Treasures from Bruges is part of my ongoing visual art practice investigating how the emerging concept of altermodernism can be enhanced via connections to the existing theoretical basis of the art of the everyday. Treasures from Bruges draws inspiration from the key scene in Jean-Luc Goddard's 1963 film Les Carabiniers, which encapsulates the idea of travelling vicariously, through static images.
The Flickr photograph-sharing site was searched for images tagged with 'Bruges'. Users of the site were contacted, emails were exchanged and permission was sought to use their personal images as inspiration for my painted works.
Using photographs obtained from these external sources, from personal holidays, I created small-scale, sketch paintings; as if the tourist views had been personally documented by me, on location, during my own short city break.
Using the official Bruges tourist website and directions between locations via online mapping software, a factual narrative was created to describe the works when viewed in a certain sequence, with the French voiceover generated via online speech software.
Duration: 10 minutes
Les Carabiniers (Jean-Luc Godard, 1963)
Les Carabiniers translates as The Riflemen, and follows the story of two young men from a fictional country, who join up as soldiers and are promised great wealth after the victory of the army. After traversing the countryside and battlefield areas, they return home to their young wives, with a leather valise, full of their ‘treasures’.
They open out the case, and inside there are bundles of postcards displaying beautiful, popular and important views of places, objects and people: Spoils of War, to which these men believe to be entitled. In an extended scene cited by Susan Sontag in On Photography (1977), Godard choreographed a sequence in which the postcards are positioned one on top of one another, as the men simply describe the content of the images. The length of the scene and the layering of the distinct images forces the viewer to consider the way in which the static image stands in for the real world. In the case of these Riflemen, it is a real world comprised of places they have not visited and scenes they could not possibly have seen. Their vicarious travels are narrated in only a factual manner, emphasising the intangible nature of the ‘treasures’.
The order of the images below is the same as that in the video.
Each painting represents a collaboration. The paintings make use of other people's personal travels, and are reinterpreted by me within the context of travelling vicariously, through connections established in the online sphere.
Thanks to Anne Nevitt and Sheena and Brian Lister for the use of their photos also.