Matteo Zamagni: Horror Vacui

Matteo Zamagni: Horror Vacui

A new film by Matteo Zamagni explores the relationship between human hyper-development and geological growth. A critique of materialist practices, Horror Vacui focuses on the role of human activity in repurposing and removing Earth’s resources, and in doing so disrupting life and mineral balances across the planet.

Set in the context of this ongoing crisis, the 3:27 minute non-narrative film examines the alienation of humans from nature - why do people feel disconnected from the planet, and how did the disconnect happen? Horror Vacui reflects on this by layering different kinds of landscape - forests, metropolises, mountains, oceans - and also different kinds of image - different ways of representing, framing or producing reality. Zamagni uses multiple image-producing techniques: aerial drone footage, macro photography, 3D scanning, geological LiDAR point clouds, custom python stitching scripts, lightroom photography, ultra hi-res satellite imagery, 3D modelling and organic physics simulations. In doing so he examines the tension between frenetic human activity and the power of nature. The film - and its soundtrack by TSVI - build to a crescendo as nature reclaims human construction, before returning to an abstract world of primordial forms.

The film’s title, Horror Vacui, extends the polarity explored by the contrasting visual materials. Meaning ‘fear of empty space’, it refers to a centuries-old practice of filling the entirety of a surface or expanse with detail, and also to the Buddhist concept of emptiness. This practice, the materialisation of a human fear of nothingness and irresolution, has a tension within it which is explored in the film: people use intense activity as a way to run from the unknown, but in doing so they destroy the space, energy and potential growth of their environment.



'Here then,

Form is no other than emptiness,

Emptiness no other than form.

Form is only emptiness,

Emptiness is only form.


Feeling, Thought, and choice,

Consciousness itself,

Are the same as this.


So, emptiness, no form,

No feeling, thought, or choice,

Nor is there consciousness.


No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind;

No colour, sound, smell, taste, touch,

Or what the mind takes hold of,

Nor even act of sensing.'


Excerpt taken from the Buddhist Sevenfold Puja.


Horror Vacui has recently been featured in Dazed & Confused and Nowness. The film has recently been screened at Exground Film Festival (DE), Torino Film Festival (IT), Oxford Film Festival (UK), Encounters Film Festival (UK) and Another Hole in the Head Film Festival (US). An interview with Matteo Zamagni will soon be featured in CLOT magazine, and a new work by the artist will be released on Sedition in January 2019.

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