Primal Scream and the Plastic Ono Band: from therapy to the artistic release-process

INFORMING CONTEXTS – CREATIVE RESEACH

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“Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis” is a book written by Doctor Arthur Janov, in which he describes his experience with his first patients, during 1967/68, after he discovered and developed the Primal Therapy. Doctor Janov stated that he’s been inspired by Sigmund Freud’s early works and that the process he elaborated had a 100% cure rate.

His medical hypothesis was that psychological problems are generated by trauma during early childhood and that birth is simply the first one of them. These traumatic occurrences, then, can be re-experienced and emotionally discharged by the act of screaming.

The Primal Therapy’s basis can be explained by a simple scheme:

NEED → PAIN → REPRESSION.

To resume its main ideas, we’ve been born with certain needs and, when those needs are not met, we start experiencing a state of frustration and we are in pain: when we feel too much pain, the repression phase starts. With the Primal Therapy, each individual can release that repressed pain, avoiding all those problems related to its constraint, such as rage, anxiety or depression.

The book became popular and inspired other therapists to offer similar therapies and John Lennon, Yoko Ono and Steve Jobs, among others, adhered to the Movement. Albert Goldman, writing “The Lives of John Lennon” in 1988, stated that Doctor Janov sent some copies of his book to celebrities, Lennon among others, and that the musician, subsequently, wanted to try the Primal Therapy, and this is why he moved with his wife to California to join him.

During 1970, Lennon gave an interview to Jann Wenner for the Rolling Stone Magazine, in which he explained the important role of Yoko Ono and Arthur Janov’s Primal Scream technique in that self-revelation’s phase of his life: in support to his statements, the interview coincided with the release of his most important solo-record “John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band”.

It seems that Doctor Janov helped Lennon to deal with his childhood-related problems and to get deeper in touch with that damaged and injured little boy who had guided many of the musician’s actions in his past and the whole experience has been mirrored by the songs contained by  the “Plastic Ono Band” album, as a testimony released by that inner child himself and the adult he became.

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John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, 1970, Apple Records, London. Cover Image ©Daniel Richter.

Lennon himself called his work “The first primal album” (Lennon, 1970) and it’s important to take in consideration its Ono’s version “Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band”, due to the fact that the two albums are almost identical, even in their covers, and they have been recorded and released at the same time. As John Lennon said about the two versions during an interview for Playboy, “In Yoko’s, she’s leaning back on me; in mine, I’m leaning on her” (Lennon, 1980).

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Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, 1970, Apple Records, London. Cover Image ©Daniel Richter.

Without Yoko Ono there would have been no Janov, without Janov there would have been no Primal Album. Yoko Ono was Lennon’s muse and guide: she was the one who inspired him with her art and personality and the one who pushed him to discover his true self and find out who he really wanted to be, as individual and as artist. As Jeremy Harding pointed out in his article for The Guardian, “The drift was emphatically unexperimental, autobiographical and expressive of John Himself. There simply was no interest in form as anything other than a means to that end” (Harding, 2000).

Both versions of the Plastic Ono Band albums are an inspiration to my practice, due to the fact that, since the very beginning, I intended to undertake a similar path by asking some musicians and composers to scream in music, creating a video with a proper music score out of the photographic portraits that depict the whole screaming process, currently contained by contact sheets.

As previously said and written, I think that we express ourselves and we perceive negative emotions in very different ways, and so it would be interesting proceeding with the collaboration with other artists to see how they would interpret my work and how they would face other individuals’ negativity, empathizing with them.

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“I can hear you now – Process, Contact sheet 1, Horizontal version” ©Dayana Marconi 2016. Copyright for this gallery photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

My artistic research, compared with the one made by Lennon and Ono during the 1970s, is completely different, but as Yoko Ono’s album mirrored John Lennon’s work (and back), in my project different types of art mirror each other, while the emotions expressed by sitters and interpreted by the photographer have the same function in relation to viewers’ ones.

Of course, I am more focused on the photographic image and other different forms of art are used as reinforcement to better clarify a concept and the different interpretations that can be given to photographs portraying the same emotional process.

