“‘[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]’ or “Imāgō” is a Latin world with multiple meanings, like image, imitation, representation, ghost, echo, thought, dream, ancestral image and depiction. This short documentary has an important role in my project “I can hear you now”: it is a starting point and a conclusion at the same time, its aim is to “close a circle”. With an experimental approach, I wanted to generate a dreamlike journey into my mind and my soul, depicting how I perceive, or misperceive, myself, how I see my past and the world. It is a symbolic representation of the process of reliving a trauma, my childhood, my memories, but, at the same time, I tried to symbolically show the sense of liberation from a burden to leave space to a better and unknown future. Suffering is a shared condition and this is represented by a sort of doppelgänger, another woman symbolically sharing some of my experiences, even if in a slightly different way. The visual narration accompanies the interviews released by the Film Composer Elena Maro and the Phychologist and Neuropsychologist Dr Martina Gerbi.” (Marconi, 2018).
Dayana Marconi, “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, April/May 2018. ©Dayana Marconi 2018. Copyright for this video belongs solely to Dayana Marconi. Images may not be downloaded without her permission.
Even if I agree with the great Film Director David Lynch when he says “As soon as you put things in words, no one ever sees the film the same way, and that’s what I hate, you know. Talking—it’s real dangerous.” (Lynch in Lim, 2015), because viewers, thanks to their innate sense of intuition, understand far more than what they are aware of; I realised that I should explain more in details the visual and conceptual decisions made during the creative process to make the audience better understand its contents.
The title itself, “[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]”, wants to be a clear statement of what viewers will face while watching the short documentary: it is not a simple presentation of my project; its aim is to represent, in an experimental and symbolic way, my inner world and a shared situation. It is a combination of different elements: narration, interviews and visual experiments. Each element is connected and follows a precise order.
It starts with a framing of a music box: since the very beginning we can observe a sort of loop, a repetition generated by a taxi cab rotating around the Empire State Building and reinforced by the music score created by the Award Winning Music Composer Elena Maro. What matters here is not the object, but the action itself: Mental Health Disorders, negative emotions, painful memories are something that never disappear completely in someone’s life, their remnants define who we are and often, when we think we “beated our monsters” they can suddenly reappear, since our personalities are forged by our life-experiences. It becomes a sort of never-ending journey. In my specific case, due to Anxiety Disorder, I go through this situation with panic attacks and traumatic recollections: a smell, a word, a sound, even the tiniest thing can cause me a strong inner reaction, often manifested as an “episode”. Like any other individual, I face and fight my problems, but life constantly put us to the test and when we overcome an issue we most likely have to face something else and the loop starts over and over again and this is the reason why the music box works as connection to between the different sections of the short. Of course, I cannot say that this situation affects only those individuals suffering from Mental Health Disorders, it is something that, at different levels, we all experiment: this is why it also works as a vehicle to connect my “doppelgänger” and me. Maybe I could have used a more clear element to present this situation, but in the creation of this documentary I wanted to avoid being too authoritative: I wanted viewers to face its contents on an emotional level and be free to interpret each element of my work according to their personal experience and personality.
Narration and visual narration: images and interviews are spaced out by my personal narrative, intended to explain what is “I can hear you now”, what are its aims and its subject matter. These sections are more descriptive and want to support the audience in facing my whole body of work. During the first part of my speech, we can observe an actual panic attack occurring in front of the camera: at the beginning my intention was to find a way to represent how I feel in those moments but, unfortunately, these episodes are not something I can control or avoid so, with the videomaker Alessio Mattia, we decided to film that situation and introduce “the actual” into the “representation”.
The act of screaming: this is a focal point of my research by images, so I decided to insert a brief sequence in which I was repeatedly screaming in front of a mirror; this because with my project I want to reflect my inner malaise but, at the same time, I want my images to mirror the audience and invite individuals to empathise with “the other” and face, at the same time, a need that probably, at least once in their lives, experienced by themselves. I decided to cover the sound of those screams with the score because my intention was not to be overdramatic, but simply to depict an action so representative in my practice.
