Meeting with the autor by Luca Pacilio
SATAN EATS SEITAN (Julie’s Haircut) 2006 3’28’’ ANGELES (Subsonica) 2007 3’25’’
I CAN’T GET ANYTHING (Le man avec les lunettes) 2008 4’30’’
MAFIA SPA (Postal_M@rket) 2009 3’17’’
PARLO DA SOLO (Offlagadiscopax) 2012 3’07’’
WES ANDERSON (I Cani) 2012 3’19’’
STORIA DI UN ARTISTA (I cani) 2013 3’45’’
SEMPLICEMENTE (Bluvertigo) 2016 3’45’’
DOMENICA (Coez) 2019 3’21’’
DISCOLABIRINTO (Subsonica + Cosmo) 2020 4’17’’
L’ARIA STA FINENDO (Gianna Nannini) 2021 3’19’’
PRIVILEGIO RARO (Tutti Fenomeni) 2022 3’35’’
In the second year of Vedomusica, the Pesaro Film Festival spotlights the Italian scene of music videos, proposing a new journey across the latest releases. Following the contest that takes place before the festival, the twenty music videos selected will be shortlisted to six. These will be screened in Pesaro in the evening hours and a high-profile jury will determine the winning video. The selection tried to represent different styles and approaches on both musical and film-directing levels, and to propose the best output of the new generation of Italian video makers. In this sense, Vedomusica aims to become a reliable catalogue of the highest creative results expressed by this sector over the period, on one hand by proposing established names, and on the other hand by betting on new names. But this is not all, this year too: the ‘snapshot’ on the state of advancement in Italian music videos is accompanied by a focus on an artist. Last year, we offered this space to Uolli; now the protagonist of this retrospective is Luca Lumaca, a filmmaker who has pursued an original poetics for years, adopting ever different styles and techniques. By subverting the rationales and aesthetics of recognizable domains, with his ‘pop’ taste Lumaca captures controversial aspects of the current times from unexpected angles, contributing to their complexity. Lumaca can boast a political videography in which the irony of the gaze and the lightness of language raise doubts, pierce the veil of prejudice, and shake consciences.
by Luca Pacilio
Luca Lumaca got started as a photographer.
Yes, I started as a self-taught boy. When I was thirteen, I was in my small room taking pictures with a super-pop look, which I liked a lot at that time: I would play with blurred objects and shapes and colours. Then, while I was at Dams in Bologna, in my first year of university, I was offered a job in an industrial photography studio, so I quit university and started working there. It was the time of transition to digital with all that it entailed, like postproduction in Photoshop. In that studio, I learned all the rudiments of the new technique. After a few years, I went out on my own. Currently, as a photographer, I am involved in architecture and interior design.
How did you become involved in music videos?
As a kid, I used to watch the videos on MTV: I especially loved the amazing work of Chris Cunningham, Spike Jonze, Michel Gondry. Music video, like almost all advertising language, is an area of audiovisuals where research is constant. It is an area where you can experiment with things that are impossible in other fields, from television to film. In a feature film, for example, you are still bound by the narrative, while music video allows you to express yourself in other ways. For example, you can even decide not to tell anything and concentrate on your own technical-aesthetic journey.
Your beginnings are marked by your work with Julie's Haircut: what was the connection with the group? It's a trajectory you have in common with many big names in music video. They start out collaborating with some musical project and discover themselves endowed with a talent that can be used in other areas.
Even in the music video, I had this idea of experimenting on my own: I was listening to the independent music that was around at that time in Italy, and in a compilation, there was a piece that I really liked by that band. I then found out that the band lived a few kilometres from my house, here in Emilia: we met and started collaborating. The projects were little more than homemade video games with no budget.
Speaking of games: right from the start, your work highlights characteristics that seem recurring, starting precisely with your fascination with games and video games, especially of the past.
I try never to replicate the same solutions, I like to experiment with different things, but if I had to identify a thread that unites my work, it is precisely this love for games, a passion that comes from my childhood: 8-bit video games, the ones I used to play on the VIC 20 – from Space Invaders to Mario Bros to Legos. In general, even just as a purely visual reference, I am attracted to everything that pertains to pop culture. Even in art, I am more attracted to exhibitions where the exhibits follow that kind of aesthetic.
Satan Eats Seitan is a clip that recalls a video game but proposes what will turn out to be one of your constants: using the aesthetics and rationale of a recognizable domain – in this case, those of video game – to bend them to different purposes. Your videos are always about current events, with a marked background of social criticism. Political videos.
Yes, there is always a socio-political reference in the things I do. After all, in my opinion, any artistic gesture hides something political: even when the Beatles were writing love songs, there was always something deeper being expressed. In general, as you said, I like to start from a format that belongs to a certain world, twist it and put it into a different container. It's important to see something more in it: to go beyond what you would expect from applying that formula and play with the language you decided to use, like the infographic for the video Mafia spa.
Looking today at the appearance of policemen in the video Satan, I was reminded of the very controversial scene in Gianna Nannini's video...
I hadn't thought of that! It really is a circle that comes full circle. in 2001, I was deeply marked by the Genoa events: I was very much involved in photographic research at the time, and had staged the G8 with Legos. That event, I think, marked me as well as many others of my generation: violence toward ordinary citizens by those who should defend those citizens.
