Touch that dial

Greg Hooper: Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, In Search of UIQ

Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, In Search of UIQ, courtesy the artists

Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, In Search of UIQ, courtesy the artists

Nostalgia has options. There’s a nostalgia for artefacts: Oh what sillies the old folks used to be but aren’t we sophisticated now. And then there’s nostalgia for lost opportunity, where the past seems to close off each and every path to the best of possible futures.

There’s a way of speaking for that particular nostalgia—flat and downbeat, measured and steady, a dispassionate voice that says, “This is the way it was, this is the way it always will be, sad and sorry and true.” That is the voice that narrates In Search of UIQ, the video component of Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson’s investigation into Felix Guattari’s film script Un Amour d’UIQ.

Guattari’s script, sci-fi, lost for years, now tracked down. An alien sneaks into our world. It’s infinitely small, an invader of cells, of organelles and cytoplasm. It makes contact with a group of radicals, destroys global communications, explores consciousness.

At least that’s what I think the original Un Amour d’UIQ is about as Maglioni and Thomson’s fascinating In Search of UIQ is not so much about the script itself but the origins and destination of the script. The milieu. The social moments of the 60s and 70s that shaped Guattari’s politics, and led him to believe that he, a theoretician, psychiatrist, radical, could reasonably imagine he could write a sci-fi script, shop it around, make a Hollywood film. But in the 80s? That’s when Guattari goes to Hollywood and finds no way for triumphant idealism during capitalism’s very own Reformation.

Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, In Search of UIQ, courtesy the artists

Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, In Search of UIQ, courtesy the artists

In Search of UIQ rapidly moves between voices within the story and without, blurring the lines between archive and memory, the record of events and the retelling. It’s filled with footage of meetings and radical actions from the 60s and 70s, filmed in black and white, colour, whatever people could lay their hands on to record the birth of a new social order. This footage is presented not as some lo-fi 8-bit analogue affectation but rather as an opaque window on the past—degraded by memory, a reminder of the point in time when video and film suddenly became available to excited amateurs with few skills.

Nonetheless, the trajectory of all the intertwining media and timelines is inexorably linear—we move to a conclusive moment. The last shot. A final image of the beach, where life evolved, came onto the land. Foreground a radio, white moulded plastic, translucent circular dial. The aerial telescopes out to point to the heavens. Waves of information are received. The volume is turned up and waves of sound enter the atmosphere to travel past the shoreline and over the ocean. The radio holds a promise of connection and transmission, the promise of the communes of the 60s and the action groups of the 70s. The promise that one can change the dial.

Institute of Modern Art and OtherFilm, Silvia Maglioni and Graeme Thomson, In Search of UIQ, 72min, IMA, Brisbane, March 6

RealTime issue #120 April-May 2014 pg. 29

© Greg Hooper; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

22 April 2014
Close

Join our e-dition list

Sign up for free online e-ditions offering occasional reviews and commentary and curated selections from and response to the RealTime archive 1994-2017.