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Sonoluminescence. A phenomenon in which “a gas-infused liquid is irradiated by high-frequency sound waves that are directly transformed into emissions of light”, and that Domnitch and Gelfand – interested in the creation of “sensory immersion environments that merge physics, chemistry and computer science with uncanny philosophical practices” – studied, filmed and edited into nine short movies whose soundtrack was obtained via the manipulation of “ordinarily inaudible acoustic phenomena” relative to this sonochemical process, captured by a hydrophone, “a microphone submerged in a liquid that is sensitive to high frequencies”. Sorry for all these literal quotes from the liners, but this DVD is of such an outstanding quality – both in its visual and aural components – that I would never want to risk writing something unclear about its contents. Translating theory into concrete descriptions in similar cases is almost ridiculous, but I’ll give it a try. The video materials show a mostly black-and-blueish liquid swarmed by perennially fluctuating lines and shapes, whose movement is obviously highlighted by the sounds. If one concentrates hard enough, our retinae influenced by the uncatchable sequences of spirals, fumes and bubbles appearing in front of us, strange things are generated by the brain, just like when hearing imaginary notes while entranced by minimalist music. An underwater pearl necklace, a medusa, the night traffic, synchronized swimming, spermatozoa, groups of alien dancers. Whatever your fantasy elicits is there, born from reactions that cause temperatures equalling the sun’s. The music is for its large part very rewarding, in a way divided into two different kinds; “gaseous” or “interfering” is how I’d define them. The most beautiful, for what my taste is worth, comes with the tracks composed by Alva Noto, Asmus Tietchens, Matmos and Carter Tutti; other researchers were Taylor Deupree & Richard Chartier, Alexander Kaline, Kenneth Kirschner, Coh and the videomakers themselves. Establishing a scale of values or underlining something as opposed to something else is not recommended in any case. “Camera lucida” is one of those items that can change your most radical convictions in the space of a few minutes, an experience that must be enjoyed in its totality without caring about what happens outside your room in that moment. Domnitch and Gelfand’s advice of watching it in a darkened space with high monitor brightness is a clear indication of what to expect. Pain-killing immateriality at elite level.

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