LJ FREZZA

THE NEUTRAL ZONE

2015 | digital | 5 mins
Avec un texte de | With a text by: Ouennassa Khiari
Ouennassa Khiari
All the galaxy’s a stage in The Neutral Zone

Écouter The Neutral Zone (LJ Frezza, 2015), c’est suivre un regard éperdu traversant frénétiquement l’univers doux et coloré d’une utopie hollywoodienne, à la recherche d’une sortie, une ouverture vers nos propres rêves d’aventures. Nos espoirs d’un monde dans lequel, au lieu d’images de bienveillance parées de costumes et de discours libéraux bien ajustés, on rencontrerait enfin une communauté et un projet commun : rencontrer le monde, pour de vrai, sans conquête aucune. En zone neutre.

Dans les pas de Frezza, je suis donc partie à la recherche des mots de la Fédération pour dire mon voyage d’une porte à l’autre, du pont au holodeck, en passant par quelques planètes — peut-être — désertes.

Le texte qui suit est composé de lignes de dialogue tirées de Star Trek:The Next Generation (Gene Roddenberry, 1987–1994). À ma connaissance, c’est dans cette série qu’est le plus souvent abordé le sujet de la « neutral zone ».


Viewer’s log, stardate 100277.6 

Empty space. […] Something about this concerns me. I don’t know what, I can’t point out a reason… yet. I sense that someone is hiding something, but I can’t tell who or what.

With most life forms I feel something. I may not be able to interpret or understand it, but I feel something, if only a presence.

This installation is big enough to hold hundreds of people. All that’s here now is empty beds. But my mind is crowded with images. Inorganic. Nothing but basic elements. No carbon, sandy texture. But the flashes are almost… musical. I see color variations and rhythms which are like a melody. Thoughts I do not understand yet cannot purge. It’s like my mind keeps wandering.

All decks empty. It matches my mood. Empty. I’m never that comfortable in crowded rooms…

We’re here alone. We remain like a fly in amber trapped in the void.

Are we alone? We’re alone, but I am sensing something very strong. Thousands of minds. This isn’t a holding cell; it’s a laboratory maze. We must assume the worst.

Maybe I want nothing? Almost right: the idea of our blinking into nothingness with all our experiences, hopes and dreams only an illusion. Into “nothingness.” Being taken apart molecule by molecule. And, then, to [o]ur astonishment… nothing happen[s].

The stars are so beautiful when seen from space. Yet they seem lonely — each so isolated from the next. This intelligence that swims naked through space like a fish in the sea. Totally alien, mysterious — not like us at all. Ancient. And alone. So lonely, for so long.

I am alone. Lonely? I can hear everything that everyone on this ship thinks. I do not sense the same feelings of… absence […] although I cannot say precisely why…

And this has nothing to do with their subconscious fears and dreams?

Shakespeare has already explained it so well. “All the galaxy’s a stage, and…” in a manner of speaking, it is nothing but a lifeless hunk of rock, a useless ball of mud, a worthless chunk of… Telling you things you already know, which changes nothing. The true nature of the universe.

Humans, I thought by now [we] would have scampered back to [our] own little star system. Once we cross this threshold of space, we will have to give up the self-importance, the conceit that we are the center of the universe. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous — with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross — but it is not for the timid. There is a loneliness inherent in that whisper in the darkness.

They roam the galaxy looking for something, and they don’t even know what it is. [W]alk through with a heart full of hurt and a pocket full of nothing. Nothing… which bothers me. There’s nothing on the screen…

That is not entirely correct. [T]his emptiness has a poetic meaning. So it cannot be considered “nothing” as such. The ancient Doosodarians. Much of their poetry contained such “lacunae,” or empty spaces. You know what Michelangelo used to say? The sculptures he made were already there before he started, hidden in the marble. All he had to do was remove the unneeded bits.

Still the great emptiness remains. Deck after deck of this ship is now deserted. How do you explain all the empty rooms?

[They] sound so alone.

I feel crowded. Not alone… I’d like to be alone.

There is nothing else you can do. You can’t hide the emptiness. Oh, yes. It is revolting: time and again you rise from despair into hope. From hate into understanding. From aloneness into love.

