Metonymic Motifs

Each series of images in this issue presents, in a way, work on a motif – a live view of the landscape, in the tradition of landscape painters. Capturing the infinite variations of trees, icebergs, or clouds under different conditions certainly testifies to an interest in nature, but perhaps even more in how it is shaped by human intervention.

Jocelyn Philibert has been photographing trees for a good decade. The initial intention may have seemed naturalist, for the first series was spectacular, showing gorgeous trees photographed at night, magnified by the light of his flash. Upon closer examination, however, the overwhelming presence turned out to be the result of an assemblage of multiple shots. So much for natural beauty. Gradually, the tree has turned into a thicket, and then into woods. And the framing of the image has become wider at the various sites. Highways, bridges, roads, and houses have appeared to conjure up human beings as artisans of this domesticated nature.

In his series Eidôlon, Alain Lefort describes the drifting and slow melting of icebergs. The Eidolon is a double, an image, a simulacrum, a ghost; in short, it is the representation the meaning of which is an issue. The series builds a narrative toward the abstract, from the approach of the object to its disappearance. It shows the emergence, on a very dark horizon, of white dots that gradually become immense, drifting hieratic monuments. What do these improbable monuments represent? Then, their disappearance is embodied in a series of close-ups on the ice, images that become more and more abstract, almost entirely white, dissolving before our eyes.

What Denis Farley’s photographs of clouds frame, first and foremost, are overhead spaces. These spaces are characterized from an observation point: Espace aérien, vallée de la rivière Tomifobia, Qc. Other elements also provide a minimal context for these shots of the sky: lamppost, treetops, airplane. But the spectacular clouds in these images are reminiscent not so much of a meteorological referent but of notions of flow and circulation of something immaterial that is very concrete: computer data materialized in gigantic server farms concealed behind the gentle name “the cloud.” The cloud is now strategic.

This treatment of motifs is not as innocent as it might seem at first glance. Behind such a focus on an isolated aspect of the landscape is built a series of challenges and contextualizations (around habitat, ecosystems, and network interconnections) that reintroduces the human being as the active component in an environment that is now central to our conception of the contemporary landscape.
Translated by Käthe Roth

Jacques Doyon

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