Hoch, Dali, de Salvia

Luca de Salvia

Surrealism is destructive, but it destroys only what it considers to be shackles limiting our vision.- Salvador Dali

Deh deh deehhhhhhhhh. Vrrrrmmmmmmm. Clink, clink, clink, clink. Clunk. Blub, blub. Close your eyes. The instrumental journey of Sinfonia Digitale is an enticing, disorienting, and clever symphony as colorful as the accompanying images. If you’re not careful, the conglomeration of chords in this fashion short film will take you on a trip down the rabbit hole.
“I am terrified of drugs,” imparts filmmaker visionary, Luca de Salvia. “Growing up in the late 70s, 80s in Italy I have seen many people whose lives have been totally wrecked by herion. However, things that don’t make sense, random connections, and free associations fascinate me, I am more interested in feelings than explanations. I suppose this makes me a ‘surrealist’ or a ‘Dadaist’ but I don’t like labels.” And who does, these days?

If one compares the similarities between the films of de Salvia and surrealist Luis Buñuel, or considers the Dadaist collages of Hannah Hoch, de Salvia’s supposition of Surrealist and Dadaist tendencies makes sense. However, in his latest short film, “Sinfonia Digitale,” there is an almost comical use of colors and music that sets the film apart from any precedents. The whimsical combination of astrological patterns and fanciful frocks and accessories from Alessandro Michele’s Gucci recalls Disney’s 1940 masterpiece, Fantasia, but y’know, the adult version. This is not entirely shocking, considering Walt Disney actually had a personal correspondence with surrealist Salvador Dali. Just as we were enchanted by inanimate objects being brought to life in Fantasia as children, we are now entranced and aroused by seemingly mundane items a Jell-o mold, for example – that have been injected with sex appeal.

“Sinfonia Digitale” is a contender in this year’s La Jolla International Fashion Film Festival, and is what de Salvia calls a “personal tribute” to the genius behind all of Gucci’s collections and image since 2015, Alessandro Michele. Fashion is often considered a materialistic and frivolous art, but the effects it has on a deeper level can be profound. Michele’s work, for example, restored de Salvia’s faith in his own creative visions at a time when he was working through “a sort of work/life depression.” When asked what it is that de Salvia admires about Michele, the artist does not hold back. “There is integrity in his vision, and no fear. Just keep doing your thing, ignore the noise and the universe will notice one day.” Certainly if Michele’s work as creative director had such an impact on de Salvia, it speaks to the legitimacy of fashion, no?

Now, back to that sexy short film. Presently, only the trailer is available for viewing online, providing a titillating teaser to the full length short. De Salvia’s inspiration for the film is unexpected, and he heavily relied on free association. “It starts from an image, or a physical sensation,” de Salvia says of his creative process. “For example, ‘Sinfonia Digitale’ started with my love for chewed chewing gums. I see an abstract expressionist masterpiece in every chewing gum strewn onto the pavement!” Chewed chewing gum – typically a perverse object causing its unsuspecting victims to recoil in disgust – is transformed into an object of pop art.

A cocktail of onomatopoeia greets the viewer: a sole, male voice starts, as if caught in the middle of a shamanistic chant; an electric guitar strums one heavy chord; a hollow ‘clink, clink, clink’ resonates as a pair of polka dot clad legs strut by in Gucci’s high heeled, metallic yellow loafers. They’re followed by a pair of red platform sandals at the end of pink and black star-print tights; an organ crashes; a choir chants. Just as the visuals are made up of a variety of collages, the music is a collage of notes and sounds, all random, but perfectly coordinated with the movement.

While enjoying the brilliant imagination of the filmmaker and the sartorial genius of Gucci, one is simultaneously confronted with the vastness of the universe, and the mystic power of woman. As a pair of pink, bejeweled, oversized sunglasses and red lips masticate a piece of yellow chewing gum, the bubble bursts and from it explodes our first glimpse of the cosmic pattern that reoccurs throughout the film. It is with this explosion that we are introduced to five female faces, again with oversized sunglasses. From here on out, the female figure becomes prominent and repetitious, as does the galactic pattern. Lips drip in stars; a jellyfish woman appears, as if going to Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon;” and as a set of slender, perfectly manicured fingers slide down a woman’s stomach for a moment of release, even her underwear is emblazoned with the universe, complete with a shooting star. Perhaps this was intentional by de Salvia, subliminally connecting women to the world, insinuating the sovereignty of women; or, de Salvia’s subconscious Dadaist sensibilities worked their magic on us again.

“I love creative accidents. I think randomness is the true essence of life,” pontificates the artist. “We try to attribute a meaning onto events and make grand life plans, which inevitably fail.” While this may seem like a dire outlook, de Salvia’s words can almost be taken as a motto. “We are not the center of the world, nor can we influence other people’s behaviors or nature’s whims. My creative attitude reflects this belief. It’s all about relinquishing control, like throwing a boomerang and seeing what happens.” So, what does his boomerang have in store for him? “I have a few projects in the pipeline, and a live action fashion film,” relays de Salvia. “But I don’t like to think or talk too much about the future, you just never know what’s around the corner!”

Text Leah Tassinari