In this current #itchysilkLIVE we dive into the abstract and talk to the Italian filmographer Francesco Bertocco based in Milan. In his film Affective Sciences (2017), Francesco Bertocco seeks a deeper understanding of human emotion. No small task. Indeed, Francesco Bertocco acknowledges the ‘complexities’ of human emotion. But complexity should never stop us from the exploration of said complexity.
Evidently our familiarity with ‘emotions’ makes them seem easy to explain and understand. But (ironically) simplicity is far from easy. Like some intrepid explorer Francesco Bertocco not only seeks to ‘deconstruct’ human emotion but also to change our views about emotion and what it means.
We always like to get an idea of the people we interview so explain what Francesco’s formative years were like and how it shaped the journey into the creative world?
I have a BA in Modern Literature. After that, I obtained a MA in Film and Video at the Academy of fine arts (Brera) in Milan. Most of my interest in experimental and non-linear cinema started during my early years at university. I was totally fascinated by avant-garde cinema, as New American Cinema group, and by such artists as Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno. In the same years, I decided to turn my interests from literature to visual arts and cinema.
What subjects in life inspire and interest you to document, research and explore?
In my recent works, I am interested in the scientific imaginary and its potential for artist production. In general, I am interested in immersing myself in a different context, in which I present myself as an anomalous figure. I am trying to find an unprecedented perspective between my approach and that of such a complex and defined system as the laboratory.
Tell us about your filmmaking process and what you seek to explore?
My approach is mainly documentary. I use very light equipment- a camera and a small tripod. I am interested in entering the places I explore slowly, without interfering the environment around me. My approach is intimate, almost subdued. I often use long focal lenses which allow me to film without being present (almost).
How we share experiences in our work space and privacy-is this part of what we might call emotional?
The Hollywood formula of film-making seeks linear stories as it were how limiting is that and what do you seek to achieve in your film making?
First, I try to represent what I see in the most objective way possible. In the editing I build narrative or anti-narrative lines on which my work is slowly defined.
You explore emotion in Affective Sciences explain how this idea came about and how you explore it in your film?
When I got in touch with NCCR and its activities, I wondered about the role of human emotion in our society. How we share experiences in our work space and privacy-is this part of what we might call emotional? Emotions, as we know them, represent the most significative aspect of being human. They are our history and uniqueness. They represent our self both consciously and unconsciously. Present in the way we perceive objects that surround us and when we are getting in touch with our friends or people we don’t know, and throughout our senses (for example, an aroma that takes us back to a feeling experienced within particular memories). All of this makes our experiences something living and real, not just a simple snapshot from the past.
How would you describe ‘emotion’?
Describing emotion is very complex, as it may seem so natural and simple. For this reason, NCCR is a unique place in the scientific community. The research areas of the NCCR Affective Sciences are numerous, with a wide diversity of approaches. This generates a series of categories and fields of study that highlight individual aspects of human emotion, using research models innovative and experimental.
What emotions of your own did you give to the film and what did you learn from your film?
I had the opportunity to see very close in which direction the knowledge of emotions will bring. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon.
‘This film is an ode to complexity of what lies behind our most significative experiences’. What lies behind our most significant experiences?
Our sensations, our most enigmatic experience as human beings, the less clear and rational, but visceral and instinctive. Here I refer to our emotional sphere, impenetrable and rooted in our perceptions. But here we are shifting our matter into a philosophic sphere.
With the science and understanding of emotion-what does the future hold?
In the NCCR where my film takes place you have a peek into the interaction between man and emotions, in the coming years. Understanding them means transforming external reality into something that more personalizes our person. It would be as if we were in front of our emotional self-portrait.