2016 // Almost Nothing

– 2016 | croatia | 15’ 00’’ | stereo | hd, 16 mm, 1920 x 1080
– book, download pdf >>>>> SKORO NIŠTA
– 160 slides (80 bw, 80 color)

As Jean-Luc Nancy says, our pleasure in views, scents, and sounds has been a political issue since the birth of Europe. The idea of landscape has nothing in common with the idea of unspoiled nature. Landscapes are formed through planned deforestation, afforestation, and controlled planting. These processes are influenced by economic, health care, and other policies, documented in the systematic and taxonomic terminology of the land registry. By mapping the island flora and recording the resistance of the vegetation to the wind, as well as the resulting sounds of friction, I document the sound signals that reflect the changes, fashions and economic conditions of a particular location. These cultivation policies return to our houses and apartments like the wind, creating a complex feedback loop between the interior and exterior spaces.

almost_nothing1 almost_nothing2


We are said to be living in a time of flow, although more often than not, we come across obstacles and states of stagnation. Ana Hušman’s work entitled Almost Nothing 1 is based on contrasts between motion and immobility, statics and dynamics, sound and silence. the leading role is performed by the wind with the various directions it takes, its sudden gusts and periods of serenity. this intangible phenomenon that seemingly comes from nowhere and belongs to no one was recorded on the island of Korčula. it captures different reflections of the wind in the environment, from the fluttering of leaves and the swaying of branches to the wavering of shadows in a tourist apartment.
as the observers, we assemble the landscape by measuring the gusts of the wind and the friction of the surface; in the artist’s words – we perceive it through the complex feedback loop between the interior and exterior spaces. Almost Nothing allows the landscape to have a calming effect and even sweetness while at the same time it hints at the underlying policies of space management and nature cultivation thus belying the expectations of leisured, postcard views of the island.
The swollen fibre of the (in)visible and the (un)heard behind the contradictory title Almost Nothing consists of two dominant parts. Both the scenes of the apartments and the island flora are devoid of humans. Still, human impact on the landscape is strongly felt. the themes of human influence on the transformation of natural environment, of boundaries between the cultivated and the wild, the natural and the artificial are revealed in an indirect way. the focus is directed towards the evasive relationships between motion and inertia; image opposed to sound and language, their normative codes and dimmed origins of reality. in outdoor scenes we follow the actual sounds of the wind. We hear it sweeping through the island vegetation, the branches of olive trees or the crowns of holly oak trees. the accompanying legend informs us about the locations and dates of the footage, and every now and then one finds an inserted drawing of a plant. For example, Sept. 9, 2015, Moderate Bora in the Weeds, MS – Microphone in front of the Stalks (Pržina Beach). the drawings take our eyes back to the very beginnings of landscape mapping without the use of camera, reminding us of the pioneering endeavors of classification of nature. Unlike the outdoor scenes, the indoor scenes are evidently staged. the interior, with its furnishings, design and details, such as omnipresent reproductions of arty motifs, presents itself primarily as a standardized product, a single item among the multiplied non-locations created by the tourist industry. the scenes of the apartment contain no in situ sounds. thoroughly put in order and relieved of any traces of users, they seem to be inhabited only by the wind occasionally coming in through openings slightly ajar. the recordings are accompanied by an odd weather forecast. the presenter’s voice describes the Beaufort’s wind force scale exploring the correspondences between the force of the wind and its impact on the sea, plants and people’s movements. the artist adds to the values of the Beaufort’s scale her descriptions of the acoustic recordings of the wind. 7 Beaufort (…) The sound is dry and crisp. occasional creaking. While the camera slides across the recesses of inner space, the eye lingers on details that appear to be accidental, while at the same time they attempt to clarify the wind force – e.g. on a reproduction of a sailboat on stormy sea, which seems to be a visual synecdoche of a strong wind. Minutely elaborate facets help us realize how stuck to routine schemes our perception has become. our gaze is startled by doubled sensations, optic as well as acoustic, which test and turn the establishment of clichéd conceptions upside down. 2 the expected harmony of landscape and the seductive concept of neutral space that it relies on and which seems to be understandable in itself, suddenly becomes shaken. the sounds within pictures, divergence between the visual and the acoustic lead us towards the game of contradictions that creates each landscape. 3 Almost Nothing urges us unobtrusively but consistently to question the cultural and historical components of landscape, its economic-political normativity and ensuing esthetics.
The assumptions about landscape appear to be conditioned by social and industrial relationships closely related to the politics of spatial management and distribution, where devastation of the shore and islands (mass “apartmanization”) is just one of the latest social phenomena. the beautification and stylization of landscape in order to promote the national identity turns out to be a substitute for culture. it appears as an attempt to disguise the economic and strategic exploitation of landscape, which goes back to the beginnings of the european imperialism. the development of imperialist policies and territorial control took place simultaneously with the perfection of a grid geometry that allowed for an accurate mapping, measuring and dividing of landscape. This facilitated the development of navigation and mapping techniques that led to the conquest of space and the colonization of new lands (…) It also contributed to the development of a scientific gaze, which shifted the European cosmos into a much more distinctly visual or optical register. Perspective acted, in effect, as midwife to the birth of modernity – a modernity that, philosopher Martin Heidegger argued, has given us “the world as picture“. 4 Conveying the impression of an objective, omniscient structure, the coordinate system, along with the standardization of metrical units and administrative and legal regulations, has become an important tool for space management. Applied to nature, the coordinate system allowed for a more organized and more profitable control of plants. Often independent of the characteristics of local bio-diversity, the humans have developed plans for clearing the land and thinning the forests, for making planting calculations. 5 the processes of cultivating nature flow in the background, demonstrating that one master plan, depending on economic conditions, is always replaced by another, from the standardization of landscapes to the standardization of indoor spaces. the system of controlling the land but also the arising rebellion and friction become the focal points in this work. the slide projection contain excerpts from the The Cadastral and Surveying Instruction introduced in 1820 in the Habsburg empire, artist’s description of plants and frottages of these plants collected in her walks in the country.The abstract forms, the quivering handprints on the bodies of the plants, are juxtaposed to the technical jargon of the first surveying endeavors, endeavors aimed at re-measuring of landscape. and while we read: not a single point correct presumption (…) yelling running around time confusion, we call to mind the old saying, cant’ see the forest for the trees. in other words, we are reminded of the fact that we are stuck in our cultural and tourist policies, whose reduction models are still unable to assume absolute control over reality. reality remains somewhat immeasurable. non-enclosable. Unruly, like the wind.

