Essay André Brasil, 06/2005

Almost nothing: affection

8762 “- To see is a motion too.

- To see presumes a paced, measurable separation; to see is always to see at a distance, but also to allow distance to give back to us all that it takes away from us. [...]

- To see is to perceive immediately far away.” (Blanchot)

0964 A man walks. Steady steps, from far away. He comes closer, as the fixed camera follows him. An overflow forms a sort of river that crosses the street he walks on. The camera's digital zoom renders the scene impressionist, trembling, tenuous, breaking up the field depth. In a natural way, without hesitation, the man starts crossing the river, sinking slowly until his body is almost fully covered. He steps out of the water, continues to walk the streets and passes by the camera without acknowledging it. The video ends when the man steps out of the scene. No soundtrack, no credits, no acknowledgements, no sponsors. 

9564 A highway. Dilated landscape: the cars speeding by contribute to highlight the alienation of the man who walks. The camera follows as he moves slowly. The duration of the scene increases, little by little, our anguish. Immersed, distracted from the vertigo of the cars, he walks along the highway shoulder. The traffic is not as interesting to him as the waste that he meticulously collects from the asphalt. The video is abruptly interrupted by a black screen: the traveler goes on his way.

7692 Here we find the same man, enraptured by his own alienation. He is now standing in a hectic downtown scenery, among cars, motorcycles, and trucks. There is smoke all around, and the air is dilated by the asphalt heat. A bus cuts through the scene, and then the man is no longer there.

7439 It is night. The streets are empty, silent. In a single take we see a horse standing on the asphalt and, a little above him, behind the glass wall of a brightly lit gym, a lonely man walks on a gym mat. There is the motionless horse, the darkened street, the excessive transparency of the gym. The man walks fast over the mat, without leaving the place where he stands.

3476 Sea of white. The saturated image - produced by means of an excessive opening of the camera diaphragm - renders the landscape and the people rarefied. The people are fishing, throwing a net and then pulling it back. An ordinary scene, though slightly displaced: standing at an interstice where this world, as well as a whole other world, have been simultaneously produced. 

8879 Shadows on the outside wall of a house. They slide around, modulated by the car lights. Images in motion, shocks, juxtapositions, interruptions: the world is making cinema. 

0793 Between one black screen and another, something passes by, crosses the image and goes on beyond, way past it. This something - life (alien, ordinary, undetermined) - moves on, leaks out, escapes away from all sides of the image. Thus are the “rhizomes”, which is how Marcellvs names his videos: image sections, interrupted worlds, cut off, extracted, excavated, ripped away, and then sent back to life. 

2418 In order to produce his images, Marcellvs seems to be in an ambiguous zone, combining attention, belief, and detachment. The contingency of capturing these events (or near-events) is fundamental to the production of the videos. Nevertheless, there is no belief in the illusion that just looking at the world would be enough for it to reveal itself to our eyes: pure, naive, transparent. 

This sort of “distracted attention” enables a meeting - affection (in the literal meaning of affecting and being affected) - of the eye and the world: a meeting which is distended by time, mediated by the camera, transfigured by digital editing (economical, in most cases).

2376 Nothing here is pure and natural. Despite their apparent crudeness, these are electronic landscapes, mediatized happenings, worlds that can only emerge in between: the event and its dissolution into pixels and electrons.

2998 The camera (eye, brain, spirit) awaits. However, this is not “bad hope”, the one which waits for the Same (as we had comfortably foreseen). This is about hope that is open to the “unexpected in every hope.” As Blanchot suggests, “hope is only true hope when it aspires to give us, in the future of a promise, that which it is”.

3470 “That which it is, is presence.” The event in its eventuality.

0687 If we are to believe in Bergson, then the world is a group of images that clash with each other, sliding over one another. Given this continuous and chaotic motion, we can intervene in two ways: either by blocking the motion, obstructing it, coaching it, turning the images of the world into mere repetitions of the images of the world that we are used to; or just by opening up passages, fissures, breaches through which images (other images, different, weird) can leak out, affect us, and then continue with their mundane motion. 

The first option yields a comforting thought, offering us that which is known and recognizable; after all, it always leads us to the Same. Quite different is the (drifting) thought produced by the power of image in motion: precarious, hesitating, rough, “almost” done and then, soon thereafter, undone, it is a sort of “thought which does not think yet” (Blanchot). Or, as Rancière put it, “a thought that has become strange to itself: a product that is identical to the non-product, knowledge transformed into non-knowledge, “logos” that is identical to “pathos”, an intention of the unintentional”. Aesthetic thought, if we may call it that.

