Barney looked beyond biology as a way to explore the creation of form, employing narrative models from other realms, such as biography, mythology, and geology. The photographs, drawings, and sculptures radiate outward from the narrative core of each film installment. His concentration in sculpture is accentuated by his use of video. Barney uses video to perfect his sculpture by evaluating positioning, lighting, size and shape.

Moreover, this film is related to many sculptures, photographs, drawings, and artist’s books. Besides, the part of soundtracks of this film is composed by Jonathan Bepler (A Singer).

Above are some of the sculptures or artwork showed in Cremaster 2.

I was surprise when I first saw the film. The artwork-CREMASTER impress me so much and I never think about a artwork showing in a film with content. Barney used video as a means to his end product of sculpture. I think this idea is wise and special. It is easily to put a strong impression to viewers’ mind.

In CREMASTER 2, I especially like the part that a group of cowboy transform the vast ice sheets on a variety of formations, lined up like intentionally and unintentionally spectacular pattern. Barney seem want to express that the veneration of the American myth, ridicule or sigh.

Although Barney’s artworks are full of sex and violence, it really express the truth that human’s sorrow do all from the those human instinct. Therefore it is a necessary component in the film though I was little scared when watching CREMASTER 2.

Actually, to entirely understand what Barney want to express in his artwork, that is impossible to me. Some content I understanded after research. However, in my opinion, what message or feeling we can get from those unexplained image impacting our vision and heart is important than the exact meaning of the artwork. It is because sometime I can get a windfall when admiring a artwork subjectively.

In a word, CREMASTER is a impressive contemporary artwork to attract people to think, not to admire purely. Those figures and other clue showed in the film do attract me to know about Barney’s expression.

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