Lunghezze d’onda

Étienne-Jules Marey records a strip of 90mm celluloid in the Gulf of Naples that he will call La vague. It is 1891. He is equipped with a camera of his own invention, patented the year before. What is Marey looking for? Per- haps he is trying to understand the structure of the waves’ motion, the temporal sequence with which it breaks regularly against the coastal rocks. He wants to deconstruct the beauty of that small motion and measure the time it takes for it to expand, unwind, until the moment it seems to draw back and curl up, to crash again, cre- ating invisible, underwater vortices.

Studying the waves of sea. This is not unlike what we have done in this program. We are verifying diverse wave lengths. From the imposing waves in De Seta’s film, juxtaposed with the lava flow on the island of Stromboli, to the ones that cradle the boat returning to the island of Lisca Bianca in Antonioni’s L’avventura. As well as the rhythms of the tide and with which it is captured in the whirl of perspectives that is Chris Welsby’s Fforest Bay II. And the wave and cinematic motion of Jean-Michel Bouhours’ blend of collage and animation, Vagues à Colliure.

For not only sea currents crash – film frames too. Such as in Rose Lowder’s Voiliers et Coquelicots, a film of sur- faces, an ornamental pattern composed of red tulips and the blue of the sea (plus the flicker effect). We will end tuning in to another wave-length, that of Michael Snow. We are screening Wavelength in its ab- breviated, digital version, entitled WVLNT, to abandon ourselves to this game of overlays and layers of images, compressions, chromatic and audio waves that culminates in a final photograph of sea waves.

In a word: sea waves and cinematic waves. The voyage lasts under 50 minutes. Shall we risk seasickness?

Rinaldo Censi is is a writer, translator and film programmer. He has published a book on Yervant Gianikian and Angela Ricci Lucchi in 2013, while his latest is entitled Copie originali. Iperrealismi tra pittura e cinema (2014). For the Fondazione Cineteca di Bologna he curated the Italian edition of the DVD of Jean-Luc Godard’s His- toire(s) du cinéma (2010). He has also curated programs on various filmmakers, including Charley Bowers, Jean Eustache, Pedro Costa, Peter Tscherkassky, Straub-Huillet, Peter Kubelka, Philippe Garrel and Karl Kels.

- Etienne-Jules Marey, La vague (Francia, 1891, 20’’)
- Vittorio De Seta, Isole di fuoco (Italia, 1954, 10’)
- Michelangelo Antonioni, Ritorno a Lisca Bianca (Italia, 1983, 9’)
- Chris Welsby, Fforest Bay II (Regno Unito, 1973, 5’)
- Jean-Michel Bouhours, Vagues à Colliure (Francia, 1991, 6’)
- Rose Lowder, Voiliers et Coquelicots (Francia 2001, 2’)
- Michael Snow, WVLNT (Canada/Stati Uniti d’America, 2003, 15’)

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