David Ferrando Giraut

TEXTS

JOURNEYS END IN LOVERS MEETINGS 2010

David Ferrando Giraut


“The problem is in creating forms of intervention which are not limited to provide new data, but which question the distribution of the given and of its interpretations, of the real and of the fictional. Art spaces can serve this aim if they are dedicated to (...) the production of new devices of fiction. Because fiction is not unreality, it is the discovering of devices which do without the established relations between signs and images between the way in which ones signify an others “make see”

Jacques Rancière, On Aesthetic Politics


“Cinema lives by its capacity to resurrect the same event on the screen time after time –by its very nature it is, so to speak, nostalgic”

Andrei Tarkovsky, Sculpting in Time

 

Some months ago, while planning what was going to be my next work, I came across a text by S. Zizek that dealt with some of the subjects that I was thinking about at the time. Sexuality in the Atonal World (included on the volume Violence. Six Sideway Reflections) comments on the lack in the contemporary world of a “master signifier” which imposes a certain order onto our reality. The notion of a master signifier intervenes at the time of making a clear, categorical judgment; this is a judgment that we accept although its logic ultimately remains a mystery. One of the features of postmodern world is the systematic abolition of this kind of judgment in order to protect and unconditionally reaffirm the idea of multiple, complex realities.

Zizek’s text aims to analyze the effect of this on sentimental relationships today. He refers to its consequences as “the dark side of sexual liberation”, a state of things in which the idea of love has been displaced by “the imperative of enjoyment of superego”:

“Sex is an absolute necessity, to renounce to it is to wither away, so love cannot flourish without sex; simultaneously, however, love is impossible precisely because of sex: sex, which `proliferates as the epitome of late capitalism´s dominance has permanently stained human relationships as inevitable reproductions of the dehumanizing nature of liberal society; it has, essentially, ruined love’. Sex is thus, to put it in Derridean terms, simultaneously the condition of the possibility and the impossibility of love.”

Our understanding of the feelings of love and desire, ultimately illogical, would be a paradigmatic case of implication of a “master signifier”. However, the complexity of contemporary reality urges us to consider different possibilities and to relativize constantly.

This way of thinking goes together, coherently, with an obsession with youth, and a rejection of the idea of aging and its intrinsic values. It is interesting to think about how the idea of young love, traditionally related to a purity of emotion, ends up becoming its opposite extreme when we stubbornly attempt to perpetuate it as the years go by, thus resulting in the impossibility of love. This idea has been very present during the realization of this project.

In many of my works I have dealt with how audiovisual products condition the way in which we perceive our immediate reality. I have frequently returned to the films, TV series and music that left some kind of trace within me ever since my adolescence. Intuitively, I decided to revisit several films that I had seen when I was a kid or a teenager - movies with clear adolescent themes – which I now viewed through the conceptual framework mentioned above.

I collected a group of feature films that I had seen in the past – all of them produced in the period 1979-1989, which coincides with the first decade of my life. In these films, a series of love relationships take place against a sinister background, and the threat of death is always present. As in my previous works, I remain focused on films in the horror genre, but whereas in the past I made a connection between the horror film and the tragic idea of the Romantic landscape, now I became more interested in the opposition between the adolescent love, as a vital force, and the threatening presence of death in the shape of a supernatural force.

These supernatural forces (which in horror films serve mostly to disguise our fear of more terrestrial anxieties) create a common thread, albeit in different narrative guises - a child drowned accidentally in a summer camp (Friday the 13th), the ghosts of a violently killed family who refuse to leave their home (The Amitiville Horror), or the inhabitants of a town who come back from their tombs after being killed by a vampire (Salem’s Lot). The source of evil is identified within an element of the past which, beyond its death, reappears as a threat to the stability of the present.

It is not difficult to draw a parallel between this form of unnatural resistance to death and ageing and the fixation on the idea of adolescent love mentioned above. As in Salem’s Lot, a visit from your best friends can turn into something quite nasty when they insist on visiting you after emerging from their coffins. Paradoxically, an excessive attachment to a stereotypically adolescent image of love – the kind of love that is more commonly depicted in movies – becomes a serious threat to the real experience of love. In our reality, it haunts us with the same illogical presence of the undead.