I hope you won’t mind, but I need to be alone for a while.

Watching LJ Frezza’s The Neutral Zone (2015), a disjointed gaze frantically darts around the calm and colourful universe of a Hollywood utopia, searching for a way out, a window onto our own hypothetical adventures. In the place of well-meaning images of perfectly fit costumes and neoliberal ideas, our hopes for the world turn instead to community and a common cause: to encounter the world as it is, without needing to conquer it — in a neutral zone. 

Following in Frezza’s footsteps, I went looking for the vocabulary the Federation would apply to my quest, from one door to the next, from the bridge to the “holodeck,” alighting on (ostensibly) deserted planets. 

The text that follows is composed of dialogue excerpts from Star Trek: The Next Generation (Gene Roddenberry, 1987-1994). To my knowledge, this is the series where the subject of the “neutral zone” is most often mentioned.


Viewer’s log, stardate 100277.6

Empty space. […] Something about this concerns me. I don’t know what, I can’t point out a reason… yet. I sense that someone is hiding something, but I can’t tell who or what.

With most life forms I feel something. I may not be able to interpret or understand it, but I feel something, if only a presence.

This installation is big enough to hold hundreds of people. All that’s here now is empty beds. But my mind is crowded with images. Inorganic. Nothing but basic elements. No carbon, sandy texture. But the flashes are almost… musical. I see color variations and rhythms which are like a melody. Thoughts I do not understand yet cannot purge. It’s like my mind keeps wandering.

All decks empty. It matches my mood. Empty. I’m never that comfortable in crowded rooms…

We’re here alone. We remain like a fly in amber trapped in the void.

Are we alone? We’re alone, but I am sensing something very strong. Thousands of minds. This isn’t a holding cell; it’s a laboratory maze. We must assume the worst.

Maybe I want nothing? Almost right: the idea of our blinking into nothingness with all our experiences, hopes and dreams only an illusion. Into “nothingness.” Being taken apart molecule by molecule. And, then, to [o]ur astonishment… nothing happen[s].

The stars are so beautiful when seen from space. Yet they seem lonely — each so isolated from the next. This intelligence that swims naked through space like a fish in the sea. Totally alien, mysterious — not like us at all. Ancient. And alone. So lonely, for so long.

I am alone. Lonely? I can hear everything that everyone on this ship thinks. I do not sense the same feelings of… absence […] although I cannot say precisely why…

And this has nothing to do with their subconscious fears and dreams?

Shakespeare has already explained it so well. “All the galaxy’s a stage, and…” in a manner of speaking, it is nothing but a lifeless hunk of rock, a useless ball of mud, a worthless chunk of… Telling you things you already know, which changes nothing. The true nature of the universe.

Humans, I thought by now [we] would have scampered back to [our] own little star system. Once we cross this threshold of space, we will have to give up the self-importance, the conceit that we are the center of the universe. It’s not safe out here. It’s wondrous — with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross — but it is not for the timid. There is a loneliness inherent in that whisper in the darkness.

They roam the galaxy looking for something, and they don’t even know what it is. [W]alk through with a heart full of hurt and a pocket full of nothing. Nothing… which bothers me. There’s nothing on the screen… That is not entirely correct. [T]his emptiness has a poetic meaning. So it cannot be considered “nothing” as such. The ancient Doosodarians. Much of their poetry contained such “lacunae,” or empty spaces. You know what Michelangelo used to say? The sculptures he made were already there before he started, hidden in the marble. All he had to do was remove the unneeded bits.

Still the great emptiness remains. Deck after deck of this ship is now deserted. How do you explain all the empty rooms?

[They] sound so alone.

I feel crowded. Not alone… I’d like to be alone.

There is nothing else you can do. You can’t hide the emptiness. Oh, yes. It is revolting: time and again you rise from despair into hope. From hate into understanding. From aloneness into love.

I hope you won’t mind, but I need to be alone for a while.

 

Translation from original French by Jordan Arsenault.

Edited by Benjamin R. Taylor.

LJ FREZZA
THE NEUTRAL ZONE

2015 | digital | 5 mins

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