O sole mio

Video creation by Benoît Labourdette (3’03s, 2014).
12 July 2014. Published by Benoît Labourdette.
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Kaleidoscope, magic lantern, invention of the phonograph, longing for love...

The circle and the screen

The primitive kaleidoscope has a circular screen, inside which small parts move in the middle of a hexagon (or more) of mirrors which face each other. To move the little things that create the image, you must give a rotative motion to the cylinder which is held in hand.

The circle is the element (as may be the air, or water) in which the kaleidoscope is living. What fascinates in this repetition is its mathematical dimension : what we see does not exists, it is only an illusion created via mirrors and circular movements. What we see is a mathematical abstraction proposed vision, instead of the vision of reality.

The early projection devices, because of the circular lens, which focus the light beam, projecting a luminous surface, a “screen”, which is a circle.

Gramophone and nostalgia

Former kaleidoscope, the former showing the first railroads, industrialization... and Enrico Caruso, singing ’O sole mio in 1916.

Evocation of early mechanical recording, the beginning of the multiplication of ghosts in a technological world : the dead, we could see and hear living after their disappearance, on screens and in speakers. Enrico Caruso recorded a lot of records, and his wide success contributed to the success of early phonograph.

The LP record is black, like the images of the film, which does not rotate out, but turn inside.

The subject of this song brings everyone back to moments of his personal history. The link between this song, kaleidoscope, and an evocation of magic lantern... can revive memories.


Kaleidoscope offers a very “organic” vision. As a visual metaphor of cell division, it opens up a field of perceptions and emotions, far beyond the ornamental it might seem at first glance. This figure has always concerned me, I offer you cinematic explorations.