Let’s talk literally about the multiscreen device. We often bump into video installations based on multiscreen systems, primarily in the field of visual arts. We would try to follow a path within this area.
Thinking about my work, I might say that it always consists of cinema declined in different ways, or cinema and devices to show it. It’s important for me to think about the space and the way the viewer will approach the environment. Making cinema in the field of contemporary art, or exhibition cinema, as J. C. Royoux used to call it, is like a closer hand-to-hand with the spectator.
Who is working in the most original manner on the actual root of the device? Who has undertaken/is undertaking new architectural ways of screen management?
For example CS Electric Earth, that magnificent installation by Doug Aitken for Venice Biennale in 1999. He has separated a close-up from a total shot and from a listening level, and I, as a viewer, reconstruct the editing while enjoying at the same time single levels and moments. Open My Glade by Pipilotti Rist, her solo exhibition at Luhring Augustine gallery in New York,
where she recreated some familiar environments: her living room, parts of the studio, the library, even the bathroom. By using some furniture, piles of books and other things, but primarily video devices, she furnished and narrated her own intimacy. Even Video Quartet by Christian Marclay is a piece where the artist seizes a certain kind of cinema and sound so as to make a vast ex novo environment. And one should not forget the experimental
and performative multiscreen cinema of Metamkine and Guy Sherwin.
Some of your examples, to whom we might add some works by Sam Taylor Wood and Eija-Liisa Ahtila, often keep cinema as a true structural source, where they can make experiments. Often the editing itself is dissected, destructured and redistributed throughout the multiscreen. For example,
exploding a shot/reverse shot simultaneously into two separate frames. Some way these are operations we could archive, although multiscreen is in constant evolution. What do you think ?
Well, getting back to Electric Earth, the shot/reverse was an emotional shot/reverse, as if it dealt not only with the space surrounding the protagonist, but also his fears and desires. Working hard on the
times of perception. With these contents and a vivid emotional charge, aside from styles and vague, multiprojection is anyhow acceptable.
Starting from these considerations and examples, here are two questions: could you explain, also technically, your work called DIO è MORTO? We are interested in your definition of “mise en espace of cinema” and the 32:9 format that you used.
In some of my works I used horizontally extended formats, the split screen in Al confine tra il Missouri e la Garbatella, the cinemascope of Giravolte and with DIO è MORTO, I pushed again the extension. During the post production I split the Super 35mm mounted into two 16:9, in order to reassemble it in the projection and obtain a 32:9 extension.
The angle of the frame on the screens amplifies the cowgirl advance, guiding her on a trajectory within the space; adding 5+1 audio she goes on as if she was around the spectator.
“Mise en espace di cinema” is the only suitable definition for this kind of installative work, which uses a codified genre as is western. The idea is also in progress, I’d like to create other installations starting from other genres I’m particularly involved in, like noir or thriller.
The second consideration is about your feature film Giravolte. It is literally composed by three blocks, coinciding with three different locations. The question is: have you ever thought about these three separate elements in a simultaneous form, not only in a linear or sequential form?
Giravolte/Freewheeling in Roma happens in an “ad libitum” time, it can be a day, three moments of three days in the same week… time is not really defined. The film follows the meeting, the fragmented adventures but not the action of the protagonist. Each viewer has his own idea of time in
the film, and even of the soundscape. Someone follows the radio, someone only a little. It is a film dealing with the chaos of a metropolis, and this is Rome.
Among other things, since I was a child I’ve been influenced by Robert Altman’s cinema. The eccentric visionary imagination of Brewster McCloud, the perceptive depth of Nashville, which has to be watched again and again in order to follow all the narrative paths, the languor of Fool For Love, the “no-future awareness” of Thieves Like Us.
Usually there’s a very strong, at times obsessive relationship between art and cinema. Apart from using cinematographical (or advertisement) material as direct sources to dissect, there are several examples in which cinema has been “put again on scene”, rethinking its visual and conceptual meanings, by art.
Yep, Douglas Gordon’s 24 Hour Psycho, La Verifica Incerta by Alberto Grifi, Pierre Huyghe’s work on and with Dog Day Afternoon, The third memory.
In our opinion Cameron Jamie, an American artist, has a very interesting way of projecting his films; they are always introduced by a soundtrack played live - he has worked with the Melvins or Keiji Haino by the way. It is a strange form of liveness, as we can see in this image1, where two layers of representation run simultaneously: on one level we have the film (silent), on the other one we have a “rock” live set (this term to define a field of interest, just to clarify we are not talking about an orchestra or of a musician in front of a laptop), therefore spectacular in its nature.
The idea of live has to change every time according to environments and aims. In this, for example, the Netmage festival opens a relation with space and spectators. And this dialectical relationship is tangible. Arto Lindsay and Carsten Nicolai’s performances were radically opposed in terms of
formulation, but they happened in the same place with the same viewers...
With Adam Yauch from Beastie Boys we were discussing about watching their film Awesome: I fuckin’ Shot, which is a film based on a live, taken at one of his concert by a dozen of fans. He admitted that when you watch it in a regular hall, at a regular volume, it has less sense. We imagined to see it in a space where you can sit down, but even lay down or dance and jump... There
are still few places, bands and artists able to create appropriate live environments.
Anyway, of course collaborating live with a rock band has another kind of impact.
Allow us a note on volume; it is, in strictly musical terms, a fundamental element in our point of view, it contributes to designing a place, nearly in a sculptural way.
What’s the difference between a live concert and an art performance in your opinion?
Well, it’s not easy to answer. Basically context and physical space define their boundaries.
By the way, last year we attended a live performance by Sunn O)) and the scene setting up, the volume, the fancy-dress costumes, made you think immediately about art performance, but the fact that we were in a club next to Milan brought us to consider it as a concert.
Getting back to Cameron Jamie, we saw Jo in a theatre in Venice, during the Theatre Biennale,performed live by Keiji Haino. In this case, the definition linked to space/context is more dangerous: live music, frontal view of cinema, a theatrical context, visual arts are all involved in the game.
Where should we put it?
Thinking instead about your work in collaboration with Zu, Live Through This, which shows images of dancing bodies attending a concert, what are the ideal conditions, in spatial terms, to set up this kind of work?
The work shows a relation between the audience at a concert and my shootings, in an outdoor projection, of the lovemaking scene in Zabriski Point by Michelangelo Antonioni. The ideal conditions are first of all a three channel multiprojection, where each surface has a 4:3 ratio, and basically the projections should be as big as possible, almost at ground-level so that the viewer can physically enter inside the work. Another important thing is that the three screens or walls must be adjacent, at large but different angles. For example the left part at a 150° angle from the central screen and the right one at 130°. So as not to take a single position as a reference. Each spectator
should be looking for his place. Finally, the music volume, as high as possible but avoiding distortion.
How much do the relationship with the viewers, and their intimate relation with the space, influence the planning process of your works?
In my works I always try to explore the cinematographical narration moving towards non-linearity, experimenting within the unicum in three acts. So, the imaginative support and the attention of the spectator are fundamental, the viewers are encouraged to close “the story” on their own, to sum it up or imagine the continuation of the narration.
In installation works, the thing I’m interested in is the physical relation with the space, even in this sense it’s the viewer who has to find his point of view, his position to better enjoy the work. Each time it’s a matter of triggering filmic devices to manage the oscillation between impact and involvement.