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Andreas M. Kaufmann

Video Painting / Video d’ameublement #2, 1996

Video | DVD | b/w | no sound
 

 

 

Slowing down little more than two minutes and eight seconds of a film sequence now considered a classic, not only because of what it shows of the universal, the general and the typical, but to bring to light the indifference that the intensity of a moment arouses when you don’t pay it the attention it requires is what Andreas M. Kaufmann has done with the kiss that, supposedly to seal their love, Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman share in the celebrated film Casablanca. Apart from the interpretations that could be arrived at from the act of slowing down to appreciate the speed of a scene — which can be from a film but also from a sound or any action in real life — in detail, and/or the need to get some distance from it to be conscious of what is happening, one of the aspects that, for me personally, grabs my attention more is the title of the work and the subtitle the author gives it to outline his intention: “Video painting no. 2 / Video d’ameublement”. On one hand we have what the video collector Jean-Conraid Lemaître says: Video is the painting of the 21st century. Though I don’t know how true that assertion is, video has without a doubt become a part of our lives, and, given the importance that it has been acquiring, the artists are many who, through their own preoccupations, have made us see their reality — which may also be our own — as the one they show through an image.

On the other hand we have Erik Satie’s “Musique d’ameublement”: the five pieces with the title “Furniture music” that Satie composed, beginning in 1917, to brighten up various occasions. They were basically background music — themes intended to be heard in public spaces without anyone paying them the least bit of attention. One way of putting it might be to say that it was the seed of Brian Eno’s ambient music, or taking it the last extreme, of what we know nowadays as background music: these sounds we hear in elevators, airports, train stations… Transient places, and the music’s presence is just as normal to us now as it was odd at the beginning of the 20th century when Satie, fed up with the adaptations of classical pieces played live by musicians in department stores or restaurants, decided to do something about it. In one of Satie’s letters from 1920, he says to Cocteau that furniture music “creates a vibration, doesn’t have any other purpose, plays the same role as light, heat and comfort in all of its forms… Furniture music is called for. No meetings, no assemblies, etc., without furniture music… You can’t get married without furniture music. Don’t go into a house if there is no furniture music. He who hasn’t heard furniture music doesn’t know happiness. You can’t go to sleep without listening to a bit of furniture music or you won’t sleep well”.

And then we have “Video d’ameublement”: a remix of a slowed down image that, played in a continuous loop, doesn’t require the spectator’s constant attention, and its nature allows it to be shown like a painting on the wall — thus its definition as video painting — or on a monitor placed anywhere. It’s an image that doesn’t bother you, doesn’t attack you, but which nonetheless is able to show what the days cut us off from: perception of the notion of time. This with the same intensity as that kiss between a distant Humphrey Bogart and an icy Ingrid Bergman.

Frederic Montornès


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