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Behind "cinémécanique" is a graphic artist, a video-maker, a lighting engineer and a sound engineer. Playing with speed, sound and light, they invent a new form of animated cinema, on a small scale and "made live". In real time, the images are sketched out, blended or erased, and sounds are constructed and deconstructed. The writing is fragmented and fragile. Mental landscapes. A seaside atmosphere. "Rudimentary language relying on the dazzling sight and density of the subject matter being drawn."
Jean François Pauvros
Les Nouvelles Subsistances à Lyon, Théâtre National de Bretagne, Compagnie FV
Beursschouwburg, KunstenFESTIVALdesArtsBack to top
Cinémécanique is comprised of Vincent Fortemps (drawing), Gaétan Besnard (video), Christian Dubet (lighting) and Alain Mahé (sound). This process - created by a meeting of very different art forms - is a kind of DIY, generating moving mental landscapes and reveries by using a transparent rhodoid, which Vincent Fortemps draws on with a thick lithographic crayon, and a glass plate through which a camera films the illustrations in real time.
In this space being constructed, deconstructed and reconstructed again, Christian Dubet provides different sources of light to make Vincent Fortemps' drawings appear, disappear and change.
It is an art of storytelling using a moving image, perpetually fragile (the image is not stable and fixed nor are its grain and colours defined) where, thanks to the sensitivity of the light, it is about varying intensity and presences, thus creating a particular atmosphere.
BAR-Q-UES, Cinémécanique's first work, is an animated film produced live where the image is created in a hand-crafted way. How did the team of "cinemechanics" come together?
Cinémécanique was invented in 2001 by Christian Dubet and Vincent Fortemps when they were both working on François Verret's creation "Chantier Musil". The encounter, combining their different artistic practices, created this device used for the first time in François Verret's production in which Gaétan Besnard and Alain Mahé were also involved. Our first experience of working together stimulated a desire to work together again and develop Cinémécanique.
The images are transformed and developed in front of the audience. Is it true to say that Cinémécanique offers you each a new area of research?
Vincent: I could see its huge potential as soon as the device was created! It's not often that you have this sort of encounter and come across a true field of research!
What's interesting is laying bare the process of how a story is constructed and seeing it unfurl in real time in front of an audience. For me, when this film is projected it's a battlefield, a fight between my drawings, the video images, the lighting and the sound score. I'm not looking to construct a story but rather create a narrative structure in which the story has a poetic, fluid form! This process is principally a challenge to the act of drawing which is pushing me towards cinema - animated film in its most basic form!
Gaétan: It really is an innovation. Video, which is a very modern form of expression, has often been used in the performing arts as a pretext for the choreographer, director or artist. That's not how it is here. The potential we experimented with while we worked on "Chantier Musil" revealed areas of strength to us that are connected. I think this is evident from the very first scene of BAR-Q-UES. Cinémécanique in itself is a "production" tool: a machine of a contemporary mime show with light and sound. It's not a fixed object that can be thrown away after a piece of work or creation. It's simply a perpetual place for asking questions (about technology, writing, the foundations for an animated image or not, the relationship between sound and image) and the final presentation through real propositions. It's my workshop.
Christian: From a technical point of view, the practice of "cinemechanic art" has absolutely nothing to do with that of stage lighting. So this system offers me a new area of research. Cinémécanique upsets all our usual reflexes, destabilises ways of perceiving and conceiving light. All that forces a reappraisal of a known material (light) at the service of a completely new art form.
Alain: Our relationship to the image is excessively specific, the movement we can see is not of a cinematographic, photographic or choreographic order. It's more the musical possibility of remaining outside the shot of an image, taking the drawing with you, with us, and living it.
What were the approaches each of you took to developing this original device?
Vincent: As a creator of cartoon strips, it's about drawing and storytelling!
Drawing a lot, suggesting, researching, discussing the cinemechanical material!
Cinémécanique - a quasi childlike, craft-like process - is a space of encounter between the four cinemechanics and has to remain an experimental space with research into the story's issue in images and movement.
Gaétan: My main focus has been to take away the power of Vincent Fortemps' images and avoid assembling sequences of his drawings. I chose to film in Super 8 and work around the question of grain, haziness, rhythm and densities of black. This very present black also questions projection too (what density of black and white, the purity of the two or a grey and a cream? What is awakening or being made to float?). It is configured in such a way that no two spectators will see the same thing.
Christian: Linked to Vincent Fortemps' drawing, this technique has important artistic and poetic potential. But it is also virgin territory, pretty much unexplored where there's a lot left to invent, including our methods, practices etc.
From a purely technical point of view, the machine is a real work of research that we have to pursue in the scientific sense. The system is worthy of being perfected, so there are lots of areas left to explore in new technologies.
From a more generally artistic point of view, the device is worthy of being linked and extended to other practices associated with the performing arts (theatre, dance, music...).
Alain: I think it is a shifting, non-stable ensemble and the approach seems personal to me in a difficult way. For the time being, any artistic, technical and strategic decision we take does not depend on a single point of view but on all the cinemechanics' views. The development of Cinémécanique, a tool created initially for a specialist purpose, remains very open. It is easy to envisage collaborating with musicians or people wanting to establish relationships with lighting, perspectives, image, sounds via computers, captation etc. But it is also about passing time, becoming carried away with thrushes whirling around Créac'h, climbing the dunes at La Panne, listening to the great Ferré, strolling along the sea wall at Nieuwport and going round the boulders.Back to top