THE VIDEO OR THE TOTAL OPERA IN ANTONELLO MATARAZZO
by Alfonso Amendola
1. TO BEGIN
Video is definitively inside contemporary art. First as a simple support, then as an element which defines the advancement of experimentation and finally as a necessary prosthesis to the rhizomatic development of visual arts. In the circuit where all the metamorphic challenges of technological innovations connect to media and creativity systems, it takes place in the universe (space) of video that embraces an area which is, day by day, more privileged and attractive [...] With video and thanks to developments of new technologies the whole artistic and social structure undergoes a deep psycho-sensory alteration. The re-produced image becomes the communication's medium which is based on an era that is resolute enough to forge ahead in the name of speed and contamination [...].
2. LIQUID CINEMA ON CANVASES AND PICTURES
The continuous unfolding of experimental forms towards the video shows to us the most substantial "extension of self experience ", letting us catch a glimpse of the very wide prospects regarding the future of art. Video is a perspective and continuous reinvention of the arts, but is also skin and outward appearance (according to Artaud cinema was to be "derma of reality") as a representation of the artistic self-consciousness, of a 'self" which is disposed in the frame of the "apparent", of the simulacrum, in order to be able to create an exquisite link to the inter-social, to develop with extreme complexity, a research inside the consumer mechanism of every day life, but also as a composite refolding of all statutes of memory. This theme of the memory, is, in fact, what Antonello Matarazzo is working on in his first video work; that is what he likes to define as "liquid cinema on canvases and photographs". The Fable (2000) is a nine minute video where still and lost faces in time slide. Painting and photography remain the base of the construction matrix, but the video option starts to define itself right away: that is to say, constructing a video opera that plays on strong themes such as: time, anonymity, and death. But above all what's really most intense and stinging is the sense of the ancient as a never buried tragedy. Matarazzo mostly works upon the intensity of the faces, "faces that have something more of the ancient and something more of only being connected to an other era; he also works on the frames that contain them, and finally on other solid places turned liquid by the dissolve that makes them flow to an other time, to other formats, to other music" [...] In the Fable we are still in the field of art, we are between painting and photography. The video remains then, in its initial experimentation for Matarazzo, a narrow and continuous reproduction of photogram. However, in his following work Le cose vere (2001) the dialogue towards audio-video language turns to bee more definite and effective. Yet the story itself is full of "cinema art". A group of friends want to shoot a thriller, but the"crisis" of the main actor (who's a cinephile) will inspire in the troupe the idea of producing a sort of "film reality" based on intellectual crisis and the emotional break down of the protagonist. The video is also a precious tribute to cinema and plays then with the always complex level of "metacinema". By logic all Matarazzo's favorite visual themes remain: the repetition of exploratory and powerfully creative necessity, the scenes of his environment, plasticity of the faces, dimensions of obsessivity, the transfigurations from visionary to real, the deafening silences, the "true things" of everyday life that can be voracious yet extremely fragile and desperate.
3. THE OTHER REALITY
Audio video technologies have created a situation so that we can no longer think of creative spheres which could be unprovided on these devices. Devices that work on complex textures tearing them, bending them and addressing them towards new reflections while creating the audio-video scene. In regards to its specific production the television image shows characteristics that the other communication methods don't have. And even if we don't analyze them they influence our perception a lot. For us the image grows directly from the invisible, without any transition, any support, without an outline and with no trace [...] But if on one side the spectator remains crystallized in his role, and on the other the internal scene lives throughout further variations. "The real" is been cancelled and re-organized. In the video Mi chiamo Sabino (2001) Matarazzo's challenge is totally contained in the expressive dynamics of the documentary, his aim is to tell us about"the known", to attach it to the spectator's consciousness and once more it is to search in the manifold chances of video communication new examples of expressive research. The novel of foolishness, plunged between antithetic and complementary universes, inside a geographic space (that as the main character of the"corto" says has transformed itself into a "jail full of tombstones"), becomes, between a minimal and natural sound, a pretext to continue the very personal visionary journey of the author.
4. THE TELE-VISION OR THE PERCEPTION AND MUTATION
The inseparable symbiotic relation between video and TV must be individualized in the developments and researches that have brought us to the videomaker's recording and the opportunity of broadcasting over long distances, images equipped with sound. The video intended as a "screen", as a surface on which (and in which) our look makes itself up to date, is, in the end (together with the idea of crossing thanks to the net) the center of our reflection. It is now time to (re)define this concept and establish what kind of theorical and expressive junction there can be among cinema, TV, and video. Let's see how these audio-visual operations of Antonello Matarazzo insert themselves in this articulate landscape. In this kingdom (of the TV screen) the degree of participation of the spectator is rather different from the one activated by the cinemagraphic screen. In reality (as many times underlined by Christian Metz) the dimension of the cinemagraphic image breeds a kind of immersion, envelopment of the spectator living thanks to the perception of the images, a disatachment from reality, something that would not happen with the television image. This television image, reduced by its own spatiality, infuses a certain indifference, or better yet a constant consciousness of "the place" where we are situated.
