constructed passage

German translation
Constructed Passage - Being elsewhere

Experimental video essay and internet film project by Christin Bolewski
Based on texts by Marc Augé, Ryszard Kapuscinski, Claude Lévy-Strauss

Being elsewhere, in a foreign country...
Observing, reporting, story telling....

The journey starts. From North America to West Africa and from Africa to America. The journey is imaginery. We are traversing the space, but we never arrive. Images are fleeting, even the camera is in a permanent movement. The place is not experienced: Places and Nonplaces.

Observing, reporting, reflecting reality?

"I do not maintain that this is reality!"

The project "Constructed Passage" interweaves elements of different genres: documentary and ethnological film as well as narrative, experimental and music clip in order to maintain that it is not possible to show reality or being objective. Image and sound alternate from documentary to "artificial images" created through digital and analog processing and sampling.

"The journey continues until it´s end. We traversed the space, but did not found the place. - What is left in the end are a series of "shapshots" piled hurriedly into memory".

A journalist travelling through Africa tells about his experiences. Like an ethnological investigator he discovers and describes Africa. In opposition to that is the text of a modern philosopher, who writes reasonable about the activities of the ethnographer, his dilemma between objectivity and subjectivity, about modern travelling. Places and nonplaces: "Adding up all the air, rail and motorway routes, the mobile cabins called "means of transport" and finally the complex ?skein? of cable and wireless networks. The accelerated circulation of passengers and goods. High speed roads, interchanges, airports..."

All of that is in opposition to the slowness and the movement in Africa. There an inhabitant of a small village tells about the history of his nation. About settling, why a complete village was moving from place to place and how the slavery brought the Africans to America. Fetish priests and ghosts are of great importance in this stories, which sound very exotic and foreign to us. The other, typical curiosities, snapshots these are the topics of the travel journal - a lot of clichees. The mediation takes place through words and text:

"The link between individuals and their surroundings in the space of nonplace is established through the mediation of words: signs and symbols. Their "instrucitons for use", which may be prescriptive, prohibitive or informative."

In Africa messages were mediated by "talking drums". Signals which informed the inhabitans of a village, when there was a danger and they should come back to the village and help. Later drumming was used for the evening entertainment. It was combined with stories which the old ones told to the young people: story telling, oral tradition, myths.

Observing, reporting, reflecting reality?

"I do not maintain that this is reality."

That´s why the film is imaginery. The text of the film is put together from different stories and characters: the character of the modern and very distant philosopher, who is reflecting about places and nonplaces, ethnology and the networking of the world, the character of the journalist and investigator, who talks about his experiences, the teacher of the African village, talking about the history and the culture of his country and one tourist guide of the Cape Coast Castle, who repeats automatically day by day his text about the slavery to foreign tourists.

The text of the philosopher is written by Marc Augé und Claude Lévy-Strauss. It is presented in theproject by title inserts and a male narrator. It comments the stereotype stories of the journalist (text by Ryszard Kapuscinski). The title inserts break the image flow and give a strong rhythm to the film like the included black edits.

Images and sounds were recorded in North America and Ghana with a small DV-Camera. The camera is in a permanent movement and documents the journey through different landscapes and places. There is no mise en scéne. The camera just shows what has happened. The images try to capture reality and to be objective and to convince the audience that it is possible to show reality. Suddenly this impression is broken, the images are deformed, digitally processed, edited like a music clip and very artificial.

Movement, speed, rhythm: elements of the journey and the film editing. The movement of the camera is increased by the editing - and very important - by image and soundsampling. Sometimes the meaning of the images is submitted to the structure of the sampled sound. Images are repeated, because the related original sounds produce a rhythm. Repititions and musical structures form the film. The soundtrack is completely created out of the original athmospheric sounds - except of two other rhythmical pattern. Original sounds of dance and drumming, athmospherical sounds of streets, airplanes, supermarkets,... are manipulated, edited, slowed down, played backwards etc.

The Image and soudsampling was created by digital editing with Avid Media Composer. The image was processed realtime with a DVE and with Avid Media Composer. The soundtrack was produced parallel to the image editing with Avid. Only the mixdown was done in the soundstudio.

The video version of "Constructed Passage" is shown at the Goethe-Institut Toulouse from March, 1st to March 26st - 14h 18h - monday to friday

Constructed Passage - Being elsewhere
Video Version:
Digi Beta, 55,20 min, color/bw, PAL, 2001

Camera, Sound, Editing, Post production, Soundsampling: Christin Bolewski

Narrator: David Larcher

Post production at Academy of Media Arts Cologne
© 2001 Christin Bolewski