William J. Simmons
And I wonder about that response in the viewer, or your response to seeing the work, that sort of, space of a sincere reaction, as opposed to, or maybe connected to a critical or intellectual one. So maybe it's a question of sincerity, but also of, what sorts of responses you hope to elicit from the viewer?
I would start by saying that at the very beginning, there is this, depending of one comes in, but in the beginning of the loop, one sees this space full of columns, like a forest of columns. It's immense, eventually you might not see the end of it.
And then soon, all of a sudden, you see something floating in mid air, in the middle of the space, which is the, thanks to this Hologauze screen, which is translucent, so you can see through, and only the brighter parts of the image are projected on it, and then the black part, you can see through the space.
And then there's also this play that I've been doing, with Patrick Gilengeli, the light designer playing with the background. And when you see through more, and when you see through less. In the beginning you see this projection that sometimes it, it materializes, and sometimes it dematerializes.
Sometimes, with the help of the sound, these moments of materialization become even more clear. And then, people start moving around. Like I said, it's like this screen is floating, it's very long, it's 45 meters long, by seven meters, so it almost cuts the space in half, but you don't feel the cutting, because you can see through.
And then as you go around, you have these other interruptions which are the columns that they produce this continuous interruption of the image. Somehow your brain has to stitch it back together, to understand what it is, depending on where you choose to stop, or continue to take a stroll.
And then the way how we're playing with the lights, when you're still in this first half of the space, it's playing between, being here, being there. Now the whole idea, the machine of the cinema theater or film theater is that, everything is done for you to be elsewhere. And elsewhere is your home, within the time of the film.
The columns and the Cistern become the background of the film. But it's at once, it's a landscape, it's a real place. And on that side, between all the- because of the projections, all the play with shadows and lights plus the additional lights that we have, that we program. It just produces this sort of very anatomical body that is breathing, and you don't know whose body it is, because it is like you are already within, you can, you don't have the right distance to understand what you are looking at.
So all of a sudden you have this narrative which is mostly all the time, two-dimensional, which is the film. With certain birds of three-dimensionality, when the film is dark and the lights go on in the back, and you can see the space, so the two-dimensionality of the film becomes space.
But then as soon as you go around, it's all about the space, and it's all about the anatomy of the background of the film, so to say. So what is behind the film.
Also in my work, as well in previous exhibitions, I am very interested in the choreography of the visitor, the pace they choose to go around, how somehow you hint at without obliging, you hint and how you wished at best them to go around it, which pace, where to stop, where to spend longer time, when to move on again.
William J. Simmons
So I wanted to conclude with one last quote of yours. You are very quotable, which is quite an accomplishment. You say, "What I call a place is where one remembers having been." I wonder how you will relate to the Cistern when you leave Houston, or how you relate to other works that are very dependent on the site.
William J. Simmons
I think site-specific is maybe an overused and not quite correct term here. But I wonder how you relate to these spaces when you leave them, and if you return to them in any way.
Well I think although for example this work whenever it would be shown in the future, in an exhibition or in a totally different context, it definitely won't bring about the same experience, relation. It will be different, not necessarily less or more, just different, because it won't be hosted and surrounded by this magnificent place, which is the Cistern.
On the other side, somehow the features of the architectural Cistern are embedded in the work, because like I said, all the rhythm of the silences in between the moment that it plays, are there in a certain duration to make up for what would become the reverb in this place.
So in other moments when the film will be shown elsewhere, it's no longer- the silences are still the same, they are there, but they are no longer inhabited by the reverb of the Cistern, they will be inhabited by their reverb mostly of the film itself, of the space station itself, which we have in the mix of the film.
So it will have left its imprint in the way how the rearrangement of the music is constructed in the film. But otherwise, I think a place like the Cistern is quite extraordinary because or- maybe even becomes even more so in moments of- after this one year of a pandemic, where we were all or maybe not all, but many of us, we were, it was so different- you are there, you are alone, spending time within a space with yourself.
So that was a fantastic transition, because you are still in a space which is real, but extremely mental. It's as big as it can be, but it just, you can contain it within a blink of your eye.
William J. Simmons
I think that is a wonderful way to put it, and a wonderful way to conclude. Thank you so much for doing this with me.
Thank you, Will. It was a pleasure.