I casually discovered the media, digital, A/V world at school, actually during my first year of university. Before that moment, I didn’t even know its meaning. I watched television, I went to cinema, I looked to music videos, I wrote emails, and I listened to music on CDs without an education about that. I never learned to understand the mechanism behind and inside the instruments I used, their history. And I didn’t even know anything about their evolutions and implications for the future
Often, when I was young, I listened to voices against a technological and technical development, negative thoughts about the use of new media, about the relation new generations could set with them. Anyway, the first time I critically faced the analogical electronic world, and then the digital one, I thought that if I’d knew them before, I would have surely enjoyed better and earlier all the advantages the media world brings with it and will incontestably bring. It is not the right place to dissert about this, least of all my intention is a generalist speech. I want to talk about a conscious use of the electronic and digital instruments and I want to explain historical and theoretical knowledge of the novelty the creative artists and students took from them, for everybody. It’s just one of the valid reason that can make people understand new media are an effective instrument through which look and interpret the world. For this, and many other motivations, near history, philosophy, mathematics and literature, children who were born and live in a world plenty of media can understand and learn how to use them in a conscious manner.
I found a good, rare, almost unique case in Italy to talk about those arguments, through a concrete experience that encouraged a critical look as well towards a certain “art didactics”, which nears children and often adults as well to the contemporary creative world, to contemporary art and new media; which, even if born in our time therefore similar to our way of thinking, it is often alien and constantly needs explanations, as excluded by lots of cultural “popular” ambits such as schools, museums, cinemas, television .
Vinz Beschi is an exemplar model to face those themes. He’s born in Brescia in ’58, graduated at the Brescia Conservatory and at the Istituto d’Arte of Guidizzolo, Avisco expert in A/V communication and applied arts, with particular attentions to the relation between sound, images and infant world. As he underlines in his curriculum, “he’s connected to the childhood world He’s convinced that searching in the A/V universe moments of free expression together with children and kids is a way to create “non-art” out of the rigid and competitive structures schemes ”
Silvia Scaravaggi: Vinz, would you like to tell me your first experiences in this area, how did you get from your Conservatory diploma to your A/V communication?
Vinz Beschi: I remember with pleasure to the emotions I felt when, young, I assisted to the home projection of the familiar videos recorded in 8mm. And I remember how my attention focused on the unshaped spots that appeared on the screen, provoked by dust between the film and the projector light. They seemed little animals born by the magic of the projection that moved sometime slow sometime jerky until the point they disappear after being crossed the entire screen. And then the sound, the sound of that wonderful Bolex Paillard projector that is now exposed in my studio. The sound perfectly matched with those spots movements.
I think my A/V passion was born from those projections. The conservatory studies matched with the art institute gave life to the desire of discovering how the invisible part of shots, sounds could relate with the visible part, the images. At the age of 20, I was offered the occasion to teach music education at the Mompiano Audiofonetica school. The direct contact with boys and girls with auditory problems, who saw images without hearing the correspondent sound, brought me to create new paths of audio/video education starting from the point that their way to perceive images was only in silence. Silence is still now protagonist of my “audiovisual” research.
In the music room I had a transparent box, hermetically closed. Inside the box, a phrase: “This box of transparent glass contains the silence, precious as a secret, fragile or tough as every indefinable essence. Outside, far in space and time, noises, sound aggression, talking masses, acoustic universe, violent screams of the excluded”.
Silvia Scaravaggi: Your video work particularly insists on the relation between image and sound, for example “Strip Melody”, homage to Cathy Berberian that, more than numerous prizes, will be presented the 23 rd November during next Cinematics Festival in Brussels , in the author video contest organized by Claudia D’Alonzo for Digicult. Without any doubt, the relation between sound and images is a substantial aspect of your work, but another fundamental theme I would like to explore is the relation between children in your laboratories and the video medium. A key example is in my opinion “Di tutti i colori”, 14 minutes video results of a creative laboratory with children from PInAC of Rezzato (Brescia ). Can you tell me something about this “Videoattivo” experience?
Vinz Beschi: Videoattivo experience is born by the meeting with Elena Pasetti, director of the PInAC that understood the potentialities of the project and involved me with enthusiasm in this research. An experience that invites to explore and discover new meanings, new “beauties” and colors and aspects in the most banal reality of the objects we use everyday. Practically, a direction exercise of the look. In a television position that provided the diversification of the point of view, children realized “live” visual events through composing games obtained by manipulation of liquid and plastic materials. The television medium, thanks to the closed circuit, turned into a fantastic prosthesis to see in a different manner, a “machine to see” and invent the reality.
