(Streetscapes [Dialogue] )
Heinz Emigholz ,
Streetscapes – Chapter III / Photography and beyond – Part 26
From November 30th on DVD
World premiere: Monday, Feb 13th: 18:45 h at Delphi
Second screening: Sunday, Feb 19th: 11:00 h at CineStar 8
The shell constructions of the Uruguayan master builder Eliado Dieste resemble gigantic braincases and provide a framework for the site and the theme of the film: trauma and architecture.
About the film
There are streets, paths, motorways, alleys, boulevards and promenades. And there are life paths, intersections and dead ends. Two men sit on the shady raised platform of a brick building somewhere in Montevideo. They are submerged in a conversational marathon that never ceases throughout the entire film. The younger of the two is an analyst; the older man his analysand. Their nationalities are unclear; they speak a simple, internationally understandable English. They talk about a childhood among the ruins and the traumatised people of Germany shortly after the Second World War, about fleeing, about an obsessive interest in architecture and about manic writing. And they speak about work with the film camera, which is a technical instrument for the young analyst, but a lifeline for the old film director. The starting point of the six-day marathon is the psychological and physical block that prevents the director from starting a last great film, the Streetscapes saga. The conversation, which in a slow process dissolves the director’s block, takes place in changing places in extreme architectures. The camera, which portrays them both and sets them in relation to the architecture, becomes a third partner. The camera repeatedly disengages from where they are and explores the surrounding streets and neighbourhoods before returning to the two protagonists. The shell constructions of the Uruguayan builder Eliado Dieste where they sojourn resemble gigantic braincases and thus provide a framework for the site and the theme of the project that emerges in the course of their talk: trauma and architecture.
From the exposé to the project Streetscapes
In my films on the oeuvres of certain architects or on individual buildings, the landscapes we found them in and the streets, intersections, and cities in which they were built increasingly played a dominant role. We filmed on famous streets in well-known cities, on Route 66 in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles, on the Graben in Vienna, on Monroe Drive in Chicago, on the Via Appia south of Rome, on the Boulevard de l’ALN in Algiers, on the Place d’Iéna in Paris, on Rustaveli Avenue in Tbilisi and on many other streets without naming them. And we filmed on the side streets and dead ends of deserted backwaters like Boise City, Oklahoma and in megacities like Mexico City, without naming the streets. The buildings were important to us as condensations of reality, but our gazes always wandered to the ends of the streets or continued to intersections, ensembles of plants or landscapes that weren’t directly relevant to the theme.
Sprawling and perforce anonymous design ensembles increasingly became my theme. I can no longer describe or depict the whole of our reality through reduction to an authorial architecture. Instead, it is becoming ever more necessary to describe an anonymous situation, all of whose details are furnished with the insignia of an authorship, but whose multipartite will to shape can be called almost tragic, considering the whole and its contexts. Amid this ensemble, the individual designer begins to feel like Sisyphus in the myth.
For our eyes, at any given time and in any given weather, the texture of the real appears as a continuum. The camera can shape this continuum in the individual shot with the intent to illuminate or to cloud over; it cannot subdivide it. The ‘off-screen’ of intentions and meanings will find its way into the field of vision, again and again. Not until editing does the time machine – film – leap into the next possible continuum, which keeps its surfaces just as closed as the previous picture. But the omissions that every editing or postproduction technical intervention produces mislead us into projecting a narration. Every edit between two shots and every picture-internal, animation-technical intervention is the core of a story that either continues plausibly or moves into improbability. But