Sasha Litvintseva: Films, Writing, Projects, Info

A Demonstration

25 min / 2019 / in collaboration with Beny Wagner.

The first film in our long-term project Universal Syntax.

A Demonstration is a poetic exploration of the boundaries of sight and the metamorphosis of form. The history of Western science offers a story of how these boundaries have been negotiated, and the film’s point of departure is a uniquely ambiguous chapter in this history. Late Renaissance attempts to classify the natural world introduced taxonomies of monsters alongside more prosaic taxonomies of animals, plants and minerals. The fantastical collaging of human and nonhuman forms, understood as monstrous deviations from the norm, captivated the minds of Renaissance naturalists, who took these to be just as real as the chickens they catalogued elsewhere. One of the many ways one can read the taxonomies of monsters is through a reconfiguration of the boundaries of sight. The word ‘monster’ comes from the latin ‘monstrare’, meaning to demonstrate, reveal or show. The monsters that proliferate in the early foundations of Western science reveal a fundamental ambiguity in the quest for knowledge of the natural world. They demonstrate a tense negotiation of what was considered to be real, what would be perceived as ‘normal’, the distinction between human and nonhuman and the very meaning of life. While the terms have changed dramatically, many of these questions inform our always fragmented understanding of the world today.

Related:

Universal Syntax