An installation by Romain Tardy

Music by Loran Delforge

Production: Signal festival Prague
Coordination & project management: ANTIVJ
Hybernia Opera house, Prague, Czech Republic, October 2013.
Installation version of #DÉFILÉ premiered in 2017.

#DÉFILÉ is a large format audiovisual installation featuring a structure in the form of an Internet browser suspended against a building. Its first public presentation was held during Signal festival in Prague, Czech Republic, in October 2013.

An evolving installation, #DÉFILÉ is part of a group of works in progress that depicts the state of flux in which the arrival of the internet has immersed us, resulting in major changes in our relationship to reading text, as well as our ways of communicating, reflecting and presenting ourselves socially.

#DÉFILÉ begins with a preface in the form of text, read by a digital voice as it appears on screen, and takes on a visual progression through the giant web browser and building, which are used to support the projection. Following the logic of an essay that is visual rather than written, the video that recreates the installation returns to this technique of digital collage used abundantly in #DÉFILÉ, creating a hybrid object that is both a documentation of the installation in situ and a film in itself.

Original architectural installation in Prague ↓

Indoor version of the project, with additional lightboxes ↑

#DÉFILÉ takes on the notion that our language increasingly blends textual and visual elements to communicate across networks — and does so organically. Today, it is perfectly common to send one another images to express emotion, punctuate our sentences with smileys or emojis to convey intention (which is often hard to grasp without this visual addition), or share a meme to provoke laughter or indicate irony, all while relying upon a recognizable reference symbol. These may be signs of a post-verbal language, a possibility now technically (and perhaps socially) conceivable.

The preface of the work evokes this phenomenon of cultural mutation, which was foreseen in the ’70s, before the arrival of the Internet, by ethologists like Richard Dawkins, who coined the term “meme.”

#DÉFILÉ also plays with the complex inversion of the relationship we have with the unique object that is the web browser, and questions its status.

What happens when we move an object with which we cultivate a private, even intimate, relationship (the internet experience being almost always single-user) into a public and physical space?
The relationship with the web browser finds itself radically inverted here: we have passed from a malleable and seemingly immaterial element to its dominating physical representation.

This idea is seen in the technique of videomapping, which seeks to extract the synthetic images from the computer and bring them into the tangible space of videoprojection. This play of superimposition of brief images and physical support allows us to observe the encounters and potential frictions between these two worlds.

Inspired by the works of contemporary artists such as Camille Henrot and Bertrand Lavier, who is overtly referenced in this installation through one of his Disney Sculptures, #DÉFILÉ explores the visual identity of a “post-pop” mass culture, whose consumers are also its creators.

A space without defined borders, the Internet imprints its nebulous character onto the way we conduct ourselves: how do we organize, classify, and level what we see there to make it intelligible?
What statements can we draw when a master’s painting and an advertisement are posted without distinction online? We see this juxtaposition in the Venus de Milo and the bust of Julius Caesar standing alongside an unlikely series of faucets, all three the results of a search for “sculpture” on Google 3D images.

Finally, #DÉFILÉ evokes new forms of narration that emerged from digital practices, particularly the Internet. Here, action flows without any interaction from the public, which watches these popup windows materialize and fade as if it were a film. By treating the succession of heterogeneous paintings in the most fluid possible way, so that it could be the fruit of an inevitable logic, #DÉFILÉ attempts to question the notion of “apparent logic” that is omnipresent in the digital and Internet culture. From Powerpoints to Youtube recommendations, what is our freedom in original thought, when everything is made to give us the impression that we understand what goes on around us?

Full press release available here (English & French)

Pictures 4 & 5 courtesy Alexander Dobrovodský