Agnieszka Kulazińska – Ergonomics of Visual Perception
Writing about Michał Brzeziński’s artistic output is difficult, as he himself appears to be the best analyst of his works. He is an artist and theoretician, a graduate of culture studies at the University of Łódź. For him, the written word, as in the art of the 20th-century avant-garde artists, is equally important as the image. His work is saturated with theory e.g. “Video de-mumification complex”. Video is ironical about the photograph-film interrelationship, based on the opposition between a captured moment and the world in motion. “Video is a living concept! ? writes the artist in one of his commentaries ? Video is not interested in showing stability. Neither does it depict the continuance of human existence, the eternity, as opposed to the dynamic concept of time. It revives, depicts as living what used to be dead. Video resurrects”. In “Video de-mumification complex”, video revives the inanimate matter, in this case a mummy. In a continuous, slow motion, the camera shows various fragments of the subject: its face, foot, hand uncovered by the fabric. Camera’s movement is coupled with the street noises. The receiver, however, has no impression of being faced with the animate matter. Video is an intellectual riddle, a pun, a visualization of theoretical discourse.
Brzeziński draws from the tradition of experimental, avant-garde cinema. He uses intertextuality e.g. in “AV 60′ “. Warsztat Formy Filmowej [The Film Form Workshop] is especially important for his theorizing. Occasionally, he paraphrases the works of the group members. In the video “Landschaft and Polish Interests”, camera captures the view stretching from the train’s window. The unguarded camera registering reality brings to mind the films of Andy Warhol, Ryszard Waśko and, most importantly, Józef Robakowski (e.g. “Idę” [I keep walking], “Z mojego okna” [From my window]). By no means are Brzeziński’s works imitative or derivative. They are simply rooted in history and affected by it. Through the medium of film, the author engages in a direct dialogue with the viewer and sets to redefine the video language of the digital era. Brzeziński uses camera as a tool of analysis, negotiating identity and objectivization of the captured images. In “Landschaft and Polish Interests” the camera focuses on a dirty pane of the train’s window. In video, we see reality through the double glazing. Thanks to the methods of direct cinema and found footage, the artist appropriates images for his personal use. Then he changes the vectors’ directions, reinterprets, constructs a multi-leveled discourse with reality. One may ask, what kind of reality? Of course, the already transmitted one, the one interpreted by the media. The video “Passion” was composed of Internet search result for the query “passion”, in English and Polish. The film resembles a brain of a contemporary man that is littered by the images frequently evoking contradictory meanings and emotions. With his camera, Brzeziński unmasks reality or manipulations and deconstructs myths. In his works, the representations of violence, political lies and sex are moved to the foreground. In “Memory”, for instance, mandalas are combined with the internet porno pictures. Visualizations to the music of the rock band Chrobot [The Scrape] were composed of the images of pain, wars, victims and violence found in the media. In the works “Lumiere”, “Landschaft and Polish Interests”, “Taxi” and “Rise” another strategy was used. Brzeziński is no longer interested in the manipulative world of the media culture. Rather, he focuses on capturing every-day reality. Camera ceases to be oppressive, it becomes a tool of objectivization. However, is objectivization possible at all? Is a video camera powerful enough to show reality deprived of its cultural, religious and political context? The truth is, it can never be fully realized in art. It is the artist who makes choices. Camera can only help to fight off the attacks of the ubiquitous media images and regain the clear vision. Brzeziński makes use of the electronic media to investigate modern image-generated identities and to reconstruct the subject. The artist is searching in the cultural, religious, social contexts and outside them. He is moving within the realms of postmodernism but certain characteristics of avant-garde can also be find in his work. Michał Brzeziński acts holistically, is not hesitant to experiment. He examines the identity sources inch by inch, moves from screen to body and further to mind and eye. He is concerned with spirituality of a contemporary man, and its position in the cacophony of images. During his artistic workshops, he educates viewers, teaches them ergonomics of visual perception, and how to exist in the world dominated by the chaos of information, meanings and images.