Berlin  – The Passage of Time
Places and Monuments - 6
Video Installation by Pierre Hébert

This web version is an adaptation of the video installation Berlin – The Passage of Time that has been accordingly modified to suit the limits and functionalities of an Internet site. In this particular version, instead of positioning the four screens side-by-side as in the installation setting, the four separate loops have been configured as a square - which, thanks to shape of a computer screen, precludes all perambulation. Rather than having the various segments rearranged within four invariable loops, they have been broken up into twelve separate entities, which are chosen at random so as to appear one after the other on each of the screens – with the sole rule that a segment can only appear on a single screen at a time. This entails a much freer alignment of the segments – this in fact is the unique feature of the web version. 

Visiting Berlin for the first time I somehow felt that the city was full of promise for this project, and yet I didn't initially come across anything that struck me as worth filming. All that pertained to the city's history seemed somehow clichéd. With patience I came to discover the city's dense texture thanks to the help of friends who are residents of the city. One introduced me to the former Tempelhof airport, whose abandoned runways were the landing site for the air bridge during the winter of 1948 and the spring of 1949. Another brought to my attention the construction site where the ancient imperial place of the Hohenzollern once stood, on that esplanade which has housed successive power regimes down through the centuries. Bertolt Brecht Platz and Walter Benjamin Platz belong to the pantheon of my all time greats. Pure chance led to the encounter with the newly married couple in front of the Brandenburger Tor, and the accordionist on the steps of Friederichstrasse station.  The Berlin Wall, however, wasn't such a straightforward affair. To unravel the matter I needed a run-of-the-mill pigeon to cross the demarcation line at Potsdamerplatz, while in Rudolfstrasse a stonemason worked quietly in front of the camera and me without even remarking our presence. 
Berlin's image proliferated, imposing a kaleidoscopic form on the installation and web-site rather than that of a film. The alternating diverse segments on the four screens proffer a tale in a spiral continuity, without beginning or end, before which the visitor constantly switches between comprehensive contemplation of the interactions and the concentrated vision of the capsules that constitute almost as many autonomous short films that can be viewed in the full screen mode. Irrespective of the time spent, the visitor will be marked by the experience of historical circumstances, embodying the totality as perceived through the prism of the briefest instant.


Direction, Filming, Editing and Animation: Pierre Hébert
Assistants: Nicolas Brault and Clémence Renaud-Allaire
Music: John Barrett
Sound Mix: Luc Boudrias
Thanks to John Barrett, Philippe Noble and Paolo Polesello for their assistance during filming in Berlin.
This web version was made possible thanks to the help received from the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec and the Centre d’artiste Vidéographe.
Production for the web version web: Ottoblix
Programmation: François Genois
Go to the web page.