0378 During one of our conversations (we both wish they were more frequent), Marcellvs recalls a scene from Tarkovsky (“The mirror”): someone walks on a green, wide, motionless field. The fixed camera follows him, giving time the time it needs. It does not crave, does not interrupt, or accelerate motion. The scene lasts long and almost nothing happens: except for the fact that someone walks. Then, intense and subtle at the same time, the wind cuts through the image, shaking up the whole field. A light thought, a trembling goes through us like a shiver.

3354 After exhibiting one of his pieces, upon reflecting on the audience's receptiveness, the artist utters a precise diagnosis: “time is political”. He was referring to the extended duration of his videos, to the idle, slow timing in them. 

Yes, in many cases, time is political. Especially in the case of these “videorhizomes”, since duration is what allows us to detect, in the mundane, the regular, the ordinary, its extraordinary power, routinely suffocated by haste: that which journalists miss out, in their hurried listening; that which the editor, under the pressure of his deadline, leaves out; that which the documentarist, who is concerned with the pertinence of his story, refuses to perceive; that which we, as spectators, thirsty for more and more new images, cannot wait for: the happening (or a near-happening). 

If these happenings are rare - contrary to what the TV news try to make us believe -, it is because they are associated with time, they need duration in order to happen (so they can be perceived, and so they can affect us). Time is political because it is time that enables us, through images, to catch a glimpse, or better yet, to invent happenings and the unstable “worlds” that emerge around it. Therefore, time and duration elicit new partitions of the sensible (Rancière): new forms of perception and visibility, new configurations of what is possible and thinkable. That is why time is political and, for that same reason, compulsorily aesthetic.

9643 The man walks. But the way in which he appears and walks through the image is quite different from what we see in reality shows, TV newscasts, and certain documentary films - all of which approach ordinary, regular life, but are unable to escape from the comfort of stereotypes: they reduce the other's difference to the Same, to that which has already been recognized, and is already expected. 

He who walks through Marcellvs' videos seem more like a “man without qualities” (Musil), with no name and no possessions. That man is kept there in his weird singularity, he cannot be captured by clichés, he is impervious to predefined categories that we use in order to protect ourselves (profession, gender, class, nationality...). The ordinary is thus maintained in its “ordinarity”, in its raw power: “the being plus the power of being”, as Blanchot would put it.

7854 “The being is the common being” (Agamben). A singular being who is always to come, who is not reduced to a stereotype, neither, on the other hand, vanishes anonymously into the crowd. It is a regular being, but not an indifferent one: the man who walks the street and does not hesitate to cross the river; or he who walks along the highway shoulder, alien to the cars, attentive to the waste.

“Quodlibet ens”: a common being, Agamben tells us, “contains something that has to do with will (“libet”), as the common being establishes an original relationship with desire”.

8642 The happening - this precarious moment in which, circumstantially though it may be, a “truth” is outlined - cannot be captured merely by technical dexterity, neither by formal virtuosity: more than just a technique, inseparable from aesthetic, first of all, this is about image ethics. Much more than a technological tool, even more than a language tool, the camera becomes part of a way of seeing, being, and acting in the world.

6798 In a world that has been transformed into image, extracting images from the cliché in which we have transformed the world is a difficult task, although a necessary one. This is what these “videorhizomes” suggest to us, standing in that undistinguishable border between ethics, politics, and aesthetics.

5558 To see, to perceive, to listen, to participate in the time flow - a policy; to shape, or better yet, to modulate time (and extracting other worlds from it) - an aesthetic; to allow time to pass through us, to shape us, and to recreate us - an ethic.

9875 In successive dice rolls, Marcellvs usually attributes random numbers to his videos: 0314, 7077, 5040, 8011, 2004, 3172, 0667. Then he sends them, one by one, to randomly chosen addresses in the phone book. Who receives the videos, how do they receive them, to what end? It doesn't matter. That which is fundamental is the random, fragile meeting of the happening with the not-happening: the ordinary man who produced the images; the ordinary men who sometimes inhabit the images; the ordinary man who receives the videotapes by mail. The community that is thus fleetingly invented, which is connected by fragile wires.

0873 This is the result of these rhizomes, after all: delicate wires, nearly imperceptible. Almost nothing: affection.

Interview Eduardo de Jesus, 06/2005

interview conducted on may 1st. 2005. concluded at 18 p.m. all of these sketches are connected to this day, this time, and the way I feel right now, should it be different tomorrow, that will be normal.

