‘Panelaky’ is a colloquial term used by many in former Eastern Block countries to describe communist era apartment blocks, that can be found in almost every town and city of the former Soviet Union. These buildings were literally constructed with concrete panels. Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia is no exception. These structures line the sprawl of the town marking the boundary between urban and rural. On the edges of town they loom and shadow over neighbouring farm fields... a continual reminder of a bygone era.
'Transits' is shot entirely on paper negatives with a hand built pinhole camera. The negatives were wet contact printed to create positive prints that were then scanned for video assembly. Texture in the images is entirely from the analogue printing process. The staggered and weathered look is reminiscent of early cinema, perhaps a film by the Lumiere Brothers; a recollection of another time – much like the sight of the ‘panelaky’.
This film is the result of a collaborative effort between teacher and student. In July 2013, an intensive one week pinhole photography workshop was conducted in Spisska Nova Ves, Slovakia. The workshop, a part the the 17th annual “Summer Photoschool” held by the Dom Fotografie Liptovsky Mikulas, took students from the basics of pinhole photography through to some fairly advanced pinhole and darkroom techniques. The goal of the workshop was to reduce photography to its basic elements, demonstrating how simple and natural the photographic process can be.
After building, testing, and learning how to control his new Illy coffee-can camera, Vladimir Slivka embarked on documenting the local terrain. The resulting stack of images largely revolved around the apartment blocks, the ‘panelaky’. A suggestion to him, that the pile of print experiments of these structures could make an interesting film, was the beginning of the collaboration; Slivka produced and directed the arrangement of the images, Mokrynski transformed them to motion. Slivka enlisted the help of fellow Bratislavcan, stroon, to craft a score specific to the piece. The result is a three-way homage to the panelaky of Spisska Nova Ves.
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