Val del Omar. The unending cinemist

The exhibition "Val del Omar: la mecamística del cine" is open at Laboral until next January 10, a unique opportunity to discover the cinemist from Granada

Published: Oct 05, 2015

By Montaña Hurtado Muñoz, @zapatosrosas,

Exploring the figure of Val del Omar is amazing. Even if a good deal has been written about him, his work and inventions, there is actually a lot to write about and discover. The exhibition “Val del Omar: la mecamística del cine” that opened on September 23 at LABoral Centro de Arte y Creación Industrial after travelling through venues like MEIAC in Badajoz or CGAC in Santiago de Compostela, is aimed at bringing justice to his work and disseminating among the general public his personal way of understanding cinema, a way that was closer to alchemy, research and inventions than to what we understand as pure film making. This is way he would rather be known as cinemist instead of film maker and he coined a concept that is key to understanding his whole his career as well as this exhibition: “Mecamysticism”, a term resulting from the combination of the words mechanics + mysticism that he used to refer to his relationship with machines and technology.

The exhibition is made up with pieces from the collections of Museo Reina Sofía, donated or handed over by the family of Val del Omar in 2011, following the exhibition "Desbordamiento de Val del Omar" that travelled through Centro José Guerrero in Granada, Museo Reina Sofía, Palau de la Virreina de Barcelona or CAAM in Las Palmas. The commitment of Reina Sofía with the legacy of Val del Omar resulted in, not only the digitalisation of a good part of his film making work, but also into a commitment to disseminate his work among the general public.

Following the presentation to the media, Cristina Cámara, curator of the exhibition and art and video curator at Reina Sofía, and Gonzalo Saénz de Buruaga, of the Archivo Val del Omar, answers questions of twitter users under the hashtag #LABentrevista. After reviewing the storify, I would like to point out this question by Laura Cano (@via_di_uscita) and the answer by the curator of the exhibition.

During the guided visit after the press conference, Cristina Cámara pointed out the selection of materials and its distribution was made for the general public, considering that it is made up by diverse audiences with different levels of knowledge and interests. As the curator she wanted the exhibition to be appealing even for people with no knowledge on the film making language or people that did not know anything about Val del Omar. And I think she totally succedded.

What most called my attention when I visited the exhibition in the Project Hall of LABoral is that it is an accessible and welcoming exhibition, due both to its size and to the selection of works, photos, documents and equipment showcased. Each showcase and each projection is a new discovery that forces you to get a deeper insight in Val del Omar, especially when you are able to see everything in the context of his time and you realise that he was, no doubt, a visionary and someone ahead of his time.


If Val del Omar would have known the Ipad, we would have not only used it, but he would have probably modified and enhanced it to serve his interests and needs and his vision of cinema. Because, when stereo systems were still not wide-spread, Val del Omar patented in 1944 a diaphonic sound system that could play audio through two sound sources (one behind the screen and another one at the end of the room) that he used in his work “Aguaespejo granadino”, created as an “audiovisual symphony”. But Val del Omar always went further in an attempt to make cinema a total art, and experience that would involve all senses.

I was mainly curious to discover how he was able to develop his cinema in relief and what he called tactilevision, a technical invention that he used in his work “Fuego en Castilla (TactilVisión del páramo del espanto)”, that he carried out between 1958 and 1960 with images from the Museo Nacional de Escultura de Valladolid and the Chapel of the Benavente in Medina de Rioseco. Using a pulsed light system onto the images he i sable to emphasise in an amazing way the relief and the matter texture of the objects and surfaces.

However, all this seems unimportant (may be because you start to really understand) when at the end of the show, in a separate room, you enter a recreation of his atelier and work place: The Laboratorio PLAT (picto lumínica audio tactil), a workshop of “experimentation and life” where Val del Omar worked until he died in a traffic accident in July 1982. In the PLAT, Val del Omar accumnulated his film and video cameras, a Debrie film duplicator and an editing table, Super 8 projectors, projectors for slides and adiscopes, lenses, filters as well as one of the first lasers marketed in Spain.

Most of this material came from the laboratorios of the institutions and firms where he worked or collaborated. The rest was modified or created by him. The latter is the case of the “Truca”, a trick-shots table that, using a rear-projection screen, projected fixed images that he altered by passing the light beam through different filters and hand-painted glasses. Then he took photographs or he filmed the resulting images to create interesting effects of light, colour, double or altered images and creating impossible and unfinished audiovisual works, in accordance with his concept of the creative process.

And just like Val del Omar closed his films with a “No end”, this exhibition is part of a “loop with no end” to bring back his work that started in 2001 with the exhibition “Val del Omar y las misiones pedagógicas” followed by the exhibition “Galaxia VdO”, sponsored by the Instituto Cervantes, travelled through several cultural centres in the USA, Europe and Northern Africa.

You can visit the exhibition "Val del Omar: la mecamística del cine" until next January 10, 2016.

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