Rosa Barba 35mm film From Source to Poem , shot in the United States, features images from the largest media archive worldwide, the Library of Congress Packard Campus for Audio-Visual Conservation, located in Culpeper, Virginia. The film, From Source to Poem is an invitation to think about the spaces in which history and cultural production are preserved in order to be passed on to future generations. On the one hand, it pursues the research initiated with The Hidden Conference (2010-2015), a three-part film work exploring museum storages and whose title refers to imaginary conversations taking place between artworks inside these invisible spaces. From Source to Poem shifts the focus from artwork to archival storage, juxtaposing images from this archive with a study of rhythm and images of cultural production with those of industrial production. The film exposes the preservation of cultural outputs but also their digitisation for the future. A vast number of the archives’ holdings are sound material (audio recordings, wax discs, vinyl and LPs); a sonic memory that the artist rescues and mixes in the soundtrack as a means to set in motion otherwise unlikely dialogues.
On the other hand, this new film draws on the artist’s characteristic approach of architecture and landscape: Barba uses contrast in media and historically specific contexts to think through how we describe – technically and speculatively – what exceeds our perception. However, the editing of the film is neither fully explanatory nor sequential. On the contrary, the artist’s use of sound, text, and rhythm allows for an exploration of space that multiplies its interpretations and thickens its poetical density. “I'm always interested in buildings that have changed their identities, where you can still find many traces of what they might have been before, although you can't be sure. It is a moment of suspension. That's when I like to go in with the camera and activate these traces”.1 The audio-visual narration of space reveals the artist’s predilection for uprooting places from their pragmatic circumstance in order to suspend them in a vague temporality between retro-futurism and science fiction.