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Sound Of Face
Face Of Sound

The dark and heavy curtains on the windows, five black and white photographs of people of unknown identity, mysterious unsettling music that goes to the bone, irregularly oscillating light, a human skull stuck in a transparent tube, a razor-blade cutting an old yellowed diary... welcome „into the artwork“ Sound of Face / Face of Sound. I am using „into the artwork“ on purpose, because Nenad Branković and Michal Tornyai have prepared a sort of trap for the spectator. They cunningly attack almost all of his senses, they encourage him directly to take part in their multimedial game. The spectator becomes a co-player, who can – through simple interventions – change the course of the game minute by minute, as well as determine the path that leads to the goal. Even if he does not react to this challenge, the artwork will not allow him to be passive. The stiff portraits with no clear dating set in the massive black frames immediately force us to ask questions: Who are these people? Do they know each other? Are they relatives? Why did they become a part of this installation? The infinity of possible answers, alternative stories and interpretations is as provocative as it is exciting. The silent faces gazing into the objective of an anonymous photographer are a riddle without an answer.

The authors enrich the obscure photographs with two more dimensions – lighting and sound. Through the first one, Brankovič partially relieves them of their photographic flatness – the irregularly oscillating intensity of light (responding to the volume of the musical background) creates the impression that the faces are moving. Combined with the darkened room, the light also partakes on the creation of the almost ghastly atmosphere and at the same time, it changes the dominance of the pictures in relation to each other, enforcing the spectator’s attention. The electronic music does not function as a backdrop to the visual – it tries to rip the characters out of their static frames. It strongly effects the perception of the artwork, and moreover, with its unpredictable dramatic development it leaves the spectator (who also becomes a listener) in constant suspense. Within the sound track, the author of the music Michal Tornyai directly reacts to the photographic portraits – each character has his or her own musical track – with individual expression, dynamic and rhythm. All tracks are playing at the same time though, so they overlap, and although they loop in cycles, no repetition is identical with its predecessor. It is also due to the spectator/listener, because he decides (consciously, or intuitively) how loud each of the tracks will play. At the same time he also influences the lighting and thanks to his intervention, the characters play a different story each and every time. And even if they had not met in real life and their fate is connected only through a common photographic studio, the intersecting musical motifs allow them to „get to know each other“.
The interpretation of the installation does not end here. Responding to the photographs and Tornyai’s music, Branković places glass tubes in front of the spectator, which hide some „objets trouvés“ in their insides. At the first sight they don’t seem to relate to the portraits – in the end, they are isolated in a small closed space. The very next moment though, the spectator comes to realize that there possibly could be some sort of connection. The old diary could have belonged to the girl with the ribbon, the skull had to belong to someone’s body, the slide has probably been a part of someone’s archive. We will not know for sure whether this is really true. If the truth would be told, the game with the spectator’s imagination would be flawed.
In fact, Sound of Face / Face of Sound is a typical post-modern work of art. It connects art genres, erases the distinction between traditional and new media, it defies a definitive, final meaning. The recipient becomes more important than the authors – he not only directly engages in the artwork, but can also „read“ it differently each time: once from the position of a spectator, other time a listener, or even a detective searching for identities of the characters and found objects. In Eco’s words, it’s a „damn“ open artwork. You will surely not regret participating on its game.