While observing a contact sheet, viewers maybe wouldn’t immediately imagine a video created with those stills, and so it would be a further step in empathising not only with the photographed subject, but with the artistic language itself. If they start wondering “What’s next? What can be done more with those images?”, maybe they will face the whole path with the same attitude. Seeing that a scream, then, can be produced not only by a voice but also in music, maybe they will start imagining what could be done differently or what their musical interpretation would have been in that specific case. Involving the audience at different levels, I think, it would allow to enhance not only empathy, which is necessary to interpret and analyse the presented subject matter, but also to push individuals to face and constructively discuss topics often considered as socially unacceptable or even denied.

 

References:

Goldman Albert, The Lives of John Lennon, 1988, William Morrow and Co., New York.

Harding Jeremy, The Dream is over: Lennon in search of Himself on The Guardian, December 2000 https://www.theguardian.com/music/2000/dec/21/thebeatles.johnlennon

Janov Arthur Dr., The Primal Scream. Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis, 1970, Dell, United States.

Lennon John, Davis Hunter, The John Lennon Letters: Edited and with an Introduction by Hunter Davies, 2012, Hachette Book Group, London.

Lennon John, John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band, Released on 11 December 1970, Apple Records, London.

Ono Yoko, Yoko Ono/Plastic Ono Band, Released on 11 December 1970, Apple Records, London.

Sheff David, Playboy Interview with John Lennon and Yoko Ono, published in January 1981 issue, interviewed by David Sheff, September 1980. ©1981 Playboy Press. Abstract on The Beatles Ultimate Experience website http://www.beatlesinterviews.org/db1980.jlpb.beatles.html

Visual Inspiration: Masao Yamamoto’s The Space Between Flowers

INFORMING CONTEXTS – CREATIVE RESEACH

While I was trying to understand what the best way to display my triptychs during an exhibition might be, since they are both vertically and horizontally oriented, I bumped into Masao Yamamoto’s project “The Space Between Flowers”.

Masao Yamamoto, The Space Between Flowers, 2010, Forward Thinking Museum. ©Masao Yamamoto/Forward Thinking Museum

The Japanese photographer creates small images because he consider them as objects he wants to hold in his hands. At the same time, my aim is to create photographs small enough to force viewers to go closer and observe those individuals I am portraying, their emotions, their screams.

About his installation, Yamamoto stated “The harder is where to put the first one. My installation has no beginning, you can start at any print. Where you start is where the story begins. For me, the story grows around the first print installed” (Yamamoto, 2010).

In the same way, while my project should have a precise path to follow proceeding from the introductive video to those triptychs, these last images can be seen in any order: the only important thing is that they must be watched grouped three by three.

Of course the portrayed subjects are completely different, but I’ve been inspired by his dreamy images and he made me think I should push my visual experimentation forward. About his photographs he said “My photos are so small, sometimes you can’t figure out what you’re looking at” (Yamamoto, 2010). While my stills could be “tiny” but not minuscule and the depicted subjects would be distinct, what it represents, proceeding from image to image, might not be as clear as it may seem. Each person is releasing a negative emotion with a scream, but the interpretation is completely up to the viewer who, after the whole path, might be able to detect those feelings or not using those “instruments” and information I provided before he could observe those faces and their expressions.

Masao Yamamoto, The Space Between Flowers, Exhibition, Images of the Prints’ arrangement, 2010, Forward Thinking Museum. ©Masao Yamamoto/Arnau Valls Colomer

As in Yamamoto’s case, I would like to surround viewers with my sitters’ faces and create a sort of choral effect, in order to make them feel a bit overwhelmed by the overall display: they have to feel the urgency to go closer to those portraits in order to restore that sense of control they need to deal with the presented subject matter. In this way, they will be obliged to approach those photographed individuals and maybe they will have the chance to deeper empathise with them, which is the main scope of the whole experience.

