By Daniela Cascella
1. Click, Slide
Between 1938 and 1940 a teenager student attends a series of art history lectures at Bologna University in Italy, in a dark small classroom with tall desks and a screen behind the teacher’s table: a classroom like a desert island, in the heart of a night with no more light. The lecturer bears the unreal aspect of an apparition. ‘He was, in fact, an apparition.’ On the screen: slides of early Renaissance paintings by Masolino and Masaccio, faces and limbs caught in expressions and angles that draw and embody a partial architectural space, and appear as hinges between people and history, people caught unguarded on a screen by means of formal arrangements of gestures.
It’s a convergence of sense, split across frames and punctuated by clicks.
It’s a trying to think through fractured forms and jolts of history, click, slide, click, slide.
Try to think transience, to linger on the impalpable quality of the light projections, the barely audible yet punctual clicks of the slide carousel, interferences of apparitions, rhythms and gestures.
Thirty-odd years later, as the images from those slides and the notes from those art history classes were collected in a book, the student-turned-writer wrote a review of that book. He wrote about his singular experience of encountering those images at the time, and about the experience of encountering them again so many years later, in the book and through his recollections of those projected framed gestures. ‘All the descriptions of these pictures are foreshortened…from unusual and difficult viewpoints.’
Those projected framed gestures, in the past, recalled, become these projected framed gestures, in the present, present.
Think of the student listening to the art historian, framed by the student-turned-writer recollecting the student listening to the art historian, framed by myself, the reader-turned-writer, going through the student-turned-writer’s text and writing more in turn, recollecting, framing, memories, now. The framing of a framing of a framing of a framing, and further—interferences of apparitions, rhythms, gestures, projections.
I start going through a pile of books and pamphlets sent to me by artist Dominique Hurth. I read some of her words and I’m no longer sure who of us is ventriloquising whom, and what spin of circumstances has led my hand to open, right as I look around for words to fill a missing frame in this text, to open Dominique’s book exactly on the page that speaks to me like those inner voices that unexpectedly resonate from chance encounters, and tell us so much more about the workings of our mind than any rational explanation—those encounters that André Breton called petrifying coincidences, of a violently fortuitous character, pointing at unlikely complicities—and the page speaks to me of ‘the click of the projector that never existed, but rather, its form [is] appropriated now within the movement of the hand flipping through a book.’
The book of images, recollected, reviewed, flipped through by the hand of the student-turned-writer, never existed for me as an object—and yet I appropriate its form and flip through it as flip through the recollections of the student, until his present at the time becomes my present, this time. Until the projector, and that book of images flipped through and reviewed, are no longer present or absent objects, but modalities for thinking and for arranging words, images, sounds. Click, slide, flip.
[This is a short extract, the full article is available to read in Issue Four]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Daniela Cascella is a London-based Italian writer. Her work is focused on sound and literature across a range of publications and projects, driven by a longstanding interest in the relationship between listening, reading, writing, translating, recording and in the contingent conversations, questions, frictions, kinships that these fields generate, host or complicate. She is the author of F.M.R.L. Footnotes, Mirages, Refrains and Leftovers of Writing Sound (Zero Books, 2015) and En Abyme: Listening, Reading, Writing. An Archival Fiction (Zero 2012).