Fwd: Re: Archive (24) Silvia Maglioni & Graeme Thomson: Dark Matter Cinema Tarot
Duration: 00:39:35; Aspect Ratio: 1.778:1; Hue: 349.010; Saturation: 0.554; Lightness: 0.144; Volume: 0.099; Cuts per Minute: 0.354; Words per Minute: 107.763
Lets go to the last... and somehow ritualistic end.
This is what we call the Dark Matter Cinema Tarot. I don't know how familiar you are with the Tarot as a system, as a card game, as a ritual. We decided to make a Tarot with cinema images, for various reasons. We replaced all the images of the Tarot with stills from films, from our own kind of personal histoire(s) du cinéma. One of the reasons we were doing this, we were trying to think here - and this is perhaps contrary to a lot of what has been said today, so it's going in another direction - to find a use of cinema that is outside of cinema. A use of cinema to do other things with it than simply to reflect on cinema. That's why we also chose the Tarot, as a kind of relay for cinema, to see: can we actually do something else with cinema, other than discuss in its own codes, it in its own terms. So this responds almost directly to what was said just before. In order to do this, to activate it, we're going to need somebody, a person, a volunteer, who can propose a question to the cards. And this should be a question that is of potential concern to all of us here, and perhaps even people outside this room. A question that maybe reflects on some kind of situation that isn't necessarily cinematographic, but... If we have a volunteer...
Just one more thing to say: Normally we call this kind of assembly a nocturnal committee. So we are very happy to have... now it's our second nocturnal committee in Mumbai, we had already one at CAMP. And just one more thing about the question: We would ask you not to reveal the question yet, and to come here, and then we just shuffle the cards, and you just reveal the question later, once we draw the cards. So we would like a burning question, an urgent question, that possibly also connects to the present situation, the nocturnal committee, something that you really want to ask the cards. It's 78 cards, and each card is an actual photogram, coming from a film. It's 78 films, it's our... Dark Matter Cinema present with us. So does anybody want to volunteer with a question for our nocturnal committee? One more thing that we would like to say: Unlike in the traditional tarot, there is not one person who reads and interprets the cards, but obviously, it's the whole nocturnal committee that is going to fabulate and to describe and to narrate the cards that we're going to draw, together, through the question that is going to be posed.
Okay, so... what's your name?
We're all tired, but...
Okay, Roberto. Okay, here I would like you to shuffle the cards, in a way you would not shuffle them normally... And then you push them onto the table... and I will start moving them around, and I'm moving them in anti-clockwise direction, because I'm an anti-clockwise hand person. And while I'm doing this, I want you to think of your question. Just keep it in mind. And now I want you to continue this movement... swirling them around. Right, now I want you to take the first card
that attracts your attention, and place it in my hand. And again, with the second card
... And the third
... the first that attracts your attention. And a fourth
. Now we remove the other cards from... Do we have a zoom, a little zoom? We'll lay the cards out here.
[discussion about microphones]
So... now I want you to reveal your question to the tarot.
: My question is: What is the worst thing that can happen?
Graeme: What is the worst thing that can happen...
Okay, now I'm going to lay the cards out, in a cross formation. I'm going to start with the first one...
Also feel free to circulate and come to the table to examine the cards from close if you want, if you think that the screen is not clear enough.
The question: What is the worst thing that can happen?
Okay, this is normally called drawing a cross, so it's one-two-three-four. We normally start with the first card, but it's not a linear montage, obviously, although it is a montage, it is a kind of editing. So we start with the first, describing first-second-third-fourth, but then we can move around and construct in whatever direction we want. So we would ask Sebastian to react to the first card
, since he asked the question, and then we open the...
Yeah. Can you repeat, one more time, the question please?
Sebastian: What is the worst thing that can happen? Number one
is pretty horrible for everyone who was at our last session
. So I don't know if I want to speak about it. It could be that a project fails, that involves a dog and a person...
Maybe I'll contextualize for those who were not here. It's quite incredible, because the first card, from the experiences we've had so far in different countries where we've done the cards, normally brings the energy that was there just before we did the cards. So this is actually a card
that came at CAMP
. It's a card that was actually narrating a situation that had just happened before doing the tarot.
The second card
is giving me a lot of anxiety, because, I'm not sure whether everyone realizes that the pattern of this rug is the same as the rug behind them, and they have a red background, and they're sitting against a red screen, and then there are two males sitting, and a statue of a female behind them, and it's very, very unsettling. And it's actually giving me a lot of anxiety, it's as if I'm in a loop where I feel I'm not in touch with reality, and it's one image inside of an image, and it's amazing, it's as if i can't get out of it.