Face-manipulation: this element is maybe the most “literal” one. It has been placed, during the editing phase, while the voiceover was explaining that “I must remain publicly impassive” (Marconi, 2018), this is why I decided to force my face in a smile but, at the same time, this is when my “doppelgänger” makes her first appearance to demonstrate that even when I put a smile on my face, there is often a lot more behind it.
The mentioned “doppelgänger” has a double function: the first one is to represent what I hide inside me, the second one is to represent other individuals living similar situations, even if slightly different or for other reasons. This is why it appears, at first, as part of me and we “split” during the short to subsequently blend again. This is another way to symbolically represent the loop, but in this case its meaning is different: the whole project starts from a personal perspective (my unexpressed inner malaise due to social norms) and ends with me (with the creation of the series “Twelve episodes” in which I portray myself after twelve different panic attacks).
First interview: this has been released by the Psychologist and Neuropsychologist Dr Martina Gerbi. “Dr Gerbi spent some words to explain the relationship between Psychology and Photography, the origins of Art-therapy and the potential of my project and its relation with Mental Health support and investigation.” (Marconi, 2018). Since she provided a psychological interpretation of the benefits that could be generated by “I can hear you now”, I accompanied her speech with images of one of my last shootings, to make viewers understand what is the emotional path my sitters undertake in front of my camera. This last section, then, is further explained by my voiceover.
Flashing-lights and voices’ scene: this is the first one of the “visual experiments” taking place during the short and this is when my “doppelgänger” and I split. The voices are extracted by the video “I can hear you now: four ‘characters’ empathising with the Author”, in which four individuals, forced to stay together into the same theatre-proscenium are unable to communicate among them speaking four different Languages but, at the same time, with their monologue they all communicate with me since they all speak about my personal story. The flashes want to represent those mentioned traumatic memories that suddenly comes and go, while the voices explain portions of them. Sometimes those memories are so strong that still today I must force myself to keep distance to what I feel, often looking detached or absent. The woman appearing, physically opposite to me, perfectly represent that situation: when I suffer, I often become sarcastic or “over-humorous” because I feel the urge to hide what I feel to others and, in most cases, I want to hide the same to myself. She is my antipodal: while I become more and more absent, looking at those flashes and listening to those voices she appears, becoming stronger and stronger, while she vanishes as soon as I slowly try to take the control of the situation again. Our figures are both blurred, out of focus, to represent that sense of detachment.
This part is the one I define my “Club Silencio scene”, In this David Lynch’s “Mulholland Drive” scene, a magician states “No hay banda! There is no band. Il n’est pas de orquestra! This is all a tape-recording. No hay banda! And yet, we hear a band. If we want to hear a clarinette, listen. … It’s all a tape. It is an illusion.” (Lynch, 2001), and yet, even if sounds and music are pure illusion, the emotions generated into the audience (into the theatre but also in who is watching the movie) are very strong. The two protagonists, two different women like in my case, experience the same strong feelings while listening to the voice of the singer and observe her dramatic performance, even if that is just a recording (like in my case, again). Like Jeff Saporito wrote in his “In ‘Mulholland Drive’ what happened at Club Silencio?”, “Diane’s brain is in shambles, eager to believe that the truths of her existence are not what they are, replacing bits and pieces with a more comfortable narrative. The club reveals to her that self-delusion only works for a while; illusion is temporary, and when the magic ends, the show is over. Such is the case for Diane, as Club Silencio brings her back to a reality she can’t cope with.” (Saporito, 2015).
David Lynch, Mulholland Drive, Club Silencio scene, 2001, Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France. ©David Lynch/Lynchnet, 2001.
We filmed the scene on the stage of a deconsecrated church transformed into “Diavolo Rosso” Culture and Art Organisation (and club) and, inspired by the location and by the “Club Silencio” scene, I decided to use red and blue as main colours and those fragments of recorded voices in different Languages.
