Katalog der 6. Berlin Biennale, 11. Juni 2010
Pixels are neutral. Pixels have no feelings. No aggressions. No political ambitions. Pixels have nothing but color and a position in an overall constellation.
Nir Evron’s film Echo begins abstractly. Square color fields shift, as in slow motion, across the screen to slowly evolving guitar notes, the same four quarter notes repeated: a meditation on color. Gradually, the color fields turn to pixels and their colors diversify. They multiply and become outlines. At length it becomes clear one is watching an extremely slow zoom out. We see a speaker at a rally, flashing blue lights, police holding back an angry crowd at a demonstration. But all one hears are Uzi Feierman’s meandering guitar notes are: waves of sound that the pixels illustrate as they reappear over and over. It is as if one were in a sheltered space of pure aestheticism that gave only a brief glimpse of political realities, twilit, between dreams.
Nir Evron likes using the soundtrack to add layers of meaning to images or to release invisible memories that they may enshrine. In his film In Virgin Land (2006) superb shots of deserted Israeli sand landscapes are accompanied by a narrator reading excerpts from literary classics on the desert. In One Forest (2005) we see the Bia?owie?a National Park on the Polish-Ukrainian border, one of Europe’s last remaining virgin forests, which World War II turned into a mass grave. The shots are quiet and peaceful. But the sounds Evron adds to the images touch on deep fears, like the soundtrack of a horror film.
The scenes in Echo go back to 1985. We see the protests at the closure of the ATA textiles factory in Haifa, North Israel. Founded in the pioneering years of the 1930s, the factory, which produced uniforms and other clothing for workers, soldiers, and kibbutzim, stood for community and economic independence. Under pressure of cheap textile imports from the Far East, three thousand people lost their jobs. It was, in the artist’s words, a national trauma, marking the end of the welfare state and the start of globalization and privatization. Today a big shopping center stands on the site.
The slowly dancing color fields are thus an affectionate reminiscence of the textile industry, which weaves fabrics from patterns much as pixels make up screen images. They also reflect on media technology: the film material is some of the last before the State broadcasting station Channel 1, the sole TV channel at the time, switched from 16 mm film to video. The dreamlike weaving and unweaving of images and their narrative patterns opens up associative spaces in the network of collective memories and raises questions about their representation, and about the representation of social space. The demonstration as an expression of—in this case ultimately unsuccessful—political will seems to hark back to an era before major social visions dissolved in a mass of tiny pixels.
Translation: Christopher Jenkin-Jones