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Marc Fournel

(Montreal, Quebec, Canada)

Marc Fournel, Parole, geste, 4 minutes de silence, 1995 (video)
Marc Fournel, Parole, geste, 4 minutes de silence, 1995 (video)
Marc Fournel, L'acquis et sa meurtrière , 1997 (video)
Marc Fournel, L'acquis et sa meurtrière , 1997 (video)
Marc Fournel, The Well, 1999-2000 (video)
Marc Fournel, The Well, 1999-2000 (video)
Marc Fournel has been working in media arts since 1995. He first produced videos and video installations before turning to interactive projects. Fournel has also been actively involved in programming, coordinating and presenting media arts, notably at the artist-run centre Daïmon (Gatineau, Canada). He directed the PARC, an interactive lab that is devoted to researching and creating new media works and is affiliated with Vidéographe (Montreal, Canada), a centre for producing and screening videos.

In his work with video — single channel or integrated into installations — Fournel has explored different aspects of the medium, notably its narrative possibilities and temporal nature. His works rely on an indistinct and highly poetic narrative frame consisting of passages between distinct universes that link and merge in a process that transforms their identity. Text, often incorporated as a motif, as matter or as meaningful space rather than as a carrier of the narrative, assumes an important role, particularly in Parole, geste, 4 minutes de silence (1995) and Le Puits (1999-2000).

Several videos, like those produced for L’acquis et sa meurtrière (1997) or Précipice (2002), probe the integrity of the body and the individual. A body confined within a space is seen as detached from the self, although this body carries the self through its temporal and spatial journey in relative time and space that remain undefined. Among the dominating images is a circle shape that recurs in several works, like an eye or magnifying glass on the body in motion or any other motif. The circle is a primitive, timeless figure that eschews straight lines or linearity, and, by extension, opposes a tedious temporal continuity, the temporal nature of the medium. The circle also evokes a centre and targets a thing’s true essence. Water, another motif, brings to mind the uterus, the sap of the human body, and the immensity in which individuals can lose themselves and dissolve. Indeed, water conveys the fluidity of video. These and other seamlessly integrated symbols and figures call into question the medium’s essence by creating connection and opposition. They have a powerful impact on the imagination and contribute greatly to producing a complex and disconcerting experience.

In his installations, Fournel has used different objects, surfaces and spaces that influence the video experience and draw spectators out of their passive position. The artist transforms the exhibition site into a symbolic space in which the visitors’ movements and relationship with the objects in the space define their perceptive experience on visual, auditory and kinesthetic levels. The projection and experimentation surfaces are invested with meaning and greatly alter the relationship with image. Mirrors and concave or translucent surfaces act as screens that deform and “inform” and prove to be revealing, inquisitive and transforming.

The work’s sound dimension is used to support the narrative frame, define the spatial experience, and invade the space. Sound helps forge links between the elements presented and then undoes these links so as to infiltrate the spectator’s imagination. Sound acts as a penetrating substance, travelling through beings and things, space and time. Ultimately, sound helps produce an immersive experience.

Le Puits (1999-2000), his first interactive installation, offered a sound environment altered by visitors’ presence and movement. As visitors approached a deep well-like object in the middle of the space, they triggered sounds emitted through several speakers enabling a spatialization. These sounds interfered with the soundtrack of the video projected above and inside the well. Hence, visitors helped create a sound space by bringing a new dimension to the work. This installation was presented during the Mois Multi in Quebec City in 2001 after Fournel completed it within a residency at Bande Vidéo (Quebec City, Canada), a site for producing and screening videos, and at Avatar (Quebec City, Canada), a centre for creating and presenting sound art.

Fournel has also designed video components for theatre productions, notably for the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. In addition, he helped put together Précipice (2002), a collective work created during a residency at Théâtre La Chapelle, an innovative theatre and promoter of the performing arts. During this residency, he collaborated with Jean-François Laporte, a sound artist, and Richard Simas, a writer and the theatre’s artistic director. This project reflected his work’s increasingly multidisciplinary nature and his commitment to joint endeavours.

Marc Fournel initiated and was the first director of PARC, an interactive laboratory devoted to the research and creation of works of art featuring interactive media, and was associated with Vidéographe in Montreal (Canada).

Since 2004, Fournel has focused exclusively on artistic research and production. In 2003, he began his Transduction project, a vast research and production undertaking targeting the development of new spatial positioning systems, the creation of progressive sound algorithms, and the implementation of an interactive environment within cultural systems.

Fournel is a founding member of Vitamin Beziehungen, a collective of artists and researchers whose main objective is cybernetics and their artistic applications. He is also a research associate at LMI (Laboratoire des Médias Interactifs) in the department of communications at Université du Québec à Montréal.

Jacques Perron © 2006 FDL