Universal City
Luca Tanzini
"Universal City" is a multimedia performance that documents the evolution of the city in history. Whereas in the past the city was symbolically the world, today the world has become a city.
The city rose up in an area once scattered and disorganized for so long that most of its ancient elements of culture were destroyed. It absorbed and re synthesized the remnants of this culture, cultivating power and efficiency.
By means of this concentration of physical and cultural power, the city accelerated the rhythm of human relationships and converted their products into forms that are easily stockpiled and reproduced. Along with monuments, written documents and ordered associative organizations amplified the impact of all human activities, extending backwards and forwards over time.
Since the beginning however, law and order stood alongside brute force, and power was always determined by these new institutions. Written law served to produce a canon of justice and equality that claimed a higher principle: the king's will, synonymous with divine command.
The Urban Neolithic Revolution is comparable only to the Industrial Revolution, and the Media Technology in our own era. There is of course a substantial difference: ours is an era of immeasurable technological progress as an end in itself, which leads to the explosion of the city, and the consequent dissemination of its structure across the countryside. The old walled city has not only fallen, it's buried its foundations. Our civilization flees from every possibility of control, by means of its own extra resources not controllable by the egregious ambitions of man.
The image of modern industrialization that Charlie Chaplin resurrected from the past in "Modern Times" is the exact opposite of contemporary metropolitan reality. He figured the worker as a slave chained to his machine and fed by machinery as he continued to work at maintaining the
machine itself. Today the workplace is not so brutal, but automation has made it much more oppressive. Energy and dedication once directed towards the production process are today shifted towards consumption. The metropolis in the final phase of its evolution, is becoming a collective mechanism for maintaining the function of this system, and for giving the illusion of power, wealth, happiness, and total success, to those who are, in actuality, its victims.
It is a concept foreign to the modern metropolitan mentality that life should be an occasion to Live, and not an excuse for generating newspaper articles, television interviews, or mass spectacles for those who know nothing better. Instead the process continues, until people prefer the simulacrum to the real, where image dominates over object, the copy over the original, representation over reality, appearance over Being.
The first phase of the Economy's domination over social life brought about the visible degradation of every human accomplishment from "Being" into "Having". The present phase of social life's total occupation by the accumulated effects of the Economy is leading to a general downslide from "Having" into "Seeming".
The performance is based on the instantaneous interaction between video and music: the video component is assembled in real time with RandomCinema a software that I developed and projected on a screen. The music-noise is the product of human radical improvisation togheter automatic-computer process.
Everything is based on the consideration of the element of chance as a stimulus for the construction of the most options. The unpredictable helps to reveal things as they happen. The montage, the music, and their interaction, are born and die and the same moment: there are no stage directions or scripts.
Luca Tanzini
Laboratorio Multimediale
Universita' di Siena
Via dei Termini 6
53100 Siena
phone: 057747734