Benoît Buquet, Ten notes for Deux visions, 2014

1. Let’s explore the world []. Geoguessr The game, created by the Swedish Anton Wallén, is entirely based on Google Street View. Dropped randomly on the planet, the player must find where he is with the greatest accuracy possible pointing it at the map. If the user does not have the chance of getting in an urban center, he travels the roads searching for a sign, a signage an alphabet, an advertising track, a vernacular element to supply the vegetal environment that often does not give enough information. In most cases an atmosphere of anxiety emerges mixed with the deep boredom to browse through the countryside or the desert on a screen, digital peregrination punctuated by the occasional encounter of frozen characters, blurred. What is the nature of this monster image that seems to deny any framing that deploys to infinity and fulfill a sort of holistic fantasy? The triad Google Earth, Google Map and Google Street View would pass almost all photographic assignments for trivial epiphenomenas. What to extract from Google Street View [GSV]?

2. Deux visions is a series started in late 2012 The principle is of a formidable simplicity.; Caroline Delieutraz selects one of the photographs of La France by Raymond Depardon from the pocket edition and add the closest equivalent found on GSV. The localization, which may take half a day for the artist, then the screenshot, define the new frame. It would be wrong to see in Deux visions a simple stealing. The Photography of Depardon is used here as a beacon; it dictates its law but will necessarily be informed or weakened in return. From the point of view of forms and contents, we must admit the absence of polarity between the two images, even a change of season does not lead to any real contradiction. An abyss, hardly commensurable, separates these two images and their plan of visuality.

3. From 2004 to 2010 Raymond Depardon traveled in France in his Trigano van. He parsimoniously chooses the location to set his photographic chamber. “Slowly, he wrote, I went to the public space,to the lived space, to the territory.” The shots from the photographic chamber, posture that Depardon considers as “the essence of the photographic act in itself,” condition a particular framing. Since 2006, Google hybrid cars runs territories always better equipped. The Google Car slowly breaks free from the driver and continues its systematic absorption of the landscape with its fifteen lenses and automated shootings from a height of 2.40 meters. Caroline Delieutraz often comes with a story, or rather say a latent possibility: “Google Car and Depardon’s van may have crossed a day.” The images Caroline Delieutraz confronts are indeed very weakly asynchronous ; The intensity of Deux visions comes largely from this very special temporality. There is of course a new way of thinking the re-photography between appropriationism and Then & Now type documentary practice.

4. The Google’s way of photographing is radically opposed to the statement of Depardon. If we want to make connections with the field of art and go with anachronism, GSV could echo the attempt of unsubjectivisation fairly typical of American art from 1960-1970. I think for example, of Ed Ruscha, especially of the books Twentysix Gasoline Stations (1963), Some Los Angeles Apartments (1965) and, of course, Every Buildings on the Sunset Strip (1966). In the last one, the layout of the photographs and their discontinuity on the accordion format is not without evoking the photographs connections on GSV. These covering or offset effects are sometimes present in the screenshots of Caroline Delieutraz as evidenced for example by this unexpected typographical concretion on the sign SANIJURA.

5. Caroline Delieutraz betrays Depardon because she “locates” precisely the screenshot by the https address, while the photographer was satisfied, at best, by a reference to a municipality. Geographer Michel Lussaut emphasizes that for Depardon “the “where?”, inquisitor of the location is repudiated in first intention.” We have understood that the intentionalities differ. It is extremely troubling to try to “find” approximatively the framing of Depardon, lost in the overhang of the image. If the internet link discovered by Caroline Delieutraz still allows the geolocation of place today, we will not find necessarily the same image captured by the artist. Google servers database are regularly updated. In some cases, Caroline Delieutraz’s screenshot becomes the relic of the Google Car passage, until the very likely widespread exhumation by Google because since a few days, GSV incorporates a Time Travel feature. This is particularly noticeable if you compare for example the montage of the “Prairie de la Rencontre (Prairie of the Meeting)”, on which we see from far away, the equestrian statue of Napoleon 1st, and seven views, between April 2008 and February 2011, now available on GSV.

6. Each constituent part of Deux visions is both a kind of diptych and an address to move in the fixity.

7. We can almost always notice about artists working with Google Street View, that they must find a pulse to the making, a protocol to extract the image from the continuum. Jon Rafman stalks incongruities indiscretions; Mishka Henner, prostitutes; Michael Wolf, the Eiffel Tower or the rude fingers ; Doug Rickard, stricken American suburbs; Nicholas Mason, snowstorms and powdered skies. Caroline Delieutraz uses Depardon to reach, too, the state of capture and break with the fascination as the totalitarian anguish related to the Google project.

8. Deux visions never gets rid of the double image, which clearly differentiates the book series Raymond La France self-published by photographer Anders Pascal in March 2014. Caroline Delieutraz does not conceive the GSV screenshot without simultaneous confrontation with Depardon’s photography. In this and even though GSV does not get at any time in the game, Joachim Koester’s Histories (set of six diptychs, 2003-2005, FRAC Bretagne) seems to me now the most interesting re-photographing attempt to highlight. Displaying the book page photography on one side and the updated one of the represented place on the other side, Joachim Koester questions finely some photo conceptualism icons, particularly evidenced by this incredible Ed Ruscha, 6565 Fountain Ave. The house seems empty forever, Fountain Blu lettering has disappeared from the front but the space is still for rent, the 1965 now renting turns however into now leasing in 2005.

9. For the exhibition Stereo view at the gallery 22.48 m2, Caroline Delieutraz has decided to show for the first time Deux visions into frames. The few formal similitudes between this new display and the framing on 19th century cardboards, in which two nearly identical photographic views were arranged side by side, explain the choice of the title of the exhibition. The stereoscopic cards were however not meant to be framed; the double image should be viewed with an optical device to suddenly form one image, giving the illusion of relief. The flourishing market and the success of stereoscopic views led quickly to publishing stereograms piracy since 1857. But doesn’t the power of fascination come primarily from the simple repetition of the image, from its dual nature? This question is more strongly asked today because our access to historical copies is not necessarily provided with the binocular viewfinder. This connection with Deux visions also comes with contrast, since here no simultaneous recording, no recovery and no illusion merge the two images. The relief is neither optical nor sound, it still seems possible to use metaphors such as buzzing or Larsen effect to describe these corrupting parasite images. The title Stereo view embeds both an outdated materiality and a rock side. It counterbalances and accompanies then the post Internet dimension of the exhibition. I would be careful, however, to give a precise definition of “post Internet”. Indefinite extension term that provides for more than five years as the paradigm of extreme contemporaneity, everyone seems to manipulate more or less consciously the extension to fit their own interests.

10. On the wall of the gallery, a screenshot printed cohabits with a torn page of the book La France de Raymond Depardon; behind the frame that houses the two images is the https address. The amputee pocket book is presented in the same exhibition, it reflects the passage from the codex form to the canvas form, Internet becoming the mode of percolation. The historical practice of re-photographing moves again in a game of mobility and re-materialization, informed by the Net-art and digital visual culture, the liquidity flows and the persistence of white cube. Post Internet?

Benoît Buquet, exhibition catalogue Stereo View, éd. 22,48m², Avril 2014.
22,48m² editions