Edouard Taufenbach

Works

LA MÉTHODE // 2020

SPÉCULAIRE // 2018

The images in Edouard Taufenbach’s Spéculaire are pulsing. A vibrating hum draws us towards their surfaces. Inside these images, bodies radiate: an outstretched arm extends, reaching impossibly from a masculine figure at the right of the frame. To the side of a tree, he is about to pluck from its fruits. Dynamic movement is in process, but at the same time about to occur. We follow and sense that which is to come. In another image, a younger boy looks right and faces the water. His left arm is outstretched in an act of pre-emptive balancing, as if his right arm, out of the frame, is primed to throw a stone. We see neither the throwing arm nor its object, but the image is shook: it ripples.

On the threshold, a photograph is present and past. Yet more excitingly, it speaks, also, of a future becoming. Its incidents are recorded and become an aid to memory, but the image is actually a site of potential, if all too rarely explored. Taufenbach’s Aden, with his outreaching arm, shows a moment of choice: to pick from the tree, with the desire to claim and devour; Ricochet, preparing to skim stones, recalls the wish to see our agency make an impact, to reveal consequence in the resulting wave. Neither of these events are completed, but we see their becoming, and we in turn complete them. But the futurity of these images is greater than a small moment. We read them not as specific instances, but as gestures, as acts, which have resonance – a searching, an impacting, a turning towards, and a turning away. When the image is looking forwards, it might show us the that has been, but it conspires to open up something in an unspecified future, a that which is also yet to be, a that which might be. How we act in response is what matters. The artist’s use of the photograph that changes its function, from document to gesture, from report to catalyst.

Drawn from a collection of photographs belonging to French screenwriter and director Sébastien Lifshitz, who invited Taufenbach to respond to and re-think images from his collection, Spéculaire traces a line of re-imagined imagery – photographs which have shifted through multiple purposes, responses and conditions. Photography might enter this space of the that which might be, precisely because it is not the event or person itself. Removed from original context, since those contexts have been lost, given up or abandoned, and removed from being the thing itself, photographs enter a different temporal frame.

Spéculaire’s vernacular snapshots of people at leisure – gathered in groups, in couples and as singular actors – became for Liftshitz a ground for an exploration of desire, sexuality, and intimacy, seeking out a homoerotics of the photograph, which the images provide through complex spaces of public and private exposure. They began however as aide-memoire, as memento and/or as a surrogate, as the photographs of our relationships, those which constitute what the sociologist Pierre Bourdieu identified as a glue between subjects who are distant from one another. With this link undone, speculation about the image begins. Taufenbach comes to these images with only fragments of their former uses intact or available to him.

Art and photography’s obsession with the archive might begin to be explained with a simple observation: the artist is also a collector. This collecting – of objects, but also forms, events, stories and gestures – lies at the root of artistic production, where a view of the world is constructed so that it might, in turn, be shared, encountered, and collected afresh. Taufenbach’s gesture in Spéculaire is to draw attention to the layers of this collecting – from the image-maker, the collector, and the artist, who proposes a new use or view of that image. Taufenbach does so by pointing to a potential in the image, and to make a world from it. It is an opening that draws upon but also diverges from the original gestures of the photograph, as well as Lifshitz’s collecting. Taufenbach animates what Walter Benjamin called ‘the unruly desire to know’, a desire to know the unknowable in the photograph, a curiosity that can only ever partially be captured, as both subject and image ‘will never consent to be wholly absorbed in (the) art (of photography)’. He identifies a precise moment of potential and draws upon montage so that the image can be extended, both connected to and growing distant from its original referents.

Taufenbach’s strategy, adopted from his study of film and media, emerged from his previous project Cinema: Histoires Domestiques. Here, he applied graphic forms which dynamically shifted the focus of an image so that it splintered across several axes, highlighted by vivid colour, which served to construct layers of narrative. In Spéculaire, the dynamics of each image generate a specific internal tension, so that the frame and form emerges centrifugally from within the photograph and not from outside. These elements – an outstretched arm, but also a gang of bodies, shifting scales, or areas of focus – point to gestures and actions, which shift our viewing of the image from a search for the desire to know the specificities of the picture, the who and what of the image which we assume it contains in order to grasp the embodied phenomena of an encounter right now. Sur la plage seems to call us to enter the frame, between the two bodies, to see beyond. It is a gesture which brings us up close to the desire of photographs, to a searching, which we both recognise and enact. Taufenbach may have collected these images, presenting visions, but we find ourselves reflected in them, the photograph made specular.

