Jean-Christian Bourcart allows us to reflect on the use of political pictures with the presentation of Jour de colère “Day of wrath – ed” – a series where he expresses his rage towards Donald Trumps inauguration that he puts in connection with a shocking video. A four minute short film surrounding an algorithm, designed by artificial intelligence questioning the future of photography through his own photographic archives.
“It lasted two minutes, I was shooting like a mad-man. It was like I was handling a sniper, I wanted to wipe them out, tells Jean-Christian Bourcart. It wasn’t intentional, except maybe the framing, the idea of cutting into the faces. I have always been rather sensitive to links between esthetics and ethics, the manner of diffusing information and using photographic mediums that allow me to express what I want to say.” A photography of instinct, acting like animals in a situation of upheaval, Jean-Christian Bourcarts way of working is through interrogating his photography to find the right balance. In Day of wrath, his series carried out at Washington the 20th of January 2017, he photographed the Donald Trump supporters “on television in a frantic acrimony… my camera transformed into a machine to deface what they represent, cutting into their faces, hunting uncomfortable grins, fixating their slashed humanity.” An anger that we can draw from the series Collateral (2005) where the photographer uses pictures of injured or dead Iraqis, taken from the internet and projects them on houses, churches and supermarkets in New York. This was an impulsive reaction where “it was more to confront these two realities than just expose them : a distant war without pity and chaotic, in which the only information we have is shortened and filtered, surrounded in a country/ surrounding were all is calm, clean and monitored.”
Power to algorithms
“The world is changing and the responsabilities of those taking pictures is to give a variety of ways of seeing”, specifies Jean-Christian Bourcart in an interview in 2007. In light of the video, Day of wrath has been significant in his research while the photographer has been living in America for twenty years and whose activity is “becoming more and more politicized“. Called KLCK-28, it is named after the algorithm used, a film sponsored by Didier Quilain for Olympus summons artificiel intelligence to question “the future of photography” through the authors own archives. The result is a staggering four minute video that questions the power of algorithms in internet and social media, in particular through political misrepresentation, which ensues speeches fueled by propaganda. “That is also the reason why a portion of these people are cut-out (in Day of wrath ), as if a portion of them have already been consumed by propaganda. The machine has already chewed off a part of their head. For me, we are already in the futur of a dictatorship…“, slips the photographer.
Following Trump supporters
The video is one of the means used by the author who is not scared to multiply written records. Like with Camden (2008) – the most dangerous town in America – a project where he integrates motion film, photos and texts to tell a precise story of his experiences. “With the video, we can feel the honesty of the those featured. They have stories, they are effected, they cry, they’re fighting…” he says. A willingness to go up to people can be seen throughout his works. With a fantastic reception of Day of wrath at Rencontres d’Arles this summer, and the anguish towards a situation that seems to be worsening pushes Jean-Christian Bourcart to extend this series. He plans to hunt down Trump supporters on their soil. To be followed.
© Jean-Christian Bourcart
Translated by Molly Sisson
Day of wrath
From the 2nd – 25th of Novembre 2017.
From Tuesday to Saturday, from 14 h 30 to 19 h 30.