Expanded time and expanded Cinema in the work of Javier M. Rodriguez
Over the past three years, Javier M. Rodriguez has focused in the production of site-specific
video-installations where space is articulated accordingly to altered pace and tempo of the
movement-image that occupies it. In which by means of translation, space is measured and
devised by units of time and the cinematic experience is expanded into a one to one scale with the
viewer. Between this translations the building blocks of film narrative step out from the movie
screen to appear still in the exhibition space, waiting to be activated by the spectators body and
Along the same lines it is the selection of artworks for this solo project in which each piece
requires either the public or the collector interaction. The overall exhibition space and the lifespan
of the works is to be seen and approached as an on-going process where the decay processes of
its own materials or its dependence on the public emulates movement in cinema. All editions are
process-based and time-based pieces all together, even if one resemble a painting or another one
to a sculpture.
For instance, Our Feature Presentation (2015) is a Gonzalez-Torres like stack of paper posters
lying on the floor. The whole stack is constituted by the printed content of Michelangelo
Antonioni’s movie L'Eclisse (1963) a poster for each second of the film. The viewer interaction is
required to metaphorically run the whole movie by taking away one poster – second – after the
other with the result that the film will be running through these random encounters.
Secondly, a few editions from the series Where I’m Going, You Cannot Follow I (2013) represent
another level of viewer interaction required to complete and generate the meaning of the artwork
itself. Each edition represents a sort of hidden photograph that lies statically and quietly covered
with a cheap inkjet print. The result is a black monochrome that only through the direct exposure
to the light within a period of twenty to thirty years will slowly provoke the decay of the black ink,
revealing the unknown content of each work. Time, as a variable constant depending on the
decision to expose the pieces or preserve them from light, will affect the overall conclusion. On
the other hand, a loop system emerges from the mixture of artistic disciplines: starting as paintings
and ending as photographs but the transitions from one genre to the other is the cinematic fade
Moreover, An Element of Suspense (2015) is a polypthic piece that reduces into nine pictures
the pan movement of a movie scene while a gradual layer of black ink obscures the sequential
images. This piece shares the same cheap ink technique of the above mentioned Where I’m going,
you cannot follow (anno) with the difference that by the end of the black ink fading, the subject of
the panning movement would be revealed through its cancellation.
Drifting from the above technique, Layers of deception “You are going to be lonely” (2015),
reproduces a film still of an empty room from the movie Tokyo story (1953). The image is
constructed in parts as a collage with standard fax and inkjet prints. As it’s widely known for all of
us, fax prints are delicate and fade very rapidly and so within a time frame of three to eight years,
the majority of the image will be lost (fax prints ) and only one and unknown selected object from
the room will remain visible (inkjet print ). This is one of the series Layers of deception , the
remaining eight will individually reveal a different object from the same scene.
As in language, the act of seeing from a viewer of the movie screen is discriminative and
arbitrary. In his films, director Yasujirō Ozu constantly include wide shots with large depth of field, drifting away from the classical Hollywood style of extreme framing and close ups so the viewer could get more involved on where to focus its attention and in doing so, he give them the liberty to complete the storytelling. In this occasion, the viewer of the piece would find himself with the opportunity of seeing whatever he likes from the scene, only that in the end the final definition would be the one decided by the artist.
Never forget (2015), consists of a large film still printed and framed where a video is projected.
The photo (scene ) comes from the movie Hiroshima mon amour (1959) and could be considered
the main act of the film. In a dark table from a Hiroshima bar, Elle shares with Lui the details of a
forbidden love affair and the film recounts this story through a series of flashbacks. On top of this
image and only in the black shades of the photograph a digital video is projecting the flashback
scenes. The combination of both photo and video result in a confusing and sometimes chaotic
composition blurring the present and the past; the present time of the physical photo becomes
analogous with the present time of the film bar scene and the flashback scenes from the story
seen in real time resembles our own memories of the film (if it is the case ). Either way, we
encounter at least two layers of time; one that corresponds to the materiality of the photograph,
the actual present and a virtual time (memories ), both from our own and from the movie story.
Lastly, Rodriguez’s solo project will include A Burst of words (2015), a video piece that could be
considered a conceptual remake from the 1948 movie La terra trema . In the original film, the story follows a poor and vulnerable family of fisherman fighting uncertainty at the sea of Sicily. In his adaptation, Rodriguez’s turn the movie script in to the main character. The four corners of the
pages match the four corners of the video frame and while we manage to read all dialogues on
page, the story only goes forward when the paper is blown away by the wind, slowly and
randomly, just as the characters live at the mercy of the forces of nature.
Overall, the above-described artworks depart from the discreet and individual operations that
shape cinema’s own language, while at the same time finding them selves on a conceptual stage
where time can be expanded beyond its traditional conventions. Although all the pieces reflect on
the nature of film and video narratives, they preserve the ability of speaking about and for
themselves. Formally, all the experienced transitions in time and space are only possible through
the use of cinema’s own language and nothing more.
If Rodriguez’s accounts for the impossibility of eternal conservation in the art world and he takes
advantage of the materials decay, then we found ourselves with an open invitation to embrace the
entropy. If everything fades away ...then maybe it is the best story to be told.