Second interview: this second contribution has been released by the Music Composer Elena Maro, who “explained how she collaborated with me and her multiple roles during the whole creation of my project, also showing how my images, a visual representation of the pain of others, can be “translated” in sounds.” (Marconi, 2018). Her interview is introduced by a brief sequence extracted from Logic Pro, the program she uses to compose: this to actually show how my images has been transformed in sounds. At the end of her speech, she also provided examples of how she created the score for my project by playing her piano. Since she is located in Los Angeles, we decided she had to film her own interview and be remotely directed by me: I provided her with visual examples of how I wanted her to be framed and I explained what I exactly needed and the scenes has been then completely edited by Alessio Mattia under my supervision.
Doppelgänger takeover: since with this sections I wanted to show that is possible to force viewers to deal with what they observe and generate empathy, I decided to dedicate one entire scene to the woman representing “the other”, viewers and my hidden-self at the same time. In this case, she was the protagonist of the scene, conceptually connected with me by the music box. As stated several times, suffering is a shared condition, but we all suffer in different ways: this is why this scene has been edited in a very different way compared to the previous ones, to enhance the idea of individuality and self-definition. During the shooting and the editing phased, I directed and supervised the scene to recall the photographic body of work created by Francesca Woodman. The black and white is delicate and the scene is intimate but it represents a sense of solitude at the same time.
Francesca Woodman, Space2, Selection of images, Providence, Rhode Island, 1975-1978 . ©Betty and George Woodman.
Glitch-scene: this section has been inspired by Michael Betancourt’s “Dancing Glitch”, in which the author employed “a variation on the idea of “feedback” where the output of one stage becomes material to be glitched, manipulated and then mixed back into the original raw material” (Betancourt on Otherzine, 2013). I find this video fascinating because it defies and involves, at the same time, emotionally, conceptually and intellectually the audience, asking them to re-evaluate their idea of error. This section is when I am reunited with “the other me”: while trying to relive my lost childhood through a childlike game which became an impossible task due to the medical consequences of my past physical disability, she is still able to recreate that condition, establishing a definitive separation of the “two parts”. It starts with a severe “glitch” accompanied by a loud white noise and images become more and more clear as soon as viewers are asked to look better, to listen and to remember: this to enhance an emotional connection between the observer and the observed. Movements are in slow-motion also presenting some gaps and only at some point their rhythm becomes almost normal. Multiple-exposure wants to create a surreal sensation and music and sounds want to recreate the idea of happy memories and sadness at the same time, this is why babies’ laughs are mixed with a nostalgic music. At the end of this section my “split personality” disappears and I remain alone, confused and exhausted by the physical effort, going closer and closer to the camera, until I am so close that I make everything else disappear.
After the documentary was completed and released online, re-observing this scene I had a strange feeling: it became more and more familiar, like it remembered me of something I could not catch. After a couple of weeks I had a sudden intuition and searching online everything became clear: the influence that David Lynch had on me both on a personal and on an artistic level was so big that I recreated some elements of Twin Peaks Series 1 “picnic scene”.
David Lynch, Twin Peaks, Series 1, Episode 1, Traces to Nowhere, Picnic scene, 1990, USA. ©David Lynch/Mark Frost, 1990.
Of course, this was not made by purpose and yet some coincidences were so evident that I could not deny them. The two scenes are obviously completely different in their quality, contents, editing and meanings, but still the affinity remains, somehow, clear in my opinion.
Self-observation: in this brief section of the video I decided to transform the re-photography technique, analysed with Professor Gary McLeod during my MA Photography at Falmouth University, into a process of re-observation, this to demonstrate, once more, that the main aim of my project is to push viewers to analyse themselves while observing my still and moving images. Since the very beginning of my practice I opted for an inclusive approach, avoiding to act as a voyeur “regarding the pain of others” (Sontag, 2003). I must admit that at the beginning while watching myself on a screen I was simply curious, but then I started “feeling” what those images meant to me and it has become a bit painful.
Twelve episodes: in this part I presented this photographic series from “I can hear you now” explaining its aims and how I created it. I did not show the final images that have been included into the project’s website at the end of the Itinerary, but the first attempts. Like for the process of selection of the images to be included into a portfolio, I moved those prints on a white table to find the best combination possible. I filmed this section myself with the video camera mounted on a tripod.
