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The Black-Body Radiation
Laurent Grasso [see all titles]
Les presses du réel Contemporary art [see all titles]
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Preface
Marc-Olivier Wahler
(p. 7)


I often watch films with the sound turned off. Or vice versa, I cut out the image and just listen to the sound. In either case, the film's not there for its own sake. It has turned into a projection surface, an instrument of transition. I don't even try to imagine a new scenario – there's no point in simply replacing one story by another. What counts is the almost instantaneous segue from one scenario to the next, which folds and dilates in parallel to audio and visual variations.

Film as rumour.

And this is what Laurent Grasso's work brings to mind. Any particular fixed point on which one might attempt to concentrate dissolves into a permanent glissando. A cloud invades a street; a drone whirls around among static footballers; a landscape is shot through at the speed of a hawk.

The subject may be given, but it is obstinately evasive, like the murmuring of a crowd. And this feeling grows when the artist removes a subject from its cinematographic context. HAARP, which originated in the American research programme of the same name on the ionisation of the upper atmosphere, is in the first place a video work, an incursion into this famous field of antennas which is suspected of disturbing the climate and influencing human behaviour. In Grasso's identical reproduction of the forest-like array, the subject is no longer an entity in transition. It has become palpable, immobile, ready to be studied; and thus, also, ready to take on all the powers that rumour has ascribed to it.

The subject is given. It may seem anchored in our reality like a fixed point in time and space, but in fact this is a false impression. A fixed point is an illusion, as we have long known – in Einstein's words, “There are no fixed points in the universe” – but it is generally seen as a useful illusion, in the sense that it protects us from schizophrenia. Clearly, the world cannot be regarded as a series of points forming lines. It manifests itself through tangential effects and velocity differentials, dealing in connections and traversing strata.

In a perpetual sideslip, with the speed of a hawk.

Laurent Grasso's realm of reference remains, as it were, off-screen. And the voice-over that reactivates the works around which this book is articulated constitutes the sound track of an editorial project which, like Grasso's approach in general, comes across as being in a constant state of flux.
 
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