Thank you very much Andreas and Ozge, for welcoming me in Video Vortex. I am very pleased to be here sharing this table with Oliver, who encouraged me to come to Istanbul. Thank you all.
I will try to establish some preliminary connections between some notes I took yesterday and the research art project I would like to share with you.
On all previous talks it was current the idea of the power of images to engage people in action. Images as agents: what they could express for themselves, speak for themselves, not addressing to an exterior discourse, or representing something, but precisely transmitting a particular force, related to its own material constitution. Images as matter and energy.
The images for example in Peter Snowdon’s Uprising: were said to be considered not only by what was exactly portrayed inside the frame, but for the conditions of possibility of their existence. Or the hors-champs, as Rabih pointed in his speech, which remains invisible, and yet is a force that makes the image possible, resonating the world and its agencies within the frame.
I will try to start from this points: power of images, invisible traces and agency and bring some ideas I have been working on since last year, while developing a project on open air video projection, called Cine Fantasma in portuguese, translated to english Ghost Cinema. From Ghost Cinema I will turn to Live Cinema, trying to understand this practice in which I am involved as a kind of machinical animism.
Talking about live images, or the live of the images, one point attracted my attention in Nathalie’s Q&A: when she affirmed that she considers on line archives dead. I would like to add that many independent Media Collectives in Brazil has been discussing this issue. Since there has been produced thousands of hours of footage of the streets manifestations, a question everybody is asking is how to address to this material? This huge amount of data? How could we organize it without “killing” contradictions, points of view, conflicts that are inherent of street movements, that cannot be filtered by limited versions? The discussions are to be continued, but somehow it looks like the only way to preserve the openness, and in this way we could call this openness a form of life – to use Agamben’s idea of life form that lays on the possibility of choice and not being predetermined – is to look at the footage as an unedited collection. Talking a little bit on that topic yesterday with Oliver, we remembered the Korsakow System, an attempt to display a footage in terms of database, an effort to preserve heterogeneity within the footage. Just a few considerations on possible assertions of what could it be understood as life or non-life of images and how software design is in the heart of this discussion.
Derrida describes archives as a promise for the future. He suggests that archives have much more to do with the future, once we are leaving archives for a future world, they will will play their role, as archives, in the future. In this way of thinking archives have much to do with spectrality, understood as a virtual potential, a haunting force that could be considered as projection of possible futures. Another time scale has to be considered while dealing with archives. We really don’t know the possible connections they are going to establish – being they closed, like in an edited documentary, or open, like a database. Derrida calls them a destructive force, because they are a selection, a fragment, an extract of something, and to face it we have to consider what is left, what has not become an archive?
Yesterday in Snowdon’s talk after the screening, but also in Rabih’s piece, we were invited to consider the many videos that were not uploaded. Rabin once again, thought about images in terms of life and death after the shooting: Are the images dead? If we say that images can be dead we could also say that they are not-dead? What would be this non-death?
Also as a background I would like to remember Aby Warburg’s Atlas project, proposing non hierarchical connections to the study of art history, with his displays of changeable sets, differing the table presenting, horizontal, to the fix panel, vertical. Also Warburg was interested in the idea of a vital force through out the images. I wonder what Warburg would do with algorithmic support… But that is another topic.
Between life and non-life
I have been working on live cinema projects since my master on surveillance images and closed circuit television. Since then my interest is centred on how images can liberate forces in the world, in trying to understand image’s agencies. And now, in the currently PhD Research, if it is possible to understand live images in terms of a renovated animism, understanding the concept as proposed by contemporary anthropologist Viveiros de Castro in Brasil, in dialogue with Philippe Descola and Bruno Latour.
I am not suggesting a kind os fetishist primitivism, it is absolutely not the idea.
It is rather about considering in which way the savage mind, to use another anthropological concept, can help us understand our relations to images today. That’s the question.
And it is tricky to think that indigenous people working on video are mostly captured by the discourse of representation, using video and technical images to register a dying culture. For example the Hunikuin people, from Acre, understand that through video they can record their memories, in a way to avoid oblivion, a very similar of Flusser suggested we shall survive in the memory of others. And it is important to say that thorough an important project being held in Brasil called Video nas Aldeias, some traditions really found a renewal, like the Festival Hiper Mulheres, Hyper Woman, presented in many Film Festivals in Europe too.
But for me what is as important as these documentations is their contribution to video language and different paradigms of narration, editing, and understanding what images are about. To quote Flusser, he said Bilder verstellen was sie vorstellen; images hide what they show. In indigenous films even though it is hard to reunite something as an indigenous cinema – there are many different groups and many different approaches – there is a very interesting relation to the dispositive, considering the subjectivity in action through the hole filmic situation. For example something that is being called an antecampo, to use an expression by Jacques Aumont. Some groups work more on the editing, some do not. They watch the rushes together all night long. The define something as a white men version, edited, that they send to festivals, and their cut, or uncut, is composed of the complete footage 8, 10 hours films,
But there is another level that I would like to consider, making a turn not as a indian acting as a filmmaker but as a filmmaker which approaches an indian perspective. Considering that in Brasil we are all indians, expect for the ones that are not, to quote Viveiros de Castro, who suggested perspectivism, as a way to jump off dualistic structures.
