Icarus (2004)

Icarus_Sum 630 355Icarus was shot in Cartagena, Spain. The city of Cartagena, situated on the Mediterranean coast, has been the site of the rise and fall — and of manifestations of power and disempowerment — for an array of cultures and regimes, among them Roman, Byzantine and Islam, as well as the Episcopalian Church and the Spanish Republic.  During those times the city served — between long stretches of decay, epidemic, war, destruction and then recuperation — as a thriving port, a strategically valuable military base and an industrial and commercial center rich in mineral, lead and silver mines.  Currently a small peripheral town, inhabited in large part by an emigrant community of Moroccan day-workers, it is bent on extending the tourist and cultural appeal of its excavations of remnants of a Roman theatre, of an Amphitheater situated beneath a bullfight ring, and of a large number of other historically pointed military, navy and cultural sites, as well as of its renowned technical university (which resides in a renovated military hospital) — by means of a supervised series of house demolitions in sites intermittently dispersed in the town’s center, to be re-occupied in the near future by luxurious apartment hotels.  At the time of Icarus’ production, the various signs of power and of entropy, of centrality and marginality, whether military, political, ethnic, economic, cultural or social, were eclectically displayed in the city’s layered and fractured architecture and human arena.

The edited video for Icarus consists of a 12 min. reverse pan — an impossible re-turn or “temporal wipe” — across circular sites shot in Cartagena, each stitched together out of patches, spatial and temporal, of the city’s urban landscape.  The act of weaving in and out of scenes and of moments betrays unseen cracks into which various characters slide, in which they converge, or disappear.  The landscape thus peels and unfolds, turning back but never arriving at some intact moment of aspiration and of origin.  The piece is formally engaged with navigating a fragmented landscape, using the camera’s movement as a means to comment upon — or occupy and thereby interrupt — that landscape’s social and political determinants.

Icarus_installation1* 630 355A rotating projector at center of a cylindrical projection screen unfolds the documented space(s) dynamically.  The rotation of the projector matches the camera’s motion in speed and angle, resulting in a “wipe” or an “x-ray” view of the projected space gradually erased/revealed within the changing portions of the circular screen.  The spectator is positioned at the periphery of the cylindrical screen, always confined to a limited angle on the rotating projection.