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> Michel Kirch

Each of my images is currently constructed out of a varying number of photographs.

Sometimes just one, sometimes dozens.

Documentary is not my thing – or only in a completely indirect and subjective way.

Subjectivity, in fact, is what interests me…

By which I mean the encounter between two worlds: one external – called "reality" – and the other internal. If the very first photograph matches some inner landscape, for me the image is already constructed. This was the case before I began exploring the digital; what is different now is the reduced role of chance and thus a quicker crystallisation of my intentions. 

My inner landscape as expressed in a photograph is a geography of the soul teased out of the substance of the real. The real is what makes photography magic… Constructing a fiction out of the materials of an unarguable reality is a truly exciting challenge.  Something is at work, something whose considerable energy is troubling. Especially as, in most of my projects, I work solely with my own images. 

Reality is a landmark. One there's no getting around. And yet defining it is tricky. We agree to apply the term "reality" to a collectively perceived or felt vision, or situation, or landscape. The word is a basic grid for a majority opinion. What is important lies in the proposed norm – defined as a rule by the five senses – unless that norm is deliberately transgressed. For between any given observer and the "reality" observed there are personal filters which reconstruct, element by element, a reality whose shape is in theory beyond dispute. Despite these reservations, a commonly accepted "reality" does exist, and would seem as necessary to the social bond as a conventionally agreed-on perception of time. This constraint represents a subtle interconnection between people. Breaking with it is a risk artists have always taken. Breaking with it while at the same time drawing on it is a prerequisite for sharing, for receptiveness to a relativity that sets mind over matter. When I go out "hunting" – sometimes the right word is "questing", depending on my mood – I deliberately empty my mind, using personal practices that let me tune out completely. It is as if the mind impedes surprise by seeking to anticipate, direct, establish a goal. Once free of this straitjacket, one's imaginative realm emerges in the guise of reality. And naturally reflexes born of working and thinking shape a specific framework, follow a guideline, or go looking for unexpected situations. This is called a style. 

And the unexpected that turns up against all the odds will then endow it with its essential energy.

In fact, ever since my first camera I've been looking for my own vision of reality… A kind of dreamlike (or simply personal) place hidden beneath appearances, which my insistent gaze strives to bring to light – strives to reveal. 

I have always believed in the possibility of an underlying mystery that would mockingly subvert, or at least relativise, the burdens of the everyday. Initially a flight, this process became a quest. It was no longer a matter of withdrawing, but of getting closer… This quest is the air I breathe. Since I went digital everything has got faster, more pronounced, and freer, but the meaning has stayed the same. Some of my subjects, though, could never have come into being without digitisation. In every age the discovery of some new tool – in this case Photoshop – has spurred creativity on. In photography this has always seemed suspect: a kind of special effect, insulting to the truth. Because for so long photography has been identified with reportage and artistic ambitions strictly excluded from the "aesthetic". In short it has been considered a poor, over-eager relative of the painterly tradition. 

After my discovery of digital tools, I also began exploring the Web as a tool for certain very specific subjects: in particular for Homo Fukushima, whose concept is a project based on Japan by someone who has never been there. I always create my backdrops out of my own images of geologically identical volcanic terrain, adding, collaging, inserting and arranging topical images from the Internet. I use them as pictorial material, mixing them in with my own photos. These additions are items of information and punctuation which I modify, incorporating them into an initially harmonious energy; but then, taking the process further, I generate a synergy that transcends this incorporated material and sublimates it in a realistic fiction. 

My images remain the underpinning, but the informational additions bring an element of the collective unconscious to the work thus created.

So there is no absolute need, today, to actually move about: the world is at our fingertips, except in cases where an on-the-spot feel is obligatory. We are in on the ground floor in a globalised, networked and interconnected world, an interdependent and inter-responsible world where there is no longer any clear boundary between the virtual and the real: a metareality in which I see the material driving the Net as a kind of embodied collective unconscious. 

And so I add to these images not just the computer revolution, but the Web revolution as well.

There is no longer any doubt: no truth is ever absolute and it is the artist's duty to impose his own.

By all possible means…

Michel Kirch

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