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Composing with Images: A Robert Cahen Retrospective

11 february, 1999 - 6 march, 1999 /
Sabatini Building, Auditorium

This programme presents a broad and representative cross-section of the work of Robert Cahen (Valence, 1945), a filmmaker, photographer and composer who has made more than fifty films and videos since 1973, when he first became interested in the audiovisual arts after meeting Pierre Schaeffer (Nancy, 1910 - Aix, 1995), with whom he studied Musique concrète at the Conservatoire de Paris. Cahen finds inspiration in images and memories, in the sensations of travelling, the world of theatre, dance and art, and in the visual and sound experiments that he has been conducting with electronic images and Musique concrète for more than thirty years. In every case, his extraordinary knowledge of the music world shapes the work, its conception and its rhythm.

The programme for Composing with Images is organised according to thematic criteria, a rather difficult task since Cahen continuously mixes narrative and documentary aspects, fiction and reality, poetry and travel diaries, all infinitely intertwined. For this reason, it is not only the “themes” that stand out, but also key moments in the artist’s creative journey: the representation of travel (trains) as a moment of perceiving the other, the change from a known condition to an unknown one. While a city or landscape transforms a traveller, the eye transforms them as well (Landscape and Invitation to Travel programmes).

In the programme Dances, Cahen explores the extension of time, the slow-motion camera, changes in speed, etc., and intervenes in the writing of gestures and movements that, thanks to a new staging or “time sculpture,” are transformed by virtue of electronic metamorphoses.

The selection of films and videos for the programmes From Musique Concrète and Music-Image is designed to investigate the relationship between image and sound, whether by means of a series of portraits of contemporary musicians and composers or the complexity of a sound conception that is closely related to the visual structure.

The programme Photos that Move presents one of the fundamental ideas of Cahen’s poetics: the polished, rigorous and visionary study of the transition that occurs between the fixed image and the moving image. This theme constitutes the creation of a language and is found at the very heart of 20th-century audiovisual works. Robert Cahen explores this transition like others might explore time, as always unknown and from another planet.

Activity´s details

Curatorship: 
Sandra Lischi
See all activities in: Cinema and video

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