Dozens of couples dance in a circle, a house topples down a slope, a cat manically revolves around itself. A few seconds beforehand, an admonishing voice points out that a centuries-old philosophical assumption is under close scrutiny. It is René Descartes’ first tenet, »I think, therefore I am,« that the British neurologist Raymond Tallis calls into question in the video by the artist Johan Grimonprez. Tallis takes the view that human consciousness is not an individual construction but exists above all in relation to a vis-à-vis. He therefore states: »We dialogue, therefore we are.« The scientist underscores this view with the observation that certain sensations can only be triggered by others. For example, it is not possible to tickle oneself. Tallis furthermore refers to politics and love in order to explicate that we exist in permanent interdependency with others. Film recordings of a heated debate in which two speakers angrily thrust a round table at each other’s chests support the thesis that aggression also belongs to the human feelings requiring two parties.
Time and again, the viewers are moved back and forth between a vivid dream reality and the making of the interview between Johan Grimonprez and Raymond Tallis. In stylistic terms, Grimonprez, as in earlier works, hardly offers narrative reference points. In a continuous flood of images, the need to recognize an ordered narrative structure remains unfulfilled. Instead, something meaningful can be discovered in associations: circular motions, oval and rotating forms can be found in almost every image. Seemingly scientific image and archive materials are juxtaposed with Tallis’ statements, giving the impression that essential questions pertaining to consciousness ultimately remain unanswered against the backdrop of technological progress and oftentimes quantifying science. (Riccarda Hessling)