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Microscopias

Isaki Lacuesta


In this video Lacuesta examines the materiality of images. Three types of objects are  observed through an electronic microscope: two paintings, a dollar note and various rapidly disintegrating film frames. In addition, a narrative around the person analysing these fragments is provided, telling of how, despite her scientific neutrality, she responds emotionally to the film frames (which are all the same except for small variations). Here is a gaze that pretends to be objective and that therefore creates the narrated story (the meaning of which is itself questioned by the images).

“... when art is not enough, we have to turn to science.” (Isaki Lacuesta)

Microscopias is part of a series of experimental studies by Lacuesta about the materiality of images, those of an artistic nature, as well as those related to power. Whereas Ressonàncies magnètiques examines the concept, both physical and mental, in order to study the different aspects of image and sound, Microscopias focuses on the physical composition of material images by examining these with an electronic microscope. In the end, it is clear that curiosity emotionally influences us as human beings, even when we attempt to be rational and scientific.

This documentary video has the structure of a catalogue report with a long epilogue. It is divided into four parts: “Natural landscapes”, “The eye of god”, “Eclipses” and Microcosmos, a science-fiction story made up of fragments from the previous episodes. “Natural landscapes” analyses the pigments of two 19th Century paintings, one authentic and the other one false. “The eye of god” examines the pyramid drawn in the dollar notes, after a quote by a Russian astronaut. “Eclipses” explores various extremely deteriorated film frames. Microcosmos narrates a story in Chinese about an uncertain future, by putting together the microscopic details of the previous episodes: on painting, money and film (when the latter is long forgotten). This is a story about the fascination with the other based on the smallest signs of her existence. The fictional dimension of this episode explores such concepts whilst the images show us a girl (who is supposed to be the same one that we see, within the narrative, in the film frames under the microscope). Small ideas of a greater complexity make their appearance gradually. The piece offers us a series of explorations that generates an illusion that is usually left aside by the objectivity of the scientific process.

Objective image exploration practices reveal the ultimate physicality of images. The piece plays with the idea of representation which a subjectivity establishes in the context within which an image becomes visible, letting us see what is usually hidden: an objective materiality (in some images, there is even a trace of life), which lies dormant in every representation.

Technical datasheet

  • Title: Microscopias
  • Direction: Isaki Lacuesta
  • Production: Isaki Lacuesta. 2003.
  • Duration: 00:23:00
  • Languages: German
  • Subtitles: Spanish
  • Original format: DV-Cam
  • Formats: Betacam Digital - DVD
  • TV systems: PAL
  • License: Copyright