Furthermore, I think that the way in which Yamamoto displays his small prints perfectly represents the sense of anxiety that I constantly feel every day and so, placing my triptychs in a similar way, would also be a way to include myself again into the project: I simply would do it in a different way in comparison with the introductive video and the video self-portrait, but I would be fully represented while I am representing others. This would also reinforce my idea of the tight connection among photographer, sitters and audience mirroring each other again and again at different levels.

References:

Forward Thinking Museum http://www.forwardthinkingmuseum.com/about_us.php

Yamamoto Masao, The Space Between Flowers, 2006, Multimedia CD, Joy of Giving Something Inc. http://www.jgsinc.org/

Yamamoto Masao, The Space Between Flowers, Video-Interview directed by Arnau Valls Colomer for the Forward Thinking Museum, released in 2010 on the Museum official YouTube channel https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCRCqSMF4KMfkIezagKJT4aQ

Yamamoto Masao, official website http://www.yamamotomasao.jp/

Introductive Video: four ‘Characters’ empathising with the Author

INFORMING CONTEXTS – CREATIVE PRACTICE

“I can hear you now – Introductive video – Four ‘Characters’ empathising with the Author” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

This is the video that works as introduction to the project “I can hear you now”.
Since the whole work wants to be a journey into the interiority of individuals, starting from the idea that we are unable to properly communicate our negative emotions, I opted to begin from a video that portrays that lack of communication.

The portrayed subjects are non-professional actors, even if two of them had a brief amateur theatrical experience in the past, but I wanted to use a theatre as location and Cinema’s visual language to enhance the dialogue among different forms of art before enhancing the one among people.
As previously stated, each person didn’t act a role: I provided them with short monologues they had to translate in their native language or in the language they use in their everyday life and, then, I explained them that those words were about my personal experience only at the beginning of the shooting phase, because I wanted to record their genuine reaction to this information and I wanted to see if they could empathise with me or with that specific moment of my life.
Using different languages in order to be connected with me while not being able to do the same thing among them, they tried or to imagine how I would have reacted to that specific situation or they interiorised those words providing a personal “interpretation” according to what those monologue moved inside them.
We can observe four people communicating and not communicating at the same time: what they can’t tell each other by using words, they can express with their emotions, gestures and facial expressions. They weren’t feeling sympathy for the author, they were empathising with me and, at the same time, the visual choices and the music score perfectly represent who I am and the anxiety I often feel.

This video must be the starting point for this project since I want each viewer to feel confused about what is the discussed topic: it depicts the same disorientation we experience when we have to find out the interiority of another individual and his “socially unacceptable” negative emotions.
My hope is that each person who will watch this video at the end of this experience will be more open and curious to face what will come next.

It  must not be considered as an introduction in the sense of a brief explanation of the project, but it must open to viewers’ minds that sense of not understanding that can’t be simply faced verbally, because to understand its contents it’s necessary to put empathy into play. The potential audience doesn’t have to understand what the video is discussing, they have to sense it. They might think to have a clue of what the topic is about but not being sure enough to properly discuss it at this early stage, because it represents that common situation in which people face other individuals’ negative feelings or psychological problems and disorders without having the instruments to engage a constructive confrontation about them.

It’s communication and non communication at the same time. It’s been created to make people feel that uncomfortable sensation they usually experience when they have to deal with that unexpressed negativity and that lack of understanding.

They should want to proceed on that path made of other videos and photographs to find out what is the analysed subject matter and what is the aim of the project itself. They must start from the discomfort they experience every day until they can become more confident in understanding those emotions related to the human being while facing their own interiority. If after this video they will be more curious, it means that it worked somehow.

During its creation, everything perfectly worked since the very beginning, because my “sitters” immediately empathised with me representing each monologue as I would have done: from the calm detachment while talking about a traumatic experience, to the oscillation between a bitter sarcasm, sadness and anxiety, from my personal point of view about an occurrence in which I had a passive role, to the sense of isolation and loss both related to part of my childhood and my adult life.

