marentus’’ was the second action of the marentus series. It took place at L’Automatica printing press in Barcelona as part Anne France’s program at La Place. An optical beehive was settled for 587 days in the hills of Villanueva de Quintanilla surrounded by heather bushes. Ramón Paz used his expertise and kept a close eye on the development of the optical beehive. This artefact recorded the traces of the bees’ life over almost two years on a long silver plate. Empty of bees and filled only with honey and wax, the wooden box traveled to L’Automatica, an old press in Barcelona. The optical beehive, then situated inside the printing press among reproduction machines, was ingested in a collective action by a group of almost 60 people. In this dramatic setting of copy and reproduction, the camera was eaten to release the silver plate obstructed behind the honey and wax – at the same time leaving behind a reproduction of their own mouths imprinted on the wax.
Honey was used to embalm and conserve corpses altering our idea of time, as an elixir and food of the gods it corrupted our idea of the mortal. Wax also helped retain time, as a kind of pre-photography used in the mortuary masks of ancient Rome. It was one of the first systems of portraiture and replication, progressing to become, many years later, photography, disrupting our idea and experience of relentlessly linear time. (Blanca Pujals, 2016)
Upon exposing the negative to light once the replication process begins, the image, still not fixed, begins a process of deterioration. Developing means accelerating the erosion of the negative that contains the image. And this process will continue until the negative is totally revealed. Through copying the original is destroyed. Developing signifies making a second impression –it is writing all over again. (Blanca Pujals, 2016)
21:07 At the entrance of the industrial space, a woman sitting at a table, the radio on, searches for our names on a list and greets us. Skirting the table and crossing a wall of plants, we are invited by a second woman to bite into a tube of wax in order to make an impression of our teeth, copying the singularity of each jaw to produce a collection of teeth of all those attending the event.
21:14 Keeping the excess wax and passing the line of offset printers, we approach a festive and agitated environment,planned to the minutest detail. Red darkroom light floods the entire space – the stomach protecting the hive from the light, the inactinic space preserving the image during its development. The jungle, like a pictorial overlay, is produced by the green of the plants and the red light, an attempt at inactinic photosynthesis, allows the space to breathe. The printing house is a garden, a greenhouse for developing, generating a black and white setting accompanied by the rhythms of the machines. The mathematical sound of the press emphasises the systematic spread of knowledge as it is being printed out.
21:20 At the end of the tubular space lies the optical hive. The lid with the lenses is open, its interior filled with honey and wax.The sweet smell is strong, as if we were inside the hive undera torrential rainfall. Mead is frantically drunk as we wait for instructions, and the desire is ripe with the urge to devour and lose control. A few dozen people gather around the hive, some are licking their fingers; others remove pieces of the hive in order to suck its honey. We are famished and thirsty,and at the same time consumed in a bizarre climax, pulled from a dream, drowsy but still excited. Everyone is trying to empty the container to reveal the negative inside.
21:30 Eating the honey,separating the wax, revealing the negative. A difficult andcloying task, interfering with speech as it consists in eating,licking, savouring, swallowing and digesting. The bodies keep on attempting this ingestion, consuming that which would become the image of the action.
21:40 Rodri, the red canary […] is almost invisible in the non actinic space; the only way to find him is by his song, which is, inturn, replicated by a small robot. One learning from the other. Automatic and mechanised sounds and gestures,accompanied by song, dance and the interference of bees.
21:52 The white sheets begin piling up at the base of the printing press. Ferrán groups them carefully together and, as if they bear a registration mark on the white of the paper, cut them with a paper cutter. A red printing press, invisible to our eyes but visible from the outside, would accompany us when we woke up from these strange dreams.
22:00 Perhaps our eating isn’t sufficient, I don’t know if we are too shy to go overboard, extracting this honey with our hands and placing it into our desecrated mouths. Perhaps the mead has intoxicated us before the sugar has; there is still a lot of honeycomb to devour. On a table lies the wax masticated with the saliva of the participants.Wax that would ferment through the action of our saliva enzymes. Alcohol that one day could dissolve wax. Our bites corrupted the stability of the honeycomb, accelerating its process of decay.And our mouths will always be profaned by thishoney. It is too great and requires an incredible appetite to truly reveal the negative within. I am left with the sensation of contaminated sticky hands, amidst all of these dancing bodies. Today It seems like a trip through a tunnel, a dreamlike place disassociated from any other that our memory could hold.
22:30 The end is nearing. Like clockwork, the people who greeted us at the entrance, appear with surgical gloves and delicately extract the negative from the hive. The action almost immediately suspends everything that has been occurring until thismoment. With great care and under the eyes of everyone present, they place five hundred and eighty-seven days of exposure into a red box that will preserve it until the moment of its replication.A strange dichotomy of this contained container,now removed from its shelter and taken to another place.
22:40 The image that has beckoned us. To see and behold before our eyes that which we had been thinking about, speaking about and tasting for so long. An unfixable image that can only be conserved under red light. Even so, it will continue deteriorating through the action of its duplication. The image is a trace of time within time. An archeological remain recorded in silver, and the red vitrine is the recipient that will slow down the disappearance of this image.
22:55 borragán carefully approaches and handles a small device at the centre of the room. The entire event and the dinner guests have been registered at the frequency of bees by anapidictor. This will later be recorded onto a beeswax cylinder phonograph, embalmed in honey for preservation.The following day, the negative is taken to a laboratory where nineteen copies are made. Each copy of this negative is unique. Through the replication and inevitable exposure to light, once again the negative’s process of deterioration is accelerated. During the copying process, the action of light deteriorates the original. Each copy is a moment of this deterioration.