Di­gi­tal Ci­ne­ma


It is 2008. A man in a foun­dry. The sculp­tor Ri­chard Texier. Huge sparks, mel­ting me­tal, dog­ged work, un­mol­ding the plas­ters for a few sculp­tures of my­thi­cal ani­mals. The ar­tist and his te­le­phone. A ti­ny hu­man being and a ti­ny ma­chine, both en­cir­cled by eter­nal me­tals and their me­ta­mor­phoses. The man takes the ma­chine from his po­cket and films. Cap­tu­ring with his hand. As if he had mo­vable eye. Texier has loo­ked in this way ever since phones have had in­te­gra­ted ca­me­ras. The sculp­tor films acts, the pain­ter films faces and bo­dies, the man films his friends. Texier cap­tures traces that are in­fi­ni­te­ly more ephe­me­ral than his sculp­tures: a dra­wing jot­ted at a table, a conver­sa­tion— an on­to­lo­gi­cal image, ama­teur image, low­qua­li­ty image, an ap­proxi­mate image, a share-image, an au­then­tic image. Now it is 2009. Zao Wou-ki is with Ri­chard Texier, the man and his ca­me­ra-phone. The old, great ar­tist asks his friend to film him at work, sim­ply when pain­ting. Texier has ne­ver made a film. But he too is a pain­ter. He knows. He senses. The friend was not going to film Zao Wou-ki, he was going to share, make pal­pable what was hap­pe­ning be­hind the image. How do you cap­ture the act of pain­ting? How get beyond the su­per­fi­cial as­pect of the ac­tion being en­ac­ted? Pain­ting is not dance or a thea­ter of ges­tures, ac­tion is but one of its stages. How could a film cap­ture that? How could the evi­den­tial image

give a glimpse of that to which it af­fords on­ly the ti­niest sur­face?


And so Texier fil­med his pain­ter friend. He cap­tu­red life. He did not make a film about Zao Wou-ki, he made a film with Zao Wou-ki. This nuance is key: not make a film about, but a film with. Not sha­ring the gaze but sha­ring life, the mea­ning of art. Why does Texier film? The ar­tist so­me­times feels ille­gi­ti­mate, frigh­te­ned to claim, frigh­te­ned by his own nai­ve­ty. Our ti­ny ma­chines are a bles­sing for en­thu­siasts, for those who, like Texier, film with their heart, with their hand, with their friends, wi­thout that un­com­for­table dis­tance of the sub­ject of the do­cu­men­ta­ry. Zao Wou- ki is real­ly there, present with his friend Ri­chard Texier. The ca­me­ra is not hid­den, it is not absent, it is not dis­creet, no, the ca­me­ra is ful­ly there. The two friends wan­ted to sha­red what constructs their life, that “ve­ry, ve­ry po­wer­ful red.” I can image an old Chi­nese man saying these words, like es­sen­tial words: “ve­ry, ve­ry po­wer­ful red.” And Zao Wou-ki would ne­ver have spo­ken those words with that depth and that sim­pli­ci­ty in front of any other ca­me­ra than his fai­th­ful friend’s phone-ca­me­ra. When I film with that mi­nia­tu­ri­zed ma­chine—now an es­sen­tial pros­the­sis—I am not fil­ming just with the me­dia­tion of my eyes. I can film from an el­sew­here, there, just above my skull, I can film my own bo­dy, arm held out and re­ver­sing my gaze, I learn to en­trust my phone to so­meone else, at a dis­tance. It is an eye that cir­cu­lates. It is no lon­ger the ca­me­ra as me­ta­phor for my gaze, it is ano­ther eye that has im­plan­ted it­self in my bo­dy. The image is like a kind of ora­li­ty wi­th­dra­wing upon re­cep­tion in less than a se­cond. The com­mu­ni­ca­tion-image, the conver­sa­tion-image. When he chooses to film with this eye in his palm, Texier him­self be­comes a sen­si­tive skin, a sur­face on which, in tac­tile and di­gi­tal fa­shion, the im­prints of the world are im­pres­sed. The ar­tist dares to brush, touch, share his own im­print to keep a trace of the world sur­roun­ding him, skin to skin. The image is a di­gi­tal print (finger-print). The image’s na­ture and func­tion change ra­di­cal­ly. No lon­ger pre­ten­ding that we are still with the images from be­fore. Texier is an au­then­tic di­gi­tal film­ma­ker. A film­ma­ker, for he mo­dest­ly chooses to pro­duce mo­ving images. His films have ano­ther power, for the ar­tist chooses to cap­ture with this sha­red ma­chine, this ve­ry ba­nal te­le­phone, yet which makes it pos­sible to invent images like fin­gerp­rints, so sen­si­tive and po­wer­ful. To film in this way is pa­ra­doxi­cal­ly dif­fi­cult, for the way has not yet been map­ped. If one of the po­wers of ar­tis­tic work is dis­co­ve­ry or in­ven­tion, kno­wing what we do not know is no doubt the ar­tist’s grea­test vir­tue, for eve­ry crea­tive ef­fort then be­comes risk-ta­king, on a wire, unique, and the­re­fore fas­ci­na­ting for the vie­wer.