The answers, or better, intuitions, that appeared as I reviewed these movies, have much more to do with the act of “re-viewing” itself (confronting the films again, with the distance that the years have created) than with the individual narrative of each one of the titles. Nonetheless the insistence on the idea of adolescent love as a vital force, opposed to death, is significant (at least from a symbolic point of view) –and more specifically I refer to the permanence of this event in the movie (a permanence created from the separation from the passing of time). This is intrinsically linked to the nature of audiovisual media, and with some differences, linked also to photography. One of the axes of my work during the last years has been the relation between audiovisual product and architectonic ruin, insofar as both of them put us in a state of temporal dislocation in which the past is simultaneously present and absent. Like the undead in the movies, every recording is an element of the past which appears before us in the present, a fragment of another moment which superimposes onto the natural passage of time, and, indifferent to its effects, emphasizes its permanence at the same time that it points out our transient nature.

Journeys End in Lovers Meetings is open to interpretation, but it exists within the delimitated space created by three vertices - the obsession for the perpetuation of adolescent love, the undead, and the idea of cinema as the ruin of a past which emerges in the present.

 

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Journeys End in Lovers Meetings

2009-2010
16 mm film with sound, 4:3, colour, 28´43´´, looped.

The intention was to create a new movie, whose aspect referred clearly to a specific epoch and genre, but whose discourse didn’t match the expectations generated by this aesthetic: the main emphasis is on underlining the fact of the recording itself, and its character as a container of a past moment; or better yet, in pointing out its precarious nature in this sense - its ultimate incapacity to perpetuate that moment.

With this aim, the formal elements of the film (no editing, three hard cuts, disembodied voices, flat acting, single character scenes) work to create a spatial incoherence, destroying any illusion of a coherent space-time continuum along the total duration of the piece. Structured in three continuous takes, one for each actor – almost portraits – the aim is to create a tension between the idea of cinema as an index or skin of light of a past moment (as described by R. Barthes in relation to photography) and its capacity to generate fiction. The balance in Journeys tips to the side of fiction through the use of a non-naturalistic atmosphere, recognizable and stereotypical characters and genders, and the use of a script composed of cinematic clichés. Both the aesthetic treatment of the piece and the phrases in the script were taken from horror movies from the period 1979-1989.

The relationship between characters – who in this case are simultaneously involved in a sentimental relationship as well as with a destructive force – also presents a high level of ambiguity, as if the recording had not been able to avoid the erosion produced by the passing of time, with their original emotions and intentions subsided, lost in the interval that they took to reach us.

 

Journeys End In Lovers Meetings (BLACK CHAMBER)

2009-2010
Video (S-VHS transferred to DVD, colour, sound, 09´35´´, looped) and script of Journeys End in Lovers Meetings.

As a making of, it describes the process by which the dialogue of the first piece was composed and recorded. While on the script we can see how the dialogue is composed by quotes from old horror movies, the video depicts the actors registering these phrases on a recording which will constitute the audio track of the 16 mm film. This recording is actually a superimposition of several recordings: The actors never interact as they were recorded separately, in the same space but in different moments, one by one, without any real contact between them. For the superimposition, one of the three RGB channels of which the video signal is composed was assigned to each one of the actors; the complete image of the space is obtained in the moments when recordings of the three actors superimpose.

The audio recordings of the dialogue in this piece were created before the 16 mm film was shot. For the synchronization of the audio track in the film, the actors followed a process of inverse dubbing, moving their lips to match the words previously recorded.

 

Untitled (Polaroid series)

2009-2010
Polaroid 600 photographs

The Polaroid 600 film, usually related with domestic photography, is here used as the carrier of photographed movie stills, which could be taken as someone’s personal memories; as an undead who emerges from a past time, familiar and alien at the same time. The Polaroid 600 film itself, which stopped being produced last year, holds this same character.

This familiar appearance –most of them are images with which we can relate easily, provoke questions as to what extent they are a part of our individual memory, which role they play in our comprehension of reality, and how should we feel about this fact. If family photographs act as an index of the moment when we or our relatives were portrayed, these take us to the moment in which, as spectators, we witnessed the apparition of an image which, having become a part of our memories, do not essentially belong to us.

Along these lines, these images invite us to reflect on the photographic medium; on its status as the minimum fragment of a past, which we can intuit only to a certain extent – these specific photographs do not presage the narrative development from which they have been isolated, leading to the annihilation of each one of the portrayed. Hence, a reflection on the tension between immediate perception, memory and imagination at the time of confronting a photographic image.