Art as a simulacrum – “performed” lecture for four speakers is the concept of the film which came into being as a reaction to the proposal of giving a lecture for a wider audience in the frame of the cycle “My History of Art”, organised by the CCA Ujazdowski Castle in Warsaw. Out of reluctance to glorify specific kinds of content, Szczerbowski resolved to carry out a performance at the Castle instead.
Four well know readers, whose voices are familiar from the media, were asked to read out a text simultaneously. There would be nothing extraordinary in it if it was not for the fact that each of them was to read at their own pace, regardless of the co-readers, preserving the legibility of only the first and the second sentence of the lecture. The first sentence embraced the essence of the author’s message: you cannot talk about art, you can only lecture about it. Boredom of a lecture can be avoided only through its form. The rest of the text witnessed a physical blocking of the message, like a perverse illustration of one of the postulates of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus: what can be shown, cannot be said. The excess of stimuli creating the stream of unrecognisable and mutually deadening content creates a sound barrier, which can be compared in terms of its effect to remaining mute. The content of that what was presented at the figurative level was not revealed at the verbal level.
The performance was registered on digital camera and then edited into the film. In terms of its aesthetic form, Lecture brings to mind the interludes (employed by Greenaway in the late-1980s in the adaptation of The Divine Comedy – TV Dante), where commentators of the medieval literary work explained the basics of dantology.
The visual form – gathering of talking heads can be read in this case as a form of a game with revealing that what is usually concealed. The possibility of a direct, unpunished gaze at the figures, whose identity is constructed in the consciousness of the Polish viewer only on the basis of the voice, allows to feel like a voyeur, peeping through the window of the screen. The visualisation of the usually hidden figures is highly tempting. We watch it grasping the details of the appearance of the people who functioned in our consciousness merely as voices.
In turn, what is intriguing about the audio layer of the film is that the most essential feature of a reader – the voice – is blurred and dominated. Readers, as media operating with the timbre and intonation of their voice, overlap, act simultaneously, as if someone had turned on four TV sets with four different channels on at a time
References: A. Hirszfeld, Szczerbowskiego obraz zwielokrotniony, [in:] Wizje i Re-wizje. Wielka Księga estetyki w Polsce, Cracow 2007; A. Hirszfeld, Robert Szczerbowski, [in:] New Phenomena in Polish Art after 2000, Warsaw 2007.
Source: BETA SP
© Robert Szczerbowski
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