This project is inspired by the philosopher Mauro Carbone’s reflection on screens, as it is thematised in his book Philosophie-écrans (Paris: Vrin, 2016), which Marta is currently translating into English. Carbone’s vision of every projected image as requiring two screens fascinates Marta deeply. According to Carbone, for each projected image the co-presence of two kinds of screens is what makes the relation image-background possible: he qualifies them as a "negative" screen on the one hand, that is the object intercepting the light and screening it, and a "positive" one on the other hand, that is the surface welcoming the shadow of the "negative screen."
Marta hence tried to play with painting and shadows in a way that would allow her to have a "negative" screen that could indeed also be "positive" in its own way, by an interaction of transparencies and opacities. Here she is playing with screens as a plurality of elements, each bearing in turn a plurality of statuses. Marta realised a series of paintings on transparent surfaces, whose looks changes according to the layerings she choses to put in place, and whose peculiarity is to be projectable in a way that creates an immersive media-environment incorporating the visitors by means of their own shadows – i.e., exploiting their status of moving "negative" screens intercepting the light of the projectors.
The reason why she chose to paint trees is the importance, to her work, of the topic of cultural memory, of which the tree is, in her opinion, a relevant symbol: in a tree’s trunk, we can read its age, as well as detailed information on all the climate changes it experienced in its life. Also, the tree’s roots draw from the past the knowledge and energy to develop in a present (the trunk) projecting its ideas and aspirations towards the future (branches).
It has to be highlighted that, in his latest research, Carbone focuses on the topic of the shadow, by qualifying it as the "proto-image" par excellence — the "first" experience of an image being the experience of shadow.
The trees in Marta's work on screens are hence phantoms of the memory of the image’s very dawn understood as a time of shadows, an ancestral collective memory leading us back to our innermost fears, desires, and dreams.
Top: a video documenting the installation.
Left: a two-layered screen-painting photographed on a white opaque surface.