24. 11. - 8. 12. 2005, Galerija umjetnina, Split, Croatia
Collaborating Artist: Hannes Hoelzl, Sound Composition
Projection size: 3m x 1,6m
"Put your finger in the sea and you touch the world". This saying inspired Toni Meštrović to develop the concept of "digital sea" - sea perceived as a network, collective transmitter and keeper of human memories, and comprehensive archetypical medium. Amidst the vast sea, in one miraculous moment the artist used the hydrophone to tape the human voices. The water medium deformed them almost to the point of unintelligibility, but has also transferred them miles away from the place of origin: the sea transferred, transformed and eventually absorbed the sound.
The audio-visual material recorded in 2002 and 2003 near the island of Veli Drvenik provided a base for the "Abyssos" project, forming the idea of virtual sea. The project incorporates film and a few video installations. The author materialises and recreates his own memory by digitally processing a set of images and sounds. As recording tools, the camera and hydrophone are extended hands of perception, and artistic will and creative manipulation over the matter are enlightened processes of generating memory. The 18-minute film is a journey towards the sea abyss and back, but also a true representation of the recollection process. Apart from the artist himself, there are other participants as well: the lantern, the boat engine, a shoal of tuna fish, deep sea abyss - real and artificial, bubbles of air in the water, sea spray, naval chart of Split area and two octopuses. The camera comes across them on its digital path towards the abyss and back and stops only to capture the image and the sound and open way to their transformation.
Dramatics of "real" and "constructed" images and sounds entwines the conscious and the unconscious, while loose narrative net hardly covers the intensely movie-like sequence rhythm. Both in visual and auditory segment the digitally processed parts alternate with those taken directly from the marine environment and the transformation of images qualified as real often comes out from simple associative play.
However, as much as concepts of water, sound, sub consciousness, memory and the stream of consciousness revoke some 20th century avant-garde movements, in this context they are removed far from the Eros of surrealism and some fluxusian practices from the sixties. Here, they represent instructions for using the medium: audiovisual and sound recording as well as computer animation. The connection to the "Abyssos" can be made through their common tendency towards synaestheticism, emphasised in virtually tactile approach to the sound and in the setup as well as complete isolation of a limited number of viewers from the outside world.
The film is a kind of small retrospective of author's video works made during the last three years: the lantern from the opening scene is part of an autonomous work, and the narrative series includes sequences from previous video works "The state of mind" and "Blue note", as a moment of reminiscence, but also as a legitimate digital approach to the film. While using the new media consciously, Meštrović revokes tradition and perhaps an archaic era in its playful approach to transformation. "Abyssos" is hardly a representation of sea scenery - the elements and creatures that make up his (present) digitalised universe recall ancient zoomorphic shapes from the mythical times.