|Interview with the Creators
You seem to be placing yourselves in a very distinct category of internet art. Usually we consider the internet in terms of networks, links and the exploitation of the its intrinsic technological properties or on the other hand its use as a platform to disseminate information, frequently for the purposes of activism. You seem to be more interested in the narrative and poetic potential of the medium.
Can you tell me a little more about this subject and your use of interactivity?
Yes that’s it. However our work begins with an analysis of this method of diffusion. What is the internet used for? To create connections. Multimedia is an art of connection, of relationships and coming together. However it does not concern cable connections and network hubs. What seems important to us in a connection is not the mechanism but the effects. When two people meet the important thing is not the way in which they communicate but rather what they convey to each other. You have to be honest enough to say, the message is not the medium. So we naturally chose to lean towards themes compatible with this conception of the internet. We chose a romantic relationship as the basis for our first project two years ago and for our latest project the relations between different generations. Of course this is not treated in a documentary
way but rather in terms of distances and connections.
Even in the format of the site, as its guiding principle, you have chosen to maintain a large portion of empty space within which the images evolve…
What is funny, is to see that in our effort to achieve interesting form of interactivity we found a solution that is diametrically opposed to current trends. Now that everyone on the internet is striving to put up a video image as large as possible, which is often referred to as ‘full screen’, we have on the contrary, willingly reduced the size of our videos to let them move in the blank space of the page. It is logical after all, because if the screen is full, one can not in fact add anything to it and nothing can really happen there. The image is in a way stuck.
The space between the images and the screen is in a way the same space in which the characters evolve physically and the time which separates the four generations…
Yes. It is precisely for this reason that the space had to be blank between the images - to be able to bring them together and observe the distances or on the other hand the connections which are created between the characters.
But why spectator participation?
Because the question of relationships establishes a close link to the body. Because we must reintegrate an element of intuition into images, something which goes beyond pure consciousness. The body must participate in the act of looking and so that we can once again get our hands on the images in order to wake them up and to reanimate them. Denis de Rougemont spoke of the idea ‘to think with the hands’. It is very
important because it is the first time that we are not confronted with a flow of images before which we remain passive. The images breathe at the same rate that I do. They accommodate themselves to my rhythm, my respiration. My body regulates the flow of images. It is by the way, the reason that this experience is strictly individual and intimate. It is a personal experience which requires the right conditions to be fully appreciated, i.e. to be alone, calm and receptive.
That contradicts what André Breton said, ‘The day will come when images will replace man and he will no longer need to be, but only to watch. We will no longer be living beings but seeing beings’.
Exactly. Lets try to remain living beings! Certainly the fact of being in front of a screen makes us in no way seeing beings. To the contrary, as Serge Daney said ‘the screen acts as a screen’ and a computer screen at least as much as other screens. The only solution is that the images puncture the screen. In other words, they will no longer be enclosed within the screen, like fish that we see through the glass of an aquarium, but rather outside of it, above the surface and free to move around so that we can really get a hold of them and reanimate them. In fact, each image floats within a zone of space. Each one having its point of equilibrium waiting to be disturbed. They are like an points of ellipsis...
On the whole, the idea is to place some distance between us and the images in order to better approach them?
Yes. So you have to mentally and physically spread the images out. You have to let them take their time. To suspend them in space like photographs being hung up to dry. To make them float on the surface of the screen and see which ones attract and which ones repel. Once the distance is created one can make the connection. In fact it has been a century in which images have pushed closer to us like a bulldozer, passing
from the cinema screen to the television screen, from the television to the computer screen and soon will be ending up in our eye itself. Since interactivity allows us to place a distance between us and the images by placing the body back in the game, or more precisely to put it back at the heart of the subject, it allows us in a word, to take back the control. We must work with this distance to make each image a ‘splash screen’.
Interactivity is a concept that is invoked quite often these days, but for you it has a particular resonance.
What definition can you give of interactivity?
Perhaps interactivity should be summarized simply ; when I touch an image, that image in turn touches me.
Besides interactivity, what differences do you see between this project and what we would call a ‘traditional’ film?
In fact, interactivity has some important consequences on the way the film is created and on its final form. The most important difference to consider is that the editing is no longer done in terms of time, but rather in terms of space. It is completely different way of thinking. For example, the video sequences are often video loops, which is almost never the case in ‘normal’ film. This idea of editing within space also has repercussions on the method used to create the soundtrack. It is likewise constructed in several loops which must be independent of the images and the events that the spectator instigates. It required the conception of a soundtrack as ‘reservoirs’ which can be added or subtracted at any moment. It is very different from a ‘normal’ film where the sound is directly synchronized with the image and lasts exactly as long as the scene
About the scenario, it seems that it is not narrative, that it is not created to ‘tell a story’.
Yes, in fact it is an infra-recit, a succession of non narrative scenes or ‘almost stories’. What creates the connection between the scenes is quite simply a common theme and the continuity of the locations and the characters. The relations between events are purposefully unclear and indirect. As Pierre Reverdy said, ‘’the more that the relationship between two realities placed side by side is distant and just, the stronger the
image’. This form of imprecise story works in the sense that we call ‘sharing the uncertainty’. The attraction for us lies our clear desire to speak about things of which we know neither the reason nor the function. Not to attempt to provide answers, but just the opposite, to carefully conserve the mystery. To attempt to place infinitesimal and fragile moments in the scenes like the most precious of objects and to simply let them meet on the screen…
The universe in which the characters develop also seem uncertain. There are few indications of the location or the timeframe…
The uncertainty lies in this aspect as well, it was one of the principles of the project. For the décor we looked for a house which could give the impression of having been inhabited for a long time without making one think of any particular time period, with an archetypal but relatively neutral interior. For the same reason we chose a beach as our second location, because it is the ideal neutral setting which can not be pinned down to a specific geographic location. The costume designer also worked along these lines. She conceived the costumes bases upon clothing characteristic of a certain era either in their cut or their fabrics. Afterwards she re-cut, assembled and simplified the clothing to ‘cover her tracks‘. For example she created several dresses for the little girl using fabrics from the 1960s and 1970s.
To go back to the title of the project, when one considers the mode of distribution, the notion of sharing does not seem to be limited to the content of your images…
Its true this project will be distributed exclusively on the internet and that is inseparable with the idea of sharing. It is possible for anyone in the world with an internet connection to watch this project for free, regardless of their language or culture. This project could also be, on a small scale, a way to bring together hearts as well as images…