It is enough to go out, and especially in the streets of major capitals where humanity circulates in all its forms, to be able everywhere to face “the unknown”, to what could enrich our lives with new knowledge, discoveries that could even, why not until we know, change the course of our lives.
But it is still necessary to consider this unknown, to question it at least with a glance, to realize it.
However, in modern societies, the tendency is to want to defend oneself from looking at the unknown, to deny the evidence to assert its individual exception.
The norm invites us to look away and, as in return, since it is human – and animal – stronger than ourselves to look, not to lose sight of what would make us who we are. It reduces our field of vision and our existence to the place we would occupy in “society”. It leads us to be content with it, to no longer consider “our neighbors”, but only “our loved ones”, that is, at best, those with whom we accept to lock ourselves in, if not those who find themselves locked up with us by a force of things such as work or misery.
How did we get here? Even if we start from the philosophical postulate, as debatable as its opposite, that man is fundamentally evil and that we must therefore protect him from the other as from himself, from his wild or animal side, if we want to be able to envisage the least “society”, we quickly see that the rules and the “protective” laws put in place in the name of the postulate allow diving — or is diving? — an ever greater majority in a growing, very real insecurity, not proceeding from a principle, not fantasized, a social, physical and psychological insecurity, which reduces most to try to survive in a world forbidding any horizon, in a barricaded world, limited by a minority who wants nothing to do with poverty and who erects walls everywhere to protect itself from it.
Under these conditions, how can we imagine that such a withdrawal into oneself could be sufficiently assumed and even accepted?
How can we pretend to believe that when everything seems to indicate otherwise. The multiplication of projects of illusions — which one would like to make take for their opposite, for other “realities”, especially those of “virtual reality”, betrays the human expectation to which they are supposed to respond: to find a place of choice, to allow oneself to interact in every way with the unknown, to make the acquaintance and to enjoy it, as much as possible, sometimes without any limit, without the least regulation provided.
Giving us to see others who come into contact in our place, even to tear themselves apart, is a constant. After the circus games, those of the stadium and up to reality TV, promoting our existence by proxy is not new. To be maintained, the balance allowed by the repression requires an opening to the release or, at least, to its illusion.
Social networks have brought a new arena to this release, of a completely different dimension: everyone can, as he or she wants, act out directly and no longer by proxy.
To see the verbal and gratuitous violence that one may encounter there, to add the gesture to the word, as the “metavers” intend to do, leads to consider the worst.
Rather than playing sorcerer’s apprentice, rather than inventing outlets for us at all costs, without even knowing or possibly being able to control its effects, those who still have a bit of the power to shape society should ask themselves why we should invent them. They would quickly understand, if they were sincere, that they are responsible for the need of unleashing which they claim to have to protect us, that they maintain it, that they push man to the limit, out of himself, under the pretext that it is “for his own good”, sophistry so evident when we observe that the ever greater majority also lives worse and worse.
Instead of entertaining chimeras, they should redraw our society, reshape it so that the reality in which it participates becomes more human, so that it is good to live in, which would be the first concrete proof that they act for our good; so that it becomes natural to look reality in the face again; so that the danger posed by the human being is no longer considered nor treated as the norm but as the exception.
I would like so much to thank the evidence of being able to rub shoulders with the unknown every day, if only with our gaze: what makes humanity and surrounds us, that is, man, his works, the infinite nature and interactions that give another dimension to this whole, those of life, so rare indices of our freedom.
There is nothing to thank in short. Everything is there, as offered. But we are always too small, too limited by our senses or too slow and of insufficient intelligence to claim to fully grasp this abundant and agitated offer of combinations of movements, permanent and apparently unpredictable, that could have inspired quantum physics.
To represent this reality, which is both omnipresent and eludes us at the same time by definition, is to begin by fully admitting what characterizes it: that our senses are powerless to embrace it; that its representation cannot begin without this prior affirmation.
Choosing photography as a medium then becomes justified: even more limited, more radical and systematic, in its perception, that the human vision, its choice says well that the most “right” representation of reality cannot be linked to some absolute level of acuity of the senses, on the contrary.
Photography also freezes the movement and, by this nature, does not have a vocation to represent everything that constantly escapes us and that characterizes life. It can give a clue, manage to stop one movement among many others and ensure that it stops only one movement, suggesting what is true: that there are others everywhere.
Thus photography is predisposed to represent reality by default, to show a crude sample of it, which will often allow us to conceive, outside the image, reality in all the totality that characterizes it. By showing what it can, not much, photography is saying well what it cannot show.
In the digital age, the temptation to use computer processes in photography may have been strong except to consider that they would introduce a device far from what could be a representation of “real”.
My choice was to intervene as little as possible on the captured image, making only very elementary adjustments, straightening or cropping.
To hope to reach this ideal of representation still had to be able not to disturb his subject, to learn to react as quickly as possible, to be absent so much and so much that he may even seem, in the end, by observing carefully a drawing, that no photographer was potentially behind the camera at the time of shooting.
The subject must be respected: it must be the image itself and not pass for the object – not being visibly at the service – of any intention of the photographer nor proceed from an interaction with his physical existence.
Of course some images escape this rule: the photographer can be noticed before triggering. These photos are always at the limit of the moment of the encounter, of an interaction with the subject and everyone will be able to wonder the nature of the relations that could have succeeded at these moments. There the real, that which participates in everyday life, is expressed also by default, extends outside the image as in the photos where the human does not seem to have its place.
In these last photographs, called “minimal” or “abstract”, it is almost always a question of “showing” what is outside the frame, this inviting to question its content. It is the photographer who takes the place of the human, of everyone present in the other series, and it is the reality of a fragmented world that imposes itself: the one that encompasses us and that we cannot fully grasp, the one whose senses only allow us to appreciate bits. Even more elementary than our senses, the sensor gives a radical translation, exemplary of this elusive globality, out of scope, to which it refers by default.
We are at the antipodes of what the marvelous Invention of Morel would be supposed to allow, in what is close to an authentic reality, that is to say, which cannot be translated by any hyperrealism.
In an era where the rule mainly leads to looking at his navel, the question of “style” arises more than ever for the artist. Indeed, when affirming its exceptional character becomes more fundamental than opening up to others, the artist will also want to “have a style” that belongs only to him. The “style” is no longer a posteriori determined by the researches of art historians or critics, it no longer results from the evolution of a work with the chances and intuitions that could have produced it. It is before, by principle, even before the work produced, and the work is only a pretext for the affirmation of style. Thus the work of “research” of this “artist” focuses on the enhancement of his own image and on nothing else.
From the success of filters applied to photographs on social networks to the art of making people talk about them that the “contemporary artists” of the top ten, the illustrations of this poor deviation of meaning are not lacking.
I was often asked to define my style and I always answered that it was to aim to have none, because reality has none.
Paris, January 11, 2023