I also had a feeling about loops, seeing the first two images, and especially that the first one had come up for us before. So one reading of it can be a reading about repetition. But then, it could also be, looking at the first image
, and then the second one
, a reading about having to pass through something in order to get to somewhere else, which is not the reality in which we currently reside.
Isabella: The fourth card
, I think, the one with the child, that's like bending over the canal, I'm not sure where this comes from, but I keep thinking about a film that's called Don't Look Now
, which is a film that's like a very... it's a horror film, set in Venice, with this child
who falls into the water, and she's wearing a red raincoat
. And I guess because you asked this question, what is the worst that can happen
, there's something about... I don't know, I just wanted to say that film is in my mind. I don't know if anyone has more information about... I mean, I think you said that all the images are stills from films, is that right? Yeah... that's my thought.
As Silvia said, image one
had also come up when we did the seance at CAMP. And, yeah, the uncanny carpet, and the red backdrop, and something that then seems very set and frozen in time. And I can't help, as Mariam was saying, play back loops, because in the earlier seance, the parachuters
were coming down to earth, and here someone is looking up
. And it's... it's calling for help, but at the same time, there is a lot of hope in that image. Also in the image
down... it's totally connected to Kim Novak in Vertigo
, except that the orientation of both have changed, there is no longer the bridge, as the object, or the prop, for something bad to happen, but actually something being retrieved, and something being recovered. So for me, this is a sense of a collective conversation, collective joy, collective trauma also we might have shared together, that's telling us: do not wait to be archived. We are living, and we are here at this moment, together. And, again, it's all related to the first four cards
... and maybe that's a bit selfish, because only a few of us here in the room experienced it.
Just to say something about what Shaina is talking about. The fourth card here, the card
that came was an image of a woman holding a bunch of flowers in front of water, a kind of wide, expansive water, with a bridge in the background. So it was in the same position, and it was, again, a flower image. And also, as Sebastian said, the card
with the dog and the man was also part of that. So there is this question of repetition that I think is also emerging. But that's just for people who weren't there.
: So, to look closely at the third and the fourth images... the third image
with this gesture to the sky, and then the fourth image
with this gesture downwards. In a way, to me, I keep looking at them in relationship to each other, and sort of as inversions of each other, but both in a way the same gesture, which is a releasing, or a letting go. But maybe not exactly the same kind of letting go. Maybe a flinging, or a tossing... like the throwing of the pot that was referred to earlier, the thowing into the air. And then a more gentle kind of letting go or releasing, that may also be a recapturing or reclaming at the same time.
It's perhaps not clear from the video, but... I don't know if I should say this, can I say it? That the image... it may add something... that we can see from here, on the third one
, that the guy is actually pointing a gun, it actually looks like a Mauser, a gun at the sky. It looks like he's about to shoot into the sky. Yeah, it could be something completely different from the image, that's true, there. Yeah, maybe also dark, slightly dark. Actually, I just want to mention, I have my own story about repetition, and also in relation to Sebastian's question, which is quite uncanny. The very first time we did this tarot, the images one
came up. And the question was about the state of emergency in France, somebody asked: Are we ever going to get out of this state of emergency? So I cannot help but link that question to Sebastian's question, on account of the fact that those two cards appeared.
look more populated than three
. Three and four, at least three, obviously, is quite void. There is water, again, and again. Image four of our previous session
, Kim Novak, Golden Gate Bridge
, had world in the image. This seems to be nowhere, or could be anywhere, but there is at least no sign of place, nothing that it relates to. And you have this strange diagonal that is not... that is in a very uncanny place in the image, I find. And in number three it's obvious that this is... that the image is worldless, and the person is just a detail.
Some flowers that don't really look like... they're not like a pretty bouquet, but they're just something... either that needs caring and needs replenishment, and needs to be refilled and needs water, which is in complete contrast to the aggression in... but it's helpless aggression, in the image above
. At the same time, bending down and caring for nothing-looking flowers... I mean, I went and saw them up close... you know, either they're dying and they need water, or they've just been picked up from the bush.
One of the things we saw in the last session was that the question shouldn't keep you from looking. Yet I agree that the question is obviously a political question. We've talked to much about Eqypt and Turkey and India. We didn't talk much about the Philippines, or the United States, or pretty much any other place in the world. So, of course, the question is that one, yes.
