18 Mar - 29 Apr 2006

"La matière du mensonge"

From its first work in the early 1990s, Kolkoz has constantly gambled – literally and figuratively – with the effects of simulation. Every one of their works is a
duality – of a reality, a person or a shape – created by modelization. In its simplest form, simulation is a specific mode of generating illusion, as a way to move between a physical and virtual reality. The artistic work undertaken by Kolkoz is based on activating the powers of representation through the transactions and exchanges that occur between what is virtual and what is real.

The Kolkoz Towers, immense virtual towers created by an accumulation of façades of more modest buildings, rises to dizzying heights in cities, as if the favelas or urban renewal areas, which are generally governed by horizontality, had suddenly grown straight up to the sky. Are they monuments to the glory of the destitute, erectile absurdities, architectural marvels or blunders? Whoever seeks a social meaning, however plausible, would be missing the point, as this project, like the others, is less about falsifying or distorting reality than about accentuating and intensifying it to increase its effect. With the Kolkoz Towers, we can speak of speed, links and connections between images that alter reality, as these towers were themselves placed in a mosaic of shots that recreate the context of a city.
Modeled on similar behavior, although more strongly marked by the nature of tourism, comparable mutations are at work in the travel films Hong Kong and New York, which deal as much with the architectural reality of the two cities as with filmed reality. In both films, Samuel and Benjamin move through urban spaces as tourists, traveling from the airport to the hotel, from the hotel to downtown and sometimes as far as the beach, taking taxis, subways and trains. These documents are based entirely on the esthetics of a home movie. In a certain sense, they maintain a close relationship with the sphere of the private world and uphold the authenticity of an actual experience. None of this would be very interesting without the 3D digitization of the images filmed with a DV camera—which profoundly altered the nature of the film. Because the aspects of the hyper-mundane are radically different from those of the mundane. And because the digitized version of the film shifts the touristy experience of their movements from the ordinary to the hyper-ordinary. And hence, all the characteristics of a home movie are contradicted, as is the entire underlying ideology of authenticity.

Forming, transforming, deforming
Hong Kong and New York are therefore mutant films. On the one hand, the perfect simulation of a duplicated reality is threatened by the esthetics of a home movie, which should, however, be its most immediate model. It’s as if the 3D image is weakened by the approximations of the amateur film. On the other, the tourist experience is rendered inauthentic through the digitization of the filmed images, and the home movie’s particular relationship with the truth is lost. This challenges a certain type of belief in images and in their supposed powers.
Transforming the mundane into the hyper-mundane is therefore an esthetic act that has real political impact. First, because improving the powers of reality means that its nature can be profoundly modified through use. Second, transforming the mundane into the hyper-mundane is a gesture in which impact can be viewed as metaphysical, as it incites a reflection on the nature of reality. This is what the films New York and Hong Kong propose by creating a comic tension among the categories of representation, as it makes fun of the connection between an experience and its truth.
The shift from reality to virtual, like that of a photographic or filmed image into 3D, requires the intervention of an agent, the formulation of an act or an action of transformation.
Yet it is not necessary to use a computer modelization or create a formal, mathematical-type model to maintain these transactions between images. The model can be a drawing—in other words, a diagram, the framework of an image—and the interplay of transactions can be determined by an entirely different protocol. The series of Portraits Arabes is a perfect example. The first step is the creation of a mold, a model, which then undergoes a process of formation/deformation. This is followed by an examination of the differences produced, as each new drawing is both a step in the process and a result in and of itself, a new form, a new mold, a new departure for the subsequent drawing. In Portraits Arabes, the methodology selected, by which each image transformed becomes the model for the image to follow, demonstrates that the process of forming or creating form is the same as deforming or unforming. —Christophe Kihm

* Excerpts from Mutations esthétiques, published in the catalogue
Kolkoz, Touristes, Éditions Bookstorming, Léo Scheer, 2005

© Kolkoz
Vue de l'exposition "La matière du mensonge" a la Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, 2006

Tags: Kolkoz