Anniversary of a Revolution (Parsed) by Broomberg & Chanarin
V-A-C Foundation and Whitechapel Gallery are proud to present a newly commissioned live intervention by the artists Broomberg & Chanarin, at Whitechapel Gallery Zilkha Auditorium on 27th September 2019.
The artists Broomberg & Chanarin will launch V–A–C live: This Is Not (a) Cinema on Friday 27th September with a new work in response to Dziga Vertov’s (1896-1954) legendary debut film Anniversary of the Revolution (1918). Considered lost for nearly a century and regarded as perhaps the first feature-length documentary ever made, this film hypothesis was recently re-assembled by film historian Nikolai Izvolov. For their work, entitled Anniversary of a Revolution (Parsed), Broomberg & Chanarin have collaborated with multi-instrumentalist Peter Broderick, who will perform live, and with the London based creative technology studio The Workers. Here, the artists have employed powerful machine-vision technology to map the physical movement in the film on to a digital rendering, using the mechanisms of 21st century surveillance to re-frame the historic archival footage.
Initially completed in 1918, the original film was shown in various settings around the country and screened in train stations until 1921. Scenes from the film were used in other films, by Vertov himself and others, as well as in propaganda reels during the early days of the Soviet era, as discovered in the Russian State Archive of Film and Photo Documents in Krasnogorsk, but Anniversary of the Revolution was never shown in full to an international audience until last year.
Although it depicts some of the most important events that took place between the overthrow of the Romanov dynasty in February 1917 and the so-called Kazan Operation in September-October 1918 (including the Red Army’s successful campaign, overseen by Leon Trotsky), the intervention of Broomberg & Chanarin retro-actively introduces a skin of technology and a number of powerful tools and algorithms, quite unlike anything seen in previous eras of agit-prop and state craft – simultaneously updating and interrogating history. Employing both a colour-coded 'pose-estimation' computer programme running over the black-and-white film and a series of digital marionettes inspired by Alexandra Ekster (a Russian artist and contemporary of Vertov's, known for her Constructivist and Suprematist paintings and stage designs), the animated film will be accompanied by an improvised musical score, provided by contemporary pianist Peter Broderick.