It is 2014, and I sug­gest to my pain­ter, sculp­tor and in­ven­tor friend that we make a film to­ge­ther. The new ma­chine will be a drone, a flying ob­ject with a ca­me­ra. A dream ob­ject to be un­ders­tood, ques­tions, di­ver­ted. It is about not ha­ving a pro­ject, trying to be there, to­ge­ther, in the ar­tist’s stu­dio. Ri­chard, me, and the drone. I get out the new ma­chine and ca­li­brate it. I pi­lot. It flies. We film, it and me. If the images to come are gentle and va­po­rous, the present time of the ex­pe­rience of the shoot is in­tense and an­xious: lots of noise from the four en­gines, a fran­tic breath swee­ping eve­ry speck of dust, un­fo­re­seen mo­ve­ments and these white pro­pel­lers that could wound. In our world, when we film, the ca­me­ra is al­ways more or less bound, trans­la­ted from our gaze, our bo­dy, by means of a stand or a crane, or when we hold it in our hands. In vi­deo games, ho­we­ver, when we move our ava­tar, we can use the ca­me­ra as we want in space: be­fore, be­hind, above, be­low. In these vir­tual worlds, the ca­me­ra is dis­con­nec­ted from the bo­dy, the gaze is di­ver­ted. Thus, thanks to this new flying and fil­ming ob­ject, we can now train this vir­tual gaze on our real world. It is a fas­ci­na­ting change of sco­pic pa­ra-

digm. But, when you fly it, the drone is not as cold as one might be­lieve. It moves through masses of air that are hot or warm, through the wind. We do not mas­ter it, it makes au­to­no­mous mo­ve­ments, pu­shed by that in­vi­sible and ve­ry rich ele­ment that is the air. We must give our­selves up to it, be at­ten­tive to what the world pro­poses. The world-ma­chine. Like Texier the sculp­tor who, when wor­king at a block of stone or wood, must lis­ten to the ma­te­rial, fol­low it, be ins­pi­red by it, and thus find the apt­ness, the or­ga­nic qua­li­ty of i ts form and his sub­ject. A true en­coun­ter bet­ween man as the in­ter­me­dia­ry and the world. And these pro­pel­lers can wound us. Texier sug­gests that the eye of the drone should drift around him while he is wor­king on a pain­ting. He will speak to this flying eye as if spea­king to the be­hol­der. The pain- ter moves his can­vases. To­ge­ther we trans­port them, ins­tall them, set out the ele­ments for the set of a fu­ture film. Then we shoot/fly a se­quence-shot and the man speaks to us, the vie­wers. He looks at us through the ca­me­ra un­me­dia­ted by a hu­man bo­dy, a crane-bo­dy, an exo-bo­dy, a car­rier-bo­dy. He looks at us, as if we were there, but we can see that this bo­dy is a bo­dy of ele­ments, a cos­mic bo­dy.


The vie­wer’s strange sen­sa­tion. The strange im­pro­vi­sed ex­pe­rience of the pi­lot fil­ming his friend from a dis­tance, an un­pre­dic­table ex­pe­rience un­der this ar­ti­fi­cial sky, these ar­ti­fi­cial winds. And it is pre­ci­se­ly this un­pre­dic­ta­bi­li­ty, this na­tu­ral mo­ve­ment, this non-mas­te­ry, this fear that the pi­lot and vie­wer feel when they let the ma­chine and its pro­pel­lers ap­proach the ar­tist’s can­vases, at the risk of woun­ding them. It is pre­ci­se­ly in this di­se­qui­li­brium, this risk, that this in­ten­si­ty che­ri­shed by An­dré Bre­ton re­sides, on this wire—where eve­ry­thing could come un­hung at any mo­ment, but where eve­ry­thing holds to­ge­ther, by the force of the sha­red de­sire to make so­me­thing for the other—that what we pe­rhaps call ma­gic is ex­pres­sed. We watch these images from a dis­tance, this di­gi­tal touch like a ve­ry sin­gu­lar or­ga­nic mo­ve­ment. With them, we make a pro­gres­sive over-im­print, we write a sur­face of the image.

Trans­la­tion, C. Pen­war­den

Ci-contre et page de droite /

left and page right: « Chaos­mos ». 2014. 152 x 125 cm et 198 x 166 cm. Pein­ture et verre sur toile, iso­lant en por­ce­laine or­ga­nique. Paint and glass on can­vas, in­su­lant and or­ga­nic por­ce­lain

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