Mediamatic Magazine vol 5#1+2 René Reitzema 1 Jan 1990

The Fire

The Artists

Digital Icons of Bamboo Sticks and Fire


The fire -

The Fire. Three monitors placed next to each other at the same height, embedded in a black wall, show images that sometimes seem to spring from one screen to another; as if you were reading a bar of music, with the spaces between the screens acting os intervals. The monitor as rhythmic-timer; the installation as notation staff. Just like a recurring theme in music, these same images return again and again on a varying time scale.

Animated bamboo sticks move up an down, with a harsh, almost aggressive sound, a ring of fire (a whirling, burning torch) shoots from a vertical to a horizontal position, flowers, a man, a woman, water... You can read the images lineally (if you're very quick) from monitor to monitor, but sometimes they appear to form an entity or, conversely, to be completely autonomous. Image and sound are inextricably interwoven, and together they set the rhythm as the binding and driving force.

In addition to the image-reloted sounds, there is also a piece of music specially composed forthe installation. Given its installation-form, the measure of abstraction and stylization of the images, and because image and sound are not used solely for illustrative purposes, The Fire is not a video clip - although the speed is sometimes there - but a rhythmic and visual poem. A visual musical score. About what?

About fire. Fire? Fire, that incandescent emission from something that burns. To play with fire. The sacred fire. Set the world on fire. The eternal fire. His love was an all-consuming fire.

Fire-worshipper, fire dance, death by fire, fire-eater. Fire-water, ring of fire. The spark of love shone in his eyes. Romeo and Juliet: Fire! A song of love and death. The flower of love. Burning desire, hearts aflame, a burnt out case.

About love: a tale that has to be told time and again. As sure as you are born and die so, in the interim, are you supposed to love and be loved. A natural fact that therefore remains full of mystery.The path of true love seldom runs smooth when you first step onto it. All too often it has to be fought for or won. Much stress and strain; attraction and rejection; yes and no. Ardent passions inflamed by contradictions that are finally resolved (if all goes according to rule) in the apotheosis: And they lived happily ever after. That then is the end of the story, for there is not a lot to tell about happiness. The foregoing phase is much more exciting. And to evoke the relevant emotions there is a whole arsenal of symbols, emblems, icons and metaphors that have been carefully constructed throughout time. You can paint them, sing them, write, rhyme and film them, and you can also express them through state-of-the art- technology. Digital tales.

Horizontal and vertical, positive and negative, man and woman, fire and water, 'ones' (the stick) and 'zeroes' (the ring of fire), bits and bites: universal opposites in binary computer language. A primal story told in digital icons of bamboo and fire. The vehemence of the stickblows -it feels as if you have been hit in the face-and the rolling ring of fire eventually lead, by way of the man and the woman, the flowers, to the calm water. But when it's finished, it begins all aver again.

The Fire is not a romantic picture story of the tear-jer- king variety. It eschews stark imagery in every context; there is no mise-en-scène, no acting takes place. Structure and meaning are primarily determined by the consecutive, repetitious and mutual affinity of the images on the three monitors. That is why the form of the installation is also so essential, in which you can see the images simultaneously next to each other, instead of after one another. Similarly, the sound, the rhythm is equally necessary as a link between the monitors. So, too, are the spaces - the intervals - between them, which intensify the musical and poetic eloquence of The Fire. What you ultimately see is the ritual that seems to lie secluded in every infatuation or true love and from which it is difficult to escape.