La ciudad oculta. Víctor Moreno
La ciudad oculta, Víctor Moreno, España, 2018, 80'
Guest speaker: Víctor Moreno, film maker.
Víctor Moreno's last film, Edificio España (Spain Building) (2012), traced the architectural and social memory of one of the Spanish capital's emblematic buildings. His latest work keeps the focus on Madrid and its built environment but looks this time at its most unknown dimension: the territory below the great city.
The dream of technology, traditionally focussed on exploring upwards, has also created an inverse movement in the form of an underground world. Beneath the modern city is a vast array of passages, tunnels, tubes, sewers, electricity, water, gas and phone supplies, transport and underground station networks, leisure and consumption zones... The visible city sits upon—depends upon—this immense web, this functional and essential space, itself a symbolic place and a hidden sphere: in short, the city's subconscious.
“I’d never been below the surface of a great city before, although I’d always been intrigued by that hidden universe. The positive side of diving into this secret world is that I would be depicting a place that had hardly been filmed before. These circumstances enabled me to approach everything that happens there as a possibility for creation and transformation. I mean, there is little in the collective imagination about the underground of a great city, and I felt like an explorer of uncharted terrain. This got me thinking about Michel Foucault’s concept of heterotopia and the idea of working with spaces which exist though which we don’t understand, despite them being close by. With this premise, I thought about the deep meaning of a place which never ceases being a territory which we have conquered from nature.
I used this theoretical approach to set about ripping open the body of the metropolis and to try and find the soul within. I was almost like a bird, peering into a place in which I consider that most of the problems of our time are concentrated. This deeply human world seems nevertheless dehumanised to us. It is as though human beings had lost any possibility of change and were permanently mixed up in their own creation. From this journey through our own world—ever the subconscious of a great city—the film gradually took on the form of an urban symphony.
The camera moves at all time with gentle, undulating movements and the editing attempts to disorientate the audience. I wanted to develop a certain dream-like quality, turning the scenes into a dance that fluctuates between the real and the imaginary, between documentary and science fiction, between conscious and unconscious.
The Hidden City drifts not only through a specific space but also through an emotional state. It is a staggering journey through unexplored territory. The film is experiential: it is an invitation to enter a dark tunnel and discover our own abyss, no matter how steadfastly we insist on living in steel and concrete vaults. Only nature itself seems capable of slowing down our thirst for control.”