To See is to Change: Mriganka Madhukaillya
Duration: 00:57:46; Aspect Ratio: 1.821:1; Hue: 222.910; Saturation: 0.337; Lightness: 0.085; Volume: 0.205; Cuts per Minute: 11.146; Words per Minute: 43.616
A Parallax View of 40 Years of German Video Art.
Over two days, ten artists, critics and enthusiasts present a "recuration" of the 40 Years of German Video Art (http://www.40jahrevideokunst.de
), a collection being circulated internationally by the Goethe Institut. These respondents brought to the archive their own urgencies and preoccupations, and suggested that this "package" is not a sealed entity, and can be re-read as a history of encounter and entanglement between disciplines, geographies, schools of thought, agents and artforms.
A package in this form this suggests a certain stability in the category "German video art". At the same time its circulation opens up the material, and its context of production and thought, its "Germany", to review by diverse and sometimes unsolicited sources. It is our good fortune to be able to promote such activity. Sehen heißt ändern, to see is to change. For more: http://camputer.org/event.php?id=45
The 2-day screening program was held on 14th-15th November, 2008, at Jnanapravaha and Gallery Chemould in Mumbai.
Mriganka Madhukaillya is co-founder of Desire Machine collective (http://www.desiremachinecollective.net
), an ensemble of practitioners working predominantly with new media, video and photography. He investigated the construction of history through the use of narrative devices derived from cinema. Reflecting on the medium of video via recording and transportation devices (the camera / the train) allows us a way into German history as well as towards a broader understanding of migration/mobilty, memory and narration. This approach looks at video technology as a time-based medium revealing mnemonic and micro-political processes, in its archives.
Mriganka showed the following films:
1955 | Night and Fog } Alain Resnais | (excerpt)
1975 | Numero Deux | Jean-Luc Godard | (excerpt)
1992| Transfer | Angela Melitopolous| 12: 23
2002 | Tehran 1380 | Solmaz Shahbazi, Tirdad Zolghadr| 45:00
2004 | Kurlichtspiele (Reminiszenz, 12. Dezember 1953) | Volker Eichelmann| 06:00
Hi, well I would like to invite the next speaker, Mriganka Madhukalya. Mriganka is here from Guwahati where he is part of the arts collective Desire Machine. They recently initiated an interesting space called Periferry, which is kind of a ferry in river Brahmaputra. Mriganka...
Queen's Mansion, Chemould Prescott Rd, Mumbai
Mriganka: Thanks a lot to CAMP for inviting me to respond to 40 years of German video art. Ya, when I received a mail from Shaina, the whole thing seems very interesting because of the whole idea of parallax. Because, personally being, I was a student of physics, and being able to really... the whole idea of frames of references, being able to access different frames and be able to look at certain things from different perspectives, not really blocking down to some kind of absolutes, really different kinds of things come up and I really appreciate, umm, really like to appreciate this thing (because it) has a given a lot of critical reflection of my own artistic practises and, umm, which i would like to share. Basically, my whole reading of, well, I've actually chosen three films and I will actually speak less because I am also bringing two more works, which are also quite big and I would like to show parts of it which is, I know, it's not good, but, that's why I will not present a consistent discourse, but my own reading and viewing has itself, you know, made me see my own practice in critical light.
So, before that I would like to share some of the things which I personally feel, you know, standing on kind of a border, on one side trying to create video and one side accomodate film language which in every moment trying to create new criticality the way your work fixing and I think the box which I chose also have, specially, I responded to those because i think some of the questions those box also try to enquire, probably not answering it.
So, it is a very interesting thing about video, which I, throughout my practice, I realised that it is very interesting thing that Frederick Jamson has written in this book, that video, unlike film, actually has three signals like as a response to something like medium, it's a medium, it's related to society and has an aesthetic, unlike film has a language, video has an aesthetic. So, video is an electronic medium, this means its origin depends on electronic transfer of signals. So, video consists of signals, caters to constant movement. Video signals are generated inside a camera and then circulate between recording and reproduction units.