A triumph of reasons and passions, reflecting on the levels of perception and on a successful synthesis upon the extreme contamination of languages that that the video Astrolìte (average length film from 2002 in collaboration with Carlo Michele Schirinzi) clearly points out. A text by Enrico Ghezzi (among the other actor we see Ghezzi himself and Gabriele "stinky breath" Peretta) opens and accompanies the film: "the mutation is a sort of anarchistic image, atheistic, savage, that would not recognize the origin of the changes of humanity and the human body. In fact, we are pretty scared of the mutation itself. And it is for us a kind of future, of future horizons that show us in a more evident way what is surely happening to us as well". Film plunged in the various tones of black, between quotes of Beckett and comic strip style movements, obsessive spaces and repetitive images. The film is a journey (provocative, intentional, unpleasant, visually excessive) that leads towards a poetic ideal of the borders and of a visual outburst with a narrative pretext that would again subliminally refer to thrillers. Astrolìte is above all a dense reflection of looks and disarticulate perspective towards universes of cinema, television, and generally images in motion. To deform the look seems to be the primary wish of the two directors. But also reflecting on the mythology of the television experience. More in general, the issue of video experimentation draws its formative power from a strong critic-expressive will (but also introspective) that the video maker experiences in his everyday world. A world that is filtered screen which find in the subconscious matter a resistant emptiness which draws the most miscellaneous materials. A critical power, deconstructive, reflexive, then addressing itself against myths and simulacra of social degeneration.
Disattaching itself from reality, the video presents itself as another reality, or better yet tends to produce a parallel reality to that in which we live. It is not a surreality but yet a reality living in another dimension. It is a reality where the thing is vaporized, reduced to pure appearance. It is in this new dimension that anything can happen, that the human being moves, metamorphosizes, is born and dies contemporarily [...] The central theme of his next film La camera chiara is in fact exactly the look (a quote from Barthes ands this work: "I would like a history of looks"). This work also represents a return to his original idea of cinema-video. But this time he does it through the necessary amplification of the digital dimension. Matarazzo works in a very refined manner (even the selection of the soundtrack by Sigur Ròs is extremely elegant) when initially highlight apart of the photo, blocking it out and showing it to us almost as his idea of "punctum" and then gradually replacing it inside its original visual space. There is no novel, no dramaturgic trace, and not even a documentaristic desire. There is the composition of seeing, to beat the time of visual through the photographic representations, the mutability of the signs in a form of light, the stillness that indicates the extreme mobility of time, the extremely dense dynamics of the eyes. Like this if Matarazzo previously had worked on videos based upon meta-painting, meta-cinema, meta-television, now it's time for a reflexion upon the statutes of photography: in regards to the compositions of photography as a very profound design of the memory and as a refined example of wanting to rethink in our contemporary times the possible affections between technical developments and unconscious levels of setting in place [...].
5. THE VISIONARY VIDEO TESTIMONY
Two dates are at the base of the video that will be described, two different epochal moments that have changed the appearance of things. And Antonello Matarazzo's video research had reminded us of them through his contaminated visionary idea of forms and styles. With Warh (2003) Antonello Matarazzo while talking to us about war between the worlds he give homage to the enthusiastic flower of Andy Warhol. The digital work which has been defined as a "film on vulnerability", it takes inspiration from the drama of September 11th 2001 and through a continuous flux of images (re-elaborated and de-contextualized) tells us about a devasted western world (where the omnivorous and hyper-informatic media dimension transforms itself into a tragic and visionary lyrical melody). On the other hand Apice (2004) tells us about the earthquake that struck Irpinia (and other area of Campania and Lucania), on the 28rd of November 1980. the name is that of a village that had been hit by the natural event, but where no houses collapsed. This among the rubble of the other damaged peculiarity landscapes wants to report a condition on survival as paralysis, solitude, and silence. Both videos want trespass schemes, break down the walls of normality in order to dock to a reflection made of news, and perceptive exasperations. Following these video-artistic actions Antonello Matarazzo seems to refect upon the mutation of an idea of "civilian cinema" understanding that any kind of communication support can be used to reach a definited goal, a goal through which transmit the relationship (most of the time conflictual) in regards to the world we live in. and here the shining lessons of Warhol, Zavattini, and above all Guy Debord return. [...]
(extraction of a text published in the catalogue Steak&Steel - International Printing Editore, Avellino 2005)