Dr. Barbara Rollmann-Borretty about 5 Cities by Anatoly Rudakov

Slowly, very slowly the names of five cities appear on the black screen of the monitor. And even slower a trickle of gleaming golden honey starts to flow over the writing from the top. More and more of it covers the dark background, but then it becomes lighter and it seems to glow. Gradually architectural shapes can be distinguished within this mass of light and color. We can make out arches; an antique building … and then the Roman Colosseum slowly appears in the dusk light.

This is the introduction to a 60 minutes video and it couldn’t be more exiting. We are not allowed to dwell on the Colosseum for long, as in due course a trickle of liquid starts running down the screen again; soon it covers the whole width with its color. This time it is blue and cold, like glutinous water. The features of a face slowly appear and the contours of a head take shape. It is the head of a bronze statue belonging to the Roman emperor Augustus that is placed at the Via dei Fori Imperiali. The performance has begun.

Rome is the city we are looking at now, it is one of the five portrayed cities of this video collage. We are shown very personal impressions that Anatoly Rudakov has recorded in his pictures while roaming the cities of London, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Paris and Rom. As a photographer he is a genius in capturing the atmosphere of a cities architecture that only really comes to life through its magic mixture of light and movement.

Rudakov has composed a video from a selection of his photographs. He worked as a cameraman for three decades and in this video he has chosen to focus on the methodical work of film production. In this film moving pictures reach a state of art only through his camera work and his editing. The artist has a commanding knowledge of these tools. His video collage works with quickly changing contrasts, wide angel versus close-ups, hard versus soft, light versus dark. The direction of the video is done by the motives themselves with their enormous vitality. Compression or ambivalence, pausing and accelerating, even euphoria and dreariness, all these features of a city are shown. None of the pictures remind us of tourist attractions, even if we see monuments like the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower or the Hermitage.

The sequence in which the cities are presented is distinctive but not in any way political; it is the pulse of everyday life. The rhythm of the changing pictures can not only be compared to the continuous flood of images we get swamped with daily through current affairs, but also of sudden changes that have an impact on us. While the author is watching this video in the artist’s studio, the news comes in from Russia that a terrorist attack has taken place in the St. Petersburg underground. At the same time the motive on the screen is covered with colored liquid, as if it were the curtain of a theatre stage that is slowly falling down from the top edge and then it makes place for a completely new scene.

The style of the pictures is supposed to remind us of painting. The artist has an incredible gift of showing up structures that one doesn’t easily see, just looking at an object briefly. These structures can be the ornamental lines of squares and buildings, the wavelike commotion in a crowd or simply the depth of a detail. This is part of the mystery, because every time we decode a motive, it is a new discovery for us. Parallel to this video another video sequence was created that focuses on landscape. It is structured in the same method. Here the scenic aspects are of an even greater importance. The atmospheric pictures of all four seasons shine in amazing colors and show a great poetic and emotional potential.

Especially the very artistic transitions within both films have a close relation to painting. The overflowing pictures take the part of the color that has to fill the canvas. Over and over again colorful pixel nets cover the displayed images and produce new pictures. Rudakov also likes to present his digital work like canvases in traditional wood frames.

The succession of the changing pictures has a strictly determined rhythm. It never lasts longer than one minute from the time one image shows up bit by bit on the screen until its complete appearance. It is then slowly infiltrated by the following picture and then it disappears gradually until it is gone completely. This rhythm reminds us of the turning of a film reel. The artist’s description is brief: 60 Images in 60 Minutes. This guarantees the dynamic concept of the film and also keeps it under control. Even though one could stop the video at any point, one of its main features is exactly this time dimension. At one point the last picture fades away and the screen is blank again. Anatoly Rudakovs digital show is an incredibly esthetic experience between photography, painting and film.

© Dr. Barbara Rollmann-Borretty