Schleicher + Lange

Laurent Montaron

26 Apr - 28 Jun 2008

© Laurent Montaron, courtesy galerie schleicher+lange, Paris
'Will there be a sea battle tomorrow?', 2008, film (1080i HD), produced by ADN Factory
For his second exhibition at the gallery, Laurent Montaron presents a series of new pieces: a photograph, an installation and a film.

The exhibition opens with a photographic image of a hand throwing ossicles, one of which is suspended in mid-air. In ancient times, such bones were used to predict the future; only later did they come to be used in games of chance and skill. By evoking divining practices, the artist paves the way to a reflection on the notion of the future as determined and predictable.

The light installation exhibited is a device in which two identical bulbs are placed symmetrically on the central axis of a wall. When the nearby switch is pressed, an electronic control circuit triggers an algorithm generating a random choice that determines which of the two bulbs will light up. When the switch is pressed again, the random choice process recommences, lighting up each bulb alternately until the calculation gradually comes to a halt and one of the lights is illuminated, calling to mind a roulette wheel.

The film 'Will there be a sea battle tomorrow?' is a slow, elliptical narrative alternating temporalities and actions. It relates an experiment on the study of individuals' extra-sensory faculties, based on research carried out on the subject by various institutes. One such research centre - the Institute for Parapsychology in Freiburg, Germany - used the very machine that appears in the film. The machine, known as the "Psi-Recorder", is a random number generator used in several experiments relating to clairvoyance, telepathy and precognition. 'Will there be a sea battle tomorrow?' plays out a precognition experiment whose aim is to estabish the ability of the person tested to guess which of five symbols will next be selected at random by the machine set up in an adjacent room.

The precognition test, in its very protocol, raises questions about the relationship between science and belief. The film brings to light not only the possible capacity of the human mind to develop extra-sensory faculties, but also the hypothesis behind the test itself, namely that the future could be predetermined.

The film's title is a question of logic that was posed in Ancient Greece, by Diodorus Cronus, who set out the problem of future contingents. When an assertion is true or false in the present, once applied to the future it becomes an insurmountable question of logic. A dual question concerning the ontological status of the future arises: is our future predetermined or not? Does the existence of the future throw into doubt the foundations of logic?

'Will there be a sea battle tomorrow?' creates a maze of logical and contradictory assertions that cause the spectator to ask fundamental questions, which, although unanswered, poetically put our condition into perspective.

Laurent Montaron's work has been shown recently in Germany, at the Transmediale in Berlin and at the exhibition 'In parallelen Welten' (In Parallel Worlds) at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Siegen. The Freiburg Kunstverein also dedicated a recent solo exhibition to the artist's work. In France, Laurent Montaron participated in the first exhibition of three-part cycle 'Neutre Intense' at the Maison Populaire in Montreuil, curated by Christophe Gallois.

Tags: Laurent Montaron