Your vision is far from the realism of Italian music video that we are used to. You use a lot of animation, and I think you have never made a classic, performance-based video.
Let's go back to what I said earlier: the passion for music video stemmed from certain videos and certain authors, clips like Gondry's Let Forever Be that you would watch again and again agape. That's the kind of work I was interested in doing on music video: I'm very far from the idea of a video set in a picturesque location, with the artist lip-synching, accompanied by fashionable images.
Even when you talk about harsh realities - I'm thinking of the factory alienation in Angeles, the Elliott Smith cover of Subsonica - you place it on an almost abstract plane, with that highly stylized animation that reminds me of certain genre films, and Tron in particular.
When I conceived it, it was the time when the problem of work-related deaths had come back to the fore: the Thyssenkrupp accident had just happened. From a technical point of view, I wanted to use the graphic grids of the early 1980’s, like the visuals of Kraftwerk or Tron, of course: that kind of aesthetic appealed to me. Then I threw in references to expressionist cinema: from Fritz Lang's Metropolis to King Vidor's The Crowd.
Even the supposed realism of the video for Offlaga Disco Pax is almost immediately belied by the landscape, that follows the beat. Then the urban context morphs into a rendering that exposes it as pure appearance.
Since Offlaga's record was very focused on Reggio, the band wanted something that was relevant. That was fine with me, but on the condition that we show the urban context as something abstract: the reality we live in as a pure aggregate of polygons. This weird thing came out where the image of reality glitches over what lies underneath.
In Semplicemente for Bluvertigo, you get to combine the video with its making-of, showing at the beginning how you came to get the tiles to build the mosaics that form the ideational heart of the work.
It was a time when I saw a lot of cooking tutorials online, so I thought I would also show how I cooked my dish, that is, my game. And so, I revealed the recipe, and the stages of the work that allow you to achieve the result. Also, the production times are very different from the standard ones for a contemporary video, because a video like this takes weeks.
How do you work on the music track?
If I don't have any constraints imposed by the artist I'm working for, I listen to the song, close my eyes and think of a world that develops consistently with the feelings the music track evokes. I generally start with the technical aspect, the kind of language and style I want to give to the visual creation. Then I think about how to mathematically divide the time of the stanzas and that of the refrains. It happens, although rarely, that you manage to implement a concept that you already had in your mind for some time. You manage to match it to a track that is proposed to you, as happened, for example, with Privilegio Raro by Tutti Fenomeni: there, I managed to make a contemporary, full-colour homage to the work of Méliès.
Have you, like so many video makers, ever thought of the music video as a possible pathway to film?
Yes, and over the years, it's becoming more than a possibility. I said to myself. I've done a lot of crap. Let's try to do this one too. It's not easy because the ideas I propose are very different from family dramas with Margherita Buy or Alba Rohrwacher. I’m not in tune with these things, I couldn't do it, even if I wanted to. Mine would be a cinema closer to that of Elio Petri or Marco Ferreri, stories that are far from realism, more whimsical and visionary.
Yours is an artistic music video, which is difficult to make in Italy. How free were you in your work?
At the end of the day, it is because I got loose from the mainstream. Having a job that I really enjoy and that makes me travel, I don't need to throw myself into things that don't convince me. I would also struggle if I were to make a video with a celebrated singer... It seems to me that Italians are moving closer to videos for fashion: technically flawless but, at the end of the day, beautiful empty boxes. It is clear that we are dealing with the sale of a product, so it is logical to place the artists in a certain frame and dress them in designer clothing. Those are works that respond to a mechanism that I understand: they satisfy the need of an industry that wants to sell. But, again, I could never make them.
I think it is important that an artist like Gianna Nannini has decided to turn to you. It is a sign that even in mainstream, people are trying an artistic approach to music video.
Gianna Nannini saw Coez's video, and from there, fishing for other older stuff, she went nuts. I submitted to her something that would emphasize the narrative of a love song through a story that repeats endlessly in a series of loops built inside one another. She called me and said, "You've got it all wrong, I want one of your weird animation things," and gave me as a reference the cover of her America album, the Statue of Liberty holding a vibrator. And from there, I rocketed off...
Who are your favourite video makers?
You can’t beat the triad I mentioned earlier. Then there are Jonathan Glazer, Mark Romanek, Anton Corbijn. But nothing compares to Gondry, Jonze, and Cunningham: three different worlds that dictated a language that is still valid. Not only in music video, but also in film.
An artist you would like to make a video for.
I really like Damon Albarn's projects, from Blur to Gorillaz. However, my ‘favourite band’ now is Phoenix.
Born in Modena in 1978. He has been worked as a photographer since 1997. From then on, he has been working in the field of advertising for important Italian and international companies. Since 2001, he has imagined and created music and commercial videos. Over the years, he has worked several times with representatives of the Italian independent scene, publishing videos for various artists that have reached millions of views on web platforms. Many of these productions, exhibited in specialized galleries and festivals, have been awarded prizes for their creative value. His creations refer to an often hyper- pop, contemporary, and experimental imaginary; they are always devoted to technical re- search, with an eye to political and social issues.
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