S E N S E S O F L I F E
digital video, 22 minutes, 2002
Homeless Woman, Artist, Marek Prchal, Little Joe Washington, Ray St. John,
Artist, Man in the Subway, Marta Richterova, Michaela Srbova and others
translation: Anna Bryson, sound: Marketa Bankova and Milan Gustar,
music, camera, editing, direction: Marketa Bankova
music used in the film:
Gustav Mahler - Symphony no.5
Romberg/Hammerstein - Lover Come Back to Me
Senses of Life is a digital video documenting several people from various backgrounds.
We glance into their lives and find out about their desires, while listening to their
endless monologues. The initial documentary flavour of the video gradually changes. The
shots become shorter and the statements coming from this small group of individuals start
to follow each other in quick succession. The sequences are reduced to short sentences,
of which finally only fragments remain. Put next to each other, the contrasting fragments
invite us to make comparisons. Although the video is without commentary, the alternating
statements are a commentary in itself.
What are these people talking about? A homeless women sitting on a park bench has a great
worry. The two dogs who are her companions refuse to eat from their porringer in the way she expects
them to: “If I give the young one more and the old one less, still the old one will eat the young
one’s food,” she complains. A young intellectual opens James Joyce´s Odyssey. “I am spending the
whole day at my work and when I come home, I try to read,” he explains in front of the camera.
Most statements are filmed with the intention to make certain viewers laugh at some of the
displayed banalities. These people eventually
are all striving for the same thing - happiness (even though they all try to attain it in different manners).
The similarity between the individual sentences and their continuous chorus-like repetition leads the viewer to
experience their rhythm rather than their content. The tenor of the video shifts from a classic documentary to
something that much more resembles a musical piece.
These days we are oversaturated with information.
Our attention, however, has a limited capacity. It is not easy to pause in today’s information cacophony and take
proper notice of just one single subject. Being able to acquire information is not a necessity any more. What is
necessary is the ability to sift through information - to decide swiftly and timely whom we lend an ear to or what
hard disc we should erase as useless spam without even bothering to read it. In times, when the world was running
at a slower pace, people would come together and tell each other stories face to face. Perhaps their knowledge of
the workings of the world was limited, but I am convinced, they listened much more carefully to what was being said
around them than people do nowadays. I do not know whether that was a good or a bad thing. Technology and the
information it mediates on the one hand estranges people from each other, on the other hand it also brings them
together, tearing down the boundaries of distance. It is useless to lament over the current state of the world.
It might nevertheless be a good idea to use cold technology in a more humane way. Which does not have to entail
a return to the “past”. Instead of creating futuristic concepts and utopian technological visions, someone might
as well aim his super high-tech camera at a homeless women in a nearby park and tell her story in a form suitable
to the present day. I have tried to do so in the ‘Senses of Life’.
The video will be online soon. In 2005 was featured in the Funke
festival in Kolin.