creating representative universes that could take the onlooker as an essential element of the narrative

— So What?

Introduction for the exhibition catalogue Future Cinema, ZKM, MIT Press, 2002-2003

Fiction and narrative seem to be two parallel lines in my personal history, lines that, curiously enough, seem to be made up of virtuality, long before it became a technological aim and purpose. The virtual, and I had first no notion of it, deeply altered what I was doing in the field of video during the 80s. Beside the art installations that were more devoted to the apparatus than to pre-established scenarios I then tried to produce, I have developed a specific writing based on the situation itself. In a series of documentaries about Art ( Pieces à conviction , 1985), I placed the artist I interviewed in the middle of a situation I could not controlled any longer and that triggered off reactions, sometimes revealing their inner self and often puzzling to the onlooker. The time devoted the 3D animation movies, with the creation of a series of short films, The Quarxs (1990-1993), one of the first 3D CG series in the world, made and produced with the cooperation of François Schuiten enabled me to seize the idea that the topic of fiction could become the explanation of the world; as far as The Quarxs is concerned, it was the explanatory evidence of the imperfection of the world. To put it in a nutshell, the links between fiction and reality were not to be found on a one-way path. The doubtful links between illusion, that is representation, and scientific evidence could, as such, be the objects of questions. The questioning situation , if we consider the space attributed to the onlooker, could then become one of the purposes of the artistic practice, backed by specific techniques that came from virtual reality, techniques that opened onto a huge chance of creating representative universes which could take the onlooker in consideration and see them as an essential element of the narrative.

We would then glide from the onlooker to the actor, from look to action [the action of the mouse-click generated by users of CD ROMs], from acting to being . That creation, created as such, take us into account for what we are. It takes our condition towards a physical world and it becomes our condition towards a representation. In such devices as the installation series The Big Questions , 1994-1996, Is God Flat? , and And What about Me? , the world offered to us is the aftermath of our own presence as visitors and not only the result of our actions (the way we act/ what we do) as actors. Their geometrical structures, their semantic topography/ geography/localisation/loci (cf. The Tunnel Under The Atlantic ) are the results of our presence and their meanings are the results of the way we behave and not only of the way we could act if we pretended to be what we are not. In these situations what I called ‘Situation Art’, and that is different from video games and role plays that seem to develop as major narrative genres, we stay as we really are, and we do not pretend to be someone else -namely the hero of the game-and act as if we were them. World Skin and Crossing Talks, Communication Rafting are both physical and metaphorical situations that lead us to a questioning of the world around us. Crossing Talks as well as Les Tunnels, creates communicative situations in which everybody writes a framed-slice of life called fiction as they live them. Narrative virtual is thus the introduction to a becoming amid techniques of representation. Both the complex factor and the embodiment come from the onlookers themselves and the represented world has to adapt itself to their singularity.

maurice benayoun 2003

Related Works