16/7,62/8/5,56 – video art by Kombinat 168
Kombinat 168 is the brainchild of two individuals, film operator Grzegorz Filipiak and Bartłomiej Polak – a visual and multimedia artist. Their journey began on January 3, 2023, when, following various life upheavals, they both concluded that it was time to create a project that reflected their passions and needs. This project is something we’ve always wanted to create.
The main goal of Kombinat 168 is to explore analogue media: 16mm and 8mm films, various archival materials, classical film recordings and playback techniques, as well as sound. We believe that within this often forgotten and marginalised realm of creativity, there is still much to be discovered. By using analog media and deepening our knowledge of their technical aspects, we aim to preserve them for future generations. Simultaneously, by combining them with contemporary digital techniques, we strive to make them more accessible to a wider audience.
The multimedia project “16/7.62/8/5.56” is a unique compilation of archival materials captured on 8mm and 16mm tapes, spanning from the 1950s to the late 1980s. These materials consist of instructional and propaganda films from the military and civil defense fields, offering a rare glimpse into thinking about global conflicts, their progression, and aftermath. In Poland, these films are often discarded or treated as scrap due to a lack of knowledge in handling film tape formats and a strongly negative attitude towards the era and regime from which they originate. However, we have decided to give these films a new lease of life and provide them with a fresh context. We digitise, remix, and blend the original content, creating an entirely new narrative.
In addition to the film material from the military and civil defense fields, we also incorporate high school and academic lectures from the same time period, covering the basics of biology, chemistry, and physics. These lectures serve as a key to decoding the main narrative embedded in the visuals. They reflect on the human condition and explore our fears and hopes, emphasising that humans are not separate from the universe but an integral part of it. They remind us that conflict and all our motivations and aspirations are inherent to our nature, but also that everything we do reflects the laws governing the universe, including the most fundamental and primitive behaviours.
At the core of this project lies a reflection on the enduring presence of war and conflict throughout human history. Despite our technological and societal progress, war and crisis remain part of our biological nature. The archival recordings bear witness to this, vividly reminding us that today’s conflicts have deep roots in our collective past. It is a complex depiction of the past, present, and future. It serves as a reminder that fundamental lessons are still relevant, while also warning us that we must always remain vigilant in our efforts to create a better, more peaceful world – despite the awareness that conflict and ruthless pursuit of our own goals are an inherent part of our nature.
To emphasise the exceptional nature of the project, we have created a sound design based on recordings of sounds from analogue tapes, projectors, and cameras. The hissing, buzzing, and clicking add structure to the visuals and music, reminding us of the technical and mechanical aspect of the project. Moreover, the repetitive sounds correspond to the presumed repetitiveness of history and its processes. The entire composition is led by classical instruments such as piano and cello, while simultaneously possessing an eclectic, hip-hop character. Frequent repetitions and sampling of the narrator evoke the concept of early mixtapes, which were also created from pre-existing elements, giving them a new resonance.
The project serves as a bridge between the past and the future. This project blends analogue materials from the past with modern digital techniques of sound editing and post-production. Our aim is to captivate at least a portion of the audience with the beauty of analogue materials and demonstrate their relevance today. Our goal is to demonstrate that the past should not be forgotten or ignored, but rather used as a source of inspiration and insight. By combining analogue and digital, old and new, we aspire to create something truly extraordinary.
Created by: Kombinat 168: Bartłomiej Polak, Grzegorz Filipiak
When: 3/4 June 2023, 19.00-00.00
Where: Dominikański Square