Ungrave

65 inch LCD screen, USB key, wood, program-generated video (1080p, 14h), 145 x 80 x 8 cm, 2020

On the ground, a very large screen shows the image of a tombstone whose inscriptions are constantly being rewritten, as if it had remained alive. Its first name, dates and epitaph are constantly erased and rewritten, often very quickly.

While the dead are those who, by definition, never respond anymore, Ungrave establishes the fiction of a zombie death, whose technology would have perverted the very principle and which would continue to bug ad vitam æternam, constantly questioning its existence and the best way to sum it up. The project evokes ironically the transhumanist ideology of an unlimited rewriting of life, where everything would still be possible, even after death. It is also a vision of hell, where traditionally the souls continue to wander and act, without never being able to get this over with or finding peace.

The name on the tombstone is alternatively John or Jane Doe. The date of death varies constantly, but the date of birth is always 2020, evoking a person who is somehow already promised to a “becoming-program”, in the Deleuzian sense of the term.

Produced with the support of Biennale Chroniques, 2020

The Probe

Light projector, camera, screen, amplifier and speaker, computer, program, cables
L’Art dans les chapelles festival, Pontivy (FR), Notre-Dame-du-Moustoir, Malguénac, 18 July – 22 September 2020
Please note that the video shows the French version in a church, but the behavior and the text are aimed to be rewritten each time in situ.

Video capture (French version of the installation, with English subtitles) :

A projector turns on itself, slowly, exploring the space around it. It projects an intense rectangle of white light that it moves over all walls and objects. It also carries a camera, which films exactly what it illuminates. His image is shown on a large screen, placed nearby against a wall, like a painting: we see what he sees.

This apparatus speaks, in a synthesized voice, as if it was thinking aloud and trying to describe what surrounds it. It searches, stops at details, tries to understand space and objects, wonders about this place and its meaning but also about his own status and perception. Sometimes it seems to react to the presence of humans.

The Probe thus installs in a space the fiction of a non-human and living entity that inhabits it, like an artificial and panoptic force. The apparatus can also evoke the religious expectation that we have of technology, especially artificial intelligence, whose recurring motif is the surpassing of human capacities.

The language of the work calls up several registers, from surveillance devices to images of miraculous apparitions in classical painting, where the irruption of a ray of light often represents the emergence of the divine or a revelation. Here, the direction of the light is reversed: instead of coming from the outside, it emerges from the inside, as if the space had been turned upside down to become the theatre of an apparition and a questioning of the visible.

Coproduction by L’Art dans les chapelles
Engineering and programming Etienne Landon – thanks to Ben Kuperberg

Only Richard

Installation and film, 2018
Video (1:2.35 format, color, stereo sound, 1h40, loop), sound projection, dance floor, robotic arm, computer and program, wood, canvas, aluminum, 600 x 600 x 215 cm

The installation Only Richard is adapted from Richard II by William Shakespeare, who describes a king whose conviction to escape the laws of reality by his divine nature leads him to destitution and death. Richard here takes the form of a large robotic arm which dialogues on a set with a film including all the other characters – at the same time as he manipulates it: frame, blur, speed… Richard’s voice is interpreted by actress Emmanuelle Lafon.

The film was shot in a garden and a forest, with three actors and ten amateurs, mostly women. They face a subjective camera that is like Richard’s eye – replayed in the installation by the robot’s gestures. A confrontation then unfolds between the power and the people, the machine and the living, the divine and the profane. The project address multiple questions about power, technique and politics, gender, presence and absence in the world.

Video excerpts:

Credits

Translation: François-Victor Hugo (1872). Adaptation and direction of play Thierry Fournier and Jean-François Robardet. Performers: Emmanuelle Lafon (Richard’s voice), Pierre Carniaux, Eloïse Chabbal, Aurélie Claude, Charles Gonin, Mathieu Guigue, Sophie Jaskierowicz, Marianne Kaldi, Emilie Legret, Alexia Mérel, Claire Moindrot, Judith Morisseau, Tram Ahn Ngô, Sandrine Nicolas. Installation’s design with Jean-Baptiste Droulers, in dialogue with the Fresnoy, programming Etienne Landon and Mathieu Chamagne, sound editing and mixing with Marie Léon. Film production (2008-2009): Pandore Production, Ensad Nancy (Electroshop research and creation workshop), with the support of the Lorraine Region, the Chartreuse-CNES and the Dicréam / CNC. Production of the installation (2018) : Le Fresnoy – National Studio for Contemporary Arts.

Acknowledgements

L’Arcal Lyrique, Julien Arnaud, Avant-Rue Friche Théâtre, Franck Bauchard, Jean-François Chiama, Grégory Diguet and Bipolar, l’Ensemble Atopique, Juliette Fontaine, Antonio Guzman, Mains d’Œuvres, Florence March, Daniel Migairou, Giuseppe Molino, Frédérique Payn, Olga Pitarch, Benoît Résillot, Jean-François Robardet, le Studio-Théâtre de Vitry, Alain Fleischer, Eric Prigent and the whole Fresnoy team.