Soleil Noir by Thibault Brunet

Exhibition Dates: On until 01 June 2019 @ Mission Gallery, Swansea.

From the start a photographer of virtual worlds, Thibault Brunet is also very fond of landscape. He experiments with imaging tools he borrows from advanced engineering technology invented for military purposes – and brings them into photography. By doing so, he diverts their civilian applications, whether from the field of video game (landscape studies in GTA), geo-tracking with Global Positioning System (photographic mission via Google Earth), or the field of urbanism and industry (modeling of the French coastline through 3D scan or remote sensing laser).

Disrupting the modes of representation, his images take viewers by surprise. There is various forms of disorientation: fusion of the real and the virtual, medium ambiguity, blurring of photography and drawing, or photography and sculpture as in his last creation, Ault. He tackles the question of landscape representation and reveals his ability to renew this genre within the photographic medium. Our selection confronts recent and exclusive pieces – the Ault and Soleil noir series- with more historic and institutional works: the last available editions of Vice City series (collection of the Musée de l’Elysée), the Typologie du virtuel series (2015 Biennale of Lyon, collection of the FMAC, 2016 FIAC revelation, «Paysage français, une aventure photographique» retrospective exhibition, BnF 2017), and the Territoires circonscrits series («Mutations-Créations / Imprimer le monde» exhibition, Centre Pompidou, 2017, FRAC Occitanie collection).

Ault, a duo of sculptures that results from the stratification of thousands of images, is still in production thanks to the patronage of Mécénat du Cercle cité in Luxembourg. These photographic rocks with one spine sculpted to convey sand stone were first exhibited at FIAC 2019.

Thibault Brunet is drawing the material of his next series entitled Soleil noir from the rushes of the videos he shot with a remote sensing laser, especially during the Etants données residency in the United States, supported by the FACE and Aperture foundations. This spring, the artist will experiment printing them on various mediums in the framework of the Jane Phillips Award International Residency, in the United Kingdom, of which he is the last laureate. His white UV ink-glass prints on black are like contemporary ambrotypes. Our selection will also include exclusive pieces from the Territoires circonscrits series. These 3D-modeled images literally blow up the photographic framework.



My work plays with the genres of photographic representation, within the virtual spaces of a world that is digitizing in all its dimensions. For several years, I traveled with a camera in these recreated worlds, in search of images. The series produced in video games borrowed from the registers of the urban landscape, journalism and war reporting. I then turned to the typology, with a piece from Google Earth, at the invitation of France (s) Territory Liquid. I have recently chosen a new approach and am now working on three-dimensional digitalisation of real space, thanks to partnerships with Leica Geosystem and Parrot.

The shooting material

The tools I use to make my images are state-of-the-art, made available to me by the firm Leica Geosystems. This equipment records space and renders it in a cloud of linear points. As rendering is closer to drawing than photography, this technique blurs the codes of representation. The landscape / subject is no longer bounded by the horizon or frame, but extends in a circle around the camera, it fades as it moves away from the lens, leaving a circle blind to its location. The universe thus obtained seems to emanate from the heart of a black hole. If in the real world the sun shines on the visible, here it is the tool that filters the reality and reflects a world that our mental abilities, anchored in the perspectivist scheme of the Renaissance, perceive as distorted or fantastic.

About Soleil Noir

With Soleil Noir, I propose another way of looking at the world: a transmutation of landscape via Lidar laser. This device has a synesthetic perception. It captures light, both infrared and ultraviolet. This information the device translates into images, which disturbingly resemble analog negatives.

This method of recording our environment is neither analogic, nor mimetic – it does not represent the visible surface of things. It presents scientific data we can use to understand the world. The intelligibility of nature therefore depends on machines.

In that sense, the images of the Soleil Noir series evoke 19th century spiritualist photography, which supposedly captured real ghostly apparitions on camera. And more precisely, here the artist proposes “Tophographie Spirite” (spiritualist topography); images showing more than mere landscapes, but rather the intuition of another dimension, a radiance, a strange vibration that goes beyond the surface of things.


About AULT

From one thousand dots to thousands of pages, AULT is hardly a book and already a sculpture; a beautiful and mad project continued by Thibault Brunet and produced by Mille Cailloux Editions.

Located in the Somme department, AULT is first a cliff, an edge, a piece of French coastline. Equipped with a Lidar remote sensing radar provided by Leica Geosystem, Thibault Brunet captured its reliefs and transferred them onto his book-sculpture. The spine of AULT is sculpted like a arved stone, the surface reveals the asperities of the rock. The combination of thousands of images thus become like the stratums of a sedimentary rock.

The immensity of AULT is condensed in this volume. Over three thousands views make up this bound sculpture. From dips to ridges, we progress through the dark ink of imperceptible images, hypnotized by the details of a landscape that has suddenly lost all its cold minerality.