To have the opportunity to live in a building with the literal function of carrying (phoros) signs (sema), for a month, alone, facing the Atlantic, cannot possibly leave you unmoved. Seen from the semaphore, while the closest land is 3550 km away, the permanence of the horizon is simply dizzying. A lign without depth that offers the promise of an infinite. It is always at a distance, outwitting any attempt to come close to it. It is both here and immaterial. The limit that the horizon outlines is imaginary in the sense that it doesn’t exist outside the mind. In the continuity of my research on the unattainable, the horizon appeared to me as a territory to explore during this residency.
By day, I spent many hours at my observation post, in the watching room which is so similar to a wide-open eye vigilantly scanning the sea. I spent many hours staring vainly at the ocean, on the lookout for the hundreds of cargo ships that passed daily just a few miles before me. Connected to navigation sites in real time, I had precise localisations as references, but I stumbled over their invisible presence. I found it truly fascinating that I couldn’t see from the semaphore this neverending procession of goods and raw materials coming from around the world, where navigation roads have been pushed back behind the horizon. Through a dissociation of image and sound, the film The Successor, which was entirely shot at the semaphore (in July and then a couple of days in December 2018), thus plays with this contrast between very contemplative images of the oceanic space – the cliché of the virgin ocean – and a voice that describes very factually the intense activity that is happening but which remains unseen. The narrator is off-camera and represents the figure of the semaphore keeper, which no longer exists today. It is like an acousmêtre, which means that it only exists in the film’s sound space and its presence is suggested as if it could appear at any moment in the camera range, contrary to a voice-over which is completely exterior to the images. The very minimalistic and meditative music written by Valentin Ferré also holds an important role, playing with the repetition so characteristic of ocean freight. These sound waves synchronize and desynchronize without any connection with the images, except in discrete snippets. The voice gives us precise details on these cargo ships that remain off-camera. If, on the screen, the notion of distance is omnipresent, the narrator’s comments leads us to consider it non-existent, abolished by a constant traffic of cheap goods.
By night however, darkness engulfs everything, since there is no light pollution in Ushant. The horizon disappears, exempts itself from the nocturnal depth and all the activity of the island is suspended. One day, in my presence, a wizard removed the horizon all around me (10 years after Nicolas Floc’h)is a series of 6 photographs that I took by pushing the light sensor of the camera to the maximum, the only way to capture the beams of the Créac’h semaphore in their continuous rotation. Whereas the eye only distinguishes a black vastness brushed by light, the hypersensitivity of the captor enables to seize with a shutter speed of less than a second a dreamlike and mistily atmospheric landscape. Several temporalities are superimposed, sunlight appearing up to 2 hours before actual sunrise. The sound level of the images gives them a depth and a pictorial texture that actually reveal the density of the night on the Ushant island.
During this residency, I thus experienced two very different relationships with the horizon, one diurnal and one nocturnal, simultaneously the imaginary and the reality you bump against, as Céline Flécheux describes it in simple words. This horizon I perceived as much as a mental projection as a political space.
La Relève (The Successor), film 4K, 14min 36sec, 2019
A film made by Capucine Vever.
First Vidéo Prize 2019 Festival OVNI in Nice, with the support from the Centre de la Haute Energie.
Coproduction : Finis Terrae Association and the CNAP with the aid for the first exhibition in a gallery.
With the support of the galerie Eric Mouchet.
Images, texts, voices and cutting : Capucine Vever
Camera operator: Mathieu Pinard et Capucine Vever
Music and proofreading: Valentin Ferré
Infographics and grading: Mathieu Pinard
Language : French, Subtitles : English
Production country : France
Projection media : DCP, Applepro Res, Mov, 4K, HD