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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

Portrait One
Luc Courchesne

I am interested in the connections between technology and popular culture and, in working on 'Portrait One', I wanted to make an attempt at bridging technology with tradition. I chose to work around the portrait tradition using the videodisc and the computer. The art of the portrait has evolved by way of many breakthroughs in its history.

For example, Chiaroscuro in painting, and photography have clearly enhanced the realism of the portrayed subject and contributed to the success of the genre as a popular art form. Today, media technologies have the potential to once more deeply transform the portrait tradition. In the process of the hypermedia portrait, the subject is 'recorded' and its presence recreated artificially. In 'Portrait One', Marie, a 34 year old French-speaking Montrealer played by actress Paule Ducharme, appears to be lost in reverie. A visitor may try to get her attention: when clicking, using a mouse, 'Excuse me!' on the display, Marie suddenly stares at you; then, clicking among a new choice of questions like 'Do you have the time?', 'Are you looking at me?' or simply 'May I ask you something?' starts a conversation that will develop according to the visitor's curiosity and Mane's moods. The encounter may be cut short because of a lack of tact, or it may develop, among other topics, into intimate discussions of love in the context of a virtual relationship. The course of the conversation is determined by the visitor's choice from a set of approximately 300 questions or comments to Marie. The initial choice defines the language of the conversation: French, English or German. In the English and German versions, Marie's answers are subtitled. In the current version of the installation, the ghostlike image of Marie is produced by the reflexion of the horizontal video screen on a glass plate facing the visitor. (Luc Courchesne)