I think that this thing of the fourth card
is interesting, because in a way you could say because of the state of those flowers the gesture of watering them, and of sprinkling water on them with a hand, in this sense is completely futile, it's not going to save them. But it nonetheless is a gesture of the present moment, the entire image is in the present moment of its happening. And it's almost like the two hands, the fact that one hand holds the flowers, the other waters them, there's something in a sense about the question of...
that the gesture in a sense is that moment, and it's the preservation, if you like, of that possibility, in the moment, to make a gesture like that. If perhaps, what is the worst thing that could happen, in relation to this image, I would say, that we lose the sense of a gesture like that, that a gesture just like that, which seems futile, becomes effectively futile and disregarded. There's also this question of places of water. One could even say that in the second image
, there's something of a kind of pattern, but a pattern which is a completely frozen pattern, but which resembles a pattern of water. But which in image... the first one
, and the fourth
, is a kind of more natural... One is slightly broken, disturbed; the fourth one, it's completely calm, the water, it doesn't seem at all disturbed. And in the second, there is this completely disturbed, but utterly frozen pattern. And there's something about a frozenness about that image, about things freezing into almost caricatures of themselves. And it's kind of echoed by the fact that the female presence in the image is a statue that is completely frozen, and that the men are turned away in any case from that. And they look frozen, and they're looking frozen.
Now that we are going to see patterns and repetitions and montage, I just wanted to add something about the idea of futility. Graeme was commenting about this gesture, and I just wanted to remark on the other gesture, this walk, probably, in an empty space, it's probably a desert. Today we were... somebody evoked the desert several times
, and this idea of shooting up... also the double sense of shoot... but shooting the sky, or into the void. So there is also this quite enigmatic, and one could say possibly futile gesture of pointing the gun. Is he shooting? In what direction? Against whom or what?
Is this land?
Yes, is seems like desert sand. So, as Graeme was pointing at this correspondence of patterns here, you've got the water here, so we could see a kind of futility of gestures.
I see, possibly, across the images, an interface or a boundary or a division between different surfaces or materials or planes. For example, on the left image
, the island that the man and the dog sit on, that keeps them from, perhaps, getting wet or drowning in the water below. And in the bottom image
, the line between land and water is quite distinct. In the right image, it seems that everything in the frame is set up very conscious of, perhaps, us, on the other side. And in the top image
, the man is very conscious of what's above. He's still firmly stuck to the border of the frame. So... what's the worst that can happen?
To go back to Sebastian's question, when you said, if someone has a question, and then I was having a question in my head that I did not want to ask. And in a way, Sebastian's questions takes me back to this loop, because Sebastian's question came as an answer to my question. But that poses even more complicated questions for me. And my question was: why are we here? And I don't mean: in this room, or: in India, but like: why am I here? Why am I still here. And the answer came as: What is the worst that can happen?
And for me, to take this to this loop of, like, this image that's almost identical to the image behind it, and it's like one question leading to another question, and the answer of the first question might be in the second question, and vice versa. And looking at the pictures, also in terms of what Graeme was saying, I don't remember, I think it was Graeme who was saying this, I also see a lot of solitude, even in the populated images, because even in the populated images, people are not interacting, and they are completely isolated. The picture
with the two people and the statue, they're not interacting, they're not looking at each other. And then we have these two images, three
, with people who are completely alone and very isolated. And even in the first picture
, the man is not paying attention to the dog. And actually, the only character in all these images that is
perhaps interacting is the dog that is looking at the person.
The only other time we saw still images today were Sebastian's still images
. And again loops and loops, and some form of repetition occurs, because when he showed the picture
that said Silvia and Graeme
, he said: pay attention to the red table
, and then he said: pay attention to the flooring
. And the flooring was CAMP Rooftop. And it was, like you said, it could be a river pattern, but the flooring on CAMP's rooftop is actually called Rivers with Jewels
, the jewels that graze my knee, because they're all these cracked tiles that are placed there, but there are several that meet, and then join, and then segway. What I'm taking back from all these things is: We are here, and the worst thing to happen is we all get very alienated from each other. But I think everything we have done, and want to do, is to care, and to share, and to continue doing, and sharing the energies that literally, actually do bind us together. So if that's there, and we are not to be archived... and we stay alive to do things, whatever happens, we're still here. And maybe you want the fifth card
We'll leave it empty.
We don't want to...
Actually, the third image reminds me of Twin Peaks
. There is some strange, inexplicable depravity, but there is also this community of strange strangers coming together. And, coming back to Sebastian, there is good music
, maybe, to get us through it all.
