PELAGIA KYRIAZI Tyranny of Light 2001-2002 - x +

CN: KyrP2002tyra

MT: DVD (09:00)

IL: Megakles Rogakos 2005, p.12-15

DN: Ms. Pelagia Kyriazi - 2005

CM: The Tyranny of Light is a video artwork, whose making lasted several years and acquired various forms. Its main ingredients are Kyriazi's digitized versions of Steps and Visionary, which were inspired from the Altar of Zeus from Pergamon. The entire technique of the video is like a game of the mind. The process began with the primary juxtaposition of the Visionary on the foreground against the Steps in the background. Kyriazi photographed the aforementioned paintings under different circumstances of brightness and darkness, and from various angles, vertically and horizontally. The succession of still images endows the body with motion, when in actual fact it is the steps that move. Such a process results in a visual game, where space and time converge and diverge continuously, in an endless cycle. Parallel to that, Kyriazi interweaved into the main body of work other photographs of trains, of shadows, and of man's relationship with space. Digital technology gave Kyriazi the possibility of ceaseless processing, of returning to the work and drawing ever-new elements from its sources. This is not unlike classical craftsmanship, but the computer is the source per se of endless processing possibilities. As a matter of fact, Tyranny of Light is a combination of many elements, something like a virtual collage. Every time its elements are interwoven they always create something new. In the process, the previous picture is transformed into a new one. Thus the sequence of pictures evolves in terms of color, shape and composition. However, despite the intervention of technology, the video retains its earthly and humane character.

The backbone of Tyranny of Light is a scenario, inspired loosely by The Windows, a poem Constantine P. Cavafy (1863-1933) wrote in Alexandria in 1903. Here it is in its entirety:

In these dark rooms, where I go through / weary days, I wander back and forth / looking for the windows. - When it opens / the window will be a consolation. - But the windows aren't there to be found or I am unable / to find them. And perhaps it's better for me not to find them. / Perhaps the light will be some novel tyranny. / Who knows what new things will show. [Constantine P. Cavafy, 1903 Alexandria]

Kyriazi focuses on the triple possibility in relation to the windows as suggested in the poem, and gives her own interpretation. To begin with, the windows "aren't there to be found," which means that they do not objectively exist. The second possibility, "I am unable to find them," declares some personal inability. Finally, the possibility of "perhaps it's better for me not to find them" is the rationalization. This poem is part of the existential writings of Cavafy. The plain language Cavafy employs carries the psychological weight of an intentionally dull life. Though The Windows end up in salvaging man from futility, Kyriazi sought to deprive Tyranny of Light of salvation in order to intensify the need for escape. The video follows the three possibilities of The Windows. It begins with a dark room, in the same atmosphere that the poem evokes. Gradually, a human figure can be discerned trapped in the dimensions of a space, which seems proportionless. The prison is clear when we discern the man isolated, behind the shutters. The second part makes obvious the futility of escape. In an ironic way, the more the man tries to escape from the confines of his space, the more he is trapped in it. The space is shattered by time and the trap appears to multiply. Basically, the plot operates with a feeling of disturbance, as in The Element of Crime, a 1984 film by Lars von Trier (b. 1956), whose atmospherics inspired Kyriazi. Finally, in the third and last part, it becomes clear that what the man is desperately striving to break free from is simply his very own self. His figure appears in its negative form like an X-ray. When the body reconciles with the spirit, then the man will experience the long sought ecstasy of harmony and peace.

When the visual part of the video was completed, sound seemed to have become a necessity. On a primary level, the entire video is unified under a single human voice reciting The Windows in three parts. Kyriazi chooses a voice that is peculiar, idiosyncratic, and genderless. In her search for music, the artist sourced various possibilities; from so-called ancient Greek music to contemporary music, finally to settle on the music of Karlheinz Stockhausen (1928-2007), the foremost composer of 'Concrete Music'. Stockhausen's music is in keeping with the rhythm and the atmosphere of the video. The first part is his Piece of Piano of 1954, inspired by a march. The second part is an excerpt from Licht, music for opera with great scenic action, which is yet to be completed. Finally, the third part makes use of the Helicopter Quartet (1992-1993), a piece performed by musicians on an operating helicopter. These three musical solutions do not simply have an enhancive role on the video. Dispensed in three parts to echo the three parts of Tyranny of Light, they too create a virtual collage of sound. Picture and music thus become inseparable.

The video seems to be governed by the rules of painting, especially harmony and balance. Resorting to the laws of painting has happened in a subconscious manner. Though the entirety of this work is so rich, it somehow lifts the viewer. As a matter of fact, there is something metaphysical about Tyranny of Light. Although it seems to be an abstract work of art, its plot seems to acquire some instinctively perceptible dimension.

[Megakles Rogakos 11/2005]

ROGAKOS, MEGAKLES Pelagia Kyriazi: Psychographs 2005 ACG Art, Athens