The work unites seven series of photographs, taken (for the most part) in the very same town space where they were to be later exhibited. The work's visual transformation is keyed to the sound of passing traffic, as well as to hand clapping on the part of the viewer.

Collido_scope is an installation which was made for the 1er Contact Festival, held in Issy-les-Moulineaux, outside Paris in 2002, comprising digital works made for exhibition in an exterior, urban environment.

Artist's Statement
Structural Diagram
Parapluies (Umbrellas)
Saint Germain
Issy by Night
Of Victuals and Hands

The Cube is a centre for digital arts that is located in the suburb of Issy-les-Moulineaux, on Paris's south-western city limit. Issy - and its mayor, André Santini - lay the claim for being France's first "cybercity". As a municipality, it has incorporated many of its administrative functions on its web site. It is allegedly the first commune to have performed an online marriage.

The Cube offers a diversified programme of conferences, exhibitions, and training, as well as studio space where people can work on projects. However its activities go beyond this, as it offers artists residencies that allow them to research different themes. The Cube was created by the ART3000 association, run by Nils and Florent Aziosmanoff and Stéphanie Fraysse-Ripert. Active in the digital art field in France for over a decade, ART3000 has organised a series of conferences on the subjet.

The Cube is housed on several floors of a beautiful, modern concrete building, with an airy interior and outside platforms that give the impression of an aerial boat floating above the surrounding neighbourhood.

In 2002 the Cube invited me to make an installation for the 1er Contact Festival which was to be held from the 16th to the 20th October. The purpose of the festival was to place digital art works in an exterior, urban setting, in specially designed street furniture.

I thus worked on Collido_scope throughout the summer, making several trips to Issy to impregnate myself with the city and its psychogeographical way of being. I decided to concentrate my project on the town centre, the immediate surroundings of the city hall, in the vicinity of which the exhibition was to take place. Thus the work would be exhibited in its place of creation. I spent a long weekend in August taking hundreds of photographs, rushing down to the Cube at regular intervals to empty my memory cards.

A motif present in Collido_scope - and which gives it its title - is a ceramic tiled wall fresco, sharply geometrical, in the style of the sixites or seventies when it was probably made. I used this as a backdrop for the principle scene, the image split into two reflecting halves by the glass facade of the Monoprix supermarket, to which the fresco is perpendicular. I thus caught people going in and out of the entrance, along with the counterpoint of their reflections. Mixing up the images in a random, continuous fade would generate the kaleidoscope effect.

In order to take these pictures, I placed my tripod in an unused entrance way, with my camera flush with the surface of the glass. At one point a dapper man exited from the supermarket and challenged me for proof of permission to take photographs "on his property". I started to tell him that in terms of urban space I was on the pavement, in the public realm, but thought it more diplomatic to tell him about the festival. Tell a shopkeeper that the mayor is involved, and submission follows. Satisfied, he returned inside.

Indeed, the location finally chosen for the installation was to be just there, the screen placed in front of the ceramic wall. My work was to be placed in a "sucker" shaped piece of street furniture - in French called a "sucette", the type that normally contains advertising - but in this case containing a 42 inch plasma screen, a microphone, and a powerful computer.

After that I had to process the pictures through Photoshop and do the programming. At the same time, it was business as usual at Magelis, and I was also working on the Over My Dead Body project. I returned to the Cube a week before the festival to work there in residence. Working day and night, on occasion dropping off on the keyboard at the hotel. At the Cube I shared rooms with a colleague programming three Sony Aibo dogs to act out Little Red Ridinghood for one of the other works, a behavioural piece by Florent Aziosmanoff, the Cube's art director and curator of the festival.

One morning, a few days before the start, the festival producer rushed in to say that workmen were demolishing the fresco! She managed to stop them, leaving the wall defaced. The supermarket manager, who was doing serious renovation, had decided to demolish it in order to put up a sign giving directions to his parking lot. Unfortunately, it turned out that the wall belongs to the building next door... so when I suggested that we could save the situation by removing certain tiles to make the demolition look "aesthetic", I was informed that this would not be possible, as the wall now constituted evidence for pending legal action. Finally it was partially hidden with white board, and the link between the picture and its surroundings, via the fresco, lost its evident nature. Which demonstrates that one of the aspects of urban art should be to take into account its unpredictable, changeable nature. C'est la vie.

After a night of coffee and Aibo barking, Collido_scope was installed in its "sucker" on the morning the festival started. I had to continue programming on site with Roland Cahen from the Ircam to get the sound capture interface running properly, using the keyboard balanced on a supermarket trolly in the drizzle. The festival consisted of ten installations, very varied (see the 1er Contact website). Regrettably it lasted for only five days, as the cost for guarding the installations, hiring material, etc., was very high. But the whole town centre was transfigured, functioning like an open air museum, people going from piece to piece with their catalogues, very studiously. It was amazing fun.

Apparently a magician came round to Collido_scope on the Saturday afternoon, and got all the other people there at that time clapping in unision, and it worked really nicely.

Collido_scope was presented a second time at the Cube, in March 2003, for the annual French Internet Festival. This was an occasion to refine the sound interface, and develop the scenes' dynamics. In February 2004 it was exhibited in Toulouse in the Traverse Video festival. This provided an opportunity to develop the “dreaming” aspects of the installation.


design, photography, programming:
Joseph Rabie

sound interface programming:
Roland Cahen, with the Ircam (Centre Pompidou) Jmax environment.

Photoshop image processing:
Lysiane Beaumel

Sylvie Rabie, Florent Aziosmanoff, Clarisse Bardiou, Nils Aziosmanoff, Stéphanie Fraysse-Ripert and the Cube team, the Magelis team.