I am on the bus II. Gwangju – Suncheon
I am on the bus is a series of videos questioning our perception of reality in a world of ubiquitous digital technologies. After I landed in Quebec for the first time, I took the bus and expected to see fantastic landscapes beyond the window throughout the ride. The glass panels were yet covered with a thick layer of grime, smears of dirty, dried out snow, through which I could see absolutely nothing. While the outdoor space could not be seen through the window, it was paradoxically thoroughly accessible through WiFi and Google Street View. I could see what was outside the bus by geolocating myself and displaying the view of the outside world on my iPhone.
This experience gave birth to the first installment of I am on the bus. In South Korea I conceived a second installment : I am on the bus II. Gwangju – Suncheon.
In the foreground on the left is an iPhone screen displaying the picture of a place in Daum (the korean Google Street View equivalent) whereas on the right one can see an image that is hard to describe at first sight, a coloured fuzziness covered in droplets, the contours of which are pronounced. This second image bears an obvious relation with the first one, in the forms and colours. It is the same place, photographed through the bus window, with the focus on the glass panel itself.
Pairs of images are displayed on the screen at an irregular, broken pace, making it difficult for the viewer to perceive anything. The black and white left background is blurred at first. Then, it gradually shows a picture of a subject, arms raised in a selfie stance. This “I” person who is on the bus and whose gaze, both on the iPhone and bus window, make up the foreground. Concurrently with the picture, the music unfolds to its own asynchronous rhythm. It was composed from an audio-recording of buddhist ceremony. Just like the image, the sound is fragmented.
It is on a daily basis that one struggles with this fragmentation of perceptions, which is inherent to the hybridization of our sensitive experiences as they are multiplied through the use of smartphones and other 21st century technologies. I am on the bus shows the absurd and poetic dimension of our condition as connected human beings. Digital technologies transform our comprehension of reality, in this case of space. But what is most real? That which is displayed on our iPhone screen? That which we can see through the window? The image that we order our digital camera lens to capture, supposed to render what we can see? That which we can feel? Would the image in the dirty window have the same emotional weight, were it not confronted with such a clean picture as that on Google Street View or Daum? In contrast, digital technologies lead us to pay specific attention to the imperfect materiality which our senses can grasp, and to cherish it.
Françoise Chambefort (http://francoise-chambefort.com) is an artist and researcher. She works on both sound and static or animated pictures and views data as a fully-fledged material in her creations.
Graduating in 2015 with a Master’s Degree in multimedia, specializing in music and sound, she continued with an undergoing PhD, working as a creator-researcher on data flow and its narrative possibilities. With Solène Froissart, stage director, she won first price in the L-Est Hackathon in June 2016, with Sur les traces de Miss Electricity, a transmedia companion to the play Miss Electricity (a Granit Scène Nationale de Belfort (France) co-production). Her Frozen words were published in the fall of 2016 in the hypermediatic literature magazine bleuOrange. This multimedia apparatus brings a modern take on Rabelais metaphor by applying it to contemporary wars, and also exists as an interactive installation. In march 2018, she was the recipient of a residency at the Scène Numérique in Montbéliard which allowed her to finalize the work Life of Saint Anthony of Padoudou (Yesterday). Her most recent creation, My Little Identity, tackling how Twitter’s influencers communicate, received funding from the DRAC (Regional Office of Cultural Affairs).