In 133 Eugenia Balcells and Eugeni Bonet dismantle a LP of sound effects. In an encyclopedic manner, they arrange a sequence of fragments of found film footage (fiction, advertising, home videos, documentaries, etc) in perfect correspondence to the sounds that are included in the record in the same exact order. The spectator thereby creates different narratives out of the fragments, establishing connections between them in relation to their relative position, and their correspondences (or incorrections). It is like a continuation of Kulechov’s research.
Balcells and Bonet develop in 133 a seemingly acritical reconstruction; a restrained, amusing and fascinating piece about the use of audiovisual material to classify life according to its sounds. This is a piece, necessarily structured by chance, in which audiovisual clichés are used to lay bare the trickery of montage and its ideological manipulation.
When the innovative structure of modern poetry is applied to audiovisual form, it is easy to recognise that when two objects are perceived together, there is always some type of contagion-like relationship taking place between them, which creates a new unity out of the preexisting elements. The technique of bricolage is thus portrayed in this piece as an attitude, a practice of dismantling, whereby fragmented bits of content are put together and in relationship to one another, like words in a sentence. By experimenting with this work method, Balcells and Bonet have managed to put together a pseudo-encyclopedia of moving images according to the order of a record of sound effects. We hear the sounds of planes, animals, ships, house interiors, factories, cars, fairs and shows, shots, fireworks, parades, human sounds, trains, bells, the weather, and even trumpets, drums and organs. At the end, the sound of machinery at work (writing machines, sewing machines, engines) closes the sequence of sounds which has been put together according to the sequence of fragments of found footage. Yet, instead of dutifully following their self-imposed rule, the authors literally introduce breaks between signifiers in the relationship between their signifieds, playing with the coincidences and dissidences between audio and image. This piece is one of the first artistic practices in Spain based on appropriation, de-montage and film recycling.
Watching 133 today makes it a great work of audiovisual archaeology. It could be considered a document of everyday life, a portrait of society and of ideology, or an object of visual anthropology studies. At first look, we can even get a rough idea of the class and power distinctions of the epoch. This encyclopedic catalogue goes far beyond its value as a work of art that plays with audiovisual tautologies. It is amazing how the visual winks that the relations between images develop in a very precise manner, defying all logic, manage to keep the spectator hooked to the screen.