“Earth Art uses the planetary dimension of the earth as an artistic medium and was developed in this century as a corollary to the telecommunications revolution and to the globalization of all spheres of human activity. Earth art uses planet Earth as the raw material for emotional and introspective expression.
The appeal of distance is in the very loss that defines it. The tools that we use, even the very sophisticated ones, are unable to adequately convey the sense of distance. Our senses must be at their most alert to be able to conceive of the other or of elsewhere. Being absent wakes our senses up by reorganising perception: consciousness participates with the mental reconstitution of an emotion-filled puzzle. As touch is useless, it becomes virtual; unfathomable, it is exacerbated.
Fingertips become useless: we must touch with the heart, the soul, the body. Perception reorganises itself. Sight and touch are no longer supreme. The ears and voice become the vectors of exchange, of interactivity. Loss, reconstituting a void: no longer is there a vision or distorted vision.
In Orient Express, the picture taken every hour on the hour prompts us to reconstitute the intervals. Orient Express makes holes in space and time. The conception of time has been exacerbated by a focus on points.
In Thaon/New York, sound is transmitted by satellite and image by slow-scan. The sounds mix, especially during the transatlantic interactive music piece. With the collage of sounds, spatial references are lost. The image is blurred and sequential and is therefore only partial in time and space. These lace-like holes in sound and image become a shadow theatre with shades of images and shades of sounds. Here, removal and loss is what creates art from reality.
Why is this pleasurable and why is ubiquity so moving?
It is the beauty of distant presence: I share my consciousness. My body is here, but my consciousness is shared between this place and elsewhere, between me and others. Here again there is a loss, an exchange. It is the beauty of communication with another place, with another person: I participate in that elsewhere, I participate in the “else”.
In this intent, this virtual gesture, there is love: spiritual love because it is disembodied. There is eroticism because senses are sharpened and fantasy exacerbated.
It is the sublime pleasure of distance. Uncertain distance: in-between, ambiguity, ambivalence, shared value.
Creating emptiness, a space of possibilities, the utopia necessary to every birth, to all creation.
Earth art is a form of art that takes Earth in its planetary dimension, as material for artistic reflection and emotion.
Earth art is sublime because it mixes fear and a sense of wonder.
To imagine on a planetary scale is to resize one’s consciousness. Human consciousness can now extend to a planetary scale. Consciousness extension.
We are at once infinitely big and infinitely small, lost and found. In Le bleu du Ciel, the viewer looking at the average of the two skies, the one above him and the one a thousand kilometres away—mentally reconstitutes the colour of the far away sky from grey to blue. The spectator reconstitutes the atmospheric cloud cover and his consciousness spreads over the globe. Ozone, each sound makes us shift from one antipode to the other. Oscillating movement with a 20,000-kilometre amplitude. Sounds from the automobile pollution in the city of Lille, and sounds from the riddled atmosphere. Interactions between man, air and sun. Network and noosphere. Planetary interdependence.
We change our point of view : at the same time it develops in space, consciousness is extended. Cosmic consciousness. The ego is finally abandoned. The self vanishes. Our point of view is now a point of fractal being, at once distant and involved, particular and infinite.
Perspective no longer limits our vision. We are in another place inside us, another place in the other, up there. The you and the me meet between Earth and sky.
Here is thus a lesson on distance and on wisdom: it is a lesson for the spirit.”
[Image: Stéphan Barron, Le Jour et La Nuit, Two computers, one in Brazil, one in Australia, averaged the images of the skies of the two countries, 1995] Electronic art is matched with environmental sensibilities in French artist Stéphan Barron’s “technoromantic” work. Using video, computers and community agit-prop Barron has found ways to bring abstract notions of space, gardening and urban land use to neighbors and gallery goers alike. The challenge of much technology based work is often the distancing that occurs when presented by a computer screen. In works such as Night and Day Barron brings the averaged sky tones from remote cameras in Brazil and Australia together into one computer image, creating a work that emphasises the electronic and environmental systems which unite far away lands. “Ozone” manages a similar feat by converting ozone levels in French car exhaust and Australian UV levels coming through the ozone layer into music. The abstraction and mystery provide a window into the surprising connections which connect us together. More at the greenmuseum.org
The CD-ROM’s summary is composed of clouds. A sound from the project is generated when the cursor is placed on one of the clouds. Clicking on a cloud opens an interactive animation that sums up each earth art project. This non-narrative, non-textual presentation emphasizes the auditory aspect of Stephan Barron’s work.
The CD-ROM includes theoretical texts by Roy Ascott, Théo Barbu, Paul Brown, Laurent Benoit, Augustin Berque, Anna Capella, Mario Costa, Jean-Paul Fargier, Jürgen Engel, Fred Forest, Edmond Couchot, Jacques Donguy, Derrick de Kerckhove, Antonin Kosik, Markus Müller, Louise Poissant, Pierre Restany, François Terrassoné … as well as 300 pages from Stéphan Barron’s doctoral dissertation on his work.
Toucher l’espace, poétique de l’Art Planétaire is published by L’Harmattan, November 2006 - The first part of the book describes artworks that use planet Earth in its geographic entirety as an art medium. It describes the emergence of this art form which developed over the last century and whose importance grew with that of telecommunication technologies. Globalisation and ecological issues are essential themes of this art form.
In the second part of the book, 25 artworks or projects are featured, recounting 23 years of the author’s own creative work. 42 colour photographs and 17 black and white pictures illustrate the text.
Earth Art takes the Earth as its raw material for emotional and introspective expression, using telecommunication technologies to highlight distance and geographical space. This art form explores the emotions and poetry of distance, and reflects on globalisation, and its human and ecological consequences; Stéphan Barron’s adventure awakens and alerts us to a broader conscience of our planet.” - Edgar Morin