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AUDIOVISUAL. Form, Color & Time. Transcription. 1985

Form, Color, Time

Once upon a time the human being wanted to count how many grains of sand there were in the deserts and the seas of the Earth. (00:00:54)

Carmelo Hernando (30), artist.

Hi, I will tell you about the world of the ideas—how a painter chooses the colors in his palette, or the sculptor the matter on which he will sculpt his idea. Now I am going to link a succession of images for you through a photomontage.

The artist invites us into his workshop to enter a world of relative images, where a simple grey can turn into something else when it becomes apparent that it is made up with a matrix of black dots. (00:02:24)

(00:02:55) This is a genuine open door to our imagination. It is easy to understand that each idea has its own dimensions and each original its own measures which, once attained, allow images to graphically express their ideas. There is an obvious parallelism between a surgeon’s tools and the people involved in photomontage. We use a whole set of sharp instruments and toxic chemicals that obviously must only be used by people who have been entitled to work this profession. (00:03:45) Still, with nothing but our bare hands, house scissors and glue we could make each and every photomontage in this collection. It would be just a matter of time (00:03:59).

Anyway this is what is needed: time and a great deal of patience to store the image collections that, after sorting by families of graphic concepts, are fundamental to practicing this technique. Thus a language between the pictures is established, a real conversation between all them that takes place with the sound of time (00:04:30).

The images from the magazines are like wines in several ways: a record is kept of their harvesting, elaboration and shipping dates, and they keep their essence while they wait for a future consumer who may taste them. There are big multinational cellars with a great history, as well as other, humbler ones from several countries that can specialize in various aspects of their wines. (00:04:56) Just as though they formed an ornamentation for the twentieth century, modern images hide in their midst precise memory data from their time.

(00:07:00) During the last days of August 1984, after compiling and sorting pictures patiently for years, this artist faced the conclusion of an old project: the production of a book through photomontage where the pictures would be interlinked by chapters according to a script. The cameras recorded for 4 months how the pieces were finally arranged in their reading order and captured the manufacturing process of some ideas.

Having been born in the countryside, even I was frightened by the machines in some occasions; with the years I have learned that machines are neither good nor bad, but all the opposite..

(00:07:44) The financial barrier can dissuade future researchers, but the breakthroughs are unquestionably here. We want to have a small picture from a computer advertisement; we look for two magnifying adjustments which can work as a backdrop for a signature by Christopher Columbus in a particular point of the chapter or the book.

(00:08:17) We feel scared if we think of the asteroid ring that is waiting for us beyond Mars. We smiled as we transported an architectural formation from Iran, here on Earth, to Ganymede in Jupiter’s orbit. It was the time for the first harvest, according to the script we had to photograph 9 original pages and reduce them to the same scale in order to edit them into a double page following a particular geometric structure in each case. (00:09:03) The first of nine chapters from the book was in front of us.

Next we had to transport a Roman mosaic from Empúries to a laboratory located in a snowy summit. Leonardo, Rafael and Michelangelo created the colors of the Renaissance out of Nature mixing pigments of mineral, vegetal and animal origin with oils, water and eggs to cover their papers, canvases, walls and ceilings. We had a small problem, but we find a ingenious solution in a few drops of ox bile. (00:10:14) The plastic support we obtained the pictures on is precisely the only type that is incompatible with water paint materials such as gouache, which forms small droplets and slides over the plastics making a bold stroke impossible. The bile catalyzes the paint and makes it all work again.

(00:10:30) The art is drawing, photography, painting... and anything that allows graphic ideas to express. Markers —transparent paint dissolved in alcohol— are a great contribution to art, a priceless combination of classicism and modernity: the semi-soft texture of their material and the form of their tip are reminiscent from the millenary paintbrushes from the East.

(00:11:33) Certainly, everything is relative and there are possibly more men and women reading books and magazines from right to left than in the Western fashion. We read from left to right, while Arabic and Asian peoples do it the other way around. In the late 80s Japan produces the smartest, most beautiful, most avant-garde graphic material in the planet.

(00:12:16) Concealed between the folds of the walls in my heart, I guess I have a Japanese graffiti tattooed that reads: everybody copy one another, as I already did.

The history of the execution of arts is made up of positives and negatives, just like life itself. Since we live in big cities, a few generations ago, we should be no more surprised by the image of a snake that by that of a mouse, for instance. The real danger of reptiles for human life in the ecosystems of past times has engraved in fire a symbol into our brains. (00:13:03) The snake icon is old and complex; in our own history it is graphically presented numerous times in order to express the most varied concepts, but it is always a curved and dangerous form, seemingly suggesting other worlds.

(00:14:17) The realm of pictures—a world apart. There are thousands of images of space today: the solar system, the galaxies and the stars are a little more familiar to us nowadays. The Earth is photographed from every possible angle from satellites orbiting around its surface. Research and marketing enlarge increasingly the list of wonders and mysteries kept within our sphere. Fiction and science seem to compete graphically to escape from the past: those times when things were really different from our days.

(00:15:33) The device known as airbrush uses compressed air to pulverize paint in extremely smooth and fine particles. This feature is why it has been chosen to create this pathetic grey image that preludes the demise of our great lizards.

(00:16:10) The red fire, the black night of the ice ages and the irruption of the early mammals after the melting hail the dawn of the human age. Probably the typically human curiosity was what led a Japanese company to design, code and market these graphically contrasting, high-quality color scales.

(00:17:02) During the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, some artists and writers leisurely altered the look of their subjects with the character of the animals they saw around them. The hog, the fox and the nightingale sang that life was a stage and dreams... are just dreams. The fourth chapter, also titled Faula del porcs [Fable of Hogs], is at the epicenter of the book, a good moment to muse about this world of paper ideas. We cannot avoid taking the responsibility each of us has. Our culture consumes increasingly more paper; a tree takes way longer to grow that a paper sheet to burn. The felling of our old trees brings along the downfall of ecosystems and, on top of that, we pollute the atmosphere and destroy our protecting ozone layer with our thoughtless use of highly dangerous chemicals. One day we will not be able to wash our eyes like Pilates. We have to wait for our own life to turn against us and defend its rights. (00:18:19)

(00:24:30) After this immersion in the iconic galaxy of images, this color piece of news seems as fantastic as alarming. (00:25:00) Photomontage can express what we are and what we feel—it questions us, and demands we do not close our eyes to information. (00:25:10)


(28’ 13”) File # 3

Barcelona, 1984