Largo ma non tanto

“Largo ma non tanto” is a short film by Alexandra Karelina, commissioned by Music Space Architecture. First shown in late 2018, it is a film about a journey across an unfamiliar space, where architecture and music – static and moving – meet. A group of artists was invited to think about how both spatial and sonic experiences could be traced, mixed and subsequently presented in the frame of the film screen. 

The video was shot in Japan by the film’s director Alexandra Karelina, who, by chance, was visiting the country just around the time of the invitation for the project. In the film, we see a journey transformed into an assemblage of static video images: bird’s-eye views of Japanese megapolises, roads and remote gardens. Within a slow sequence, the captured sites of her travels distantly recreate certain qualities of an individual’s experience of the urban atmosphere, architecture and outside living space. These qualities, perhaps, conduct the viewers’ response to unpredictable directions and turns in a silent narrative — mediated by their own perception, memory, and immediacy of attention. 

Alexandra Karelina:
“The footage in this work is a sensual response. I always position myself as a viewer; it is important for me to create an entry point through which it is possible to comfortably walk a route – which is the film. In this film, I wanted to recreate my journey, though on a more abstract level. A film as a universal journey…
For me, cinema is the relationship between the visual and the auditory. Visible sound and the sounding object. In preparing for filming, I was thinking about the relationship between music and architecture: specifically about how they are related when taken apart. Sound and image exist in the same space, intertwining, filling the gaps. I imagine that with certain elements, it is possible to create a structure that, when placed in the air, will levitate.”

The music and sound design in the film were created later, collaboratively by the composer and improvisor Darya Zvezdina, and electronic and noise musician Alexey Borisov, supervised by Karelina herself. From the beginning of the film, the sound world blurs the distinction between the featured environments and the bold and illustrative combinations of noise, electronic improvisation and field recordings. This oscillating flow of sound illuminates the visual events and details in unpredictable ways. In a steady rhythmic orientation between image and noise, silences and tensions, we ourselves unfold the sonic personality of spaces on the screen.

Darya Zvezdina:
“Alexei Borisov and I recorded the sonic material for the already filmed visual material in its first edit. At this stage, the visual was firmly imprinted within the sound, so it was easy and natural to assemble one with the other afterwards. They seemed to have always been together, despite the order of their appearance. The footage and its composition in this case acted as a guide for the sound to appear and disappear, focusing on the montage or ignoring it. To enter into a direct interaction with what is happening on screen, or to simply coexist, colouring the visual space.”

The film is narrated in Italian, with fragments of the “Travel Diary of Luigi Pelli of Aranno from Saint Petersburg to Lugano in 1829” prepared by the architectural photographer Yuri Palmin. Entering in long pauses, the narrator’s speech appears to further widen the panorama of this seemingly non-existing place and its surroundings. The texts – pensive descriptions of things and places seen and interacted with by the author of the diary on his way from Saint Petersburg to Lugano – instantly capture our attention and contour the multitude of sites to form a unity.

Alexandra Karelina:
“We used diary excerpts of the architect Luigi Pelli, who, at different times and in different places, is travelling, exactly like us. The Italian text works like an additional musical layer. Most importantly, through a personal diary, there is a human presence in the film. This makes the work less cold or detached, something that to me is really important.”

Darya Zvezdina:
“It so happened that the spoken text hardly concerned us while working on the music and editing the soundtrack. We simply needed to leave some space for it so that it would remain audible. The text came out as a fully isolated unit that lightly touches everything else. Through this touch, the meaning begins to shine through.”

“Here I leave a talented painter to depict this surprising journey with his brush.” — the narrator completes the story with a line from Luigi Pelli’s diary. In an illusionary space of unexpected resonances, knitted together by unrelated elements, “Largo ma non tanto” foregrounds the unstable object of a viewer’s personal reflection.

Direction, Camera, Editing: Alexandra Karelina
Music: Darya Zvezdina, Alexey Borisov
Sound: Alexandra Karelina, Darya Zvezdina
Text Editing: Yuri Palmin
Voice: Filippo Valoti-Alebardi
Sound Mastering: Alexandr Khokhlov
Producer: Sasha Elina