In the darkness of his laboratory, Patrick Bailly-Maître-Grand, an ex-physicist once a painter, strives to marry shadow and light.Attached to the notion of the object, this talented tinkerer explores the universe of analogue photography, revealing its inexhaustible riches.
Never has the reality of the image been so well captured. In the film by Jean-Marc Gosse, light is a blade that removes visible matter. From one take to the next, the illuminated portion of the shot tapers and thins. First, the light is surface, behind the panes of the studio, before channelling itself into the neon light of a cylinder to end up, densified, in the form of a ray that escapes from a small cavity, in which a figurine has been placed. In stages, the light becomes concentrated and returns the space to its native darkness. In this illuminated interval, the statuette is visible and rotates on its base. The lateral movement of the camera renders its appearance fleeting, its face humanized by so much mystery.
Thus, the screen is no longer a window to a world, but a slit through which it enters and reaches us, transformed.
The photographer works, or rather, as his voice says off-screen, he tinkers. He assembles, tightens, unscrews, adjusts. Each gesture is captured in close-up, in its technicality. On the side of an analogue camera, a thumb triggers a take. A hand works a lever, bringing a humanoid to life, whose articulated arms throw sparks. The process is filmed throughout and then, sooner or later, connected to the result it produces. But this connection is singular, as is the method. Upstream of the technical procedure that the shooting requires, it is a process that the artist implements and allows to happen. His task is to put the fertile alliance of two elements to work. Thus, one finger then two plunged into the water print wide circles onto the surface, which criss-cross one another and expand. The camera films these modulations up close, toying with the variations in angle. At times the hand looms like a shadow, leaving the material to the water, at times it finds in the water the luminescence that gives it back a certain shape and density.
Of these optical phenomena, the photographic image retains the trace and arises, like a vision, in a fixed, frontal plane. Fixed, but not frozen. The photograph has its genesis superimposed onto it by the montage, thereby prolonging within it the process from which it came. Within it, the waves or sparks are still vivid. Superimposition allows the film to reveal what is enclosed in the photographic print: an animated image of the phenomenon that gave birth to it. But photography also reveals the thing photographed: an apparition whose precious variations the eye delights in observing.
Bourges -14 January 2019
With an agrégation in philosophy and a PhD in the semiology of texts and images, Sylvie Lopez-Jacob teaches at secondary school, and at the National Superior School of Art of Bourges.Her long-standing focus has been on bringing the encounter between art and philosophy to fruition. Cinema remains a privileged field of investigation in her lectures and articles. She has led numerous educational projects centred on questions of aesthetics in collaboration with painters, playwrights and writers including Yves Michaud, Pierre Bergounioux, Claude Viallat and Claude Lévèque...
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