Final Scene: since, as previously written, this short was intended as a dreamlike journey into my head and soul, into this final section I was looking completely different, like I became my double itself. Everything previously showed was not real but it was at the same time: it was the inside Vs the outside, the past Vs the present, the Imāgō Vs the actual and yet boundaries do not want to be so defined, because everything that has been represented was an echo and the reality at the same time. Recalling my “Emotional Score experiment #2” video, I had to free myself from a burden and so I started cutting my hair until I had the chance to feel relieved and rest. At the same time, this can be seen as a “cut” from my past-self or a moment of self-abandonment. I wanted to leave the interpretation to viewers since I wanted them to experience this scene, like the whole documentary, at an emotional level, using their own experiences and personalities. Someone will see this as an “happy ending”, someone else will give a more gloomy interpretation to this moment. Somehow, I wanted to represent a sense of relief with my figure vanishing into white and black trees-branches and again this relief can be seen as the moment in which I symbolically passed away due to those traumatic memories also recalled by those recalled child laughs.
And then the music box starts again…
“[ɪˈmaː.ɡoː]” has been selected as semi-finalist at “The $2 Film Festival 2018” in NY for the category “Short Documentary”, it has been selected for the London Lift-Off Festival online and its music score, created by the music composer Elena Maro, has been awarded at the “Global Music Award” in Los Angeles for the categories “Soundtrack collection” and “Composition/Composer” with two Bronze Medals.
Betancourt Michael, Dancing Glithc, 2013, USA, video released on Batancourt’s official Vimeo account “Cinegraphic” https://vimeo.com/cinegraphic
Betancourt Michael, The Process of Eupraxis in Making Dancing Glitch, on Otherzine, issue #32, Spring 2013 http://www.othercinema.com/otherzine/the-process-of-eupraxis-in-making-dancing-glitch-2013/
Diavolo Rosso, non-profit Culture and Art Organisation, Asti, Italy, official website http://www.diavolorosso.it/
Global Music Awards 2018, winners-page http://www.globalmusicawards.com/Winners-Feb-2018.html#
Lim Dennis, David Lynch’s Elusive Language, on The New Yorker, October 2015 issue https://www.newyorker.com/books/page-turner/david-lynchs-elusive-language
London Lift-Off Film Festival, official page https://liftoff.network/global-film-festivals-2/london-lift-off-film-festival/
Lynch David, Mulholland Drive, 2001, produced by Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France.
Lynch David, Mulholland Drive, Club Silencio scene, 2001, produced by Les Films Alain Sarde, Asymmetrical Productions, StudioCanal, The Picture Factory, USA/France. Video released on YouTube in 2015 for educational purposes https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yRpmNgaJ41U
Lynch David/Frost Mark, Traces to Nowhere, Season 1, Episode 1, Picnic Scene, 1990, Lynch/Frost Productions, USA. Video released on YouTube in 2017 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hAJti6oAvNM
Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now – four ‘characters’ empathising with the Author, April 2017, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/213764162
Marconi Dayana, I can hear you now – Emotional Score Experiment #2, December 2017, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/245894272
Marconi Dayana, [ɪˈmaː.ɡoː], April/May 2018, Asti/Rome/Los Angeles, released on Dayana Marconi Vimeo page https://vimeo.com/269339225
Maro Elena, Award winning composer for film, television and media, official website https://www.elenamaro.com/
Saporito Jeff, In ‘Mulholland Drive’ what happened at Club Silencio?, article released on Screenprism, October 2015 issue http://screenprism.com/insights/article/in-mulholland-drive-what-happened-at-club-silencio
Sontag Susan, Regarding the Pain of Others, 2003, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, USA.
The $2 Film Festival, NY, USA, official website https://www.2dff.com/
Woodman Francesca, Space², 1975-1978, Providence, Rhode Island http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/woodman-space-providence-rhode-island-1975-1978-ar00350