After many years of Videoattivo, this one has been one of the most complete and gratifying whom result is the product of several elements in harmony between each other, particularly the sustain, indications and suggestions of Elena Pasetti, who strongly trusted this experience and the spaces of the PInAC, a little pix where children and adults felt comfortable, free to try, hazard and manipulate following their artistic instinct. From this experience, the video “Di tutti i colori” took shape. It’s a documentary about the childish creativity that highlights a path of artistic-expressive action/research through which we experimented, with thirty five-year-old children, the possibilities conceived to the childish elaboration by the television system as well as the expressive opportunities offered by the sensitive-perceptive experience mediated by the specific television medium. Images seem to be random, due to the game, but they’re actually caused by curiosity, amusement and invention of who’s manipulating the objects in the game. sono il frutto della curiosità, del divertimento e dell’inventiva di chi manipola gli oggetti con il gioco.
It’s been wonderful to see children to flash up, enjoy, be surprised, excite and rejoice in front of a big TV screen in which images were the result of their own expressive research/action. They’re ability in involving me and transmitting emotions has been touching. I’ve been more than once surprised by what was going on in the screen, and so were they. The screen slowly lost its technical connotation and turned into a big canvas. An electronic canvas on which images from all the materials let something comes out: signs, nets, and visions of a world to invent and discover.
The camera didn’t let anything go away. Hours and hours of images recorded on digital film. What could we do with all that material? The idea was to create a little diary to live again under a different form all the sensations, emotions and surprises felt during the direct and active experience. This is how the film was born. A film where you can see all the colors, through an operation of cut and paste that transformed the material into something unrecognizable, through transparencies and special effects common in TV, but everything is actually flour, foam, toothpaste, honey .
The visual track became the stimulus to search for sounds, noises that through real, unusual, rhythmic, melodic synch could give new meaning to images, a new rhythm to sequences. A sound that often gave depth and concreteness to live emotions. The video closes with the image of a child with the hands inside a pot plenty of tomato sauce, who’s smiling observing alternately its hands and the fantastic image reproduced on the canvas. A smile, an expression, a look but most of all a pure joy in front of this little “art miracle” that deeply involves and moves the spectator.
Silvia Scaravaggi: This type of unique work, and exceptional also in Europe, is possible thanks to the presence of PInAC, the Pinacoteca Internazionale dell’età evolutiva “Aldo Cibaldi” of the Comune Rezzato ( Brescia ). Following Elena Pasetti, director of the PInAC, what is the meaning and importance of this kind of reality in Italy ?
Elena Pasetti: PInAC is a civic institution, who goes by the borders of its territory and who’s occupied to concretely decline the local minds in a home-museum with children drawings who has the world as border. Unique in its genre, it keeps a collection signed by the international character, tells emotions, feelings, thoughts and hopes for thousands of children. Its activity provides different actions. Collect expressive works realized by children in collaboration with schools and associations interested in the spreading of the visual culture produced by the childhood and its creativity expression. It builds formative offers to teachers and tutors in the ambit of intercultural and aesthetic education; it promotes and organizes meetings and ateliers for parents, educator and curious adults.
The PInAC house has opened doors and windows. Starting from children, Rezzato is in relation with all their rights. The right to creativity and expressivity, to start with children’s, but also the fundamental right for everyone to beauty. The commitment in working to cultivate expressivity and guarantee a creative life confirms the right to a dignified life. To draw, you need pencils and colors, you need water and peace. In PInAC DNA there’s the vow to guarantee to all citizens the right to a pacific and calm life, to instruction and healthy.
Silvia Scaravaggi: With your work, children are into art and most of all into the audio-video medium. How do you get to this? How do you insert your work in the world of “art didactic”?
Vinz Beschi: I make a citation from Jean Dubuffet: “Art never sleeps in beds prepared for her. She runs away as her name is pronounced, she loves the unknown. Her best moments are when she forgets her name”. It is not easy nowadays to involve children into art paths, because of the indefinable state of art. I like thinking at the word “art” as close to the word “limb” (N.T.T.: in Italian limb is written “arto”). Limb as hand; limb as eye and hear Limb as video camera. I think participating with a group of children where together you near things, materials, objects in a different and unusual manner is an art that finds its existence not in the result but in the collective itself. When children intensively stop on everyday gestures and actions that seem empty of meaning, as ripping a paper sheet, turning a jar of tomato sauce or pronouncing an insignificant word, trying to collectively taste forms, lines, sounds, silences and colors, I think those are the moments when the meaning of the word art take shape.
Where does anyway art start and ordinary gesture finish? How I would like to know it I think it is found not in the research of new realities, rather in new manner to relate with the existent. I think involving kids in restrained experiences, lived with the senses through the camera eye and hear, means keeping in mind the influence the audio-video area plays on the identity formation and the developing of creative and aesthetic abilities, such as personal strategies to interact with others and the reality around us.
