23 Feb 2013

lost civilization of the vessels

lost civilization of the vessels, 2009
Audio-visual, SD 4:3 Stereo, 5’10”. Premiered in New York during the NYBA 2009.
Series of 675 photographic prints, 24 x 32 cm.

Before to start watch the video:

The artwork explained

This site's purpose is to make some of my most cryptic artworks more comprehensible and this multidisciplinary suite will be the first one to be examined.

Being quite evident that “lost civilization of the vessels” deals with environmentalism, for its strange writings it may seem rather indecipherable than cryptic, anyway there's more to know about it than what people may have understood at first

Why I made this suite of artworks?

That year I was in Tuscany, Italy. I like to walk through the countrysides and enjoy nature, so I was very displeased to see how dull and couldn't-care-less people can turn the beautiful lands into dumps, scattering rubbish all over the fields, especially from cars running along the country roads.
I was very surprised for the incredible number of garbage debris scattered all around the places where I was walking through.

So, I decided to document that: in the next weeks I bore the infrared camera, and started to take pictures of the most significant pieces of trash I came across.
I decided to use infrared photography for its dramatic and estranging aura, and its wearing effect on dyes.
I didn't shoot every piece I found and I could have continued for days, alas forever, but when I reached about 1500 photos I decided that was enough.

After that, my first thought was that mankind, continuing to scatter dangerous stuff everywhere that way, you know, will face many problems. Although littering is not the worst of the many disasters caused by mankind, it meaningfully emphasizes the meanness and shortsightedness of such people.
I then imagined a day where mankind would be definitely extinct since a very long time, so long that not even the bones nor the concrete would have survived time or a final war Armageddon, so that the only and permanent traces of its lost civilization were those perdurable small debris.

The second thought, while watching all the photos I took, was that the biggest part of items were vessels, just like one of the most common archaeological findings. Containers, receptacles, boxes and bottles for foods, cigarettes, sweeties, drinks, water, drugs and medicaments, or other “goods” available in stores, most of them contaminated too and full of toxic substances and additives.

A civilization used to put everything into vessels.
Hence the title.

After some days of screening I selected about 650 most significant pictures, and decided not to photo-manipulate them leaving the original pink tint,
as I am used to, because it renders an alienating vision like from another dimension.

The alien writing system

Who could have come across those garbage findings from a lost civilization? Another race, maybe extraterrestrial, an alien species who travelled herein. So I decided to transform all the pictures into file cards or slides as if they were belonging to an alien archaeological archive, a catalogue listing findings of unknown use. This is the purpose of the bizarre writings on them.
That was the basic idea, but the good is that the alien writing system is not a meaningless fake, it is indeed real and coherent.
I created an alien language totally from scratch, with an alphabet including the phonetics, a simple grammar with rules, a basic dictionary of words, a numbering system, and even a peculiar temper of these imagined alien travellers. I made it all very exotic.

I will not reveal what is the content of the writings, I only say they are remarks and brief annotations describing the findings.

I challenge daring decipherers of ancient languages and cryptoanalysts to decrypt my fictional alien language. That is not a hoax.

The phonetics system was necessary because I planned to make also a video, to bring an additional narration to the bare series of pictures, where you can hear the alien voice reading the titles appearing in the video, just like a presentation for a study. I wanted that voice to be inconceivably weird for a human being, as if it was emitted by the most exotic phonatory apparatus, maybe producing frequencies we can not even hear.
I recorded the phonemes and altered them until I obtained what I imagined them to be, then I pasted them in proper sequences to form all the needed words. The result is that whispered gurgling.
As the writings, also the voice is coherent and phonetically correct.

The video

To complete this audio-visual, I created an introductory part preceding the close sequence of all the slides.

I wished to make the video as if it was a brief report storing data about the travel made by those extraterrestrial archaeologists and their findings.

I designed some more slides with alien writings and a hypothetical cosmic coordinate system imaginatively locating our infinitesimal planet between astral bodies, galaxies, superclusters or filaments in this part of universe, some vaguely recalling the mysterious crop circles. The slides became 675 in total.

I added a virtual view of the Earth from space, then some vintage video footage showing a desolate, quiet and inanimate land, and a tensional soundtrack made with some noise manipulation.

The catalogue with the complete series of 675 slides