What we can see are four individuals empathising with someone else in different ways: while the Russian speaking girl interiorised what she was saying, even relating it to her personal experience at some level, the English speaking woman, helped and supported by the decisions made during the post-production phase, represented my duplicity and my very Italian way to communicate, using gestures, different tones of voice and facial expressions. Confronting these two monologues, we can easily see differences between two individuals but even between two cultures in the way the two subjects communicate: the first one more introspective and the second one more sarcastically “exaggerated”. I enjoyed watching both of them because I could see different aspects of my personality arising from their internalisation of what they were saying. The Italian speaking man didn’t represent me, but my personal perspective of a person who had a deep negative impact in my life: he did it both talking about a fact related to the actual and directly talking to me, looking into my eyes since I was behind the camera. The last girl, the Chinese speaking one, perfectly represented the sense of loneliness generated by losing a beloved person, she was sitting there, alone among others, solitary, inaudible. What surprised me was the conversation I had with her a few days after the shooting: without specific explanations she was able to understand what I was talking about with those cryptic sentences.

Even the filmmaking and music score perfectly represent my inner reality: the fast cuts, the “noir” setting, the doubled dialogues that represent those contrasts in me and the anxiety pervading the whole video perfectly match with the music which underlines the contents in a biting way. I provided minor details: each person collaborating with me to create this video independently understood what they were supposed to do.

During the shooting phase, I actively contributed to the videomaker’s work: we decided together how to portray each person and what the final visual result had to be and so I had the chance to collaborate with the direction of the filming phase, but giving him all the freedom and space he needed to interpret my starting ideas.

What makes me said that this visual experiment can be considered as successful is the fact that each “participant” could empathise with me even if they could not completely understand what they were talking about or what they were representing. This is exactly the point from which I can start an actual conversation about negative feelings and their release to give space to positivity, because we must be able to look into the dark to deeper appreciate the light when we can see it.

I decided to start from a personal perspective since, as previously said discussing my video self-portrait, I opted for an inclusive approach from the very beginning of this project, because to give voice to my sitters and make their emotions audible, I absolutely had to participate and to start from my own inner world. Into this video my subjects are empathising with me, while I am doing the same thing while portraying them: my hope is that the viewers will give themselves a chance to experience the same emotions, because it will allow my work to enhance a deeper form of communication around this theme.

Author/photographer, sitters, viewers: we all mirror each other, and this is why everything expanded upon the question “Can you hear me now?”. We can’t actually hear others at this stage of the project, while my aim is to make those emotions perfectly audible at the end of the path.

Someone will agree with my choice of starting from this video and someone will not, someone will perceive those emotions while watching it and someone else won’t, but this is the point: this sort of experiment is a way to start a discussion, to move something inside those individuals who, then, will observe the other moving and still images, analysing what they will observe while analysing themselves. The important thing is the emotive impact in order to start an artistic discussion on an emotional level.

References:

Marconi Dayana, Vimeo Channel, https://vimeo.com/dayanamarconi

Working on Feedbacks

INFORMING CONTEXTS – FEEDBACK ANALYSIS

While reflecting on the received peer-reviews in relation to my project, I am currently trying to understand its potential from different perspectives.

I created an Instagram profile dedicated to “I can hear you now” to understand what the viewers’ reaction to my images might be. I have to admit that I didn’t expect a so positive response: in two days, about 160 people started following the page and the last post obtained more than 120 likes.

Of course, when we talk about a specific social media, we must understand that some photographs works better than others, and so, a combination of different tools and channels must be used to make the audience fully appreciate the project as a whole.

I started sharing images into this page by using a Regram App, in order to link my personal profile to this more specific one: in this way the visualisation could potentially become double, due to the fact that this application consent to share information related to the page from where the photographs have been taken from.

Combining the two profiles, I could see that on Instagram the most appreciated images are the long-exposure portraits and contact sheets: I presumed that, these are the ones that are more aligned with the style of the photographic language used in this App.

“I can hear you now”, Instagram Profile ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this gallery belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

Analysing followers and likes, I could see that I captured the attention of some Magazines and Photographers, such as The Editor Magazine, Shots Magazine, Ryan Jay and Francois Rotger. The intriguing fact is that the interest in my project often came from different fields than Fine Art: many of the followers generally focus their work on Fashion Photography and this made me think about how I could use the visual language I am refining at Falmouth to apply it to different contexts and photographic fields.