1. In your “videorizomas”, duration seems like a key concept in image production and in the creation of the pieces. Is sending them to an anonymous person a way of giving back away the image that was captured from another anonymous person? How did this procedure for production and circulation of videos evolve?

my. when we say: i, we are. we are the duration. the car. the horse. the river. the street. the story. ad infinitum. in mathematics we accept fractions. thus, one second can be split into ever smaller pieces (ad infinitum)2. and time can be a political act. if we accept that. even for a short period of time. then the production and distribution process constitutes another one of these flows. there is no theorisation involved. the sun is the sun. the camera is the camera. the day is the day. the hour is the hour. the heart is the heart (if the heart would think, it would stop beating).(ad infinitum)3. the moment at which images are captured is of no greater value or importance than other actions in a never-ending process. the event. the meeting. the catalogue. the mail service. everything plays a role. what i do is create a line within a much larger process. from anonymity to anonymity by anonymity with anonymity. and that springs forth independently from any other appropriation of the project. as the more catholic may argue.

2. Your work is strongly connected to the ideas of French philosopher Gilles Deleuze. How did you become interested in philosophy, and how did you go from text to image?

whenever i hear people mention deleuze. then i think. what about guattari? if i wish to discuss images (as proposed) by getting delirious with deleuze. i cannot forget guattari. the great meetings. deleuze once said. i used to imagine myself approaching an author from the back and giving him a child, that would be his own, although it would be a monster child . way before knowing about deleuze and guattari. if i had to think of people and try to play any game (initially proposed by chance). those people would be: hölderlin, kleist, nietzsche, nerval, artaud, lautreamont. to name a few brothers whom (later on) i found were also linked to a line of thought. in this case, the thoughts of deleuze and guattari. that is how i got to them. in order to better perceive the production of other people. a production that was not real, neither did it attempt to explain or clarify anything about the people i have named. solely for experimenting purposes. thus, reading deleuze and guattari meant enjoying with them, and enjoying them. when, in their deliriums, they would erase all relationships of value between distinct fields. from biology to philosophy. from music to politics. why not talk about video art or plastic arts without being an artist (since i have graduated in communication, lol) if i can talk like a dog. or like the wind. or like a camera. that might be a connection between deleuze and guattari regarding the image production process. but a connection which is open to endless other connections. to name just one: that which cannot be said must not be said.

3. How do you produce images? Is there a search for the image and the camera plane? How do they arise? From chance and by chance? 

since we are using words (to recall a few brothers who do use words) i cannot describe this production as having a common thread throughout all of its variations. there might be a search for an image and|or for a camera plane. or even an attempt at building up a picture. but that attempt is mixed up and lost in the process (viscosity of immanence). no power is vested in transcendence. there is no suppression. the pictures will produce meanings by themselves. inevitably. with no need for sublimations. that is why there is not an ideal, there are only constantly varying sensations, and subsequent productions of meaning. which are often formalistic.

4. What was the working process like with the PexbaA band when you did projections during their gigs? Did the process begin with the music? In that situation, how did the relationship between sound and image develop? Did the experimentation and improvisation of PexbaA contaminate your images?

when i mentioned great meetings. that includes my meeting with pexbaA. and everything that came along with it. pexbaA is the artistic production (not just musically speaking) that touches me the most in brazil nowadays. and, once again, when i talk about pexbaA, i am talking about gleds flely, the minas gerais school of dysfunction, holocaust, atropine. and someone with whom i have interacted a lot in later years, antônio bráulio vilhena. i have worked with pexbaA a few years ago. everything that happened during that period was very important to my image production process. even if those images have nothing to do with what pexbaA does. lately i have had more contact with antônio bráulio vilhena. we have worked in the creation of images for suely costa songs, sung by him. but the process was interrupted (bráulio has passed away). bráulio was one of the most important meetings i have had until this day. the videos in this dossier are dedicated to him.

Comment biography Eduardo de Jesus, 06/2005

Marcellvs L. has an extensive background, including an academic education, music lessons since his childhood, and lots of reading. Even nowadays, the artist dedicates a few hours a day to studying the piano. His preferences range from Hungarian composers Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and Gyorgy Liget (1923) to Erik Satie (1866-1925) and Claude Debussy (1862-1918). His interest in music is not restricted to the universe of instrumental and classical music, as it includes more popular genres, such as rock and experimental music. His reading preferences are literature and philosophy, especially Nietzsche and Deleuze.
Marcellvs' ongoing interest in music and intense reading pace comprise his initial background, after which it also includes cinema and video. This dual interest in music and image, in addition to an old friendship with the members of the PexbaA band, have led Marcellvs closer and closer to image production. Thus, over approximately four years, from 2000 until 2003, the artist presented himself along with the band. In some of the gigs, band members were hidden behind a front stage screen. Marcellvs presented himself together with PexbaA in the Projeto Rock Contemporâneo (Contemporary Rock Project) at SESC Ipiranga, São Paulo (2002), in the III Festival Eletrônika Telemig Celular at Palácio das Artes, Belo Horizonte (2002), in the SXSW Festival - South by Southwest, Austin, Texas, USA (2002), and in the Projeto Rumos Itaú Cultural - Cartografia Musical Brasileira (Itaú Cultural Pathways Project - Brazilian Musical Cartography) at Itaú Cultural, São Paulo (2001), among others.

