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fig↓ illustrations of the installation and remix version

PALINURO (1989)

 

and Palinurus, to you he went, though you had no sin,
and he came carrying to you a sombre dream.
(Virgil The Aeneid 5.840-41)

 

The video work is based on the story of Palinurus, the helmsman of Aeneas, who, overcome by sleep while ta­king the watch, fell over­board and for three days long was at the mercy of the stormy sea. When he eventu­ally managed to reach the Italian mainland unharmed, at Velia, he was murdered by the inhabi­tants of that town, after they had vainly tried to rob him. The title of the work comes from the name of the head­land near to the town where they abandoned his unburied body.

This story, as told by Vir­gil in the fifth and sixth books of the Aeneid, implies that an accident befell Pa­linurus when he was on the point of reaching the end of his jour­ney. This is in fact a point of some contro­versy. PALINU­RO examines the interpretati­ons of vari­ous authors, inclu­ding the English cri­tic and essayist Cyril Connolly, who are of the opinion that Palinurus deliberate­ly fell over­board. He is supposed to have done this because he was no lon­ger able to believe in the ide­al of the crusade: the founding of a city which would rule the world. "Virgil knew the cost of the Empire; the cost in suf­fe­ring, and the cost in con­science and in so many gra­ceful things. His recogni­tion of the costs shows up so clearly in his poem that the work is currently thou­ght to be a bitter attack on Augustus and absolute ru­lership." (W.J. Knight, quo­ted by Cyril Connolly.)

The installation consists of three video screens and a photograp­hic work and is set up in a darkened room. The revolving beam of a lighthouse at night constitutes the main motif on the middle of the three video screens.  Palinurus himself is not depicted anywhere. He is only discernible in the images of his mind's eye, which glide across the monitors, while his gaze is fixed on the coast. On the wall opposite the monitors hangs a highly enlarged photograph of the sea, which is brief­ly illumina­ted when the beam of light from the lighthouse swi­ngs round the the front (and the middle monitor itself become the source of light). In this way, PALINURO is based on two forms of projecti­on: a physical one of central monitor on pho­to-grap­hic work, and - in the opposite direction - a psychologi­cal one of Palinu­rus' mental images on three moni­tors.
The main motif - lighthouse and sea - consists of images re­corded on location. Palinurus' mental images, which are in­terwoven with the main motif in multiple layers of ima­ges, are drawn from a collection of TV images which were construc­ted specially for this installation during the first half of 1989.

In the first part (Te Palinurus Petens) the lighthouse repre­sents the coast at Cumae, when Palinurus is keeping watch. In the second part (In Unda), the coast at Velia, which Palinurus will reach three days later.
To bridge the time that the installation is not running there is a fourth tape depicting only a lighthouse beam, playing on the middle monitor. The physical projection is then at its stron­gest. This tape is turned off as soon as the installati­on is started up by the viewer.

The remix on this DVD is a configuration of three pictures in picture designed for one videoprojection on three panels and projection screen or wall.

The motto of the work: te, Palinure, petens, tibi somnia tristia portans insonti (searching for you, Palinurus, undeserving of the bad dream) is drawn from the dream passage from the Palinurus episode of the fifth book, in which somnia tristia means "a vague phrase of foreboding" according to R.D. Williams, "where 'somnia' does not mean specifically 'dreams' but rather 'the sleep that brings doom'."

(ndk 1989/2002)

 

installation(1989)
concept and script Nol de Koning, camera Louk Vreeswijk, editing Ivo van Stip­hout, sound Rob Glotzbach, music Hector Berlioz Chanson d'Hylas (from Les Troyens); postproduction Monte­Video, Amsterdam;
four video tapes 32'30", colour, sound (stereo), three video screens, photograph 120 x 120 cm; collection Rijksdienst Beel­dende Kunst, The Hague

remix (2002)
concept Nol de Koning, online editing Ramon Coelho, postproduction Netherlands Media Art Institute Montevideo/TimeBasedArts, Amsterdam; 32'17"

 

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