Québec, Manif d’Art 4

Video installation for 6 video-projectors (or 5 TV sets and 1 video-projector) and 2 fans.
5 video editings, 21 mn 53 each and 1 video editing, 30 sec.

Five series of extracts from North by Northwest play in slow motion on five monitors embedded next to each other in a wall. They overlook several details of Turner’s Snow Storm – Steam Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth, making signals to the coast and advancing using soundings in the shallow water. The images of the paiting are projected on to the floor of the installation. The wind of the storm, the ebb and flow of the tide and matter and the circular movement of Turner’s composition are the elements presented in various forms at the centre of the installation. They affect the composition of the shots playing out on the screens, their montage and the exchanges that the juxtaposition of the monitors within the exhibition space create between the images that they disperse.

Alongside the simultaneous projection of several extracts of film, the use of slow motion and the ruptures in the montage represented by black screen pauses cause various perceptual disruptions which, in their own way, echo the notion of the storm. Their implications are made particularly acute in the characters from North by Northwest, who are shown at different stages of their personal journeys.

The notion of the storm is expressed differently in each of the five montages showing in the installation. The extract of film playing on the third and fourth monitors transposes the composition of Turner’s painting. This reference is constructed within an exchange between the characters played by Cary Grant and Eva Marie Saint, each of whom has their own monitor screen. Given that it occupies the central space of the installation, the confrontation between the protagonists is presented as the eye of the storm. It is this confrontation that dictates the nature of the images and the point at which they appear on the three other screens.

The first of the five screens, located on the farthest left of the installation, shows several extracts from the famous sequence from the film where Cary Grant’s character is pursued by an aeroplane to Prairie Stop. These images present the idea of danger ensuing from the encounter. Smoke and explosions echo the motifs that appear concurrently on the central screens where Cary Grant is seen striking a match and Eva Marie Saint, exhaling tobacco smoke. A love scene between the protagonists is playing out on the fifth screen on the other side of the wall. This scene is a further recognition of the romantic shockwaves that their coming together generates within each of them.

The second screen shows shots taken from the same sequence used in the third and fourth screens. It introduces a series of motifs which develop close rapports with the subject or the elements of Turner’s painting. For example, the name of the painter appears fleetingly. If the film were playing at normal speed it would not be readable. However, due to the slow motion effect it is quite visible.

In another incarnation of the installation the screens playing the five extracts are laid out differently. Set out as though piled up on top of each other they are distributed in three rows containing one or two monitors. This change in the organisation of the shots helps redefine the relationships between the shots. The modification of factors external to the shots themselves constructs new exchanges of gaze between the characters distributed among the screens and conveys a different sense of their gestures and movements. In this variation, the reproduction of the Turner painting is projected on to the ceiling, where it moves about slowly.

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Copyright © 2016 Laurent Fiévet