HD Video, dimension variable, 15’30”
Photo: Federico Acal
Courtesy of the artist
Last year more photos were taken than in the entire history of photography up to that time. These are digital images which often remain on memory cards or are uploaded to social networks. Digital films, hardly fewer in number, end up on YouTube or other internet channels. They are freely accessible, everyone can view them. But what do we see when we look at them? Images are part of our cultural memory, but considering the constant flood of new images it seems that a flat present without historic depth is establishing itself, a present that expands in a strange way without following any particular direction vector.
In Federico Acal’s film Crystals a men recounts that he has lost his memory. He tries to compensate for this lost memory by viewing one new image after another. We see various scenes pass before our eyes: the streets of Las Vegas, an iceberg breaking up, people in Asian cities. In search of his memories the man enters a library, only to discover that the process of personal memory functions differently to the memory of humanity as a whole, transformed into facts. The Mayan temples, which acted like books and depicted centuries of ancient history, were destroyed by the Spanish conquistadores, but nonetheless the Maya have not forgotten anything. So what constitutes memory?
There are no self-produced images in this film, just appropriated sequences without author and date of creation. The scenes are circulating somewhere in the internet, some obviously of a private nature, others news images such as the tribe in the Brazilian jungle that had never before been in contact with civilization before being filmed from a helicopter. People who look us straight in the eye although we don’t know who they are. Divers retrieving something from the bottom of the sea. Visitors to the last Documenta, Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty.
It’s a world of the constant present, in which direct and remembered experience and the world of visual representation melt into each other. Reflection on the essence of memory is one of the striking themes of cinema because, one might say, it thus explores its own mediality. Here we encounter sequences from various sources that reflect our everyday experience of images – images that are unique and simultaneously vague and which bring together disparate elements in a diachronous narrative that nonetheless cannot render tangible the essence of memory: “There is no memory in texts and images … Memory is the before and after of the history.”
Federico Acal (1981, Spain) obtained MA in Artistic Production and Research. University of Barcelona, Spain, 2011 and Hoger Instituut Voor Schone Kunsten (HISK). Ghent, Belgium, 2013. Solo exhibitions include: Fresh Video. Galería Full Art. Seville, Spain, 2011, Lighthouses, a silent landscape. La Caja Blanca Gallery. Palma de Mallorca, Spain, 2010. His work was presented in the group exhibitions BORG 2014 biennial. Antwerp, Belgium, I sang, and thought I sang very well; but he just looked up into my face with a very quizzical expression. Hole Of The Fox, Antwerp, Belgium, The Poster Show. Extra City (Vitrine). Antwerp, Belgium,2014, The Portrait of the Artist, Graduation Show at Hoger Instituut voor Schone Kunsten (HISK). Ghent, Belgium, 2013.