Typologie du Virtuel
In ‘Typologie du Virtuel’, Thibault Brunet explores France through Google Earth.
Via GPS, telephone and tablets, satellite imagery has greatly changed our use of space.
Through its all-embracing character, the international navigation tool GE tends to overshadow the fact that it is a patchwork, resulting from a quantity of thumbnails or vignettes submitted by thousands of users.
Potential interaction with this data bank is instrumental as well as creative. In this sense GE presents similarities with the online video games that Thibault Brunet has explored exclusively up until now. A community of users is generated connected by information sharing. The most passionate of them also sustain a blog to keep abreast of data bank updates, Google Maps Mania.
‘Typologie du Virtuel’ partly uses the oscillation caused by the enormous and imprecise use of this information.
Thibault Brunet selects fragments from a virtual world coproduced by multiple individuals. The data updates do not reflect any identifiable objective. The images in this series were produced from buildings located in peri-urban areas and reproduced in 3D by GE users.
Shopping centres, HLM (social housing) and major commercial company towers fall within a global architectural typology, lacking in any connection to the region.
The artist entrenches them in a specific space and time by adding a defined drop shadow according to the day and time of their production. He recontextualises the image by relating it to the first manufacturer‘s action and forms a new intermediary by joining a collective creative chain. The shadow is the context, the creation of a projection space vanishing into the mist that the artist compares to a ‘digital cloud’, where buildings seem to emerge like pop-ups.
Through the title of his series, a cataloguing principle lacking in personal expression and a composition dictated by a fixed protocol (choice of shadow and dominant colour defined by the objective modeling file data), Thibault Brunet clearly refers to the ‘anonymous sculptures’ or ‘industrial building typologies’ produced by the photographers Bernt and Illa Becher. The reference to these images, ‘symbols of an outstanding period in industry,’ is by no means insignificant at a time when we increasingly dream about the stock of dormant information represented by ‘Big Data’ and about the chance to analyse it for targeted use.
By creating a series from copyright-free files, Thibault Brunet indirectly raises the question about their source, their potential use and their ownership.
Using art to condone a popular practice of consulting and creating images, the artist’s work is in line with interaction that abolishes individual and collective boundaries. His images of images show ‘active intervention that improves our experience of art as well as of the world in all its breadth’.