Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art collection includes two sequences from Norman Leto's film Photon: Photon: a Child with Down’s Syndrome (2014) and Beyond humanity (2014).
Photon is a narrative essay about the universe and the origins and evolution of life. The artist narrates the film from the perspective of the exact sciences, rather than humanities, and uses knowledge from the fields of neurology, biochemistry, particle physics, and astronomy. He combines the formula of a fictionalized documentary (in which Andrzej Chyra plays the role of a molecular biologist) with sequences resembling popular science films.
Photon: a Child with Down’s Syndrome sequence is a molecular view of the development of the human foetus. Instead of symbolic diagrams used in biology textbooks, the film uses animated images from a scan. The formation of tissues looks like successive threads overlapping each other. The scientific aspect of animation does not deprive it of the mesmerizing beauty typical of art; when seemingly abstract forms acquire geometric shapes and theoretical commentary, the divisions between art and science are distorted. In this sequence, the artist was particularly interested in showing “how little it takes for something to go wrong at our birth”. It only takes a few particles to switch to produce a baby with Down’s syndrome. The tragedy to come is played out at the molecular level. In the final version of Photon, this sequence was partially changed to be less dynamic and more informative.
Beyond humanity sequence (2014) is an extended version of a single shot. A digital model of the artist’s self-portrait was embedded in a video recorded during the hanging of an exhibition at Ujazdowski Castle Centre for Contemporary Art. The sequence shows the moment when work stops. We see two figures lying down and a sitting man – he is in despair, or completely exhausted. The title of this sequence comes from the final part of the entire film, but it was not included in the final cut of the film.
Both sequences are interesting documents of the artist’s work on the final piece. In Photon from 2017 Leto presents a monumental vision, showing the entire evolution of life up to forecasting the future of artificial intelligence – the Konekton, which will become an independent and autonomous omnipotent matter. The film uses an extremely materialistic perspective, in which the creation of life on the micro and macro level appears as creation that far exceeds anything that art could ever create.