ONE SECOND IN THE LIFE OF JULIA ROBERTS
25 monitors substitute 25 film frames of a decomposed one-second shot of an actress whose name is synonymous with Hollywood productions. The frames are of Julia Roberts when she was a guest star in the iconic television series Friends. The viewers – walkers through your installation – perceive the "one-second portrait" as a long series of portraits
It depends on what we want to learn from that second. If well chosen, a second can even work as a mini teaser. It can become a sort of 25-sheet poster. It also works the other way round. If you know the whole film, a single "key" second can reactivate your memory of the film as a whole. After seeing a second of a scene of blood mixed with water flowing down the shower drain, you can "fill in" the rest; the stuffed animals, the dried up mother etc.
Under certain circumstances, a second can also represent an autonomous artwork, whether cut from an existing film or shot anew for a specific purpose. However, its information value does not necessarily depend on the original film; it does not have to relate to it any more. It can speak for itself.
Does one have to dissect, stretch out or enlarge the construction unit of any narrative to be able to understand the nature of the given medium?
That is one way. There are various other forms of analysis that may contribute to our understanding of a thing. For instance, exploring a given medium outside that very medium. Exploring it through other disciplines. Specifically, film can be seen as a sociological phenomenon, as a way of spending one's free time, as a medium related to a certain typology of architecture, as a kind of a visual language, as an object of desire, etc.
To deconstruct a medium, you most frequently employ the conventions of another medium. In this way, you have already studied the moving image by means of installation, performance, photography and the printed word. In One Second in the Life of Julia Roberts, you simulate the analogue unfolding of time through a digital presence. Does it mean that current (digitally made) film is a mere simulation of what we usually call a film?
I wouldn't say it is a simulation; unless we conceive "film" only in the narrow sense of the word as a "film strip"; the old celluloid type. However, if we see film as a distinctive language with its own syntax and processes, it doesn't matter what technology it takes to shoot the film. If we conceive film in this wider sense, other things can be perceived as "film" as well. This includes various artworks, exhibitions, riding a trolley through a haunted castle, even one's surroundings under certain circumstances. As all of us often say: "It was like in a film."
Tomáš Svoboda interviewed by Sylva Poláková
Tomáš Svoboda's (*1974) authorial work is characterized by his conceptual work with the given medium. He attended the painting studio of Jiří Sopko and Vladimír Skrepl at the Academy of Fine Arts in Prague (1996–2003). His portfolio is dominated by installations, exhibited films, performances and interventions in public space (including media space). Since the end of the 1990s he has been exhibiting independently and as part of a group. His works have been presented at the Gross Domestic Product exhibition (The Municipal Library of Prague, City Gallery Prague, 2007), the Monument to Transformation exhibition (the same place, 2009), and his works are also part of the permanent exhibition dedicated to Czech post-November art After Velvet (City Gallery Prague – The Golden Ring, Prague, 2009).
Tomáš Svoboda represents the structuralist point of view in which the medium occurs as a certain sign system; the strategies and structures of individual media may then be transformed into further contexts. By means of the (de)construction and the (re)imagination of our ritualized media "experience", he restricts the "narration" to general principles which form the relationship between a recipient and the given medium. An important role is played by the modified background in which we are used to experiencing individual media. For example he has transferred a format of printed advertisements onto an intimate home background (Offer of ad space for rent in a private flat, 2005) and he has infiltrated his artistic performance into television broadcasting (e.g. The Art Heals, 1999). His gallery presentations usually consist of exhibitions showing the documented process of the implementation of a certain event and the installation of film dispositive. In connection with moving images he works with simulations of either screening rooms or film scenes, and with a reduction in film language or even of a specific story, which he later calls "imagine film". In Svoboda's presentation within the Kinetics of Image section, the motif of one second of film repeatedly occurs in the author's work, and to a certain extent represents the compression of the author's approach, which is based on the exploration of the fundamental understandable building element of the film narration.