1 Amost Nothing is made in two versions, as a film and as a multi-channel installation. the piece is initiated in 2013, in the framework of a multi-annual project Almost Nothing – Ferrari Dalmatia, dedicated to the French composer luc Ferrari, who in 1968, in his visit to vela luka, made his best-known work Presque rien No. 1 – Lever du jour au bord de la mer / Amost Nothing No. 1 – Dawn on a Seashore
2 Cf, Gilles Deleuze, Film 2: slika – vrijeme, Filmski centar Srbije, Beograd, 2010, p. 42 – 45
3 Landscape is a natural scene mediated by culture. It is both a represented and presented space, both a signifier and a signified, both a frame and what a frame contains, both a real place and its simulacrum, both a package and the commodity inside the package. Cf., W. j. t. Mitchell, Landscape and Power, the University of Chicago Press, 2002, p. 5
4 adrian j. ivakhiv, Ecologies of the Moving Image: Cinema, Affect, Nature, https:// www.academia.edu/3469120/ ecologies_of_the_Moving_image_Cinema_affect_nature
5 Cf., james C. Scott, The Trouble with the View from Above, http://www.cato-unbound.org/2010/09/08/james-c-scott/ trouble-view-above





DOP: Ivan Slipčević
editor: Iva Kraljević
sound: Tomislav Domes
film scan, postproduction: Studio Ater
colorist: Mirela Budimić
read by: Gordana Kovačić, Christian Bushill

production: Studio Pangolin www.pangolin.hr
distribution: Bonobostudio www.bonobostudio.hr