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Suddenly a Man Wakes Up in the middle of the night and feels that he is also...
Tav Plus Journal, issue No. 2, 2003

Shahar Marcus

A work by video artist Elyasaf Kowner

Suddenly in the middle of the night a man wakes up, gets into his tile decorated toilet, sits down, points his video camera, rubs his eyes and starts up a hallucinatory monologue.
‘Every time I read about somebody... Something else happens... Something changes within the thoughts’
When reading text the voice of the protagonist passes through our own filter, the feeling of identification can be immediate and more swift. But, if there is no strong connection between the reader and the protagonist - continuing reading can be difficult and tiering.
‘But something about the tone of voice of the text had joined me later on’. The tone of voice which Elyasaf speaks about in his work is his own interpretation and not a clear universal tone that can be seen by everyone. It is possible that this tone
The tone of voice that accompanies the written text represents the atmosphere - a burst of thoughts and emotions that seems like a man who wakes up in the middle of the night and is trying to reconstruct a dream from a few moments earlier. That feeling of freshness and the capturing of a moment exists in the other works of Kowner in which he is wandering in the city with his camera (sometimes riding his bike), capturing short moments of life, by entering quickly (zoom in) into scenes and dialogues that lack any direction. In that way he releases control over the text but at the same time, through the photographic choices that happen while shooting the scene, he creates an expressive personal level.Choosing the medium of video enables, unlike the written word, to adjust and sometimes even to compel the way in which the text is read. The intonation, the pauses, control of rhythm, are the tools in which the digital reading can be adjusted.

The quick expression way, without stopping, is parallel to the automatic writing, the kind which was practised by the Dada and Surrealist artists in the beginning of the twenties. The attempt to reach the insights which exist in the subconcious and are revealed only after the layers of rational and conciousness are taken off, brings to a broad scope of identification and then assorted narratives group together with the personal narrative and the feeling of identification becomes strong and dominant.
‘I put myself in his position as if I was him’. This points out the capacity of the text to make us experience a strong feeling of identification. The visual image that exists in cinema and enables us to isolate from reality and go through the protagonist’s experience is also due to the fact that the voice of the protagonist passes on to us without negotiation and creates inside us the sound and image human mixture. Choosing the digital medium transcends to us that within this frame - the monologue about the written word gives us a more intense experience than written text on paper, since it uses both sound and image.
The feeling of identification that we experience the work of the other, in any medium such as movie, painting, or literary text, creates a contradiction. On one hand, there is the personal feeling of identification with the written text, with the narrative, with the characters and the happening and on the other hand - the will to isolate, not to resemble - to be me.
But in fact, in this case, the feeling of identification that was created does not demand to much effort. This is a situation of a reader who creates and identifies with a text of another creator. The text does not demand great impact because there is no need to make the reader go through a long way in order to have the same experience.In order to let the reader have a strong experience, the text must be tight, without places in which the reader should deduce about oneself (weak places).
The artist-reader transforms an action of compensation in the weak places of the text of another artist. Dispersing the signs and enigma throughout the video work is, on side, an attempt to keep the enigma regarding the identity of A.A. and go to other places, where the artist experiences his own, but on the other hand, it lives only little room for experts, or for those who are willing to make the route and to find who is that A.A.
This implies to A. A. which as known, practiced on the connection between the written word and the visual image. In addition that, the title and credit of the work are embeded with graphic hints to the identity of A.A.
In the end of the visual-audio experience, when separating between the protagonist and the identification, remains a sediment, something makes its mark and this is perhaps the uniqueness of any work of art, that contains surprise, and the ability to alter thought and the capacity to reach to the world of the other with the added value included.





Every time I am (reading) someone
2002, 4:00 min
Translation of the text from the video

Every time I read about someone
An artist
When I read about someone
Someone who attracts me
A biography
It is always the same thing
When I close the book
Something else happens
I don’t know what it is
that happens
Something changes in the thoughts
I put myself in the position
of the protagonist from the book
from the biography
I put myself in his place
as if I was him
as if I was him
And the people who are telling the story
of that protagonist
from the biography
are all of a sudden
speaking about my life
shedding light
Always those suppresses of light
strange ones
surprise me
I know that I’m not that hero
A.A. which I have now read about
in the book
but something about the tone of speech
of the writing
joined me later on
accompanied me
and it’s the strangest thing when it doesn’t go away
when it stays with me
accompanies me


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