Think Public Space FINAL ROUND
Work title: Imago Channel
In summer 2015 for 3 months an entire TV channel staff, with its own directors, camera-men, editors, TV hosts, special guests, exits from the dark boxes and secluded spaces of regular TV studios and takes over the open spaces of the city of Zagreb.
The citizens are witnessing a peculiar process of inversion.
The TV channel literally mounts actual TV sets in the public domain; the cameras shoot (live) the shows of a regular TV station that has the real face of the city as a continuous backdrop.
Programs are happening in a wide variety of locations ranging from public plazas, to traffic intersections, out of the main institutions in the financial district, historical sites, city parks and gardens, shopping mall parking lots, public terraces, terrains vagues and courtyards of modernist superblocks.
Sometimes the channel staff recreates the settings of famous programs (the Gong-Show stage, the Wall of cubes, the curving wall of The Dating Game), in some other cases simple and more neutral public devices are installed, (a double auditorium for political debate, an ordered set of chairs for an audience, a long elevated platform for fashion catwalks).
Whenever the program is over and the equip goes away, some pieces of filming equipment are left in place, operating. The recording never stops. The stage is free for spontaneous activities, available for individual appropriation.
This weird move surely recalled to us a lot of forms of nouvelle vagues into the moving pictures industries, in which the camera tries to get closer and closer to reality: the gallery of example is wide it ranges from the russian "man with the movie camera" the mechanical eye of Vertov in 1929, Italian Neorealism, or the French legacy of Godard or Truffaut, up to the Danish DOGMA-ensemble of the Nineties.
One of our first inspirations comes from Franco Vaccari at the Venice Biennale of 1972. The photo booth, the presence of an automatic mirror, has in itself a highly liberating potential, it''s a magnet of exhibitionism, an engine acting on that desire of protagonism and attention, everybody has in secret. It was a challenge but it worked, and it did so well it created a marvelous document, a map tracing the passage of life and time through pictures.
A sort of draining of life and fantasy in the way people use the public domain, inhabit it or just cross it, seems to leave room for a potential boost. And that upgrade, in all its concreteness, may come from the virtual world of images.
From this perspective, the intention of the project sounds far from transforming the city into an all-encompassing urban-TV-set, but rather by sampling specific sites, the channel operates a selective superimposition of fiction onto the real.
The virtual level of the broadcasted image is squatting a space left free by reality, and doing so they become major agents of change transforming the public domain again into a territory of self-expression and encounter, an open stage for collective rites and individual action, a place of dialogue, negotiation and debate, and why not friction or even conflict.
We believe that such an ecosystem of interaction and confrontation -the shift from oikos to polis- will simply be generated as an unconscious byproduct of the acupuncture of fiction into the every day scenery.
Through all this context and introductions the channel still appears to us as a hybrid creature, constantly swinging between two polarities: the event catalyst on one end, and a sort of voyeuristic knowledge project on the other.
Another key figure of Imago Channel project is played by the Palimpsest.
The analogy with the palimpsest is actually a perfect fit for public space.
Ethimologically a Palimpsest is a manuscript page, either from a scroll or a book, that has been written, erased and then written again. Cicero''s de Republica, was hidden in the Vatican Library and was discovered by scratching away a note on the salms by Saint Augustine.
The palimpsest is surely a form of reuse, but it''s mostly an unaware form of memory.
The palimpsest is also of course the word used in the TV industry to indicate the matrix of programs, a specific channel will broadcast.
By projecting these concepts on an urban scenario, what Channel Imago gains is not just a programmatic map of public spaces, a coloured Nolli’s map that could underline different activities taking place in different locations, but rather a device that ouvertly engages with the dimension of time.