The perception of the city in the modern era is characterized by its fleeting and momentary nature. Social and architectural constructions are fragmented and dashing past.
cityscapes attempts to make archived recordings from the Austrian Film Museum legible along these lines.
Single images are isolated from the cinematographic flow in order to scrutinise their inscribed cognitive potential.
For Walter Benjamin, history disintegrates into images and not stories. cityscapes is a search along the tracks of these images.
(Michaela Grill, Martin Siewert)
According to the philosopher Claus Pias, digital information technology is a methodical and systematic instrument for forgetting. Phenomena of the analogue world are quantified; opposing the analogue principle of entropy (films fall apart, just as statues die) is the digital principle of being able to totally reverse and configure discrete values.
In a sense, cityscapes is a test set up for how the "third life" of twentieth-century motion pictures might look in the twenty-first century. The Vienna recordings that Michaela Grill has digitized and processed have been taken entirely from archived films – fragments of lost news reports and weekly shows, unidentified artifacts without authors, the ruins left behind of the – in part, lost forever – film practices and life practices from cinema´s first two decades.
For Walter Benjamin, film has blasted the pre-modern understanding of history with the "dynamite of a one-tenth fraction of a second" and has made it possible to understand the world´s fragmentation. Accordingly, in image and sound (composition: Martin Siewert) cityscapes points to the radical contingency of digital coding and decoding processes: binary knowledge is a machine knowledge from which we attempt to (re)construct images, sounds, melodies, and histories.
Translation: Lisa Rosenblatt
english print version