At the same time, I submitted my work to the attention of Lens Culture by participating to the “2017 Portraits award”. In this case, I didn’t submitted the whole project, but single portraits: I wanted to understand if, among others, they would have captured viewers’ attention as single images, too. I joined the contest by submitting a confrontation sheet and a contact sheet with other portraits related to different projects.

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Dayana Marconi profile page on Lens Culture, Reviewer Feedback. ©Dayana Marconi 2017

By submitting a series of five single photographs, I had the chance to receive a brief review of my practice, which was my true intent.

Surprisingly, the response was very positive and the suggestions I received perfectly matched with the work I am doing at the moment.

They read my images as part of a more complex body of work, in which viewers’ interaction is necessary. I am glad they saw them as part of a Fine Art project with a conceptual and specific intent, because it’s exactly what I am trying to create.

I received, in this case, interesting and constructive suggestions about how to proceed in this path and, more broadly, in relation to my practice as a whole.

What they provided, then, were also recommendations related to reading materials, photographers I should better analyse, competitions in which my work might fit in and information about portfolio review festivals: basically, it’s been a sort of extension of the work I am currently doing at Falmouth with my Professors and Tutors. It’s been very useful and interesting.

I really needed to understand what strengths and weakness of my project are, because that is the starting point to proceed in creating a more integrated body of work.

By applying, I obtained a space into the Lens Culture website to share my photographs and make it more visible to Editors and Magazines. What I will do is to take advantage of this chance and create a second portfolio to give more visibility to this project before creating a dedicated website. In this way, I might have more materials and information in order to submit “I can hear you now” to the attention of Charities and photographic contests, also to better understand what the response will be in different contexts of consumption.

 

References:

Jay Ryan http://ryanjayphoto.com/

I can hear you now, Instagram Profile https://www.instagram.com/icanhearyounow/

Lens Culture, website https://www.lensculture.com/

Regram App, Google Play https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=regram.instagram.download&hl=it

Rotger Francois http://www.francoisrotger.com/

Shots Magazine https://www.instagram.com/shots_magazine/

The Editor Magazine http://theeditormagazine.com/

Long-exposure experiments: work in progress portfolio

INFORMING CONTEXTS – CREATIVE PRACTICE

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“I can hear you now – Long-exposure scream, Confrontation sheet no.3” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

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“I can hear you now – Process Analysis, Long-exposure Contact sheet 4” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this photo belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

Video-Portraits: filming individuals to educate viewers in listening on an emotional level

INFORMING CONTEXTS – CREATIVE PRACTICE

This week, I spent a day working on video-portraits that depict the same emotional process I followed into my self-portrait one.

I did it in collaboration with a Cultural Association located in Asti, Italy, that creates and works on projects related to different forms of Art, like music and theatre, and Education: its President participated himself and asked some people to do the same.

A couple of sitters were professional actors and the others simply were people who expressed their interest in my project.

I asked each participant not to perform a concept or a character in any way: they simply had to be themselves. I found interesting to see how difficult was, for those two who have always been used to act on a stage, not to perform their own emotions at a certain point and I have to admit that not all attempts have been fully successful, I think. In a case, the “experiment” had to be considered as completely “unsuccessful”, since the act was basically performed and it had to be cut due to the fact that it’s been impossible even to “contain” the participant into the frame. In this case, what should I do to include all sitters but respecting, at the same time, the aim of my project? I might use that video to make the audience understand the obstacles that an actor must face in releasing that mask that became integral part of his professional career, or I might not to include that video-portrait, hoping he will want to try again the experience in order to have the chance to insert him among others.

Then, why to involve them if the risk was that they could have used theatrical techniques during the process? Why filming them among others?

Because we act every day. We pretend we are not suffering even when we suffer, we wear masks because of those social norms that don’t allow us to be more open to others. What are we observing here, then? Those faces behind that “social” masquerade.

