Panorama, Mapping, Panoscopy

[Spring 2003]

by Jacques Doyon

The artworks presented in this issue make manifest the constraints intrinsic to the tools of vision. They inscribe in the image itself traces of the prostheses, framings, and postures inherent to the photographic act, and in opposition to the referential consensus they offer an exploration of the conditions of the image.

The photographs of Jean-Philippe Lemay present views of urban sites filtered through bygone processes. He makes camerae obscurae with curved surfaces, sometimes with two openings or with mirrors, and he uses techniques of low-definition sensitization and printing. Some of his panoramas seem to reveal the curve of Earth’s surface; others telescope lines of encounter and intersection; and yet others unfurl the world around a central point of view.

Parages combines Alain Paiement’s architectural, pictorial, and cartographic concerns in a monumental spatial and temporal representation of the building in which he lives. The images arranged successively in the space literally tip the building onto its side. Sites and scenes of life, seen from an overhang, become tableaux. The spaces, scanned by high-angle shots, are re-created in assemblages that overflow the limits of photographic recording and renew spatial representation at the juncture of the issues of panorama, perspective, architectural plan, and cartography.

Luc Courchesne’s Journal panoscopique is a travel diary in images, linked to research on re-creation of the panoramic view within an individual device. His series of photographs explores the conventions of panorama, the spatial distortions inherent to a telescopic 360º lens (close and distant, low and high, empty and full, lights and contrasted spaces) and the play of appearance and camouflage of the photographer around the black hole created by the lens in the very heart of the image.

All of these works deal with the very conditions of all photography (framing and exposure time, vanishing point and depth of field, rendering of the image, and so on), inscribing themselves in the traditions whose limits they renew. They do this, notably, by reinscribing within photography the manifest traces of their tools and the mark of a temporality arising from the process of image construction. Beyond the immediacy of their representation, these works explore, each in its own way, the issues of a contemporary representation of space and time through photography. They exceed the customs of photography and complexify its reading to open up other possible avenues.

An important supplement, in the form of a poster, has been added to this issue. It presents Alain Paiement’s most recent work, produced in the context of Tangente, a series of exhibitions by international contemporary artists who were invited to produce new works in relation to the collection of photographs at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. The series of exhibitions is curated by Hubertus von Amelunxen, visiting senior curator of the photography collection. We thank Mr. von Amelunxen and the Canadian Centre for Architecture for their collaboration in the publication of this supplement. The works made by Paiement for this occasion, particularly Fractal Palace and Tangente, is a systematic continuation of his avenues of research by adding an exploration, based on the new façade of the Palais des congrès de Montréal, of transparency, the splitting of images into geometric modules, and their fusion in superimposed layers and states. These works also suggests, in relation to works taken from the CCA photography collection, possible historical filiations with the problem of representation that preoccupy him – providing more proof of the scope and coherence of this Montreal artist’s research.

In closing, I would like to mention the recent addition to the magazine’s editorial committee of Cheryl Simon, critic, teacher, and artist. Ms. Simon is well known for her research on photography and film.