OLGA V. KOLOTVINA
Russian State University for the Humanities,
IMMERSIVE TECHNOLOGIES OF J. VAL DEL OMAR’S MEDIA ART (“APANORAMIC IMAGE OVERFLOW”, “DIAPHONY”, “TACTILE
VISION”) AS AN EXPRESSION OF HIS CONCEPT OF “MECHANICAL MYSTICISM”
Abstract. The article analyzes three media technologies for creating an immersive polysensory environment, developed back in 1940–1960s by the Spanish film director and engineer Jose Val del Omar. The technologies are considered in the context of the director’s key concept, which he called “mechanical mysticism”. It was aimed at creating a cinematic analogy of mystical experience by transforming the mysticism of Spanish culture into cinematic technologies.
The author reveals how the conversion of the suggestive artistic potential of Spanish mysticism into the immersiveness of film technologies allowed J. Val del Omar to create art spaces that took the system of illusions beyond the visual into special modes of psychological experiences. On the example of his films (Water-Mirror of Granada, 1955, and Fire in Castile, 1961), the author analyzes the originality of the engineering solutions of J. Val del Omar’s technologies, defines the strategies of immersiveness and their rootedness in Spanish mysticism, qualifies the aesthetic impact of these media technologies on viewers.
The article demonstrates that immersiveness is achieved by using a shock strategy of interlacing the effects of suggestiveness and defamiliarization (“ostranenie”), as well as through the expansion of the range of the viewer’s sensory perception and the effect of synesthesia. The suggestive impression effect is enhanced by visual poetic metaphors that reveal to the viewers the historically formed sensual imagery of Spanish mysticism. With the help of optical and light technologies, the semantic field of a film is not only visualized, but also illusively materialized as a three-dimensional image. In general, the strategies reproduce the sensual immersiveness, which is inherent in the Spanish Catholic cultural experience. Such strategies block the viewers’ psychological distancing mechanisms and cause affective states and emotional involvement in the art spaces. Such technological innovations for creation of immersive spectacular audio-visual environments brought the J. Val del Omar’s cinema into the field of multi-media, and therefore he could rightfully be considered the forerunner of media art, the creator of art spaces, which later became known as sound and video installations.
Keywords: Jose Val del Omar, experimental cinema, mechanical mysticism, immersive strategies, Spanish cinema, tactile vision, cinema technologies, media technologies