Éloge du Vert
(Homage to the Color Green)
VOX, Montréal, Canada, 2013
Éloge du Vert is a meditation on the color green, which is not seen as pure color, but as a mix of multiple shades of green leaning toward blue or yellow that a painter can recreate by mixing variable amounts of blue and yellow with white and black. That extreme variability was an irresistible motivation to chronicle the fragmented landscape I see around me. The drier the climate, the more silvery the green of the leaves, which are often also darker and smaller, while in more humid locations, green turns saturated, lighter and fuller.
It was in the torrid summer of 2006 in France that I started collecting photographs and videos about a color that I am expecting to change as global warming accelerates. I am fascinated by images of what could vanish. That has been my principal impulse since my first photograph in 1963. Observing the changing tones of green affected by higher temperature and lower levels of humidity was an interesting experiment to do, as you don’t know, until you place images of the same motif taken in different years side by side, whether your guesses about color changes will be confirmed. The difference across several years is slow, and the change is not shown by a movement, like in a movie, but by a collage, like in a composite print.
The architectural space for the installation Éloge du Vert cannot be viewed in one glance when one enters the room and discovers the digital prints lining the room walls as well as three standing walls used as film screens. The room center, defined by the space between those three walls, is a void, and a magnet, because of its bright light.
We perceive the same color differently on a static image and on a moving one, so the installation includes both color photographs and color moving images. Color—any color, not just green—needs a neutral white light (like photographic daylight) to be seen with no distortion introduced by the ambient light, which in a gallery or museum is primarily yellow. That is why I decided to use the video projector light, which is photographic daylight, as the light source for the prints shown on the walls. The viewer gravitates to the prints when they are lit by the blank film screen projecting pure white light, or to the film projection on the three screens. I have created an apparatus that requires the viewer to be reactive to stimuli of light rather than to thematic associations between two sources of images that cannot be seen at the same time. But those associations will still occur randomly, depending on when the viewer shifts his or her glance from the still images to the filmed images.
I am interested in creating distraction and fragmentation of the viewing apparatus.
Landscape is never still. Changes occur slowly, year by year.
I am aiming at making those changes visible. Éloge du Vert is a project dedicated to a concept of time that is about slow change.