I guess when you asked the question, what's the worst that could happen
, I immediately had this apocalyptic fantasy in my head. And then the images came out, and I've been thinking a lot about Amitav Ghosh's argument in The Great Derangement
, about how the contemporary imagination is not able to handle climate change without relegating it to metaphor, or future speculation, or allegory. And then somehow these four images are templates of thinking through an apocalyptic present, rather than future. And each seems to have a kind of silent intimacy with its environment, and it's kind of slightly sinister, some more than others. And the one on the top is probably my favorite. We were just talking about a book called The Flamethrowers
, where this female protagonist is out in the salt flats, riding this motorcycle, and shooting guns into a kind of salty darkness.
Speaking of the second image
there, and coming back to Seb's question of: what's the worst that could happen
. The second image constantly reinforces three words right now. One is authority... censorship... and voyeurism. The two people just staring... It is what is happening right now. Everybody is into their mobile screens. Everybody is watching some sort of screen in front of them. And the worst that could happen is those three words. You can either go voyeuristic, you can be... you have the power to censor, edit information there. So... this is making me think of things that could go wrong.
I've been thinking now for a while about the fact that there is not just water - in the water is a reflection. I find this very interesting, and I've been thinking about what that means. And I think one answer to the question could be that... The reflection here is in the sense of a mirror reflection, but of course, reflection has another meaning. And the other two images are completely without reflection. There is no shadow, and they're very clean. So maybe the worst thing that can happen is that there's no reflection anymore.
: I just come back to the first card. And I was thinking about the phrase that [???] uses, it's in French, but then it translates to between the dog and the wolf
. This idea of... you know, at twilight... the silhouettes don't know the difference, actually. That sort of misrecognition, and being in that state of not recognizing, that's sort of what came to me. It could be menacing or it could be care, but that's what stuck to my head.
To me, the more I look at the four cards, they seem to me like four possible positions to take, in a way. With one, the first card
, being a kind of giving up or submission. And two, the second card
, being a waiting for something to happen, or for someone else to do something. And the third card
being a defiant act, which is perhaps completely futile, but still defiant. And the fourth
being the most ambiguous, which is this position of care or release or recovery, but it's certainly still an effort to do something.
I was thinking about this thing of... a disaster, somebody evoked the notion of ecological disaster, or that we're not able to think except through metaphor. And I was thinking about the question of listening, which runs through images one and two, in the sense that the kind of passive and perhaps resigned figure in the first image
... sometimes I think that it's not so resigned or passive, but it's actually listening. It's a kind of listening close to the ground, actually putting your ear to the ground
, or your ear to the water here, to listen to the earth, for example. And in the second image
, I see these two... what are they, trumpets? And I think of the trumpets of the apocalypse. And in the trumpets of the apocalypse, there are four trumpets of the apocalypse, and that's how we know that it's the apocalypse, because there are four trumpets. But here, there are only two. So it's like the apocalypse is only half-announced, it's announced by two trumpets and not four, and so nobody pays any attention, because there aren't four trumpets. And the figures seem to be completely... their gaze is fixed forward, could be like watching TV, but they don't appear to be listening. Whatever these trumpets may be announcing, in their very kind of diminished form of annunciation of the apocalypse, the figures are not listening, and perhaps because there aren't four, and there are only two.
I'd like to take things a bit literally, which is one way of getting around the environmental metaphor problem. But of course, you can't say, the worst thing is that the lights go out, that we can't get outside, that we can't get back home, wherever home may be. So I'm not saying, you fall into a pothole, which Jan almost did this morning, which happens a lot on the streets around here. But... I think the worst thing is if we get stuck in these... if nothing changes, if nothing evolves from the temporary state that... Lets say, our son is at home, which is what the bottom image is reminding me of, who we haven't seen for three days. Or from Özge's current temporary fragility in Germany, as somebody who has left her country. And if nothing changes, or if we believe too much in the power of a single image to narrate a story, then that's the worst thing that could happen. That means that you sort of don't think of the possibility of things getting worse, which I think... What I'm trying to say is that if we leave these single images as the things to be interpreted, then I think that we're missing out on time entirely, somehow.
Okay, well, the first one, which came again at CAMP, is from Stalker
, by Tarkovsky. The second is from Fire Walk With Me
, Twin Peaks, the film. The third is from Terra em Transe
, Glauber Rocha. And the fourth is from Hana-bi
, Takeshi Kitano.