Maybe, involving actors too might generate some confusion in some viewers: they will ask themselves if they are observing the actual or a fiction. Good. Posing questions is the best way to find answers.

Are we completely open to others in our lives? No. Are we always genuine? No. Do people always perceive us as we really are? Again, no. In this specific situation, the difficult part was to unmask my sitters completely.

Being Italians, we are often seen as “theatrical” in all our manifestations: the way we communicate, the way we express feelings, the way we gesticulate, the way we suffer are often seen as peculiar abroad; but, after all, what I am doing is trying to enhance communication across boundaries and cultures.

My hope is that observers might understand that those people into the videos are real, with real emotions, and that they can be negative. Because someone is an actor, it doesn’t mean he does not suffer from anxiety or that his feelings are just a role he plays. That would be over-simplistic. Because we are not actors, at the same time, it doesn’t mean we are genuine all the time.

This time, anyway, I focused more my attention on non-actors in order to start this route from a more immediate starting point, avoiding confusion.

“I can hear you now – Video-portrait 1” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

Viewers, at this early stage, must ask themselves “How are we perceived?” and start taking in consideration that there is more than what we see with our eyes only. Sometimes we need to be ready to ask our souls to have an active role into our social life.

The aim of my whole research is not only to portray individuals as they release negative emotions while screaming, but also “educating” a potential audience to actually hear those screams, to properly face emotions and understand and interpret them.

“I can hear you now – Video-portrait 2” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

My target are not only anxiety sufferers, because EVERYONE must be enabled and free to express and perceive negative emotions without being excluded from the conversation. Each one of us has a direct or indirect impact on other people’s life, on their emotions or social anxiety and this is why I fully embrace the inclusive approach at all levels and each type of suffering deserve our full respect and an empathic approach.

This has been a very moving experience for me. I portrayed only part of the people who were there, because some of them didn’t feel comfortable in trying this time, and this is another thing I wanted to respect. Participation must be voluntary: sitters must feel the need to try the experience.

Anyway, also those ones who were simply observing the process demonstrated a deep respect: the room was completely silent and I saw someone crying, too. I cried. I cried because I felt moved by what I saw, by how I felt while I was behind the camera, as an observer, and I’ve been moved by some participants who hugged me saying, simply, “Thank you”.

 

References:

Marconi Dayana, Vimeo Channel, https://vimeo.com/dayanamarconi

Creating empathy is an ongoing job: a starting point

INFORMING CONTEXTS – CREATIVE DEVELOMPENT

Starting from the introductive video until we conclude with my triptychs and the data analysis, I want the audience to oscillate from a sense of uncomfortable to their comfort zone in order to move something inside them. My aim is to make them feel those depicted emotions and to face what they feel.

I think that portraying the lack of understanding among people by a “symbolic” conversation is the best way to start this kind of interior journey.

“I can hear you now – Introductive video, Backstage images” ©Dayana Marconi 2017. Copyright for this photos belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.

Collaborating with a filmmaker that usually create short films and that works for educational projects, I am creating an introductive video conceptually referred to David Lynch’s work, which is often surreal and uses oneiric images and suggestive dialogues.

I found the right inspiration to create it by watching Twin Peaks Season 3 Preview video, directed by David Lynch.

David Lynch, Twin Peaks Season 3 Preview. Released on Youtube on 8th May 2016. ©David Lynch 2016

This is a good example about how his language can perfectly  work to portray in images my message: it represents an informal conversation among the Film Director and three main characters of the Series, the Palmer family. The mother is the only still living character apart from Lynch himself, the daughter and the father, who killed her while possessed by an evil spirit, are long gone. The situation is a normal conversation about how life is going on for them and about their feelings and emotions.

He actively communicate with his characters, as I want actively communicate with my sitters and my potential viewers.

Of course, the portrayed situation into my video is completely different. But how?

The people I portrayed are not professional actors: they simply are common people shot using filming techniques and language. They speak in four different languages about something related to my personal story, something intimate, never shared before.

