Image World

[Spring 2006]

by Jacques Doyon

In this issue, we feature works that, in their profusion and scope, offer a glimpse at the condition of the world as it is manifested and revealed through the mechanisms for fabrication and circulation of images. These image systems are of different dimensions, ranging from identity as it is defined in proximity and culture,to the image of oneself conveyed by image codes, to the image of the world offered by the truly palpable intangibility of the virtual archive. These works seem limitless and, in this way, the same as the world itself: they could include many other images . . .

The work by Chih-Chien Wang began as a self-portrait on a daily basis; it then gradually turned to the objects and beings through which the artist defines his identity. The silhouette of a person and the globe of Earth that we can read in Newspaper Wrap, the image that introduces this issue, is particularly evocative of such an interpenetration of the world and the presence in the world. It is a poetic expression of the vision stated in the title of the work: The centre of the forest is a lake like mirror. Each of Wang’s photographs is like a freeze-frame; it seems to be extracted from a continuum that merges tradition and memory into a very personal perception. We are surprised and charmed by the simplicity of Wang’s images, by the incongruity of the juxtapositions, by the uniqueness of his vision. A Taiwanese by birth and a TV documentary maker for many years, Wang transfigures the objective world by imbuing it with a temporality and a memory that are singular and cultural.

The word Resguárdeme in the title of Emmanuelle Léonard’s recent work does not mean “look at me” (“regarde-moi”) but “protect me.” This ambiguity reveals what is at stake in the play of gazes presented in this work. The guard’s regard not only means surveillance and control, but it must also provide protection and safety. The ruse that the artist uses to undermine this view of control creates a reversal: it places in juxtaposition two modes of view, two visions of the world. It puts the gaze at issue. All of Léonard’s works are articulated around these modes and manners of seeing that shape the notions of portrait, iden­tity and representations of the world. Each of her pieces is a variation on a theme that connects portrayals of the self, others’ visions of one­self, and interiorization of the codes of representation of reality, iden­tity, and the world.

The World as Will and Representation, the title (after Schopenhauer) of the recent Web piece by Roy Arden, is stated as a program. Some ten thousand images from the Internet are presented on screen in a rapid kaleidoscope: a multitude of images of concrete reality that convey a state of the world as manifested in the current state of the virtual archive. Viewers are quickly overwhelmed by this incessant flow, the purely arbitrary structure of which is equivalent to the omnipresence of images in our society. A simulation of an encyclopedic intention, Arden’s work shows, above all, the impossibility of such an enterprise, and it exposes the limitations and incoherence of the virtual archive. Schopenhauer’s pessimism, with his vision of circularity and sameness, still appears of great relevance in this period of the invasion and accelerated circulation of images.

In closing, we would like to welcome two new members: Angela Grauerholz, well-known artist and graphic-design professor at UQAM, is joining our board of directors, and Vincent Bonin, artist and archivist at the Fondation Daniel Langlois pour l’art, la science et la technologie, is joining our editorial committee. We would also like to thank André Clément for his work on our editorial committee for the past five years.