Silver Bars (in Brimstone)

Federico BaronelloSilver Bars (in Brimstone) (in Italian Barre d’argento nello zolfo), documentary movie, Italian language with English subtitles, 64’, 1025×576 pixels (PAL 16:9), 2007/08.

A far-reaching journey telling a story that goes from the sulphur years to those of oil and developers, up until the technological district and the numerous scientific research programmes that have developed around the Department of Physics of the University of Catania.

I. Intro A journey from the bowels of the world to the top of volcano. A laborious ascent to the vastness of the sea and the sky, from Inferno to Paradise.  Locations: Palazzo Pennisi of the Floristella mines, Valguarnera. Archives and quotes: Vittorio De Seta ‘Surfarara’; Gianfranco Mingozzi ‘Col cuore fermo Sicilia’; Lawrence Weiner «Silver Bars Bathed in Brimstone»; Luigi Pirandello ‘Ciaula scopre la luna’; Francesco Pennisi ‘Serena’.

II. Brand New World The historical process of economic development changes our outlook on the landscape in the same way as this has always been the expression of the human condition. Archives and quotes: Giuseppe Barone ‘Zolfare di Sicilia’; Ugo Saitta ‘Zolfara’.

III. Malpelo Interviews: Filippo Piscitello, miner. Locations: Floristella mines, Valguarnera. Quotes: Giovanni Verga ‘Rosso Malpelo’.

IV. Brand New World #2 Sicilian sulphur extraction, which started in the early nineteenth century, linking Sicily to the industrialization process that was spreading from the United Kingdom in Europe and America, shifts from the adventuring aspect to industrial organization. Railway connections and port towns. Interviews: Barone Orazio Pennisi di Floristella. Archives and quotes: Giuseppe Barone ‘Zolfare di Sicilia’.

V. Rise And Fall New emerging classes see in the technological development a means for emancipation. Interviews: Pinella Di Gregorio. Archives and quotes: Vittorio De Seta ‘Surfarara’; Gianfranco Mingozzi ‘Col cuore fermo Sicilia’.

VI. Sulphur, Oil, Concrete Democracy is the graveyard of the aristocracy. 10-100-1000 property speculations! Interviews: Tino Vittorio. Archives and quotes: Giuseppe Ferrara ‘Gela antica e nuova’.

VII. The Spermwhale A poem about property development. Interviews: Fausto Nigrelli. Archives and quotes: Enzo Di Bernardo ‘La cumacca’.

VIII. City Of Science  A science museum in place of old sulphur refineries. A paradox for a location that recalls the failure of a mythical Sicilian path toward development. Interviews: Lorenzo Costa, Gaetano Foti. Locations: Former Sulphur refinery, Catania; the disused ENEL Solar Central, Adrano; Oil refineries, Augusta/Melilli; wind farm, Francofonte; Fuksas-archistar’ shopping mall, Belpasso; University Campus, Catania; Etna Valley, Catania.

IX. City Of Science #2 A brief history of physics in Catania. Interviews: Gaetano Foti, Emilio Migneco, Emanuele Rimini. Locations: Laboratori Nazionali del Sud – INFN, Catania; Istituto per la Microelettronica e Microsistemi – CNR, Catania.

X. Modern WorldAh, the modern world! I don’t feel so bad but I don’t feel too good either. Locations: Istituto per la Microelettronica e Microsistemi – CNR, Catania; Fuksas-archistar’ shopping mall, Belpasso; Dept. of Physics, University of Catania. Archives and quotes: Melissa Panarello ‘Cento colpi di spazzola…’.

XI. Epilogue Neutrines from the limits of the universe. We no longer turn towards the sky but, on the contrary, to the centre of the earth. Locations: Mount Etna; the INAF-IRA radio telescope, Noto; Portopalo.

Credits Locations: robotic operations on the deep sea. Archives: Vincenzo Drago computer sound score.