#SPECCHIO: OPENINGS!!! | PETRA SZEMÁN
If in some cases the concept of mirror indicates practices of mirroring the self through which to reflect on the possible iterations of the body between real and digital, it is possible to trace further methods of interpretation that identify vanishing points in the reflective quality of the mirroring surfaces that open onto simultaneous perceptive planes. The visual research of the Hungarian artist Petra Szemán is grafted into this complex system and, with her latest video animation Openings!!! (2022) examines the interstitial spaces between different media planes: photos of Japanese cities and landscapes, excerpts from anime, animations made by the artist in After Effects, game clips taken from The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim (Bethesda Game Study, 2011).
Petra Szemán continues this research through the avatar Yourself – the digital version of the artist -, former protagonist of the epic narrative in four episodes entitled Monomyth: gaiden (2018-2020), in which she analyzes the discrepancies that arise at the intersection of the screen and individual “in an elusive and multilevel reality” (Széman, 2018). Openings!!! is set in one of the most recurring places of Japanese anime: the train and railway stations. Other types of media are also superimposed on it, such as the typical loading screens of video games (loading screens) and the intro of the anime, to build a visual narration based on the mixture of different narrative planes. The artist uses these non-places, intermediate moments in which time seems to be suspended and in which we find ourselves navigating the digital space until we return to the normal flow of events, to visually represent what happens “between the perceptual system human and its media environment “(Levitt, 2018)
As the artist states, “the video follows Yourself, the protagonist of the work, as he travels on local trains through intermediate landscapes. From this kinetic point of view, conceived and designed in a unique way, fragments of different worlds follow one another, signaling perceptual breaks that apparently force subjectivity to come out of itself, and to weave new and strange relationships of interdependence and intoxication with the image in movement”. The intersection between the opening scenes of the anime, the train as a form of crossing, and the loading screens of the video games, prolong those moments of interlude, liminal moments that have a short duration in real time but which also allow you to linger among the interstitial spaces of different temporal dimensions. In Openings!!!, Petra Szemán reflects on the concept of animatic interval, identified by the artist as “a network of multiple perspectives that coexist and capable of creating simultaneous copresences”, overlapping levels of temporality but which take place at the same instant. The artist is able to access these temporal gaps through the animated version of herself and, through her digital body, navigates the various temporalities that we experience every day.
Digital video (color and sound),00:18:00, 2022
© Photo: Petra Szemán, courtesy the artist