The Analogue and the Abstract

Each in its way, the works in this issue’s portfolio speak of photography and analogue images by inscribing them in other artistic media (digital simulation, film, video, sculpture, painting). The imprint of light is thus materialized in abstract, simplified forms that multiply the images’ referential registers while relativizing the privileged link between photography and the real. In fact, the notion of reality itself is complexified when we take into consideration the materiality of its representations.

Thomas Ruff’s images, made with digital 3D imaging software, are presented as an updating of the abstract photograms developed by members of the 1920s avant-gardes. By translating objects, light, and emulsion into binary data, Ruff produces new, abstract, colourful very-large-format images that stretch the limits of the genre and radically abolish its presumptions. The abstraction of these works is no longer related to the tracing of an object on an exposed light-sensitive surface but refers to a type of image that is part of our cultural history.

The works in Dazibao’s double exhibition this past summer present competing perceptual ambiguities: we are no longer able to figure out exactly what we are looking at, or what we should see, unless it is an image in the process of being made. Lorna Bauer and Jon Knowles’s animated images highlight the minimal conditions for perception of the object and the appearance of form starting from darkness and matter. On the other hand, in her video installation and sculptures Jacinthe Lessard-L. presents enigmatic images and shapes that are difficult to decipher, placing the camera’s dark chamber at the core of the image. Represented here are the very processes of perception and representation.

Henri Venne’s photographs take painting as their subject: abstract paintings whose glazed surfaces are like light-sensitive plates that capture the reflections of an approximate landscape, which are then fixed in photographs. His images show the materiality of the paint and magnify its effects, by literally substituting photograph for painting. Abstract painting, which was founded on the idea of a radical distancing from the real, a non-representation, is now re-invoked as an object of representation, inscribed in the multiple strata of images to form a reality that becomes as redolent with significance as that of our natural environment.

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On another note, we are pleased to announce that Alexis Desgagnés has joined the magazine’s team as associate editor. Until recently artistic director of Centre Vu in Quebec City, Alexis is an art historian specializing in photography and has a doctoral degree – and is also an artist – who has been contributing to Ciel Variable regularly for a number of years.Translated by Käthe Roth

Jacques Doyon
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