Reading Back

Julien Maire


Object, 70 x 55 x 60 cm.
Materials: 3 automatic reading machines, stepper motors, electronic drivers and mechanism and 3 books with original drawings

Collection: Courtesy Julien Maire.

Julien Maire (b. 1969) operates on the interface of installation, performance and media art. For years he has been busy with re-activating old imaging techniques with the aid of modern technology. By mixing technologies of past and present, Maire does not merely present objects of melancholy, he re-activates them. In El Hotel Eléctrico he confronts us with the notion of duration and reading time. Three automatic 'reading machines' are set up and quite mechanically and indifferently leaf through three books. The reading process appears to lead its own life here. The viewer must submit to the rhythm of the machine, just like a film projector or DVD-player reads an image and requires us to follow.

In each of his works, Maire plays with the conventions that surround a medium as well as with viewers' patterns of expectation. Quite methodically, he reminds us to always take a second look. In the performance To Sublimate, presented at the opening evening of El Hotel Eléctrico, he translates the typically photographic concept of the ‘blurred’ (out of focus) image into a three-dimensional object.

Through his manipulations, Maire triggers questions concerning the features and attributes of an image and in a wider sense of visual strategies in the digital age. He opposes the notion that technology necessarily equals progress, while at the same time remaining fascinated by this ongoing evolution. With his work, Julien Maire paradoxically enters into dialogue with media archaeology via the design of new technological devices and absurd prototypes that deliver ungraspable results, never destined to become items of mass-production.

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