THE AMAZED SPECTATOR KINO-JOURNAL # 3904MT-2015
I first met Marina Turco 11 years ago in Amsterdam. I had a retrospective at the World Wide Video Festival (curated by Tom van Vliet), and she’d seen our cine-concert “Sudwestern”, a live performance of actors musicians and myself shooting, while mixing with previous images shot the day before at the roof of the building where the festival took place. Then, Marina saw another cine-concert of the “Sudwestern Saga” in Milano at the Village Festival. She decided to write an essay for the M.I.T. “The Sudwestern Saga: Live Media and
Modular Narratives. Between Commedia dell’Arte and Digital Hypertexts”, with very curious and singular connections between my work and modular art. (http://web.mit.edu/comm-forum/mit4/papers/Turco.pdf)
When I knew that Marina wrote a book about mobile spectators and moving images (https://www.academia.edu/8791933/Dancing_Images_Text_Technology_and_Cultural_Participation_in_the_Communicative_Dispositif_of_VJing) I decided to interview her for the film/book The Amazed Spectator.
Here’s the first part:
Edgar Pêra: Do you think we still can call Cinema to the moving images world in which we live now, with mobile spectators using tablets or dancing while watching the work of Vjs in raves… Do you think it still makes sense to use that word, Cinema in those cases?
Marina Turco: It’s difficult to say. Maybe it’s more the other reality or mixed reality but I think if you reduce it to the bones than you can say cinema is maybe just this amazement that makes you petrify, it petrifies, like, ‘Ooh!, what’s?’, you know? So, that moment is maybe… you can maybe still call Cinema. Or that you are completely absorbed in the story, I mean, you are seeing, and this definition also comes from the opposition to what’s this new trend of interactivity. So, it doesn’t… I don’t think there doesn’t exist an absolute definition of Cinema. Cinema is what you define each time at each historical moment in relation to other things that are there. If you need this concept of Cinema then… then you need the word Cinema and use past experiences that you still need. But if you think, if you feel like: ‘I don’t need to say it was a cinematic experience’ than you don’t need cinema anymore.
EP: So the club-culture spectator that goes to see cine-concerts or VJamming … What do you think is the greatest difference in terms of participation in relation to the spectator who goes to a movie theater?
Marina Turco: I think in that sense it’s not the factor amazement that’s different because you are amazed in a movie theatre as well as in a club. But when you participate in a mobile way and you listen to the music – in that way it’s a different kind of participation. But you could call cinematic a VJ set, you could call it cinematic. I think it’s of course different: you cannot dance in a movie theatre! That’s the main difference, I think. Also, it could be interesting to show some movies like “Kill Bill”, for instance, I think it should be fantastic to show it in a setting where you can dance as well – or movies where there is a lot of music, I mean, why not?
EP: But in cases related to fan culture like “The Rocky Horror Show” where actually they dance and perform at the same time the movie is being projected – do you think this form of participation gets closer to the things you write about? Is this kind of fan participation more like a rave?
Marina Turco: Yeah: Probably the other difference which is important for me for defining what VJing is, it’s indeed the subcultural context story. It’s not just that you can move to the images but that you bother and you share with these people in the room. You share the same taste, and you share other things… because you (as a vj) share these things than you can have the freedom to change them and to adapt to that what’s happening.
So, of course if you are just a spectator, just somebody who says ‘oh, let’s see what it says’ then you don’t see like I have to change it . But If you love something than you feel pushed to do something with that as well. So, this way, I also told you before, that this videoclip culture was also interesting to a VJ because you had the idea they were using images from TV and pop culture and they were doing stuff that you, as a spectator who identifies, and say, ‘Oh, that’s cool! If I could also take the TV series I like and jam it like that’, you know? So this is participation that you… like, if you love somebody you want to get near not just look from a distance, you know?
EP: O.K. that’s a very nice description of fandom and vj culture at the same time.
Marina Turco:This participation is also interesting and also… the fact, as in your performance in “The Sudwestern Saga”, that you (the spectator) could see yourself in the image, in the screen (at the same time the event is occurring) that’s a very important aspect… Tom Gunning ,he says that a very important thing of the Cinema of Attractions was that sometimes the actors would look into the camera…
EP: Yes, yes. For me reading his work was a revelation, but I only red was much after I did Sudwestern and other “attractionist” movies…
Marina Turco: … the illusion is broken up and the space of the spectator and the space of the movie or the fiction are connecting and so the same happens all the time with VJing because VJs often also film the audience or try to engage the audience representing them but also getting the audience to interact with the images.
EP: Ok… That’s a very good connection.
Marina Turco: And it’s not the same kind of interactivity of a video game, of course! It’s more… maybe more contemplative.
EP: Yes, yes, yes, I see… So, when you say… So, you can say that when there’s this performance and interaction, there’s… the meaning of the images is constructed at the same time by the VJ and by the spectator, It’s the… the perception of the images – because it’s live so, it’s in the moment. So, are there 2 kinds of spectators at the same time?
Marina Turco: Yes, because the VJ is also a spectator. And his audience, or the music, or what’s the DJ doing interacts with him… , I describe that in my book as a feedback loop. You know better than me because I’m not really a performer but performers do know that the beauty of “Live[ness]” is that you are there, you react to your audience as well. What you do is reflected by them and the other way around. That’s a loop! You cannot say it starts here… And it’s simultaneous, also. It’s difficult to say who affected who first. And there’s also a lot of imagination going on – because I (as a spectator) am somebody who often interpretates things. Because I like to make meanings out of what I see and experience. So, I think, ‘Oh, maybe I’m seeing that’ and I put a lot of meaning into that but maybe it was not the intention of the film-maker or the performer to…
MT: But if the performer thinks, ‘Oh, that’s actually, yeah, it could be’, you know? The same goes with interviews…
(to be continued)
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