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Immersion, London

Jean-Bernard Metais, Immersion (2008). London (England)

My approach is to create a visual wave of words taking off from a garden, crossing a footbridge and buildings and stopping before the Thames. I am inviting you to join me on a journey, a visual and sensorial immersion in a time word ramble, an immersion-connection in "Queensbridge water". The magnetic presence of the Thames, invisible from the garden, is one of the most significant and attractive elements in the today's urban setting! The desire to cross the space separating us from the river is brought to reality in my artistic project, with a flow of words, questions, and appeals to the unknown, where the comprehensible and the incomprehensible attract and repel like lovers. Firstly there is the footbridge that I would like to deal with in sculpting terms as "a magic embarkation", a sort of "totemic barge" entirely covered in inscriptions, and next comes the gallery overlooking the road with its flow of vehicles. This crossing is a little like tightrope walking, the writing in this sensorial room is gentle, transparent, calm, and aerial; in this elongated space a slowly drawn breath is released towards the Thames. In the staircase descending one floor are mobile words; they move gently as we approach and accompany us to the last corridor by the water.

The Thames was made narrower as the banks were advanced to make way for the new, growing city. In the small park where the footbridge starts, were discovered the Roman baths built close to the old riverbed. This area, gained or lost according to your point of view on human activities, today sets a new time scale for a journey: in this precise spot I have chosen to develop my artistic project. My aim is to rewrite the route, between actual history and fiction, between archaeology and modern story telling. This immersion "movement time words" is a sensitive, poetic sequence; the time of an encounter, of perception and reading the writing will be random and evolving, a letter or an extract from a book written in the Middle Ages may rub shoulders with contemporary words or timeless fictions, as in a random "verbatim."

Stories about the place, old and recent, will be layered over one another like rock strata over time, yet in a random, poetic and evocative sequence. Some of the writing will be legible, some difficult to decipher or so light and visually transparent that a propitious moment will have to be awaited or a second visit made in order to understand them. Some words written backwards, or in reverse of the usually accepted sequence, will keep their secrets until the shadows lengthen or artificial lighting reveals all!
My project, in its visual and evocative appearance, invites, through the use of language, a sensory immersion in predetermined space-time. The connection between the actual viewer and the place itself will occur instantly or through successive crosschecking and repeated experimentation.

To conceive this poetic aspect, I shall collect words, texts, citations, sentences and other writings from targeted sources such as letters, rubrics, stories, extracts from books, old and current poetry, and other material mainly relating to the history of Queensbridge and the Thames in this very spot.
Undertaking this research will be a big task to consult libraries, archives, archaeologists and the local population who live and work in the area and alongside the river. The materials I shall use for the project will be metal perforated with the texts, resin and serigraphy on glass, light and interactive projected lighting. In the gallery staircase I would like to use projected texts that will change and become activated as visitors stroll by. This space could be one of the strongly creative areas on the daytime and nighttime route. If during the day the sky darkens and we find ourselves in a relative penumbra, the projection will be automatically triggered. Otherwise the writing will appear to a set schedule. For the writing displayed in the gallery and on the footbridge I shall use natural and lacquered stainless steel and cut resin shapes, serigraphy on glass and resin as well as holograms inserted between two glass plates. The colours of these holograms will react differently depending on variations in natural and artificial light.




China (2012-2019)

Selected Artworks




Work in Sand

Video Presentation