John Storrs, Ceres, 1930

Video Program, with Daniel de Paula

Video Program is an online initiative conceived by Jaqueline Martins Gallery in collaboration with curator Mirtes Marins de Oliveira. The program aims to present different works (or their fragments) in a dialogical relationship, highlighting similarities that might serve to reflect on contemporary life.

For the fifteenth edition, Daniel de Paula is presented, with the video “circulação” (2019) articulated to the sculpture Ceres (1930), by John Storrs, to the lithograph Simultaneous Death in an Airplane and at the Railway (1913) by Kazimir Malevich, and the film Andrei Rublev (1966) by Andrei Tarkovsky.

Watch circulação, 2019 (30’49”)

A fascination with technology dominated the imagination and actions of early 20th century European art avant-gardes. Disseminated by industrial revolutions from the 18th century on, the changes in production modes and its inventions impacted social life and forms of perception. Machines, vehicles, speed, aerial views, among other innovations, provided novel experiences to the sensibilities of those generations. Moreover, they supplied a potential script for probable political and economic emancipations. The soviet constructivists got behind Lenin’s purposes in an indication that “socialism = Soviet power + electrification”. In a Soviet Union immersed in rural living, this calculation demonstrated the importance that revolutionaries imparted to technological acceleration. Artists like Malevich, El Lissitsky and Tatlin aligned themselves with this project and incorporated those concepts. One result of that, for instance, was a debt owed by constructivist-based abstract painting to aerial photographs, as of that period – a massively available, perceptible element of reality.

Kazimir Malevich, Simultaneous Death in an Airplane and at the Railway, 1913

The strength of this perceptual innovation is also captured, according to Daniel de Paula, in the opening scenes of Andrei Tarkovsky’s film “Andrei Rublev” (1966). An account of an artist’s life in the medieval era, the movie opens with a portrayal of precisely that aerial experience and its impact on social imagination.

 

In circulação, 2019, Daniel de Paula does what he terms a “video-negotiation”: in his own words, he “appropriates, compiles and edits images” from drone inspections of data communication infrastructure, natural resource extraction and power generation sites. The footage is from “companies that did infrastructure inspection for multinationals active in extraction of natural resources such as oil and natural gas, wind power generation, telecommunication, and data communication in connection with financial markets, by means of high-frequency antennae”, and which were made available to the artist. “circulação” was initiated in 2018 and was first shown during an artist residency in Eindhoven, Holland. The piece is arranged through the “ceaseless addition and editing of images, reiterating the continuousness of the capitalist production process”, and featuring a new edit each time it gets shown, according to the artist.

The supposed neutrality of this inspection footage capturing work, or even of the technology involved, doesn’t hold up, since that which is being captured and its results are clearly biased. As the artist puts it: “they present imagery of unceasing commoditization of the landscape to under the intense traffic of data and information — thereby producing a parallel between the environmental crisis and the growing innovation of the disseminating information process, in the context of a global infrastructural system of communication channels”.

In that sense, the critical apprehension carried out by Daniel de Paula is entirely unrelated to the constructivist project. While Lenin’s motto – “socialism = Soviet power + electrification” – indicated a belief in industrial expansion as a requirement to furthering productive forces (a necessary step for future revolutionaries, it was believed at that point), contemporary life evidences the violence of this unidirectional project objectivized in a harmful transformation whose impacts – upon the environment and work relations – were felt at the planetary level.

As if to add another interpretative layer to the piece, the artist points to another work conversant with “circulação” (2019): “Ceres” (1930) by John H. Storrs, a roughly 9.5-meter-tall aluminum sculpture set atop the 45-story Chicago Stock Exchange building (about 180 meters tall), a major grain sales hub built in 1930 as an emblem in tribute of commodities. “Ceres”, the Greek goddess of grains and farming, blessing the workings of the capital from up high.

John Storrs, Ceres, 1930

The narrative sequences of the aerial tour proposed by De Paula in his video-negotiation are hypnotic, yet interrupted by animals, birds of prey, that live in these “industrial and infrastructural compounds”. According to Daniel, these characters are viewed as threats to the flow of information, yet they provide the video-negotiation’s observers with an inflexion to the registers of order; they carry out informational guerilla warfare.



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