Short Sounds: Silent Romanian Documentary

Eternity’s Patients. Medical documentaries (18981931)

Photo credits: The National Film Archive

silent films, shorts, runtime: 46 minutes
music: Micleușanu M.

Neurosyphilis (Prof. Demetru Em. Paulian, Eftimie Vasilescu, 1931)*
Inauguration of a New Ward of the Jewish Hospital in Cluj (Laszlo Fekete, Istvan Miskowzsky, 1931)*
The Scientific Medical Films of Professor Dr. Marinescu (Prof. Dr. Gheorghe Marinescu, Constantin M. Popescu, 1898)

*digitized for the first time

For this cluster, we call upon the somewhat fictional availability of the selected documentaries. A new hospital ward opens in Cluj, at the Jewish Hospital, and the ceremony is shot by operators Lászlo Fekete and István Miskowzsky. We beckon the viewer to act against the credits and forget the film’s provenance. That is because the events that follow unfold in Bucharest, at the Institute for Mental, Neurological and Endocrine Diseases, where Doctor Dem Paulian makes several didactic films on various illnesses (to be forgotten!); among them, neurosyphilis, explained in the eponymous documentary by means of drawings, intertitles, photographs and, most remarkably, “aspects”. The term is especially fitting, as Paulian is indeed interested in breaking down the literal aspects of the disease in different stages and symptoms. In other words, patients with syphilis get in front of the camera and leave as souvenirs a shiver, a few sluggish steps, the image of lumps, nasty glances or strange chucks. It is a film with an overwhelming force, entirely made for obscure circles in the medical field. Still, with all due respect for these pitiful patients eternalized on tape, the time has come to revisit them, even if their suffering makes us shield our eyes. But just this once, since the ways of the archives, holy abodes where the document is sacred, are inscrutable. Decades before Paulian, neurologist Gheorghe Marinescu took up the same camera that Paul Menu used to make local history. Marinescu would make history himself – the camera would record the movements of patients with locomotor impairments, one of the foremost instances of the moving image benefitting science. Now, the footage itself shields its eyes; history has all but severed the hunched bodies of Marinescu’s patients with different sights, one of several African people, another of a military demonstration, in any case, all stored in the device ever since its first owners.
What remains with the chronologies removed? A crowd of people gathered to watch the doctors and their new gear, only then the gaze rotates 180°; the people – for anyone promises to become a patient in turn – are now being watched. (Călin Boto)

Micleușanu Mitoș (b. 1972) is an interdisciplinary artist with various interests from poetry, literature, painting, photography to experimental music and video art. He studied visual arts in Chisinau and Cluj-Napoca. He has published Amokalipsis (graphic novel, Ideea Design & Print, 1999), Organismecanisme (short prose, Ziua Publishing House, 2002), Tuba Mirum (novel, Pontica Publishing House, 2003), Kasa Poporului (novel, Polirom Publishing House, 2008), Necrotitanium (novel, together with Florin Braghiş, Cartier Publishing House, 2010), Work (poetry, Tracus Arte Publishing House, 2016), Being and Tempo. About music and other demons, together with Iulian Tanase and Oleg Garaz (Nemira Publishing House, 2019). He made multiple unconventional musical projects (leftfield): The planet Moldova (co-founder), Antishow, Pharmacy & Funeral Services, Zelda, Fever39. Between 1998-2000 he made his first attempts in the field of electronic music starting with the Diaphragm project, and from 2002-2008, since the Pneumaton project, he began to focus more on experimental sound art. Currently, his electronic projects are signed as “Micleusanu M.” or “CPU99”, and the areas explored are at the intersection of modular and granular sound synthesis as a zone of interference between ambient, post-industrial and electroacoustic genres. Most of his musical explorations are based on a mixture of field recordings and various altered sounds generated with the help of different preparations. He was invited to numerous festivals (The Attick InContext, 2018; Outernational Virtual Festival; 2020; Simultaneous Festival, 2020 and 2019 etc.) and public events dedicated to experimental music (Intersections Live Sessions, 2019; Schizophonia, 2019; Sambata Sonora, 2020 etc.). Since 2019, Mitoș Micleușanu is the curator of the Post Muzica program, produced by Rezidența BRD Scena9.

As a consequence of the contractual requirements imposed by the Romanian Film Centerwe separated the video and the audio sources. The developed automatic system synchronizing the applications used may cause small delays due to your internet provider and devices (desktop, phone, etc.).

According to Romanian law, these films can be watched by children up to 12 years old only with the consent of or together with their parents or family. These materials contain nudity scenes without sexual connotations.