Spéculaire reveals that photography’s collecting is multiple, as an object to be collected and an act of gathering in itself. The photograph begins as a vicarious capturing – it proposes the collecting of the uncollectible, a sliver of time, an event, even of bodies. But the photographic object itself becomes collected, organised and structured; it is in flux thereafter. This perhaps accounts, in part, for the flickering impression of Taufenbach’s project, reflecting the ever-shifting nature of our images. But our experience of looking at the meeting of image and object in Spéculaire take us also to the mechanics of vision. Each encounter with the image brings us to its vibrating effect. What is its meaning and consequence? Taufenbach animates the image, but constructs it so that content and object co-exist in a tension that reflects the assemblage that is photography. In so doing, his images pierce our curiosity for what is to come. We reflect this as our eye flickers in an echo of the effects of the image, shifting dynamically its focus, to come to terms with an image that is, in our encounter, still moving.

Duncan Wooldridge, 2019

CINEMA : histoires domestiques // 2016

These collages are made from painted photographic reprints. They are inspired by practices of film reappropriation seen in “found footage.” As the name suggests, found footages from ordinary films are reused as a medium, being painted, scratched, and discolored. For this research, I use anonymous vernacular family photographs which I multiply, varying the framing each time. The collage technique allows me to create an object, a form that is both united and fragmented; an organic construction where each image is interesting for itself as much as for the whole to which it contributes.

Between the images, the film


Regarding the work of Edouard Taufenbach: CINEMA : histoires domestiques

« The album of family photographs is a real book, whose pages of images, even scattered, may be skimmed through like a novel. »
Anne-Marie Garat1

The series of collages presented by Edouard Taufenbach under the title Cinema: Home Stories is part of a double belonging: the narrative of the cinema on the one hand and the family novel on the other. Still from a collection of old private photographic prints2 used as triggers for fiction, collages of varying dimensions explore the abilities of a simple domestic photography to generate a narrative, to produce cinema.

Long before its invention in its modern form, cinema (the moving image) had sought its potential places of appearance in optical devices bringing together the magic of illusion and technical pragmatism (from magic lanterns to optical toys). Cinema broadcasts films in a form commonly used throughout the 20th century, the cinematographic show. Its stage is a theatre (the cinema theatre), where viewers come together, always more or less fascinated by the projection device and the shadows that it generates. Edouard Taufenbach's recent work explores the side of the moving image as reel, the film in its materiality: the photographic support, the transparency of the reel, the colour pigments that permeate the surfaces. For each of his projects, from a single photograph, either found, collected or extracted from family archives, he builds a film that is not projected but exhibited, taken apart into geometrically articulated sequences on white panels. Borrowing from iterative music as much as from the structural cinema of Peter Kubelka or Paul Sharits3, from the flicker films as well as the micro rhythms of urban music, Edouard Taufenbach's video and photographic works proceed from the same sequencing gesture which produces a continuous yet composite space-time in which the discrete cuts are smoothed by repetition and loop effects.

Like the sharp tip of a scrutinizing gaze, the oblique lines which organize the surfaces form a rhythmic network (a partition?) which, combined with the repeated original photography, itself reiterated with thin variations, produce a cinematic effect. This effect is hard to name and describe, although it is highly perceptible. The two components of the cinema, the photogram and the unreeling, appear only partially in these "fixed" collages in front of which the viewer is invited unreel by hand a celluloid film tape. From one image to another, the gaze skims through the geometric strips searching for the modifications, the differences, the displacements and the deframings which will lead the photographic fixity to wobble, and draw it towards an optical movement, at the foundation of the cinematographic device. As in cinema, a certain duration is necessary to watch these images to which the careful organisation adds a precious character. Seen from afar, the collages evoke film strips and display the principle of cinema, its mechanics. Seen from up close, they highlight the images and their referent: people, atmospheres, relationships, possible stories, potential life stories. The memorial traces captured in the photographic process are combined with the cinematographic mechanics. The latters are treated pictorially through very precise plays of cuts and montage on the canvas, place of transformations. Here, fiction has found a possibility to build up and the viewer-reader can project his own stories and let real or imagined memories surface into the present. He can thus "se faire des films” as Edouard Taufenbach says, and elaborate freely his own representations. Working on Art.

