Eric Rondepierre is a French conceptual artist with a doctorate in Aesthetics whose images recently caught my attention.
Aside: I would love to have “Doctorate in Aesthetics” on my resume.
In the early 1990s Eric Rondepierre started exploring the blind spots of cinema. His intervention consisted in choosing frames (the images that are projected at a rate of 24 per second on the screen, and that are invisible in a normal screening) in accordance with clearly defined criteria, and then excerpting them and showing them as large-format photographic prints. This economy of the image, which is often defined as “conceptual,” brings into play several different registers (text, painting, cinema, photography) with a rigour that does not exclude strangeness or humour.
Since 2002 his work has branched out. The artist has begun using his own images, recomposing them in combination with his texts or drawings, or with appropriated images from the cinema. His recent writings have also extended into other fields such as fiction and autobiography.
In this series, Eric Rondepierre breaks with his usual procedure of sampling and “reprising views.” He composes his images himself using digital technology. The photographs were composed using the artist’s novel “Dormeurs”. The 156,000 keystrokes of this fiction were used to bitmap the image, and can be made out when one looks more closely. Each of the eleven photographs contains the whole book.
“Suites” extends “Diptyka”. The fact of straddling two consecutive film frames invites the gaze to hesitate between two spaces. It is a kind of montage made by “reprising the view” in a staggered way, without manipulation. The fourteen photographs of the “Suites” series come from the archives of the Lausanne film library. Two of them, in Cinemascope format, were de-anamorphised by computer.
This series of photos was taken on a train between Frankfurt and Cologne. The artist was alone in the carriage. He opened the windows all the way down and took three films of the scenery flying past. Later, he chose some ten shots in which the line of the earth’s horizon coincides with the bar of the window, leaving the sky empty above it. The Stances (from the Latin stans, sto, stare: to stand or remain) are numbered 1 to 10 and are all (including the black-and-white ones) printed on Ilfochrome paper.
The Trente étreintes (Thirty Embraces) come from a minute-long sequence found in the archives of the Bologna film library. We see the image of a couple deteriorating and the figures metamorphosed by the marks that time has made on the film. The artist chose thirty frames (out of more than a thousand). Each piece is autonomous and numbered. The ensemble can be exhibited as a single bloc.
There is something really haunting and romantic about Eric’s images.
I think his work is interesting to examine because to some extent I feel like it raises a discussion surrounding the degree to which/necessity of/or role an artist’s hand has in the creation of art..or the “WHAT IS ART?!” question on the macro level. If you take it to the nth degree some could argue you could pick up a piece of litter off the street and call it “art”. Can anyone tell you it isn’t? Remember this?
At the end of the day, many of Eric’s pieces are selected frames of pre-existing films. So do we laud the movie director? Or the artist? Both? If we take a look at Thirty Embraces, this series showcases an exchange that may have been overlooked in the original film, but the way the artist has slowed and almost preserved time, it enables the viewer to take in the scene in a different way. It redirects and refocuses your attention, moves you, and elevates the characters’ brief embrace in a way that the original footage might not have had a chance to.
In a world that is so quick, multitask oriented, and perpetually on the move, I like seeing an artist take the time to slow things down and appreciate the subtleties and beauty of a few seconds of decaying footage. ♥