Territoires Circonscrits

There is nothing behind the visible.

Black coal and yellow sand are the two colour spaces conveyed in Thibault Brunet’s series Territoires circonscrits. It is a universe which comes from the modelled landscapes captured via a three-dimensional scanner. With an engineer and a ScanStation provided by Leica, Thibault Brunet travelled the coastline for 30 kilometres, from Calais to Cap Gris-Nez. The scanner came equipped with a laser which allowed him to measure distances and volumes in 360°. The camera integrated into the machine contributed a second phase of colour.

However sophisticated the technology, even in a such a cutting-edge industry, the image is not a copy but an extrapolation. Thibault Brunet plays with these ideas. In his work, the transposition of point clouds into a volume creates a space that seems hand-drawn. There are large areas of flat colour, with faintly drawn fine lines. Refusing the artifice of perspective, the artist retains an orthogonal view that gives the image a slight feeling of inaccuracy. In the middle of a large empty space, a landscape appears, one of shapes and shades of black or light brown. This is due to the fact that the spherical scanning device cannot see what is not immediately visible within a 150 metre radius; beyond that, it does not capture information. It also ignores transparent volumes, such as water. The impression felt during shooting, one of being in absolute control of visual space, collapses. It turns out to have been an illusion, because the volumes are empty and without substance. Terrain is a decoration. At the beach, the sea has disappeared. Only the rather threatening sea foam remains.

Thibault Brunet does not know why he chose the Opal Coast. He is aware of the symbolic charge of the migrant situation, but, on this issue, he has no intentional message. He started on the beach at Sangatte and went as far as Cap Gris-Nez, eyes fixed on England. In passing, he captured sluices, a blockhouse, and a potato store. These images of transformed landscapes are an equal part of the series. They are foregrounded by the colour, or the absence thereof, that dominates the image. Landscape elements are thus recorded in this ambiguous form, halfway between drawing and photography, where almost nothing is defined. Sangatte beach, full of swimmers, resembles a mine full of busy people. In another image, we can only guess whether the forms in fields around a container are haystacks. They are only stains. The fisherman’s huts, in the way they are aligned, are reminiscent of Hollywood’s Wild West. And yet, in this series, it is not video games or even Google-era shared space that is at issue. The artist visited the site and conducted a shooting. He played with the virtuality of the real as it was modelled.

Thibault Brunet appropriates instruments, measurement tools and representations. And shows us their limits. In so doing he highlighting the blind spots of technology, however powerful it may be. From this, he delivers a new construct that is dreamlike, almost fantastic. Here, far away from us, space is a black hole, because it is the instrument that illuminates things and makes them visible. Despite the fact that this surveying and image-capturing instrument may have the capacity to rotate in any direction, it can only turn in on itself. The machine is thus revealed by its boundaries, which opens up another, almost unreal, territorial fiction, through the appropriations and aesthetic choices of Thibault Brunet.

Mireille Besnard

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