Video and television are the terms used to describe the electronic medium for gathering, recording and transmitting moving images and sound. Video production has gradually transcended its broadcast radio beginnings and adopted many techniques used in location and studio film making.
Video is inherently an electronic medium, however, and differs from photographic film in many fundamental aspects. Since it responds to light in a different way than film, it deserves to be considered in a separate category.
'Video: The electronic medium' by Richarrd K. Ferncase in 'Basic Lighting Worktext for film and video', 1992, pp. 20.
So, video images have also pre-representd life before the film is made like molecular life of the tape, the speed, the light, intensities and camera movements. And the streams of light which are determined by smallest forces of desire and effects. So, electronic images sounds and their small pixels are understood here as bodies which effect other bodies, because every image is a body and every body is an image. Every camera shot has a kind of birthplace and insertion in an time-space continuum. The past and present of which remain invisible, a virtual time happens (?) to the segment, future settings of possible events in the montage.
This portion of descriptive is part of every actual camera image. The video image is circuit center, a visual memory whose function as an agent and not as a replica. The camera and montage are thus two essential kinds of memory that can Henri Bergson defines in his 'Matter and Memory' and memoir and video, and video, camera and montage, can be described as a technical system that simulates the neurological functions of memory. Here basically I, two video awaits, I will show it, also try to look at the whole construction of self, also responding to historical, collective, as well as personal memory.
Before showing this, i would like to also share something which recently I came across, through a book that had come two months back by Yvonne Spielmann she is reframing video as something called transformation imagery, acknowledging the standard in video of a transition between images and the fact that these transitions are explicitly reflected in new processes.
Because, this competent process of reconciliation shifting backward and forward and transfiguration, which includes reversibillity. Transformation therefore connotes flexible, answerable, nonfixed form of the image. The reflective video medium, a reflective, reflexive processes in video as medium, and investigates why three main strands of video practices...
...how the articulation of the electronic vocabulary and the institutional establishment of video come about. In individual cases, it is a question of a documentary's fix direction, it's brain (?) media forms into relation with each other and conduct. And applied media criticism. Second, an area of experimental practice in art, which takes up new media and promotes performance in video and lastly experimental technicians.
Sorry, I was going so fast.
And last, experimental image technicians who constant themselves primarily with CPU processes. Basically, what I am trying to bring in here is basically that, there are three kinds of questions with recent or contemporary video practises bringing in, one is basically a form of documentary direction, secondly is an experimental practice in art which is also kind of negotiating with new media as well as film language and the third, which is completely experimental image technicians, which are primarily looking at the the electronic audio-visual issues.
So, under these premises, I will like to show 'Transfer', it is by Angela Melitopoulos and it is 12 minutes.
'Transfer' by Angela Melitopolous.
Transfer (1992) By Angela Melitopoulos:
In her essay on Transfer, Sabine Maria Schidmt says, "The 'Transfer' video images originated in the Paris Metro and investigate an experience in everyday urban life. The scenes and situations recorded in the subway are played very slowly. Almost all the video material was shot in poor light with an image enhancer. An additional characteritic is the colour reduction to dark brown, with coloured accents emphasized from time to time. The raster-like, slow-motion images seem like dreamy impressions or memories. The passers-by also seem almost shadowy and ghostly, with empty, impersonal faces, not aware of themselves at all."
She continues, " In 'Transfer' Angela Melitopoulos has succeeded in making a documentary and poetic film about the distinction between looking and seeing. She is consciously addressing the voyeuristic moment symbolized by the camera's point of view."
...."Melitopoulos used mainly original sound, but a few acoustic quotations from films are added, including material from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. These are greatly alienated, however, and so do not help to constitute meaning"
1992| 'Transfer by Angela Melitopoulous' by Sabine Maria Schmidt, in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), 2004, pp. 260.
The film ends.
Is it a problem? I can do without lights.
Most interesting part of Angela Melitopoulos's video works, and what she's continuing, are her collaborations with Antonio Negri, a recent work that came out for sale, and another interesting work is called 'Facades'.
