Archaic Smile
Kurt D'Haeseleer, 2008, 19'05''

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An abstract, organic and wavy fabric fills the image. Like a skin or membrane, moving to the rhythm of nervous and minimal sounds, it forms the first and apparently impenetrable film layer. After some time, while the membrane opens and closes, figures appear behind it. We see crowds, many people in a train station, in a stadion or on the battleground of an archaic-looking civil war: images that represent the past. It looks as if a collective cerebral cortex is looking for the shared and mediated memory from a past where ‘the public’ and ‘history’ seem to meet for a short while.

While these visual echoes become more visible, the music builds up; it becomes more turbulent, sometimes bombastic, and then again makes way for a voice-over. A woman’s voi
e speaks about the end of history, in sentences that could have been written by Marx, Debord or Fukuyama. In the ‘spectacle’ we are heading towards the end of all battles, in the direction of a post-historical economy of calculation, without ideology or philosophy. The museum of humanity will merely be saved.

The last image – when the first layer is completely eaten away – shows an unreal landscape: an artificial castle garden where several people are walking a path behind a hedge. The fairy tale castle looks beautiful at first, standing between waving trees under a blue sky. But then it slowly starts moving out of the image. A wisp of smoke follows. History ends here.

Netherlands Media Art Institute, Esma Moukhtar
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  • Date: 2008
  • Length: 19'05''
  • Type: Video
  • Copyrights: All rights reserved (c) LIMA
  • Genre: conceptual
  • Keywords: culture, deconstruction, history, image, representation, collage, computer graphics