Year Original Format Country Genre Length
1990 HDTV USA/France/Japan
Zbig Vision/Ex Nihilo
SFX classical music video 57:11

This piece was produced for the PBS's Great Performances, Canal+ and NHK.

“To make my film The Orchestra, I went to France from the United States with three tons of High Definition equipment and a simple motion control camera head. I photographed different locations - one of them Chartres Cathedral. Chartres Cathedral is very big, and very dark inside. I beamed about 250 kilowatts of light upwards, but still the light could not reach the roof. And the rest of the building was plunged in darkness. To expose the mandala pattern on the floor I had to remove all the chairs ­ there must have been a few thousand, or at least a few hundred of them. There were ugly white lamps suspended from the ceiling at intervals of about five meters, so when I used lighting, of course everything was overexposed. Terrible. It was two o’clock in the morning, so I greased somebody’s palm, and we climbed up to a place we could reach the lights from and tried to move them. Then there turned out to be speakers stuck on the walls, and religious tracts. What could I do in the shot? Very little. I couldn’t fly between the columns; I couldn’t change the decor. So I sat on the floor and I decided to ‘photograph’ the flying couple I had seen in Gdansk in my mind’s eye when I was fifteen.”

- Zbig Rybczynski “Looking to the Future - Imagining the Truth,” in François Penz, Maureen Thomas, Cinema& Architecture. Méliès, Mallet-Stevens, Multimedia, BFI, London, 1997


Bodies fluctuate in the nocturnal space of a cathedral, in a choreography in which life merges with death, like in that giant format music video that is "The Orchestra" composed of six phantasmagoric “musical frames.” The rules of the game are always the same: the multiplication of the characters, their uninterrupted passing of the baton, disappearing and reappearing, crossing the boundaries between one spatial context and another, in the fluidity of the action that finishes only with the end of the musical piece and with the change of scene.

The Otchestra is an interminable procession: it begins with the notes of Chopin’s funeral march, with dozens of electronic ghosts that take turns at the keys of a piano, and finishes with the rising rhythm of Ravel’s Bolero, on a flight of stairs that represents the long march of communism, until its inevitable and definitive collapse.

- Excerpt from: From the Ideal City to the Virtual Reality - An introduction to “Zbig’s vision” by Bruno Di Marino, September 2003

Supersize photo

What is being shown on Great Performances tonight, like it or not, is a step into the future.
- Orchestra: classical goes Video, by Joseph McLellan, The Washington Post, 04-27-90


* EMMY ® - Outstanding Achievement in Special Effects 1990
* Prix Italia - 1990
* Grand Prix - International Electronic Cinema Festival, Tokyo-Montreux 1990
* Grand Prix - A.V.A. Festival in Tokyo 1991
* Hi Vision Award - Tokyo 1990

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