'Transfer' particularly, it's like a kind of a dream in which people are in slower pace, the subway there is icon maker for a daydream. It's shot definitely in the Paris Metro and hear the soundtrack, most of the sounds are original sounds but at the end of it she try to use different soundtrack confluence like Alfred Hitchkok from 'Psycho' and it's like, to resemble these coarse 8mm tapes and mixing it with, not using directly, but through the screen, the surveillance camera footage, this whole magnification to the restored images, it's a deja vu picture for the dream research.
The whole research kind of happening. Even these (?) attention between movement and stagnation, which is between reality and the dream to be real. Its like a prison. So, I would like to quote from Negri, "I think there is a whole new connections, which I see prison, which is daily rhythm with a transfer and the defense does not lead any time, prison dissolves time. This is a principal form of punishment in a capitalist society."
So, secondly, the escalators and the elevators also struck me and the whole image detector films, starts and ends with certain bracket you know, here is like a narrative stroll that has been underscored, sypholised, rarified and replaced by a trasportation machine, becomes a allegorical signifier of the older, prominently, which we are no longer allowed to conduct on our own and this is didactical intensification of the preferentiability, you know, the (?) to yourself. Of all modern culture which stands to turn upon itself and designate its own cultural production as its convent.
Now, I would like show two works to show together, one in reference to the 'Transfer' and next from the package itself. I want to bring in a film by Godard 'Numero Deux' in connection to the looking at the whole Deleuzian machinic art consciousness, looking at the production of self through machinic connections. So we see 'Numero Deux' and after that we will also try to bring kul(?) experience which if time permits, we will discuss about that.
Film 'Numero Deux' starts.
Numero Deux/ Number Two (1975) by Jean-Luc Godard:
Harun Farocki in his essay on Numero Deux says, "Numero Deux depicts the domestic life of three generations of a proletarian family living in a social housing apartment. Usually, when we see working-class people in a film, they are somehow exceptional. But, in Number Two Godard focuses relentlessly on the ordinary. He shows a wife mastrubating, her husband painting a chair, the family watching television. The result is not a conceptual minimalism, but rather an explosion of meaning. Godard allows us to see that even the most routine household activities and bodily functions are semantically dense."
Kaja Silverman adds saying, "The film's images are unlike any we have seen before. Most of them were shot in video, then reshot in 35mm as they played on video monitors. Often two monitors are shown together. Because the 35mm image is always larger than the video images, those images swim in a pool of blackness. But at the beginning and end Number Two, the full 35mm image is deployed for the purposes of sketching out another 'scene', one which is usually foreclosed from the cinematic text: the site of production. It shows us Godard at worj in his studio, surrounded by the tools of his trade, and the material he is in the process of weaving into a film. The 35mm image also depicts something even more remarkable: a filmmaker interrogating and attempting to transform the relationship between himself and the film he is in the process of making."
She continues, "Every shot in the film is statinary. Godard claims that he stopped moving his camera around this point in time because he couldn't think of a good reason to pan or track."
Harun Farocki adds, "The decision not to move the camera, like the black around the video images, creates a good deal of off-screen space, whcih adds mystery to the everyday activities which are depicted. Most cheap apartments look terrible in the film; the filmmaker denounces the characters by shooting them there. by not miving his camera to show rooms in their entirety, Godard avoids discrimination against his proletarian characters."
He continues by saying, "In Number Two Godard is concerned with sexual difference and the family, rather than with the Maoist and Marxist concerns of the years immediately before. Not surprisingly, the, his attempts at authorial divestiture effect some important gender displacements. The names of the two women in the film even work their way into the primary credits for the film."
1975| In Her Place Number Two/Numero Deux by Kaja Silverman and Harun Farocki in Speaking about Godard 1998, pp 141, 142, 144.
Film 'Numero Deux' ends.
