Émilie Brout & Maxime Marion
Text by Douglas Edric Stanley
Standing before a work such as Émilie Brout and Maxime Marion's Dérives, spectators will perhaps experience a certain sensation of disorientation, of floating adrift. In the work, 2,000 images of water, excerpts from throughout the history of cinema, are edited by a machine into a single continuous sequence: an endless film. This film contains only one central character: the image of water. Excepting power failure, the film never ends, preferring instead a slow deceleration into moving images of ponds, of puddles, or a glass of water, before transforming into tears, mist, a light drizzle which eventually breaks out into a downpour, leading to thunderstorms, hurricanes, shark attacks, and tsunamis before calming back down into a light stream of images and then starting all over again. It is a constant ebb and flow, without end, that rises and falls like the tide; an endless film that is always the same — a film about water — and yet which can never be exactly the same: a fluid-film flowing straight out of the Fragments of Heraclitus.
Dérives has no "duration" in the classical cinematic sense of the term, i.e. a time delimited by the physical beginning and end of the media device. Nevertheless — and this is the case with any film —, there is yet another "duration" which emerges from the image: the duration generated by the consciousness of the spectator. Just as in Bergson's description of sugar dissolving in a glass of water (here held by Mia Farrow or Emily Watson) and the time it takes to dissolve, each and every spectator drinks these images in their own manner, as if they were destined for us individually. Dérives is this particular scene: each and every spectator perceiving their own specific moment within the ebb and flow of an image generated here and now, before our very eyes, just for us, and yet which does not stop for us either. By following the movement of the algorithm we are perfectly capable of perceiving the logical transitions from one sequence to the next, and even of understanding the criteria which unite them; and yet incapable all the while of freezing the image as a whole and observe all its interactions in a rational unity. Our consciousness enters and exits this current while the ebb and flow of the image remains quite objectively within its own logic and its own temporal existence. A play, algorithmic in its nature, of the rising tides of images and of the image. The misty image of a wave, a vague, floating image, or, as one can only say in French, une image vague.
Douglas Edric Stanley