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Immagine Tempo, A Short Film by Jacopo Benci.                   




The dense poetic texture of this video offers alternating images contrasting Roman historical culture (classical and renaissance stone work) with modern culture (the streets and the tunnel), and these in turn with ferns and other green plants growing out (of the cracks) of stones (mainly travertine a historically important material for Roman urban culture of all periods).  Nature (the ferns) and Culture (the cultured stone of urban construction) are opposed. Culture is divided into that with a historical (past) reference and the present situation of the tunnel (the 'Traforo Umberto I') under the Quirinale (a site of social governance).  A non-place of transition (not yet a site of abject or 'underground' culture, although often the site of culture's abjected, disposed, materials) it is a site and sign of society's construction through waste, a space of transit and pollution, lost to any other mode of being (unless present illicitly, abjectly). Presence and absence are counterposed; the presence of (a past) culture and the 'absent' presence of the present (the tunnel mouth, the hollowing out that lies beneath the showpiece of the gardens and the palazzo); the present of our culture and its contribution to life. In the images that follow growing nature returns and redeems the travertine - which it transforms as it takes it as its chosen context and frame. In this way a cultural building block, this redeemed stone, is returned as it were to nature. As a growing life-form, the plants' trajectory into the future poses the question of the future. (The place of human beings in all this is that of ghosts, superimposed faces, retreating backs). The direction of natural growth is also the direction of the wind of time. Counterposition to the entropy of a failed culture. Il temporale del tempo.


The text (a reading taken from Serres', Rome: le livre des fondations) poses the question: what kind of time do we live in?


The video ends on a triple-layered image (which is then left to fade). Renaissance architecture: a frame-type structure: and a face (possibly female); all coincide in a final image made out of multiple superimposition. A question is posed (we must remember, this image follows the future reference implied by the greenery). The architectural fragment (the top half of a renaissance palazzo, its 'solar' or symbolic portion, that part of a building indicating its general role in the life of the community) asks of us, the viewers; in what kind of house do we live, in what kind of city; and in what kind of dwelling place would we wish to live?  The frame-like structure may suggest either a prison for us (it enmeshes the face, the mirror of human consciousness in the text) or conversely it may offer a structure we use, which will shelter and sustain us. The direction of the stare coming from the eyes of the face addresses the question to us...





Copyright, Peter Nesteruk, 2003