Probably we do not need to talk about Godard or we can come back to 'Numero Deux' later, I think it's already explained but anyway, its a very long film but whole idea of foregrounding the author or the film maker coming here and trying to justify and not playing any bourgeoise elite. And actually there were lot of interviews which came after this 'Numero Deux' where actually Godard said he actually stopped making films for an audience. He said I am the whole project of making films for the audience really fails. So, he kind of went on the whole idea of looking at the production of his own self. Now moving back to Aikhenvald... it's very interesting the way he connects, film, video art and media with regard to how they interact with individual and collective history of memories. So, it's very interesting to see or understand how he uses a newspaper article from 1953 in combination with found old footage to reflect on history of film and video-making, so, it looks like a film, but it is completely a digital projection and where it starts with that empty slide projection and he wants... as there is an expectation of someone sitting in front of the screen blank. You know, the whole blankness he brings in the beginning of film, so, even ordinary versions allow for meaning to emerge. This is footage he tried to engage with or a lot of found footage of film makers, sometimes these versions allow for meaning to emerge as that might be unintentional or suppress in its original form.
So, it is also kind of a release or liberation. So, definitely, interestingly, investigates the construction of history through the use of narrative device, derived from cinema, but it is questionable how permanent this kind of history is, or, you know, or it looks at the temporality of history-making. Using digital media, Eichelmann, reveals the analog and material construction, documentation and digital interpretation. Video starts with a image of the slide projection without a slightly white feel of possible projections. Gradually this image accelerates untill the snow flicker slide shows hit us, give away to shuttering beginning of cinema and thus recreate comments genesis of film making.
I found it very interesting that the whole image of the train has also played a very interesting role in some of the artists like 'Man With The Movie Camera', Dziga Vertov, 'Berlin: Symphony of a City', and I tried to find but I am not able to resolve where you can.... an interesting function, as initiated with camera definitely, it has been told in terms of hard roll cinema and things, but also it can be observed very interestingly. And, Eichelmann himself reads out loud a newspaper article and it has been used in the film and it was for its use of cinematographic metaphor travelling time between 1953 and 1923, that's the phrase which he uses. The article presents past and present as spaces or a scenario from an enduring every small town ideal blacking (?) out 30s and 40s. So, the work combines reflection on a medium of video with exploration of recording and transportation device. As I said, the camera and the train, which are central to an understanding of German history. And probably along with this I would bring one more film and interestingly, this also begins with... does not show a train... it is very famous film by Alain Resnais' 'Night and Fog'. Probably we will see the first couple of minutes.
It is not that Vertov considered beings to be machines but rather machines which had a 'heart' and which 'revolved, trembled, jolted about and threw flashes of lighting', as man could also do using other movements and under other conditions, but always in interaction with each other.
What Vertov discovered in contemporary life was the molecular child, the molecular woman, the material woman and child, as much as systems which are called mechanisms and machines. Most important were all the communist transitions from an order which is being undone to an order which is being constructed. But between two systems or two orders, between two movements, there is necessarily the variable interval.
In Vertov, the interval of movement is perception, the glance, the eye. But the eye is not the too-immobile human eye, it is the eye of the camera, that is, an eye in matter, a perception such as, it is in matter, as it extends from a point where action begins to the limit of the reaction, as it fills the interval between the two, crossing the universe and beating in time to its intervals.
Montage itself constantly adapts the transformation of movements in the material universe to the interval of movement in the eye of the camera: rhythm. Montage, it must be said, was already everywhere in the two preceding moments. It precedes film making in the choice of material, it comes after the filming into the editing room and in the audience who compare life in the film and life as it is.
