Red Spot

2003


Hyvinkää, Hyvinkään taidemuseo


Interactive video installation for 2 video-projectors and prints.
3 video editings from 5’’ to 30’.






A still shot of Melanie’s head and upper torso is projected on a screen. Two buttons enable a user to manipulate its figurative aspects. Pressing the first button animates the image and causes the young woman to incline her head in a sharp to-and-fro movement. Pressing the second causes a seagull to appear. The gull strikes the girl aggressively in the head, causing her to lurch forward.

The interactive nature of the device may call to mind the system for triggering the projections in Pandora and Scream. Unlike those installations, however, the visitor exerts a direct influence on a human body displayed in Red Spot. The effect is no longer simply that of making images appear, but a process of altering a figure already on display. Like a puppeteer, the visitor can subject Melanie to his will, manipulating and modifying her environment in a virtual space which has an openly sadistic dimension.

The acts of torture that this interactive process inflicts on Melanie’s body query the attitude of the spectator towards Hitchcock’s film. In the pursuit of sensations the spectator is quite willing to inflict suffering on characters with whom he identifies. His desires influence the unfolding of the works to the point of imperilling the individuals that inhabit them. The payment of an entry fee gives him a financially-derived power over what he watches, legitimising a number of developments that occur in the film. Thus the attack reproduced in Red Spot is not only a transposition of the urges and feelings of the film-maker, his screen writer or even of other characters from The Birds embodied in the actions of the seagull – it also fulfils an explicit expectation of the spectator and involves him at the heart of the events narrated within the fictional framework.

On a more general level, the relationship that the installation establishes with the image of Melanie reflects the visitor’s relationship with the work of art. The analytical and critical dialogue that the work provokes causes it to undergo various basic changes that disrupt its order and its appreciable aspects. A person’s thought can bend and remodel if it chooses not – in a burst of rage – to sacrifice the object that the artist presents for its contemplation. The vulnerable work of art risks subjecting itself in a power relationship, abandoning itself to outside scrutiny and acquiescing to a confrontation that could cause its implosion.

The visitor may discover, on the other side of the screen, a projection of Schjerfbeck’s painting Self-Portrait with Red Spot, which is partly the inspiration behind Hitchcock’s shots. The painting is motionless until the visitor activates it with a hand gesture, whereby it is animated and becomes a filmic image. This interactive process is less aggressive and embodies the pictorial composition. It gives life where the first version of the installation, through its violence, favours an act of death.

However, though there is a creative dimension to the first manipulations of the head and upper torso of Melanie, in that the visitor is invited to become the director and make the character adopt poses inspired by the paintings of Schjerfbeck and Munch, Self-Portrait with Red Spot and a version of Madonna (which are displayed as small reproductions underneath the buttons that the user pushes), this process of incarnation nevertheless conceals its own aspect of violence. It tends to liberate the aggressiveness of the outline and reinforces the process whereby the contours of the pictorial figure within the device are obliterated. The conflict between life and death, movement and immobility generated by this two-sided installation builds on themes utilised both in the projected Hitchcock sequence and in the two compositions that it transposes in its shots.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet