Jacques Perconte
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  10 octobre 2021  
Cubitt, Sean, Media-N.
Ecocritical Media Arts and the War on Terra
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Media-N | The Journal of the New Media Caucus Fall 2021: Volume 17, Issue 2, Pages 27–38 ISSN: 1942-017X

Ecocritical Media Arts and the War on Terra

Professor of Screen Studies, Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne


Ecocritique accepts, as it must, that humans and environments have been ripped apart historically, sociologically, and aesthetically. But it also recognizes that because we have become strangers, dialogue between humans and environments is possible as it could not be if we were all one universal  flux.  Because  of  our  mutual  alienation,  there  are  endless opportunities  for misunderstanding when we capture, store, and process what we confront as Nature. Contemporary economic and political conditions driving ever more terrifying inequalities of wealth and power create the crisis implicit in ecocritique. The critical functions of art, which in these circumstances implies technical and creative aesthetic and political practice, concern the construction of a “we” that embraces the human and non- human victims of ecocide. The master’s tools might dismantle the master’s house, but can they build a different dwelling? Where are the practices that can produce more-than- human social change?

[...] Menkman’s Collapse is closer to Jacques Perconte’s Árvore da Vida,15 which also operates on the level of the codec, but now with a kind of evolutionary subtlety that datamoshing rarely strives for. Perconte disassembled more than a hundred thousand frames of video shot at a distance of two hundred meters from a tree standing at the edge of a Madeiran forest. The frames were stored as GIFs, before applying color reductions (well below the 256 usually allowed by the GIF format, passing as low as two or four colors) and MPEG-derived temporal compressions, before reassembling the near-monochrome plates in transparent layers up to twenty deep in After Effects to gain the maximum detail in the image, so that the titular tree of life and its backdrop shimmer with one life. (This is a much-shortened account of the process; and the video documentation available on streaming platforms falls far below the cinema-quality resolution of the original.)

In a lucid and poetic text, Bidhan Jacobs writes, “The motif of the tree of life, principle of fertility and fecundity, is injected into the digital film technologies whose normalized, impoverished signal contains in its data an infinite plastic potential,” as if Perconte’s patient labors on the files reveal an otherwise hidden digital capacity for evolution and growth.16 Here it is the human artisan who places himself in service to the generative potential locked up in the black box of the codecs.


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