Author: Kairo Urban
On 15th November, we had the opportunity to host at Lab36 a talk at the occasion of the exhibition Hitomi, an event in the form of a debate, participating in the philosophy festival “Barcelona Pensa”. With the proposed conversation, we sought to find common points of research and create links between the philosophical, artistic and cinematographic communities, around the theme of the evolution of the audiovisual space and the new relations between the spectator and the screen.
The event, organised by the Lab36 director Natalia Foguet, the artist Victoria Ioudina and myself, Kairo Urban, producer of the work “Hitomi”, around which we were meeting, had the voices of the film critic Alan Kanjo and the film director and president of the Catalan film academy Judith Colell.
Victoria and I wanted to take the opportunity to ask our guests several questions about the line of research we are working on with our projects. Hitomi is a piece that looks with nostalgia at the current loss of traditional cinemas, and faced with this scenario, represented in the form of a cinema abandoned to our installation, we can’t help but ask ourselves what tools filmmakers, producers and exhibitors have at their disposal to continue attracting spectators to cinemas. We also like to imagine how these cinemas will evolve and what elements will eventually become indispensable in our way of consuming audiovisuals.
Both Alan and Judith agreed on the fact that collectivity was indispensable for the viewer’s interest in the cinematic experience. Judith gave the example of film festivals, which are currently growing in number of spectators and filling theatres in most of their screenings. I have no doubt that the interest of spectators to meet and share together the occasion of the festival creates a lot of community; just as traditional cinemas used to gather in a neighbourhood around the big screen, and in the same way as forums, hashtags or groups that comment on series or all kinds of audiovisual programmes on the internet.
In any case, Alan recalled a personal experience where a screening became a thousand times more terrifying when he attended completely alone, without any other spectator in the room because of the broadcasting time. We commented that we find it much more impressive to watch a horror screening alone in the cinema than at home with a computer screen. Therefore, we concluded that perhaps there are other conditions that can determine the transcendence of an experience for the spectator.
We talked about the architecture of the cinemas, and how the classic theatre-like auditorium seemed to transmit to the spectator sensations through its smells, textures and atmosphere, which the multiplex cinemas had not managed to replicate. Sensations that I knew well, as they are part of the “Hitomi” experience, and that invaded the Lab36 exhibition hall from the moment we placed the arch and the curtains of the “Essence Cinema”.
On the other hand, the essential element: the screen. With the emergence of mobile technologies over the last decade, the cinema reproduction device is increasingly independent of the big screen and we can watch cinema at home, in the metro and wherever we need to. On the one hand, we all assume that this evolution will be detrimental in terms of the viewer’s interest in the cinemas, and that the cinema experience will be lost or the viewer will move it wherever his or her mobile devices go.
I also think that this evolution could initiate a research interest in new exhibition spaces for audiovisuals. Now that filmmakers see cinema as escaping the big screen, space and device as elements that are part of the cinematic experience become more evident than ever. I commented in the debate that I wanted to investigate and find spaces that seek to create a collective audiovisual experience and an immersive space, outside of the comfortable “pocket” cinemas that we find on our mobile devices.
We closed the event by getting creative and with the help of the audience, making hypotheses about the future of VR technologies and immersive experiences in the audiovisual and in the evolution of the seventh art. An optimistic ending that, looking back on it, transmits to me both the desire to preserve traditional cinema and the enthusiasm to build the future of audiovisual techniques.
I couldn’t be more grateful to Lab36 and the organisers of the Barcelona Pensa festival for creating spaces for dialogue between artists and theoreticians, and to Judit and Alan for accompanying us with their visions.