Projektor

together with Wim Janssen

2017

installation | bronze projector and 35mm color film, 16’31”

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After the Second World War, a new importance was given to the cinema in Yugoslavia. New cinemas were opened all over the country, film studios were constructed and the company Iskra in Slovenia was ordered to manufacture film projectors. The Iskra NP-21 was the most notable among these. About 3200 copies of this machine were made and exported all over the world. It was derived from the NP-1, which was almost an exact copy of the top-of-the-line German projector Ernemann 7B. This was possible because after the war, all German patents were nullified. Now, in 2016, this projector is a strange relic of a technology that has gone out of use and a country that has disappeared.
The primary image of this installation, a bronze sculpture of a projector, evokes a monument to cinema.

A monument, in a classical sense, does not explain itself. It refers to the historical significance of what it depicts. The act of casting something in a precious and durable material implies a positive intention. An altered perspective on the past can sometimes also shift or even invert our appreciation of what the monument depicts. Think for example of the statue of Saddam Hussein being torn from its plinth in the streets of Baghdad.

Cinema is not a historical figure, but a technological and cultural phenomenon of which the impact on the 20th century is difficult to underestimate. The era of analogue film in that story is one that we see as belonging to the past. The fundamental concepts of the cinematic grammar that we still apply today in contemporary techniques were developed in this first period. Even in digital editing, we still speak of a “cut”. We cannot fully understand the workings of contemporary media detached from their predecessors.
The idea to make a work that shows its own creation is a search for a certain reflexivity. In a certain sense, the image becomes self-aware and by extension the awareness of the spectator is altered. We approach the projector from the perspective of the media that evolved from it. In that process, we focus on its materiality.

This materiality of film is more than a mere formal trait. The matter of a medium is not only defining for its means of distribution but also for its impact. Celluloid takes a certain time to be processed, has to be physically transported and requires a specific infrastructure to be shown. In contrast, today we can stream moving images from our smart-phone to hundreds of locations and as many different devices without duration being of any relevance. Because of the evolution of cinema from having a solid form to something immaterial, its implications have drastically changed.

The choice of bronze for the sculpture, brings about a series of remarkable parallels it has with material of film:
 – Just before it solidifies, bronze slightly expands and takes over the smallest detail of the mould, which makes it a perfect material for copying fine shapes. This makes a nice analogy with detail in which film registers reality. 

– Bronze is very resistant to corrosion and metal-fatigue, which is why it is often chosen as the material for monuments. Research in archiving has shown that film, ironically, is often preserved longer than digital media. 

– Bronze has a very low friction value, which makes it an ideal choice for mechanical components. Film is a technology from the mechanical age.

– Bronze can be polished into a mirror. Film was in its first era often seen as a mirror of reality.

– When bronze is heated until its melting point it becomes a light-source, just like the filament of the projector- lamp.

The exodus of the analogue film industry has started long ago because of its economical irrelevance. New media offer interesting new possibilities. 35mm film does offer a few unique aesthetic possibilities that have an enormous impact on the meaning and experience of an image. We consider art as a place where things can live on that are economically no longer viable.

Authors: Dušica Dražić / RS, Wim Janssen / BE
Production: Wim Janssen / BE
Co-production: Cats and Dogs production / RS, Werktank / BE
Director of photography: Hannes Boeck / AT
Grip and Light: Jasper Janssens / BE
With the support of: Flemish Audiovisual Fund, Flemish authorities, Claerbout studio, Film Center Serbia, Republic of Serbia – Ministry of Culture and Information, Cultural Centre of Obrenovac, Yugoslav Film Archive, Courtisane Festival, Austrian Cultural Forum Belgrade, Austrian Cultural Forum Brussels
Special thanks to: Foundry Ljubisavljević (Dragan Ljubisavljević, Milivoje Đorđević), ACS Kinoakustika, Novi metal, DeJonghe Film postproduction

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