I was fortunate to visit the Centre de Cultura Contemporània de Barcelona this weekend with my friend Mertxe on the beginning of our Articket tour of Barcelona’s museums. There were two fascinating exhibits: The Complete Letters (Todas las Cartas) and Global Screen (Pantalla Global).
The first, Pantalla Global, examines three different stages of the twentieth century’s evolution of screen: the cinema, television, and the different screens of the internet.
They describe the exhibit,
The three ages of the screen witness the affirmation of a more and more evident power of intrusion and influence. Not only have screens created the spectacular world of entertainment, they have transformed our vision of the world, the realms of politics, advertising, sport and celebrities, and our everyday lives even.
Screens are no longer the exclusive domain of moving images, but now of all types of content. Information, commerce, culture, communications and part of or private lives all appear on screen.
Global Screen: the world becomes the screen, and the screen becomes the world.
From the CCCB:
Of the several different realms, the best done were “our vision of the world” and advertising. “Our vision of the world” was shown using short video-news clips from around the world starting with 1900. While the clips are quick and limited, the exhibit does an excellent job of showing just how our scope of the world has changed through video journalism.
The advertising part of the exhibit was also outstanding. Viewers are bombarded with thematic advertisements projected on 10 different screens.
The exhibit described by CCCB:
Film advertising is born with the advent of the cinema. Lumière and Méliès, the two great figures of the early days of cinema, make advertising films. For more than half a century this film advertising is nevertheless subject to a didactic and demonstrative logic: it is simply a matter of publicizing the product by vaunting its merits.
There comes a moment when, with television, this logic is pushed aside in the name of a search for seduction, spectacle and creativity: whence the appeal to more elaborate techniques (scripting, editing, special effects) and to different registers (humor, derision, connivance, starification). The idea is to astonish, entertain, make the view dream: no longer is it the objective quality of the product that is staged, but an imaginary idea, a concept, a piece of entertainment itself. Which further reinforces today’s marketing strategies, which are addressed to the individual through his computer screen or his cell phone, and have recourse to the creation of events, hyper-spectacles of which the screen is the vector.
A good point is made in this: the identity we give a product we know only through advertisement is primarily pathos — we are astonished, entertained and made to dream by our emotional triggers accompanied with today’s elaborate technical craftsmanship. For instance, the Old Spice guy, who was appropriately include in the exhibit:
But screens haven’t just been used to cohere us into buying products we may or may not want. Screens have been a gathering place, a place for information, part of revolutions, and now an even more portable and penetrable form of communication. We’ve watched a man walk on the moon, a local-news special on the animal pound, Presidential debates and inaugurations, terrorism and beauty, entertainment and sorrow from the Royal Wedding to Kim Jong Il’s funeral and the fits of hysteria which accompanied it.
Todas las Cartas, is a series of filmed correspondence between two of twelve directors from different cities. We were able to watch one of the collections, 9 video-letters between José Luis Guerrin (Barcelona) and Jonas Mekas (New York). José Luis and Jonas had two quite different filming styles, which made for an eclectic collection of videos.
Remaining are film collections between Isaki Lacuesta (Girona) and Naomi Kawase (Nara), Albert Serra (Banyoles) and Lisadro Alonso (Buenos Aires), Víctor Erice (Madrid) and Abbas Kiarostami (Tehran), Jaime Rosales (Madrid) and Wang Bing (Shaanxi) and Fernando Eimbcke (Mexico City) and So Yong Kim (Pusan/New York). Hoping to see the remaining series later this week.
It was fascinating to see the day-by-day activities of two different people in two different cities, and how the explained to the other their city’s life.