back to Exercises of memory (Ejercicios de memoria)

Exercises of memory: Iván Marino

Iván Marino. Pn=n! (2003)


Pn=n! was first conceived for analyzing torture as a Program which is executed systematically by the mechanism of history and which is basically structured on three functions: victims, victimizers and accomplices in various degrees. If we deny the existence of God and think that men are simply a product of its situation, we could believe that we just got assigned this or that function within a Software program. The ambitious aim of this Program is to map the conscience, at least those layers of the conscience where the political will of individuals is configured. From this perspective we could define torture (understood in its medieval sense) as one of the first empirical methods aimed at studying the will: What happens to it under certain circumstances? Does it bend under certain intensities? Torturers, tortured and eye witnesses are functions within the program. Users are external: the program serves those who are in the periphery of the operative system. Let’s quote the comment by Colonel Mathieu (1) to explain the European journalists that the torture method had been tacitly accepted by the well-intentioned French: “Must France stay in Algeria? If Giving practice THEN your answer is yes, then you must accept what that implies”.(2)

When thinking about how to express the main idea I imagined a scene that regenerated itself permanently, adopting various appearances but always maintaining its original meaning. I started reviewing old films dealing with the subject, and to my surprise I found exactly what I was looking for in the sequence of the torment in The Passion of Joan of Arc(3). The scene is predominantly narrated through close shots. The images follow one another rhythmically, guided by the character’s inner pace and at times contradicting the classical rules of continuity (movement correlation, frame proportions, eyeline match.) Analyzing the order of the images I observed that the scene constitutes a rare palindrome: upon interchanging the position of the shots the new sequence maintains its original meaning. I set out to fragment the torment act into its 67 original shots and rearticulate them through a mathematical formula:(4)


With which the number of permutations equals 67 x 66 x 65 x 64 x 63… at the beginning of the calculation we have over one million variants (1,158,917,760 to be exact). In this manner the sequence evolves steadily, in a formal order and slowly running out of possible permutations – all the possible shapes of a torment. I end these digressions by paraphrasing a text by the Argentinean writer Roberto Arlt, which could relate to the same mathematical formula I mentioned before: “I guess that there is no one who over his or her life, in a minute’s time, did not want to be Napoleon… but everybody has wanted to be Napoleon or Lenin for a minute of will… make your numbers, human life expectancy is, in average, sixty years… only at age twenty-five you start living… you would have thirty-five years left… each year has four hundred and eighteen thousand four hundred minutes … (5) about a wish hitting on every possibility for four hundred and eighteen thousand four hundred minutes, times thirty or thirty-five years. (…) We are honest out of weakness“(6)

Iván Marino

(1) Scene in the film by Gillo Pontecorvo, The Battle of Algiers, 1966 (ref. time 01h. 31’)
(2) Taking into account that South American military men learnt from the French model, I allow myself a digression:Should Mathieu have been Argentinean and Algiers the Pampas, what would the colonel have asked?Should Kirchner happen to be Mathieu, what would be the tacit answer of Argentineans to that question that we don’t know?
(3) C. T. Dreyer, La Passion de Jeanne d’Arc, 1928.
(4) Mallarmé, Saporta, Queneau, the concrete poetry & Stockhausen (KlavierstuckXI), Pierre Boulez (Troisième Sonate), among others, did that in literature and music respectively. Haroldo de Campos deals with this issue in “Art in the horizon of probability” – Brazilian Magazine on Culture, Ed. Embassy of Madrid in Spain – page 63.
(5)Errata: 525,600 minutes

About Iván Marino

Ivan was born in Rosario, Argentina in 1968. He is a multimedia artist and a professor at various university centers in Spain. Throughout his professional career, he has made films, videos, and works for interactive media such as the Web or Networks in general. His pieces have been exhibited and have received awards at important festivals, both national and international. In 1997 he acted as Visiting Scholar at the Filminstitut (HDK-Hochschule der Künste, Berlin) where he conducted studies and projects on the expanded documentary format. In 1997 and 1998, he acted as Visiting Scholar at the University of California in Los Angeles (Film and TV Department) where he took specialization courses on Art and Multimedia Design. He has also taken internships and developed projects at ZKM (Center for Art & Media Karlsruhe-Germany) at KHM (Kunsthochschule für Medien) and at Mecad (Media Centre of Art & Design, Barcelona). He is currently living in Barcelona and has devoted himself to artistic production, teaching and research of new media.

Participant artists

Alejandro Schianchi / Carlos Trilnick / Claudia Aravena / Edgar Endress / Eduardo Molinari y Nicolás Varchausky / Graciela Taquini / Guillermo Cifuentes / Gustavo Galuppo / Iván Marino / Julieta Hanono / Leandro Nuñez / Mariela Yeregui / Raúl Minsburg / Ricardo Dal Farra / Ricardo Pons