Bits, 1977

NTSC, sound, colour

Bits is an electronic painting created by transforming the recording of a landscape by using asynthesizer. There is a long, rapid succession of compositions. In the rapid flow, the spectator glimpses them without being able to go back to or memorise them, so this slide from sequence to sequence is like a large fresco with light, bright colours on a white background.
The trees and branches in this panoramic are broken up by the framing and transformed by variations in the degree of light. When this is strong, the contours and shapes fade. Objects become less material and lose their textures. They are converted into small, coloured areas on pale screens. Rapidly raising and lowering the degree of luminosity makes the fine branches in one sequence disappear and reappear, like blinking. The landscape is also transfigured by the use of solarisation, saturation of colours and texture effects that have no relation to the material recorded. For example, the tree branches become horizontal or vertical oblong areas on the screen. Within them, browns, red and bright green are mixed or juxtaposed. Next come watery shots and a succession of illusions of liquids and solids, with a logic that has nothing to do with the landscape or the painter, but with the video palette. The camera movements are the main element that the work conserves from the initial recording.
A few incongruous sequences are slipped into this formal register. These show fine grill patterns and light cloth effects. Just as the camera movements retain the imprint of the visual voyage in this landscape, the reference to tartan is an anecdotal element. The spectator can't grasp the reference, which is part of the unknown story of this work. Bits is part of Selected Works I. The title of the artist's collection of his works from 1975 to 1979, where experimentation of video techniques was directed towards creating pictorial effects. In this collection, Bits, which recalls abstract impressionist painting, is distinguished by the particularly fluid flow of sequences. This is opposed to the density of the images, the intensity of colours and the formal mathematical composition of Windows (1978), and to the arousal of emotions and the sentiments created in Mirror Road (1975-1976).

Thérèse Beyler