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solar panels in a desert
solar panels in a desert

Rosa Barba, From Source to Poem, 2016, 35 mm, color, sound, 12 minutes.


As those who have thoroughly embraced the cinematic experience in a theater can attest, a film can seem to have its own time, and somehow, somewhere, that time continues forever, even without us. Over the past twenty years, several of Rosa Barba’s film-projection installations have expanded on a Borgesian question of how we might be able to see time’s essential infinitude. Along the way, Barba has discovered various methods for reconstructing cinematic time within the sculptural realm. To do this, the artist often utilizes her own documentary footage, embedded within large spatial constructions. These display structures may redirect and filter projected light or illuminate written language. In concert with the urgency or poetry of each artwork’s subject, from the social-justice issues inherent in climate change to the history of the effort to measure the size of the universe, Barba demonstrates the scalar relationship of the physical to the temporal. For instance, in one work we see a huge glacier that may collapse at any moment, while in another an island’s inhabitants focus on the groaningly slow movement of the ground beneath their feet. In all of Barba’s works, time—slow or fast—appears to progress in its own unique cycle, whether we are present to observe it or not.

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