François Quévillon works in the fields of installation and digital art. He explores the complex phenomena of the world and perception through a process that is sensitive to interferences from the public and the variable conditions of the environment. With an MFA in visual and media arts from the Université du Québec à Montréal, Quévillon was a member of Interstices, a research and creation group, from 2001 to 2008, before joining Perte de Signal in 2009. The artist’s work has been presented in both solo and group exhibitions, as well as at events held in Canada, France, United States, Brazil, Colombia and Lebanon. In North America, his work has featured at such events as the 14th Mois Multi in Quebec City, the International Digital Arts Biennial in Montreal in 2012, the Elektra Festival of digital arts in Montreal in 2012, the Espace [IM] Média festival in Sherbrooke in 2011, and the ISEA2012 Albuquerque: Machine Wilderness symposium at the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History (New Mexico).
About the work
There are various ways to approach a project—to enter into it—and the title may provide one of the doors. Dérive (“drift”) by Montreal artist François Quévillon is in itself a place to enter. Projecting a series of 3-D models of sites onto a front screen, the installation offers a scenario of diverse spatial deviations, which viewers can influence through their movements throughout the space. The level of interaction is minimal: just enough for us to forget it is there, while our attention is drawn to the effects of the virtual high-angle shot, where we can make out details of buildings, monuments, stretches of water, or the simple relief of the landscape. The singularity of what we see makes us move forward or backward, left or right, secretly hoping this will allow us to see what is invisible. The 3-D models are quite classic, and yet dots on a black background create the effect of lights illuminating the rough edges as they fade into the night.
“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic” (Arthur C. Clarke’s third law) is a dictum that may apply to Dérive in terms of effect. The magical effect here is making the invisible visible through digital means. The aesthetic aspect of the projected images is a direct consequence of the meteorological phenomena occurring in the site models. Using live environmental data collected from the Internet, Quévillon presents a vision of the “physical” state of the world which, by conveying the fluctuations of weather, is at once dreadful and marvellous. We find ourselves face-to-face with the sublime, with the romanticism of the digital age. Of all forms of excess, the behaviour of nature is the most unpredictable, both extreme and uncontrollable. It escapes our understanding, despite the fact that technological tools allow us to describe it in the most minute detail. Our sole power resides in the act of representation, which may lead to prediction. Insofar as perception is an intermeshing of thought and knowledge, the role of the imagination is no longer passive here, but allows us to act within the interstices of what one calls “the real.”
The artist and theoretician Samuel Bianchini—so François Quévillon informed me—was interested in representations that become more and more operative, that is to say, on which one can act, or which can themselves act. This reciprocal power governing our conceptual constructions and ourselves—is this not a generalized process of hybridation, operating back and forth between the virtual and the real? The Internet is perhaps the most representative “object” of this hybridation. A multitude of invisible universes now enter into our representations of the world: digital technology and the Internet bring with them these levels of abstraction, and speculation, which we accept without realizing it. The heterogeneity of everyday life has become so entrenched that a kind of strangeness sets in, although the gap here is miniscule, the vertigo minimal—just present enough for us to feel without being able to identify.