May 6, 2018

Hungarian Syzygies - Trauma Memorial - Werckmeister harmonies - 2001

I am sorry David, I am afraid I should do that :) This thought gathering stems from a talk with David in Budapest, Hungary, from Shakespeare's Helmet Collective. He stands in the eye of a political storm (recent hungarian elections and Viktor Orban declarations), and proposed (with a collective) a Trauma Memorial in the center of Heroes' Square (Hosök tere) in Budapest. I was lucky enough to witness it directly. It appeared as a black monolith with a video stripe:

Budapest, Heroes Square, Trauma Memorial installation around the right of freedom
Here is a story. But you can skip it directly to the video: A millenniumi emlékmu kiegészítése 100 év hordalékával. As a side note, I was happy to be for the first time in Bulgaria, home of many Bulgarian scientists mostly mathematicians (some known as the Martians), some being prominent in the history of wavelets, like Alfréd Haar or Frigyes Riesz, who were put in a multiscale perspective in a 2D wavelet panorama review paper, details below:

Haar and Riesz with multiscale wavelets

A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to watch Werckmeister harmóniák by  (Les Harmonies Werckmeister or Werckmeister harmonies) with a friend. He insisted that we should watch the movie, given the following pitch:
A guy in a small drunkard bar builds a choreography with the local boozers, making them reproduce the planets and satellites' motions of the solar system. In black and white. 
Werckmeister Harmonies: satellites and planets in motion
The movie was stunning, with shades, a whale and rising violence. I could not help but relating it to Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A space Odyssey (as we are celebrating its 50th anniversary) and to Ian Watson's The embedding (foreign languages and the whale). We ended this cinema show with the 1962 dystopian black-and-white short movie La jetée (The Jetty), by Chris Marker, aka Christian Bouche-Villeneuve, which was the inspiration for Terry Gilliam's Twelve monkeys army. A story about global war, time-travel, memories, love and death. It can be viewed at Vimeo: La jetée.

Chris Marker (or his Sans Soleil Hungarian avatars, Sandor and Michel Krasna, born in Kolozsvar, 1932 and Budapest, 1946, respectively) is currently subject to a retrospective at La Cinémathèque in Paris: Chris Marker, les sept vies des cinéastes (3 mai/29 juillet 2018).

Then, I was in Budapest in April 2018, for a too short week-end. As I am an obsessed 2001 fan, reminiscences from 2001 were evident everywhere, either in Budapest's magnificent parliament, the Vasarely museum or the mere streets of Budapest.

2001 space odyssey reminiscence from Budapest
So I went to Hosök tere, a beautiful square with monuments celebrating the Magyar historical background. And right in the center of the square, an installation displayed an intriguing video and sound on one side of a black cube:

Trauma memorial, pixels in a silhouette
This marked a Hungarian syzygy, a connection of seemingly unrelated events. The video displayed the upper half of a dark suit, uttering speeches I could not understand. Of course, Hungarian is known as a special language, in the Uralic-Finno-Ugric family. Funnily, the subtitles were in esoteric ASCII characters. But after a few seconds, it became clear that the sounds were reversed, spoken backwards. Apart from causality issues, I should confess that backwards or forwards, Hungarian remains foreign to me. So hopping inside the cube, one could be welcome by its "kind wards".
Our insatiable stomach
This picture summarizes a state of affairs: a rising tide of nationalism, autocratic power, growing on sedimented ancient trauma and more recent angers and fears (as far as I can understand). The above "Our insatiable stomach" is a timely snapshot with those close sounding of Hungary and Hungry sounds. So here is it, an mere addendum to this black blocky sedimentation of history, cast reverse:  A millenniumi emlékmu kiegészítése 100 év hordalékával. With fun: this  Shakespeare's Helmet Collective work is curated by... Byron (for those who have an eye for finest details)