On Pedro Inock's work "Contained Turbulence"
by J.Coulter ( film critic )
Pedro Inock’s hypnotic Contained Turbulence is part of a larger series called Anti-Monuments, which will utilize an array of multi-disciplinary mixed-media works. In this particular video installation, Nádia Lopes stands nude against stark, saturated backgrounds as Teresa Scholz delivers a stream of consciousness narration on the topics of memory, community, dreams, doubt, alienation and the overall desolate nature of the post-modern human condition. This poetic narration coupled with the monotonal visuals create an interesting mix - the images pass slowly, but the dialogue overwhelms, creating an almost dream-like and alien experience in its dissonance.
The use of color is perhaps one of the most captivating aspects of the work. Inock said that he uses the saturation to reflect the way he sees his own memories - in a sort of synesthetic fashion. This gives the visuals a soothingly chaotic feel. Yes, you’re seeing colors that aren’t quite natural, but it bathes Lopes in an oddly comforting light, even as she yanks her mouth open or tugs against a fabric that’s controlled by an unknown outsider. Comforting yet unnatural and frightening...just like this concept of community that Inock describes in the work.
This particular sequence where our subject is struggling with a fabric is one of the most striking visuals in the piece. The contained turbulence refers to the human condition, society, the community, the family, and everything in between - these microcosmic structures meant to contain people and/or give them comfort, depending on the individual involved. Here, we see her enacting a tug of war with this concept and struggling to wrap herself in its embrace...only to have it yanked away from her and leave her vulnerable once again.
Really, this internal struggle with external expectations is the thesis of the piece. “The collective sense of responsibility is a nightmare, an imbalance that comforts us.” Anyone who finds themselves even a little bit on the outskirts of normalcy within their community can relate here. We yearn for the comfort that ceremonious institutions may give, yet we’re often aware of the many many ways these institutions have failed us. And now, as we’ve plummeted towards post-modernity, the cracks of convention grow more and more apparent. This leads to the rejection of the notion of the community - “the community does not exist.” It leads to a distrust and a discarding of it - “loneliness is a gift.” Yet, at the same time, is she actually alone? She goes back and forth between claiming she belongs and then that she doesn't belong. She questions the meaning of it all, the point of trying to manifest a universal truth, or the point of the past at all. This is the turbulence - the conflicting and unsteady waves that appear when the community and the individual cannot reconcile with one another.
Another interesting aspect of the piece are the fourth wall breaks. The structure of the piece is unconventional, and the narration speaks of “the subject.” Who is speaking? Is it the Subject parroting the words of an unseen Artist? Is the Subject referring to themselves when they speak of being in a “Baudelarian dream”? Is the Subject being self-deprecating, or is there another person criticizing them? This disconnect between subject and narrator is another hazy layer that adds to the feeling of detachment.
There is a point in the piece where the subject asks the viewer directly how they feel about the city they live in. She then changes the subject with a blunt, “never mind” and there is a jarring cut to bars and tone. She then disappears from the screen completely, talking to us (now in a slightly more accusatory manner) while we watch a blushing forest sway in the breeze. The tone plays again, but this time she is thrashing about. The harsh beep still plays even as she says, “the voice that we hear is sweet.” It’s another excellent sequence filled with discordance.
She is alone, always alone - either in nature or in a blank hallway. Watching her convulse in this pink enclosure actually brings to mind the classic scene from Żuławski’s Possession, where Isabelle Adjani has a breakdown alone in a subway. Having the subject standing alone, of course, adds to the themes regarding a divorce from the community. Obviously, there is no community around her. She doesn’t need one, right? Maybe? Who knows. She doesn’t even know herself, it seems.
There’s an absurdity to at all, a sardonic reading of tradition and community. The subject mocks the notion of creating something out of stone (likely some sort of monument to tradition). The nod to anti-monumentalism is clear here, of course. At the end of the work, Lopes stares directly at you, studying you, maybe making you shift a little uncomfortably to avoid her celluloid gaze. It’s unsettling and invites you to take a look at yourself and your relationship with concepts like monuments, tradition, and arbitrary kinship.
More about this work on this website : Menu —› works —› contained turbulence