2015 Kastė Šeškevičiūtė: "What would be an inverted projection?"

Excerpt from Kastė's 20 minute presentation for Do The Right Thing ! ~ DAI's 3 day graduation lectures marathon, July 2015.

What would be an inverted projection?


The character performed by Kastė Šeškevičiūtė evokes the image of someone uncomfortably situated between a mad inventor, factory worker or psychiatric hospital patient. This character’s defining features are a white jumpsuit, blue lips, a synthetic voice and the authoritative postures she takes when addressing the audience in a love letter to an anonymous person. Boldly directing the audience into a “memory hole”, the character “Lena Sokol” connects the present time to the historical events of the 1979 Iranian Revolution through overlapping projections of super-saturated images that include Iranian film clips from the 70s (including Abbas Kiarostami’s 1977 “Report”) and recently shot footage of Tehran filmed by the artist herself. The character’s voice is altered by a vocoder-synthesizer, giving the performance a retro-futurist feel. This not entirely “human” character appears to be situated in the present but without a present consciousness. Šeškevičiūtė makes use of the qualities of light as a projection material, while at the same time employs one of its metaphorical meaning; like starlight, the projections also appear as a future that has not yet arrived.

Maria Hlavajova brought up connections to themes that were brought up over the past two days, noticing that, “we keep talking about history and futures and how they are entangled.” She asks what the history of human kind is in relation to deep history or geological time, and suggests that Šeškevičiūtė, in her performance, set up an agenda of bringing the human history of time together with geological time through the “time of art.” Addressing the 1979 ‘moment’ through art was accomplished in part by Šeškevičiūtė’s attention to the films that were screened in Iranian theaters during those historically and politically significant years.

Alena Alexandrova remarked that when Šeškevičiūtė set up mise en scène and asked respondents “what would be an inverted projection?”, one can’t help but conclude that indeed, the logic of seeing is inverted: one is blinded by the sun, not only darkness (which suspends your capacity to see). This total oversaturation of projection and light lets the image disappear into itself. It’s interesting the way that the cinemas have been transformed into light shops. This emphasis on light projection “exaggerates the gesture of film to the means of its own erasure” and works as “both the medium of history and suppression of it… not to film as such but to articulate film as a thought – of traces of collective memory in history – in connection to proto cinema (traces of collective memory).”

Bassam el Baroni began by saying that the character that Šeškevičiūtė takes on “is the future that has always been there, embedded in this history, but that has never really been released” and is “a kind of suppressed future.” He continued by saying that the process of rewriting modernity (referring to the Lyotardian text) deals with the mistakes of rewriting. “Even great thinkers fall into the trap of going back into history and trying to find a primal scene – almost like solving a crime, to find a certain problem to figure out where things went wrong and why. Actually they just reiterate the problem in a different way.” What Šeškevičiūtė seems to have been trying to do here is to not fall into the same trap. “All the indicators in what the character was saying seem to be trying to rewrite that history from the perspective of a kind of future that was always there but was not ready to be released.” Addressing the importance of abstraction in this case, el Baroni asks “How do we tailor history to say what we want it to say since we are rewriting it anyway? Here comes the question of the archive – to use it in a certain way that you are quite aware of … can you find a way to liberate yourself from an excessive use of the archival image? Is there a conceptual necessity to being looking at the archive differently? Or are we still inclined to use the archive in the same way we have been using it in contemporary practice?”

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