Video still, “Hypermigrations”, 2020
MB: I think one of the reasons why I added a layer of strong text on top of it, is that the function of text there is to make sure the image will not become an aesthetic category, itself, in a way. It’s almost to… The text is a sort of regulatory mechanism. Maybe it’s my personal problem, but I have maybe this feeling of complete freedom or something like that, with the image…
HC: But isn’t that also just a form of legitimacy? The sand by itself would not be legitimate. It would be illegitimate because it would be, for you, a too direct presentation of this gratuitous gesture of making an image. But the narrative, although we can say this actively detracts from the image and this makes it less spectacular, and therefore more reasonable - actually its function is really just to legitimise the image as well.
MB: Yes, I have a fear of people saying that my work is beautiful, or of putting it in an aesthetic category.
HC: I guess I don’t really… I suppose what interests me is this doubt you have that the thing you have made, or might make, or be about to make, conforms to some idea you have of popular imagery.
MB: Yes, of course.
HC: Or commercial imagery.
HC: And a strategy for mitigating this doubt is to add this text, or to have this text as well.
MB: Basically I put it in a system - that there is no single entity operating in a work, but there is an antagonism between several elements which are somehow self-regulating each other. So for me the work is a holistic, let’s say, feeling or take on my thoughts. It is a small mechanical or biological system, a living cell; it’s not only one thing, there, and that’s it. It’s more like… The experience comes out as a result of the vibration between more elements.
What is important for me, is that they are close to each other, but I can tell you, I spent less time on trying to synchronise it or on dealing with problems like should this sentence start there or arrive with that image, that’s not a problem. It’s always like this, you know, you think in terms of norms operating within industry, what is appropriate and what not. You know, you have these kind of cuts; the voiceover can start, there, there and there - it cannot start there. You have these basic rules.
HC: But these are the kinds of things you’re already playing with, in a way, as soon as you start making decisions.
MB: It’s difficult to say this. For me, it’s really a throwing of dice. I think that there is an infinite number of good solutions, which can be… Everything you throw away, if you throw in a minimally structural way, it’s good, it’s there, it will work. It’s just important that it’s there. It’s a throw.
HC: But isn’t this decision to slow down the sand also predicated on the audience in the same way that someone might be aware of the experience, or the generalised experience, of an audience in watching an edit. That you’re making the same sorts of decisions as soon as you are aware of how the thing behaves as an image.
MB: My idea was just to deal with… I had the disturbing fact that it didn’t feel right to me, and I slowed it down. And when I saw that I didn’t feel that it was slowed down, I said okay. And that’s it.
HC: So that it’s not visible as an effect.
MB: Yes, somehow. It’s a bit reverse engineering, you know, in a way. Any photo you take, it will always have an unnatural gamma or colours; if you want to bring it back you will need to play a little bit with what the camera…
HC: But it’s a good example, because the photograph is already itself - the photograph already reflects its own production by being off-colour or…
MB: I know, but in that sense every amateur photograph is also a professional photograph or…
MB: This is playing with aesthetic categories, and your feeling of aesthetic categories. If I’m working in a film industry, I will never stop on just marking all the clips and putting 25% slower, and that’s it. What I will probably do is I’ll go clip by clip, and then put one a 20%, one at 15%, one at 50%, to get the optimum speed for absolutely everything, to make it really smooth, and to play with rhythm, to play with appearance, to play with duration and so on - to really go far in this. That’s how they would make it when constructing experience, you know.
HC: But that’s also the prerogative of the work. It’s a bit like colour grading. It’s necessary insofar as it’s considered a part of the machine - and it’s an effect that’s perceived as lacking if it’s not there.
MB: But this drifts too far from reverse engineering.
HC: By reverse engineering you mean taking the effect and then working out how to make it?
MB: To lower this effect of boosting up emotions or experience - or too much playing with someone’s experience of it. Every film, you know, it first slows down, then it speeds up, then it escalates… Basically it’s driving the experience. Me, I have something really… It terrifies me.
HC: I’m interested in the doubt that you have about it as an image, because of these professional tropes. Not in so much that you’ve prevented yourself in doing these things that you consider a problem, but more in the doubt that you have that the thing might actually be subversive within these tropes.
MB: I guess for me what is important, really the core, the base, the skeleton of whatever you are presenting to someone, is that it has a basic, strong logic behind it. That if it stands like that, it will have a capacity to communicate itself in an easy way. You know, it’s…
HC: But isn’t - again, to be provocative - the existence of the thing is enough legitimacy for me. The making of this map didn’t need to happen, and so it’s enough for me that it has happened. And this is in some ways to go back to this public dimension. It seems within a public situation it would be necessary to account for its existence with regards the interests of the public - television audience, or film audience or… Because that’s the thing that determines the legibility of these objects. But in a sort of general way, I wonder whether all of the things that are made to fit into those expectations are hindered by this need for having a prescribed intention. Whereas the desire to make the thing was quite simple, it becomes a lot of other things once it signs up to these devices… Which aren’t only legitimacy, I mean it’s also a source of information.
MB: Another way to explain this way of communicating, of your experience in work, is to think about this Marshall McLuhan theory of cold and hot mediums; in which a cold medium is like video. Why cold? Because it gives you space to, how to say, build in yourself, your thoughts. And it’s really true, when you listen to video, it doesn’t, so to speak, wrap you around a chair and you cannot… You move freely, you listen, you reflect.
HC: But I feel like - I would argue against this idea - I think it’s specific to what’s being presented by way of these media. It’s not the medium in itself that’s hot or cold…
MB: The content.
HC: For me a specific type of music on a radio…
MB: But for him, it’s not video any more, it becomes music broadcasting, which doesn’t necessarily need to be…
HC: So the question would be displaced onto a discipline specific question of music.
MB: What I understand is that for him there is already a difference between film and TV, even though both are dealing with image. But there is something in between, your body relation toward the way you consume media - it’s different when you attend a concert in a concert hall, and if you listen to the same sound on a video. Because when you listen to it on a video, your body is moving freely around and you don’t feel any moment obliged to stop or to behave properly, like in a concert.