During his college days at PUC-MG's Faculdade de Comunicação e Artes (Communication and Arts College), the artist began researching videorhizomes as part for his graduation project, under the guidance of Professor André Brasil. With his videorhizomes, Marcellvs participated in a series of festivals and exhibitions such as “Brésil, Brésils”, in the Videoformes Festival, at Clermont-Ferrand, France (2005); “Abre Alas”, at Galeria A Gentil Carioca, Rio de Janeiro (2005); “Do micro ao macro: novas políticas e imagens” (From micro to macro: new policies and images), exhibited during the 6th Belo Horizonte International Short Film Festival, in Belo Horizonte (2004); Laboratorio Arte Alameda, in Mexico City (2004); “Uma mágica por minuto” (One magic per minute), Universidade de Passo Fundo, in Rio Grande do Sul (2004); Video Art Exhibition, Museu de Arte Moderna (Modern Art Museum), in Rio de Janeiro (2004); “Investigações Contemporâneas” (Contemporary Investigations), exhibition at the 14th Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival), in São Paulo (2003), “Entre a casa e a metrópole” (Between the house and the metropolis), at the XXVI Intercom Congress, in Belo Horizonte (2003), among others. 

The Deleuzian thematic is also present in another enticing piece of work: the video “Deleuze while a living model” (2003). In this piece, the image of Deleuze in a TV monitor is smeared with red lipstick. The video took part in the Southern Competitive Show at the 14th Videobrasil International Electronic Art Festival, in São Paulo (2003); in the Muestra de Cortometrajes de Minas Gerais (Minas Gerais Short Film Exhibition), at the Auditorio de la FUNCEB, Fundación Centro de Estudos Brasileiros (Brazilian Study Center Foundation), in Buenos Aires (2004); in the Cine Esquema Novo (New Scheme Cinema), at Usina do Gasômetro, in Porto Alegre, (2004); in the 7th Tiradentes Cinema Exhibition, at Centro Cultural Yves Alves, in Minas Gerais (2004), among others. The video also won the main prize at Festival do Livre Olhar (FLO - Free Look Festival), at Santander Cultural, in Porto Alegre (2003), as well as the best video award at the 5th Competitive Exhibition of Images in Motion, at Casa do Conde de Santa Marinha, in Belo Horizonte (2003).

Of all videorhizomes, “Man.Road.River”, also know as “Rizoma 0778”, is the most widely known, winning awards in several exhibitions and festivals. The video won the Grand Prize at the 51st Oberhausen International Short Film Festival (2005), the Best Experimental Film award at the Mostra do Filme Livre 2005 (Free Film Exhibition), at Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil, Rio de Janeiro, and the award in the Ousadia e Risco category (Daring and Risk) in the Festival do Livre Olhar (FLO), at Santander Cultural, Porto Alegre (2003). Recently, the artist has also received a scholarship fund from the Museu de Arte da Pampulha (Pampulha Art Museum), Belo Horizonte, and will be featured in an exhibition in the second semester of 2005 at Paço das Artes, in São Paulo.

Bibliographical references Eduardo de Jesus, 06/2005

The work of Marcellvs L. has been featured in festivals and exhibitions, attracting attention due to its radical approach and intense association of philosophical concepts and electronic image. His videos have prompted theoreticians and researchers to publish texts discussing videorhizomes and other pieces of work by Marcellvs. We have included a few links that might broaden the understanding of the artist's work.

Marcellvs L. website is instigating, organized according to the possibilities of chance and lack of control in the search for information. The site does not have a menu, and its contents can only be seen by activating a dice game simulation containing information and images related to the work of Marcellvs L.

“Contracampo - Revista de Cinema” (Counterfield - Cine Magazine) has published two articles, approaching the artist's work from different points of view. 

The article by Cezar Migliorin discusses similarities with cinema, such as the single shot, and promotes a dialogue between Marcellvs' “Man.Road.River” (2004) and Cao Guimarães' “Da janela do meu quarto” (From the window of my room) (2004). An interesting approach, revealing the power of the images produced by these two artists.

The second article features comments by Ruy Gardner about the awarding in the Curta Cinema festival, in Rio de Janeiro, and discusses “Man.Road.River”, which Gardner describes as “one of most stimulating films in the festival”.