Kieslowski said…

Luís Ángel Fernández Hermana - @luisangelfh
12 July, 2016
Editorial: 11
Fecha de publicación original: 19 marzo, 1996

Date of publication: 19/03/1996. Editorial 011.

All doors are open to the man with a trade

Krzysztof Kieslowski has left us. The most European of all film makers has gone — European in the sense of Renaissance Europe connected as it was by Latin. Latin, the vehicle of communication which spread the creative force of that movement across the continent, shaping the foundations of science and modern political discourse among other things. Kieslowski spoke to us fundamentally through his films. But, on the few occasions that he agreed to express his ideas publicly, away from the medium of celluloid, he pointed out with his characteristic vigour the features of a lost horizon. “What I’m most interested in doing is getting people to talk about things that are important.” And he added, “We live in a world that doesn’t know how to give shape to an idea of itself. Hitler and Stalin had ideas on how to order the world and we all know what the consequences of those were.”

What did Kieslowski think of the world of networks and the information society? What would his ideas have been from a European perspective, if such a thing really exists, on how the virtual space he knew so well is represented there? In other words what do we have to get back to, to incite people to talk about the things that matter again? Kieslowski said little or nothing directly on these issues, but he did leave us some clues. The most impressive are contained in the intricately woven tapestry that is the Dekalog (his Ten Commandments). Nobody who has seen them can fail to comment on them. Through his incisive vision of the modern world, our world, this Polish director got thousands of cinema-goers talking.

One thing that many people don’t realise is that these 10 one-hour episodes were made for television. Today, experts, talking from under the broad umbrella of the phenomenon of audio-visual globalisation (practically every day multi-media corporations merge, taking new bites out of the world market with their finely sharpened “dollars”), warn us of the risks of this tendency. The American way of life is being adopted world-wide, cultural colonisation progresses at an unstoppable pace. We either do something or we’ll drown in a sea of calorie-free drinks, be controlled by 3-D mafia, sodomised by cartoons and brainwashed by virtual detergents. “To TV or not to TV”, that is the question, or so they say.

But, is it? While that dilemma is being resolved, the networks are apparently reconstructing a different reality. Instant, global, interactive communication forces people, in the first place, to speak to each other. True, there is no direct physical contact, but people talk, something which often doesn’t happen these days even when people are face-to-face. In addition, the communication that does take place, as is the case in cyberspace, is fragmented into bits. The internaut has to make the relevant connections, interrelate, synthesize, “collate”, make sure that the pieces of information make sense, choose those bits which they consider better or more appropriate, and put together, in a few words, a new reality –their own –in response to the words of others. These are in turn converted into a new message for other people. In short, it’s an exercise in maturity which hones our capacity for analysis, quite the opposite of passively waiting for the world to appear on a screen to be digested like a bowl of slop — T.V.’s magic recipe.

Within the “phenomenon of telecommunications”, the rules which govern T.V. and those which govern on-line communication are radically different. The same applies to the battle of the big corporations to bring them together. None of the efforts made so far to integrate Internet with TV have made the slightest change to the fundamental nature of the former via the slush of the latter. The fact that the first experiment of this type is already very advanced in the U.S. (Orlando) underlines the interest that big audiovisual groups there have in finding some kind of magic potion which will allow them to reinstate their power in the very heart of the American home. The fact that their European counterparts have not yet outlined a significant project of this kind shows just how short-sighted the directors of these institutions are in not getting involved in an area so fundamental for the shaping of the info-society. Fortunately people continue to talk to each other about important things without waiting for the go-ahead from the powers that be. Perhaps this is the reason why these politicians are letting T.V. continue to hold such a prevalent place in their thoughts: they prefer people to eat slop rather than create their own menu.

Translation: Bridget King