An interview with Nav Haq, curator of the third biennial for video art Decoder, Contour 2007.
[Nav Haq] Your work often takes into consideration its relationship with the viewer. It becomes like a form of ‘play’ or a game for people that encounter your work. It really is like piecing together a puzzle. Why does this appeal to you?
[Cédric Noël] I like the concept of a puzzle. It’s full of connections and it offers a large number of possible images that can be realised and that fit just right. It’s even better, at the end, when small pieces of heaven fall onto to the wheat field! I am very interested in the idea of the potential image, in the imagery that is hidden within an object or a word. I try to conjure these images and to immediately give them an autonomy that goes further than their referents and the impulse that brought them to life. I am talking about the mental image, among others, which is a main concern in my work. In general, the mental image can be defined as the creation or the reproduction of an experience through the brain. If my work looks like a game, it is because of its connection to experience, in the sense of ‘gaining experience with’, especially with mechanisms that have to do with the production and the reception of an image. The spectator is invited to use his imagination. He can either play along or not, that’s his decision; it’s about his responsibility towards the image, which underlines that the reception of an experience is part of its realization.
[NH] On one level your work is about perception. To what extent do you think that the experiential side of encountering your work is intended to offer insight into one’s own perceptual mechanisms?
[CN] This might sound a bit crazy, but my works are meant for eyes that have seen! In other words, for eyes that remember things. In order to illustrate this, I would like to refer to a technique that is used in theatre: the so-called hypotyposis, which is the evocation of an object or an action on stage, but solely with words. The actor describes a door or a battle and the audience envisions it. It’s like a superimposition, an image layer that covers the stage and what is already on it. It simultaneously evokes an objective vision of the object (in this example, the stage) and an interior, subjective vision (the door or the battle).
[NH] Your new work Ein Reich looks at possible alternative histories to the one we know. How does presenting different ‘fictionalisations’ within one of your works engage with our sense of what we know?
[CN] I’m only interested in fiction when it causes hesitation, when it puts certainties at risk and destabilizes the whole individual. The reaction can even be physical, like a kind of nausea. The key to it is the hesitation in those places where there is a failure in the memory. Ein Reich triggers the hesitations of the memory and their consequences. We are easily thrown back into the abominable.