Silvia Scaravaggi: PInAC is an extraordinary reality that allows the work with children together with electronic media In my opinion, this means being conscious and assuming the responsibility of making children approach a type of society that is soaked with media. Is this a way to make people conscious of electronic and digital media since they are children, and teaching how to understand it and use it in a creative and personal manner, without being overwhelmed by them?
Vinz Beschi: For sure. The relation children-TV has been object of many books written by psychologists, sociologists and educators. Some of them say it’s wrong; some of them say it’s ok; some of them stay in the middle, saying children only have to have small quantities of it. Far from demonizing TV or praising its qualities, I think it is necessary schools and all other educational spaces instruct children to watch and live TV.
The creative/expressive activity of the “electronic brushes” research of the PInAC puts side by side a series of experiences inside the Avisco of Brescia, cultural and professional association that promotes research activities, formations, updates on audiovisual languages. It’s been twenty years since Avisco has been helping children to see and use things (the world), representing them with the immediate perceptive languages, as images and sounds. It made children relate with TV, trying to find path to tell thoughts, experiences and desires.
Among all the experiences, “Dentro il video, oltre la TV ” is a particularly significant one. It’s a project that proposes the dismantle of television, making children talk with the TV language through a theoric-operative path that wants to leave, through games and expressive activities, huge space to imagination and creativity. In the audiovisual laboratory, children have the occasion to live all these opportunities experimenting the expressive-creative potentialities of the video technique, exploring with the eye, hands and heart, games and situations that become electronic images, substantially television.
Starting a production path means do not follow a linear and regular path, which can be described with a diagram in all its passage, but activating a conceptual process of experimental origin, with the great ambition to explain how the mind works.
Silvia Scaravaggi: What type of collaborations do you establish in this sector? Which are, in your opinion, in Italy , the most sensitive realities about those themes?
Vinz Beschi: More than PInAC, where I have the possibility to invent particularly creative research paths, I collaborate to audiovisual projects in many school institutes, from kindergarten to university. Moreover, I collaborate with public and private institutions that care about media education. As Avisco, there are many others realities that worry about those themes and that all refers to CIAS. I would like to mention the Cineteca Municipale of Bologna, with the “Schermi e lavagne” program; the city of Turin, Divisione Servizi Educativi, with the historical laboratories “Immagine di via Millelire” and “Immagine2”; the GET image didactic and Cinema Academy of Bari; Multimagine of Bergamo; the Biennale of Cinema in Pisa; the Venice municipality services of educative projectation
Silvia Scaravaggi: Is your last video “White paper”, who’s been selected and will be presented during the next edition of INVIDEO International exhibition of video and cinema in Milan from 7 th to 11 th November ’07, the result of a work with children? Can you tell me something about it?
Vinz Beschi: “Carta Bianca” is born from a laboratory experience who involved an heterogeneous group of boys and girls from 12 to 15 years old, coming from the junior school of Rezzato . As all my laboratories, this one started with silence inside and outside. Silence as the white space of a canvas ready to receive brushes on it. Silence ready to be interrupted, pierced by visual/sound brush strokes. Can silence be a white paper? Can we break, upset, pierce and rip silence with a white paper? How?
Kids have been invited to try all the possibilities offered by a paper sheet. A chaotic, almost uncontrollable situation was born, where everybody let loose, producing intense actions and noises.
Once this irrepressible impulse to destroy and provoke, we observed the panorama composed by shreds and, going back to silence, we collected everything into bags till the point of making the space free again. Some moments of silence again. Now, it’s up to the eyes and hears of the camera to explore the white paper and capture the experimented action.
Everyone chose its own visual and sound gesture and realized it in front of the cameras, while 2 other guys were cameraman and clapperboard-man.
“Carta Bianca” is the story of a paper sheet, without sense but plenty of “senses”, where at the beginning the result was undefined, where nothing is told, maybe just little histories: without an opening, without an end. Stories developed around silence, breath, hearing, chaos and action. Sounds and images that follow a never established order that surfaces the causality. “Carta Bianca” has been an active, concrete, sensual experience, in which participants have been thrown without fear, surprised by their own results, pleasantly transported by images and sounds, by their gestures on a white paper.
The laboratory experience has been lived in an intense atmosphere and the emotional involving made provoking and overconfident adolescents be transported by the idea of playing with a white paper. They showed a deep gesture: the hands of a participant that almost finished its action close the execution as an orchestra director ends a slow time. A simple rip in the paper can represent the laceration, the division, the rupture or a slow agony. The paper and gesture around it can represent joys and pains.
And also an homage to Lucio Fontanta his cuts, his holes “Carta Bianca” will be presented, after INVIDEO, the 1 st December inside the “20es Les instants video” in France , inside the section “Vidéo ponctuée de poésie”.