Françoise Parfait


1 Anne-Marie Garat, Photos de famille, Actes Sud, 2011.
2 Voir la série précédente Hommage2 présentée en 2015 construite à partir d'un album entier de photographies de famille.
3 Qui « exposent » la pellicule sous la forme de Frozen Film Frames sous plexiglas.

HOMMAGE2 // 2015

HOMMAGE2 est un double hommage : à une famille anonyme et au travail d'expérimentation géométrique et chromatique de Josef Albers.

Cette série est composée de 26 collages réalisés à partir d'un seul et unique album de 26 photographies de famille anonyme datant du début du XXeme siècle et acheté aux puces. Chacun des collages – réalisé comme un portrait – est construit par la reproduction et la démultiplication des clichés contenus dans l'album.

Je construits par cette démultiplication une forme précise dérivée de la forme toujours identique des Hommages to the Square et j'applique en peinture vitrail les couleurs de Josef Albers sur les visages anonymes. Une interprétation possible des Hommages to the square de Josef Albers est proposée à travers la forme unique de chaque collage. A l'exception des couples présents dans l'album pour lesquels j'ai alors choisi des Hommage to the square conçue en paire, liant ainsi les personnages de cet album par une forme jumelle. Le déploiement dans une géométrie d'un même portrait démultiplié, coloré, crée une énergie empathique nouvelle et appelle à la mémoire du regardant. Il transpose le portrait singulier originel en une mémoire plus collective.

SFUMATO // 2015

SFUMATO est une installation in situ, immersive. Elle a été présentée dans le cardre du off de la NUIT BLANCHE en 2015, puis en 2016 à l'église Saint-Merry.

Elle se compose de huit vidéos réalisées à partir de captation de différents ciels ; disposées en hémicycle, elles sont déployées comme les panneaux d'un polyptyque. Au commencement de SFUMATO, apparait huit images de ciel, nettes, verticales et de forme cintré — lentement des nuages s'y déplacent. Lentement aussi et à des rythmes différents, les images de chaque vidéo semblent se brouiller ; leurs contours deviennent incertains, leurs sujets disparaissent, comme si une force de gravité les faisait s'effondrer.

Au terme des vidéos — pour chacune singulier — l'image semble eÌ‚tre aspirée vers le centre et disparait. Puis la boucle boucle, et de nouveau apparait un ciel net, réel. S'organise ainsi des cycles, ouÌ€ les vidéos (selon leurs durées) se terminent ou recommencent en meÌ‚me temps ; créant un panorama, composé, ouÌ€ huit métamorphoses de ciels en cieux s'ouvrent et se fanent — achroniques.

Ce dispositif visuel est accompagné d'une création sonore réalisée par Paul Braillard. Méditatives, minimales, les sonorités composées se joignent aux images pour immerger le spectateur. La présentation du présent devient représentation. L'image devient impression, sensation. Des ciels du début adviennent: traces, formes et abstractions, champs laissés libres à l'imaginaire. Dans la contemplation du Ciel, l'homme projète ses reÌ‚ves, aspirations et angoisses, — paradis et apocalypse — conjointement unis dans le tournoiment des volutes qui nous surplombent.

Le travail vidéo réalisé pour SFUMATO, à l'instar du sfumato en peinture, se fait par l'accumulation de plusieurs couches. Il est obtenu par la superposition de chaque vidéo à elle-meÌ‚me un grand nombre de fois, à une échelle de plus en plus petite et avec un très léger décalage temporel d'une couche à l'autre. Cette construction progressivement strati ée de l'image — les couches apparaissent au fur et à mesure — transforme les ciel originellement lmés en halos lumineux. L'empilement progressif de strates pour chaque vidéo dessine en leur sein des coÌ‚nes — comme ceux des projections mais en sens inversé. Les cadres cintrés des vidéos deviennent alors des perspectives — les plans de projection deviennent des volumes, des ailleurs : univers arrière des images, foisonnant et sensible, ouÌ€ celles-ci disparaissent.

