Brief CV
Gabriel Menotti, born 1983 in Brazil, is an independent critic/curator engaged in different forms of cinema and grassroots practices. He has previously organized pirate movie screenings, remix film festivals, videogame championships, porn screenplay workshops, installations with super8 film projectors, generative art exhibitions and academic seminars. Menotti holds a Masters in Communication and Semiotics from the Catholic University of São Paulo, and is currently a PhD candidate in the Media & Communications Department at Goldsmiths (University of London). His exhibition projects and installations are an inherent part of his research activity and have been presented in numerous venues throughout the world. The most recent events he has participated in are: the Artivistic Festival (Canada); Medialab Prado’s Interactivos?! (Spain); the 16th International Symposium of Electronic Arts (Germany); the 29th São Paulo Art Biennial (Brazil); and Rencontres Internationales Paris/Berlin/Madrid (France).
Curatorial Statement
For the last few years, I’ve been investigating how cinema is defined in the course of technological development. One of my concerns is the ongoing incorporation of digital computers to the practices of movie production, distribution and consumption. While these practices retain their mediatic specificity, my research shows it is technology that changes its character to fit into the cinematographic circuit. For instance, when a computer goes into the projection booth, it can only be operated in function of the movie screening. In that sense, the machine’s multiple characteristics are suppressed to comply with its function as an apparatus for film projection. This rationalization of technique within cinema goes unnoticed precisely because the medium entails the parameters of its own use and evaluation. Matthew Kirschenbaum calls this a medial ideology: one that makes us engage with cinema’s technology not by its own terms, but according to the logic of visual representation that supposedly drives the medium. This logic sets the threshold that defines the conditions for a technology to belong to the medium – for example, by establishing how many pixels a digital image should have for it to attain the proper cinematographic resolution. Such epistemological mechanisms filter most possibilities of the new technologies out of cinema right from the outset. In order to better understand the relation between media and technique, it seems necessary to escape the medium’s own parameters of analysis. Taking a step in this direction, we might adopt Friedrich Kittler’s idea of “optical media,” a classification based not on the visual, symbolic effects of cinema, but on the operational principles of its apparatus. However, while Kittler’s framework discloses the mechanisms of figurative representation, it casts an even darker shadow over the artificiality of technique. To analyze the cinematographic apparatus as purely optical is to ignore its technical constitution, which is also mechanical and chemical, electromagnetic and computational. In order to bring these particularities of technology to the surface of the medium, we could borrow a strategy that many artists have employed as an aesthetic device: that of blinding or disrupting the camera eye. A vast tradition of video art and experimental cinema, recently joined by practices such as generative programming, presents visuals that are not produced by clear lenses; visuals that mostly result from celluloid film, electric circuits and digital codification. In other words, these practices produce images not by the means of abstracting the world, but through the abstraction of the apparatus itself. Looking at these pieces, we are confronted with the perspective of blind optics. This project means to use these artworks to explore the normally invisible materiality of cinema, making it easier to grasp the hidden differences between technical supports and track technological changes in the medium. I maintain that this perspective produces a more complete understanding of the kind of vision allowed by digital systems, which relies more on software processing than pure optics. This opens a vast field for investigating the physical limits of mediated cognition.
Projects realized (Selection)
Tape Deck Solos [Brazil, 2010] – Series of commented screenings of raw footage recorded on magnetic videotapes. The exhibition proposes a sort of “immediate media archaeology,” exploring both the practice of video-making and the character of magnetic tapes as a medium of inscription. Using just one VCR (positioned by the side of the screen), guest video-makers, both amateur and professional, present unedited tapes to the audience. Project commissioned for the 29th São Paulo Biennial (São Paulo, 2010). Denied Distances [Brazil, 2009] – An exploration of the suppressed spaces and operations of the cinematographic circuit – the truly invisible side of apparatus, which can only fulfill its aesthetic potential in other fields. Sessions about the thickness of the screen, the depth of projection, the extensions of the city and the density of the circuit. Included works by Malcolm LeGrice, Anthony McCall, Graffiti Research Lab, Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Detanico Lain, Marcellvs L. and the League of Noble Peers, among others. Cine Falcatrua [Brazil, 2003-2008] – Nomadic film society interested in practices of cinematographic circuit bending. A grassroots collective that made cinema without making movies. Cine Falcatrua was among the first “pirate cinemas.” The group started downloading movies from the Internet, subtitling and screening them for free in public places. Employing the latest domestic appliances, it intended to emulate traditional structures of film exhibition and expand their uses. generativa (OUTDOOR); [Brazil, 2008] – Generative audiovisual pieces, with their potentially infinite duration; find a perfect match in urban screens that are permanently available for public viewing. This exhibition ran for 10 consecutive days, 24/7, in five LED screens installed in the façade of public buildings in São Paulo. No frame was repeated. Repeats Itself as Farse [Brazil, 2007] – Audiovisual seminar about video documentation of art in public spaces. Comprised three panels of discussion and screenings programs on “space and art spaces,” “embalmed audiovisual” and “strategies of urban decoupage.” Organized at Casa Porto das Artes Plásticas. Short[CUT]s Film Festival [Brazil, 2006] – A film festival without restrictions or pre-selection: every work sent in response to the call was included in the program. It was also a festival completely controlled by the projectionist: accordingly, , the person operating the video projector was not only responsible for spontaneously deciding what programs would be screened, but s/he was also allowed to remix and re-edit the works in real time. The festival received more than 250 submissions, from amateurs to professional filmmakers, such as Brazilian director Jorge Furtado and the British collective D-Fuse.