For example: there are very interesting reactions of some indians, not used to video and film shown in a Video called O espírito da TV. They considered television having magical powers, one can became ill through watching a movie or to relate to a passage described by Warburg the Pueblos that did not like to be filmed. Before we start laughing at that “primitive reaction”, what if we could take it seriously and see video, and images as xamanic tools, and in this way its powers would lie not only in what they can mediate as tools, but as a real medium to remember the difference stated by Walter Benjamin. In this sense I would like to add to Daniels backgrounds of photography the practices of mesmerism, phantasmagoria, dark mirror, wonder, magic, and some minor genealogies of photographic history that has been marginalized because of these model of understanding photography not only through the paradigm of camera obscura as cartesianism. Camera obscura cannot be reduced to cartesianism, neither photography. Neither video.
The power of these parallel histories are articulated in image making, as a kind of palimpsest. As Aby Warburg suggested that primitive man is indestructible, meaning by that he leaves inside human kind. In the video projections that we have been doing at Aldeia Maracanã we are superimposing temporal layers, creating an immaterial architecture over the physical surface. That’s what our ghosts are about.
As proposed by Felix Guattari and Suely Rolnik, we should consider subjectivity beyond the subject, something that not even has to be human, something like a transindividual subjectivity that could be reached through aesthetical phaenomea and religious rituals as well. Through this understanding of images, and the performance, something as a subjectivity of the space can arise,
Animism could be a key to the Internet of things and a kind to go over the cartesianism dualism.
Once again it is not about going back to the origins but since we have never been moderns, it is a way to try to understanding modern operations.
How things are semantically charged, not in an hermeneutical way, but in that very matter.
As Viveiros de Castro points, primitive is realistic, not mystical, Imaginary and symbolical are real. There is no such a thing like a beyond. Every thing connects to everything.
It is political to think different ways os subjectivity.
Starting from a vanishing point: the point where cinema vanishes.
As Hito Steyerl postulates in her essay “Is museum a factory”: “cinema was never the space for formally more experimental works”.
Maybe outside the cinema, cinema will breath, and at least, live.
This Ghost Cinema Live Performance was done during street manifestations that spred in Brazil last year. As you may know, it started as a claiming for the right to the city, urban mobility, public transports, passe livre movement, but also with Professors, workers, and suddenly one million over the streets facing tear gas, police violence and so on.
And, same as we observed in projects presented yesterday, images played a central role in that scenario. It was also about how free independent media, live streaming and image sharing produced a networked experience that could face corporative media. We have a very strong example that is a guy who as arrested, accused for practicing terrorist acts but many images inundated the internet and even Globo Communications Giant had to broadcast images recorded by the different perspectives producing another versions of the facts. The guy was liberated and not prosecuted.
But my focus is not going to point to the production of images, although it is based on them, since I collect images on the web, using social media etc. But I am focusing in the the moment where these images can go back to the streets in a kind of feedback projection.
How the presence of the images, understood as art, archives and activism, can act as a spectral force. In this way I would like to propose a kind of ritualistic approach considering that images are not just informing, but transforming and performing, as all the previous talks suggested.
Ghost Cinema is a series of site specific AV interventions that take place in urban spaces menaced by capitalistic speculation and gentrification processes. It is conceived as an assemblage of audiovisual materials such as video footage, photographs, newspapers, testimonials, drawings and others, in order to create a remix that awakens the spirit of the place where the performance happens. In this way it can be understood as a collaborative media ritual, in which the force of shared memories has vital effects.
In Video Vortex #10 I am presenting a documentation of the intervention held in May at Aldeia Maracanã. In their own words: “A group of Brazilian indians, belonging to different ethnic groups from all over the country, has occupied, since October 2006, an old abandoned building.
This building had previously hosted the ancient Indian Museum, until 1977, and before it was the Servico de Proteção ao Índio. The indians’ struggle to defend this space that it is theirs by right, is very tough.
With the renovation of the nearby stadium Maracana, Rio Myor decided to demolish the building, to make there a parking lot or a shopping center.
The Indians want to create the first indigenous university in Brazil.
The residents represent various indigenous ethnicities from across the country, maintaining this sacred space as a living Indigenous Museum where we share our songs, rituals, stories, cuisine and other cultural practices with an open door policy — all were welcome to come visit and learn more about diverse cultures. Despite legal entitlement to the space granted to them as an indigenous patrimony, the government of Rio just ignored the existing legal protections, paving the way for the destruction of Aldeia Maracanã for World Cup related commercial development. The historic building is recognized by UNESCO but has been abandoned and allowed to fall into disrepair in order to legitimize its demolition.”
Its destiny remains uncertain. And there too the cops are occupying.
While projecting and performing around a camp fire in front of the building, singing and dancing to the ancestors, among smoke, images and spirits, Ghost Cinema celebrates the political potential of open air live cinema, as a contribution to the urgent indigenous debate in Brazil.
Thinking about the exhaustion of our world and the struggle for the common, in our capitalocene context, we’d better be indians than to be poor, to quote Viveiros de Castro once again.
CASTRO, Eduardo Viveiros de. Claude Lévi-Strauss por Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Estud. av. [online]. 2009, vol.23, n.67, pp. 193-202. ISSN 0103-4014.