György Jellinek & Massih Persaei · Pilotprojekt Oct/Nov 2021

György Jellinek

I’m a Berlin based freelance artist working on the field of performing arts and film.

I had the honour to work here in Lake Studios from 11.10.2021 to 21.11.2021

Dancing has always been present in my life since both of my parents were dancers and choreographers, but it was never a desire of mine to start practicing it. I think I am almost always a spectator. I feel a passivity in everything I do. I am the one who sits in the last row, at an event, even my own: the stage, the first row has then become the last. I have the feeling that this also has to do with a form of hesitancy the idea that there’s not the possibility of touching something, of intervening, of breaking open. This idea of being a spectator is connected for me with an idea that I experienced from the earliest childhood, the experience of waiting.
It was a cold day and as our first class began in this new building, I saw the top of three pine trees moved by the wind through the windows and I tried to do the exercise the way these trees were moving, and I suddenly felt connected to them and the more connected I felt to them, the more distance I felt.
After I started working in film and could think in films, my thoughts and interests about stage became much more concrete. In film there is distance in several layers. The distance of the characters from the narrative and then the lens from them, and at the end the gaze of the audience from the screen every time it’s watched. For me art was never a tool for self-expression but always a possibility to re-observe my surrounding.

Te text above was written by Massih Parsaei my collaborator and partner in this residency, it’s the text i sent to Lake Studios Berlin as an artist statement (about myself) when I applied. It is his perception about the way I see myself. I asked him to write this not because I have difficulties with defining myself but because of my fascination in the connections and relation between perception, representation, memory and other notions around this topic. I’ve applied with a kind of project that had only little to do with these notions and as much as i wanted to focus on that these concepts kept drawning me to them. Most of my life I’ve been working in circumstances where let it be my, a collaboration or someone else’s project but there has always been a kind of ex- or internal pressure, that required great discipline and strong focus. Since this was my first residency i applied for, i had no other expectations than what i previously experienced while working on something. Despite my expectations, here I felt in a kind of safe space, where I felt that I could allow myself not to worry about the outcome of the initial project, but to follow my intuition to discover how this interests will materialise. From this point on a kind of journey started that affected me in ways that I most probably wont be able to describe with full value. 

I worked mostly at nights. There’s something in this quiet and dark environment which allows me to perceive things separately where information are not melting into each other so I can make a deeper connection to my surroundings. I can simultaneously hear and feel myself breathing even if I don’t put too much attention to it, there’s an awareness on how my clothes behave while moving and I can tell when the tram 60 is passing by the station two blocks away from the big studio. On the movement part of my research I’ve been working with these kinds of sensory memories, selecting and focusing on them and let them merge into sensations that were unique for me. Amongst others I used self-inflicted pain as one kind of stimulus to wich I could not control my bodies reaction. And through repetition of this in different contexts, I wanted to observe, memorise and learn my bodies intuitive response to it. I think there is something beautiful in the level of honesty and reality pain and other physical reactions causes wether it’s experienced or observed. Working with these different sensations inspired a number of short moments and scenes that might find place in my works in the future. 

The daytime was more about collecting for me. I studied about the things that interested me, reaching out to scientist and doctor friends to give me accessible information or book recommendations on these topics. Sharing and contesting the ideas i planed for the evening sessions with the other residents and with my collaborator were also a great way to understand them better. It was also the time to literally collect items, sounds and other materials for the night, where I would try out images, scenes and concepts from a bit more stage-design angle, that came to my mind during the day. 

Lake Studios has a high awareness on sustainability and environment friendliness. You can see how much effort was put into making this highly functional space do as little harm as possible to the environment. Thus creates a living space where you can live up to these expectations and inspires you in your work. I used sustainable printing methods on the notions of memory. I used the plants in the garden to make photosensitive solution for this work. In connection to memory, encoding and representation, I was interested how much information in the process of inheritance gets lost and how to try replacing them. I manipulated images trying to influence the perception of the spectator in a way to generate associations that effects their somatic response. Although i love photography, i struggle transferring the complexity of a moment in one “un-manipulated” frame. The effort and struggle of trying to recreate a moment that has passed is a process that I value a lot in this method. 

The project I and my collaborator applied for the residency was to create a kind of signing communication system where unlike sign language, we would strictly follow the structure and grammar of spoken language, using the alphabetical nature of it and translate them into non-static full body movements that would make it possible to translate a complex text to a dancelike sequence. We used film as a tool for differentiating the punctuation of sentences, thus making a “video library” for creating an online “movement translator” in the future, where one could translate a text to a movement-film sequence. The aim of the research is not to create a better functioning language but to mirror the existing one in a precise manner that approaches communication in the same abstract way as language does. One theory of the evolution of human language states that it developed first as a gestural system, which later shifted to speech. However the cause of the shift to vocalization is still unclear. By shifting speech to a movement-film system which still carries the complexity of written structure but in a way further abstracting it with cinematographic tools and with the body as a tool that could have been an intuitive communicator, our goal is to rase questions around the necessity, boundaries and freedom that language carries. It has been quite a challenging task to develop the movement vocabulary and to shoot the video material for this project. I’m looking forward to continue working and developing this text to movement translator, but unfortunately the editing and programming of the gathered material can’t be finished in the premises of Lake Studios.

It has been a great pleasure to work in such an inspiring environment for six weeks.