The language is deliberately cryptic because what I am explaining here is that situation of non effective communication we experience every single day. We are immersed in a world of words, images, contents but we often don’t analyse them: we see them, but without observing, we hear them, but without actually listening. Each person simply focuses on what appeals him or on what corresponds to his opinions and that “dysfunctional” behaviour is what creates a “gap” into the communicative process.

Why did I asked them to be filmed while saying sentences related not specifically with their own feelings? Because I wanted them to empathise with another individual’s inner world. I asked them to do it in their native languages, or those languages they use in their everyday working environment or in the Countries they live in, because in this way they wouldn’t be able to effectively communicate and, using something related to their lives, they could better interiorise those feelings expressed.

I asked them not to try to act what they were saying: I provided indications about how I imagined each person while expressing those feelings because I wanted them to see what I saw, to feel what I felt. What they had to do was keeping deeper in touch with that moment of my personal experience and express their actual feelings while saying those words. I wanted to observe how they would have faced them. I didn’t tell them those words were related to my experience until we shot the video  because I wanted them to be spontaneous not giving them the time to “digest” that information in advance, and so, before the shooting phase, I let them thinking that those sentences were simply a fiction. I needed their honest reaction and to portray it.

So, again, what is the difference between the two videos? Into mine, each person we observe it’s me.

What was my hope?

Starting this path by incorporating the value of empathy since the very beginning, I wanted to demonstrate that an effective communication it’s impossible if we don’t face a situation as a whole: hearing and listening to others, even with our souls.

I have to admit that I’ve been surprised by the emotional response of each participant: they completely understood how I felt in those moments and their reactions and interpretations of my emotions fully corresponded to the actual. I thought that, having to portray someone else’s emotions they might have encountered some difficulties, but I realised that I chose the perfect match for each single part of me and my personal experience, the perfect person for each of the four sections of that surreal dialogue.

But was that a real dialogue? It was and it wasn’t.

Those four individuals did not communicate among them, they were basically communicating in monologues but, at the same time, once I explained them what those words were about, they started communicating with me. Saying those words, and saying them in the way I would have done, they demonstrated to me that empathy is possible, that they weren’t simply feeling sympathy for me, but that they could actually understand me.

I found it a moving experience and this is why I am grateful to each one of them.

I understand that the language of Cinema often makes us think that what we observe is not the actual, but sometimes, like in this case, it is. I saw myself in them, they reflected my inner world as a mirror and they give me the hope that those viewers who will observe my images, both moving and stills, will be able to do the same in the future.

Documentaries and even fiction often take inspiration or start from the actual, after all.

Cinema, theatre, music, photography must be media used together in this project to demonstrate that reality and negative emotions can be expressed in different ways without losing their authenticity. It doesn’t matter what language we choose, what matters is finding a key-code to enable sitters and viewers to communicate and understand each other.

At the beginning I was considering to subtitle this video, but then I decided not to do so: my fear was that, in that way, my work could have been considered as pretentious and so I decided to ask a composer who is currently studying Film Scoring in Los Angeles to create, after the editing phase will be concluded, a piece of work able to underline what the images represent. She was one of the four participants in this empathy-related experiment, and so I thought that no one but her could be more appropriate in creating that part.

Here, the empathic relationship does not stop with those that should be considered as my alter-egos, it goes on even in the editing and scoring phase, in which I will have no full control. I am trusting someone else, I am trusting their ability to empathise with me paying attention to who I am and how I see and interpret things, I am trusting their capability to engage with the subject matter.

If I wouldn’t trust others and their ability to feel that empathy which is so important to me, in the end creating the whole project would be pointless, I think.

While I am waiting to see what the final result of this collaboration will be, I am currently working on video-portraits and photographic ones, because, even if I am trying to create a more complex body of work, my aim remains the same: portray people and the process in which they release those negative emotions I often discussed talking about “I can hear you now”.

 

References:

Lynch David, Frost Mark, Twin Peaks Series 3, release date May 21st 2017, Showtime, USA. http://www.sho.com/twin-peaks