Untitled (Moving Image)

For this piece, produced for the performance festival Verbo in São Paulo, I used footage that I had shot by chance from a subway station overpass during an earlier visit to the city. The video (a vulture floating on the carcass of a dead dog on a polluted river) was projected onto an A4-sized sheet of paper. A text describing how the footage was shot was printed on the back of the same sheet. I read the text to the audience as the video played. My reading ended shortly before the video came to an end, at which point the whole room fell back into darkness, and the performance ended.

This is the text that I read:

I shot this image in 2012 in São Paulo. I was in a subway station. A crowd of people had gathered by a window, and I went to see what they were looking at. I started to film this scene with my compact camera, to keep filming it, until its point of dissolution. I did not think about what I had shot until I was invited to do something here tonight. I had not thought of what to do with it, I had not thought of doing anything with it, until this invitation came. I came upon this image. The invitation came to me. I came to the idea of doing something with it, here, in front of you. I thought of simply holding it up to your attention, and reading a text, or rather, holding up a text, holding it up so as to read it to you, and having the image play itself out on the other side of the same white surface. A surface like a screen or a page, or like a coin. Like a two-sided coin, with (on one side) an image, and (on the other) a text, an address. And rather than talk about this image, I just wanted to remark upon certain aspects of it. Its movement, for example. I call it an image so as to be able to call it a moving image, because that is what it is. It is an image of something which is moving, which is caught up in the continual movement of a river’s current. It is also an image in motion or a motion of images, a stream of stills whose continual movement mimics that of the original event, its unfolding. There is my movement as well, the way I kept moving farther and farther down the windowed corridor in order to keep filming this scene. And the camera that I held in my hand, it also moved, that is to say, it zoomed in and out, went in and out of focus, but also registered my own movements as I moved it, as I moved along with it, as I drifted along with the scene in its sights.

There are also your movements. The image I am holding up to you is small, just as the actual scene that I witnessed was small because I stood far away from it. And so I imagined that, just as I did that day, perhaps you too would move in to get a better look at this image. But I also imagined that many of you would not do so, just as most of the people who walked past me that day did not notice the crowd that had formed at the window, or even if they did, did not bother to move in closer to see what it was that we were all looking at, what it was that many of us were filming with our phones or cameras.

A moving image. An image in movement. An image of movement, in movement.

Thank you.

Untitled (Moving Image) from Julien Bismuth on Vimeo.