Postscript / The Passenger (OV), 1996-2010

Audiovisual recording, Variable dimensions

Pierre Bismuth employs artistic practice as a tool through which to explore our perception of reality and, more specifically, the way we interpret cultural products. His highly ironic and often humorous video-installations draw references from cinema, popular culture and art, through films by legendary directors like Joseph L. Mankiewicz and Blake Edwards, Walt Disney characters, jazz musicians and works by contemporary artists. Birmuth tampers with the sound and colours, mixes visual and auditory reading codes, and turns to a broad range of formal resources to reveal the prejudices and paradoxes on which we base our perception of facts.

In Postscript/The Passenger (OV), the artist played the soundtrack of Michelangelo Antonioni’s The Passenger (1975) to his secretary, who had never seen the film. The artist then asked her to transcribe the dialogues of the film, and to describe the sounds and the situations that they suggest. The secretary’s text is projected on a wall, and spectators are free to choose to either read it in silence or to do so while listening to the film through headphones. Given that the secretary only hears the film once without breaks or pauses, errors show up in her transcription of the dialogues and her description of the narrative. The resulting mix of objectivity and subjectivity that emerges through this process allows Bismuth to very effectively question the mechanisms of the reception of culture.

The translation of sound into language (the secretary’s transcription of the soundtrack) shows that shifting meaning from one system to another always entails a process of subjective interpretation. The atmospheres that the secretary imagines and projects onto Antonioni’s work arise from her personal memories and the emotional effects created by the soundtrack of the film. Are things really the way we perceive them through our senses? How do we perceive facts? Do facts exist, or simply expectations of facts? This experimental context destabilises allegedly neutral codes and questions the supposedly logical relationships of our perceptions. Postscript / The Passenger (OV) forces spectators to be critical and to position themselves in relation to culture as a creator rather than a passive consumer.

Technical details

Original title:
Postscript / The Passenger (OV)
Registration number:
Bismuth, Pierre
Date created:
Date acquired:
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
Object type:
Audiovisual recording
Single-channel video, b/w, sound, 120 m 40 s
Variable dimensions
Edition number:
Ed. 2/3 + 1 P.A.
MACBA Collection. MACBA Consortium
© Pierre Bismuth
It has accessibility resources:

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