La durée des huit vidéos de SFUMATO est fondée sur le rapport de proportion 3/2 ; chaque vidéo mesure moitié plus que la précédente. Ce choix crée dans l'installation un dialogue entre les vidéos, un jeu d'alignement, de cycle, et d'éclipse. Ainsi lorsqu'une vidéo se répète trois fois elle se réaligne avec la vidéo suivante qui elle s'est répétée deux fois. La durée des vidéos est de 2'50 pour la Ière (la plus courte) à 48'24 pour la VIIIème (la plus longue), et la durée de la boucle totale — ouÌ€ toutes les vidéos se réalignent — est elle supérieure à quatre jours.

La composition sonore de Paul braillard est réalisée elle aussi par des processus de superposition, elle dure le temps 1% de la boucle total : 62 minutes.

Trace

AUTO MOBILE

Partant d'un point de vue évoquant celui d'un poste de Video-surveillance, AUTO MOBILE propose un voyage au travers de l'image. En se démultipliant et se stratifiant, cette Video décompose rigoureusement tous les éléments présents dans son champ.

De la réalité filmée nait alors une abstraction nouvelle, magnétique, qui attire le regard tout en donnant l'impression de s'éloigner, détruisant ainsi tout les repères spatio-temporels.

FROM A TRAIN

Réalisé en 2014, FROM A TRAIN est le second volet d'une trilogie de vidéo. Créé en suivant un protocole choisi, ouÌ€ se superpose un grand nombre de fois l'image vidéo à elle-meÌ‚me, ces vidéos ont pour vues d'ex- plorer des pistes de représentation de la perception, altérées par les notions de souvenir et de réminiscence. Elle a été présentée en compétition au Festival VidéoFormes à Clermont-Ferrand en 2015.

WATER MEMORIES

FAIRE DU SOUVENIR UNE FORME // 2014

Serendipity

La découverte imprévue de photographies négligées, oubliées, matériau transcendant du circuit d'autonomie d'ouÌ€ la mémoire se sauve par l'absence.
L'objet, sujet, impermanent encore, vole comme le vent, source immanente de notre ignorance.
De nos opinions.
De notre inconscient collectif.
Chacun ici, faisant face à un possible passé, repère des identi cations au-delà de la répétition, inscrivant un futur, là où l'expérience devient document, témoignage.
Autant de lieux physiques qui abritent le destin.
Investis et sensés, nous sommes brillants.
Vernis.
De cette peinture sublime et transparente qui, comme un vitrail, nous rend présents.
Maintenant et à la bonne heure.
OuÌ€ commence la mémoire, ouÌ€ commence l'imagination ?
D'où vient l'avenir ?
Et comment exprimer mieux le désir ?
Le bonheur d'avoir vécu, la possibilité d'une existence magni que quand les vivants surpassent de leur pouvoir de vie, la mort ?
Quand la trace se fait source de nos sensations, multipliée.
Energies élémentales, illusions, vacuité ou peur du vide et pourtant...

Pascal Geoffrois

Videography

Collab'

CHANEL // 2019

CACTUS X TER ET BANTINE // 2018

#TFWGucci // 2017

I'M A CLICHÉ - GONG 3000 - JONATHAN KUSUMA // 2014

About

Since 2014, I have been pursuing a formal work based on photographs. The desire was not to produce my own but rather to rework existing images in the manner of an editor.

I started making collages following the discovery of abandoned vernacular photographs. My attention first focused on shapes and colours. After some initial attempts with images of my own family, I imagined a series linking an anonymous album to Josef Albers' Homages to the Square.

The observation of a large number of photographs - learning how to look - then made me want to construct stories. In CINEMA: domestic stories, I tried to deploy the narrative capacities of the images through reframing games. The repetition of shapes, like photograms on film, imitated the sequencing work of the camera and gave meaning to their movement.

The encounter with Sébastien Lifshitz's collection shifted this preoccupation with fiction to a work on the subjectivity of perception. In Specular, the moving image uses fragmentation and scale games in the service of physical and optical sensations.

Parallel to this work on photography, I pursued a video practice centered on the medium. Filming is reduced to the simplest possible form to give way to interventions in the image built on repetition and damage. In From a Train, a layered montage transforms the movement of the train into a sensation, as in Sfumato, where videos of skies are put into perspective and extend the gaze.

Through accumulation, framing, juxtaposition and repetition, I seek to deploy the formal and fictional potential of the images. The obsession remains linked to the activation of memory, reminiscence and the sensation of movement.

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