The recurrence of similar shapes and elements with the minimalist color leads viewers to measure the incongruity in a semblance of a congruent field of photography. The dissimilarity creates a subtle flow of rhythm synonymous with the circuits of movement in nature. These are the images constructed by the duo of French photographers Edouard Taufenbach and Bastien Pourtout, as they like to say: “In the exchange and confrontation of two points of view. This creates a multiple and subjective image of reality.
The photomontage The blue of the sky, for which the duo won the 2020 Swiss Life 4 Hands Award, represents the world of the sky dotted with swallows. The composition does not refrain from emphasizing its grid structure punctuated with sharp black lines to suggest that the world, even if disconnected from borders and borders, remains connected through the facets of nature and the environment. , here the birds. The flock of swallows is captured at different times of the day with digital reflexes, mobile phones and Rolleiflex. Swallows in a variety of directions accentuated by the spectrum of light – blue, gray and orange – suggest the global phenomenon of bird migration at different seasons of the year.
In an interview granted to STIR, talking about the realization of a project, Taufenbach and Pourtout explain: “It often starts with a shared curiosity. It sometimes becomes obsessive, and it is then a question of inventing protocols to structure this new interest. For example, in The blue of the sky, we took more than 100,000 pictures of swallows. It was then necessary to invent matrices to sort and organize these images and thus recompose skies and trajectories.
The methoda set of 96 unique collages, created in cyanotype and palladio, inspired by the series by German-American artist Josef Albers Tribute to the Square. Squares, the quintessence of Albers’ work, are deconstructed and reformulated through the ancient technique of photography. The visual artists explain this obsession of Albers: “Cutting their perspective lines gave us several pieces, then rearranged in sequences like a melody. We had fun exhausting all the possible combinations. We are very attentive to the execution of the work. Their realization as an object allows us to extend our intentions. For the method, we had metal frames made, reminiscent of the 1970s and the formal art of that period. The repetition – an archetypal feature of the artist duo’s works – of the squares creates an effect of conscious psychedelic art not to dominate viewers but to keep them engaged.
The immersive installation Sfumato is composed of eight videos of different skies appearing in semicircles and arranged like the panels of a polyptych. The visual device accompanied by musical pieces produced by Paul Braillard underlines the absorbing quality of the images while promoting an attempt to immerse the viewer. “The video work done for Sfumato, like sfumato in painting, is done by accumulation of several layers. It is obtained by overlaying each video on itself a large number of times, at an increasingly smaller scale and with a very slight time lag from one layer to another. The installation highlights the gradual movement of the sky – where each video highlights the distortion of the open sky.
From thumbnails to full video blur effect – the fear of apocalypses dissipates as soon as clear skies appear, even if it’s for a short interval of time. Towards the end of the video, the centripetal force is made visible as bursts of white light illuminate the sky day and night.
Works such as The blue of the sky, Garden Villa Mediciand Sfumato disrupting and reconfiguring the organic world of nature to manipulate trained vision, only to redirect it to the unseen. Taufenbach and Pourtout mention: “The exterior interests us because it is a territory for exploration and play. It is a reservoir of infinite forms and possibilities. We have no preconceived idea of the images we want to obtain. We photograph the phenomena that interest us, and it is by observing the images obtained that we then choose the way in which they are arranged.
The images constructed for the artist duo are delimited by a particular reading, a game of shapes, colors and lines. The gap between the initial intentions and what is shown for the photographer is inevitable. “You have to give up the objects you produce. You can’t control the reactions and all the better if they are contrasting, different and unexpected. We like the idea that the works remain open and that the viewer can build their own story. We like to make objects free of meaning and form.
Photography as a medium inherently attempts to freeze a moment in motion, but the fluidity with which Taufenbach and Pourtout create minimal tension with their photomontages prompts viewers to draw a tinge of novelty.