SOMETHING IS HAPPENING /
QUELQUE CHOSE SE PRODUIT
Visual and Sound Installation / 2013
<1> This project was supported by the Conseil des Arts et Lettres du Québec within the framework of a grant for research and creation. A part of the project was realized during a residency at Centro Multi Media in Mexico City and was presented at the A/B Galeria, Centro Nacional de las Artes in 2013. The first experimentation and reflection started in 2010 and were tested during an artist residency at Centre Sagamie (specialized in digital print).
<2> This project fits in the lineage of our installation Télétoxie which investigated the techniques of realistic sound synthesis and physical modelling for the creation of Foley sounds in video games or in cinema.
<3> Context: computer-generated images
Quietly but surely, computer-generated image continues its sneaky infiltration of visual pop cultures: cinema, 3D images, television, video games. This progressive and historical replacement of the painted, mechanically-reproduced, printed, photographed, and filmed images by a synthetic, digitally-generated, image is now anchored in our cathodic culture. But the synthetic images seem mainly, perhaps exclusively, made and thought for the screen's bright luminosity.
<4> Consequently, for this project we worked on the encounter between the synthetic, computer-generated, image and the paper, its ink and its materiality. We proceeded so in order to remove the computer-generated image from its usual territory - the strong luminosities of screens - and to investigate its visual flaws and visual through its conceptual collision with paper-related technologies, in the historic lineage of visual representations and their techniques.
<5> Computer-generated images and digital prints
Since the computer-generated image results from a calculation on computers, size and resolution are almost without limit. With this in mind, we investigated the production of these images within a tense relational network between the two limits of the digital printing: size and detail, i.e. high resolution. The objective was to push printers to their limits and create images with an emphasized material presence, solidified by the substratum of printing process, but also by the depth of the details, since printed resolution can go beyond the one found in HD screens ... no matter how big the screens are.
Our generated images are based on physical modelling (gravity, wind, smoke, diffraction, particles, etc., as found in common CGI software) in order to create a series of images, yet simple but mystical at the same time. This work evolves around the visual culture of digital visual/special effects and, especially, the strange artificiality of computer-generated images in the aftermath of a longer quest for realism. Such a retroactive loop of infinite representations and generated images is targeted at the actual equipment, i.e. hardware, which is generally used for the fabrication, manufacture, of filmed or photographed images.
<7> And so, our compositions present portraits and landscapes which depict, and recast in a suggested grand narrative, some of the great yet anonymous characters and constructors of image history on the verge of their obsolescence: some studio lamps, an almost empty studio and a simple visual effects.
This working axis is related to the popular association between increased resolution and increased realism. As Jonathan Sterne mentions: “that proposition hides a few other common assumptions: 1) that greater definition is the same thing as greater verisimilitude; 2) that increases in definition necessarily enhance end-users' experience;”1. In fact, we tend to observe that an increased resolution and definition encourage a kind of hyper-realism that provides details beyond the senses' limits.
<8> These preconceive and cultural ideas, partly nurtured by the cinema industry and visual culture, about realism and verisimilitude (proximity of the reality) that we investigate and address.
Besides the digital prints, Something is Happening / Quelque chose se produit is also a video and sound installation. From the computer models used for the prints, a slowly evolving video was generated.
<9> More precisely, we generated a simple visual effect in order to take typical CGI out of their common spectacular uses (such as in Hollywood movies) and to create a non-spectacular, kind of banal, video art installation to initiate a critical reflection on the appearance of this new medium, synthetic images and its relationship with realism and verisimilitude. How does it relate and emerge from previous film and studio technology? Why CGI graphics are obsessed by photo-realism as a marker of realism? For us the use of the CGI images is a way to look in a different way at hyper-realism.
The sound generated for the video is also referring to cinema or photography studios through the synthetic electrical humming of studio lamps.
<10> In an installation context, the digital prints and the video are presented according to the tension described earlier with respect to the brightness of the digital images (i.e. TV screens and projectors) and the materiality of the printed image and it's inks.
Documentation taken at Artspace, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada in 2013.
Photo credits: Tanya St-Pierre & Philippe-Aubert Gauthier