'Montage: The American school and the Soviet School' by Gilles Delezue in 'The Visual Turn: Classic film theory and art history', Angela Dalle Vacche (ED), 2002, pp. 65
An excerpt from Alain Resnais' 'Night and Fog'
(The film ends)
Sorry, you did not see the whole thing, but yes, again looking at the microphones which was done in probably in 60s, by Alain Resnais, he used Jacques Chabrol's... Jacques Chabrol actually wrote a whole text, a collection of poems, called 'Night and Fog' and it was basically his own experience as a survivor of a concentration camp, and it's another level of meaning in this whole chilling core of Hens Isler if you see the score, which is going on, but accompanying four visions but we have not reached that point actually, disrupted as the train actually arrives at Auschwitz, where there was one of these concentration camps. Its very interesting to see, you see using several sources, and right now, probably, I just realised, selected this film will remain after the wall and it's interesting that how artists negotiated with the material, which was available to them, you know, create a intermdiate ground so, specially he also uses many sources like black and white still images from various archives which is not allowed, it was not available at that point, excerpts from older black and white French, Soviet and Polish newsreels and at last the footage from the detainees of Inte(?) camp in Netherlands when Allies (?) the population (?). And the new colour he has recorded at concentration camps in 1955. That was done by Alan Resnais himself. So, this book, 'Found Footage', strategy of using found footage is also opens up newer ways to negotiate your whole idea of identities, the whole idea of memories and probably you are not looking at the whole permanence of histories and identity construction, so, newer ways to look at these realities.
So, not going further, I would like to end with a work, it is a very long work, but we will see whatever is available, probably five-six minutes. It's a work by, called 'Tehran 1380', and yes, actually it's done by two artists Solmaz Shahbazi and Tirdad Zolghadr and I forgot yesterdays film's, read a lot of thought-provoking discussions. Yes, but I want to end with this and probably by the time I finish my things from here. So, this is a very interesting film, though it's quite diparate from the films I selected, the first two may have some links, but this last film I selected because of the whole idea of representation.
The whole idea of looking at, you know, places like Tehran, we have the whole exotic spaces which are available and when artists like trishar(?) or film makers like Mohsin Makhmalbaf created categories for an Iranian image, an image which is feel most of the time, exotic categories. So, here I see an attempt to look at Tehran or the whole Iranian society through transitions, through main sources, that means, the film starts with an outsider, a foreigner, or a tourist, waiting outside Tehran and somebody is asking him. It is also, an approach, approach in Tehran, or that kind of space.
A question from the audience: Is it German?
Mriganka: Yes, it is German. It is definitely. Both the artists and the film makers, they studied, they worked, and this film was produced in Germany. So, one can see it in theatre, (?) important curator and probably in last to last year he was probably the co-curator of Sharjah Biennale, I think he also known as an important curator worldwide, so... Actually they claim they were not film makers, they are actually architects by profession and this kind of things. Another interesting thing is that the whole film shot in miniDV.
'Tehran 1380' by Solmaz Shahbazi, Tirdad Zolghadr.
Tehran 1380 (2002) By Solmaz Shahbazi/Tirdad Zolghadr:
In his essay on Tehran 1380, Sabine Maria Schmidt says, "In the film Tehran 1380, the young Iranian architect Farouzan Deylami explains that "the job of architects is to force people to adapt to the new living conditions. Later inthe film, she says that so many collapsed ceilings, car accidents, and inappropriately designed facades show us that the population still has trouble dealing with the new urban structures. The city district of Ekbatan in Tehran is the social focal point of an ultramodern and western-style urban housing development: on 200 hectares of land, 15,000 apartments were built for 70,000 residents, who are no longer able to practice their old traditions here."
She continues, "This documentary film delivers the biting portrait of a city and its history as seen through rapidly spreading urban development and addresses a complex range of topics from this perspective. In doing so, the grammar of architecture also joins together the vocabulary of the revolutions experienced by the country of Iran in the 20th century. The film's title Tehran 1380 playfully refers to the Islamic calendar and corresponds with the year 2001 in the Western World. Shahbazi and Zolghadr are not trained film makers. The new production formats such as the mini-DVD format in which the film is produced serve to simplify on-location research and the realization of individual film projects"
2002| 'Tehran 1380: Solmaz Shahbazi/ Tirdad Zolghadr' by Sabine Maria Schmidt in 40 Years Video Art De. Digital Heritage: Video Art in Germany from 1963 to the present, Rudolf Frieling/ Wulf Herzogenrath (EDS), 2004,pp. 338.
The film ends.
The film ends.