Multidisciplinary artist

Waiting for Bárðarbunga

This project was initiated during a residency in Iceland in August 2014. I was south of Vatnajökull when warnings of the possible eruption of the Bárðarbunga subglacial stratovolcano begun. They were communicated in a spectacular, almost apocalyptic way by some international media while a certain calm reigned in the areas I was traveling through. I was regularly checking webcams installed in the region, consulting weather and seismic data to see how the situation evolved (examples : 1, 2, 3 & 4). During this period, I made audiovisual recordings of weather stations and monitoring systems, of the territory's transformation due to volcanic activity, as well as geothermal phenomena and power plants. An eruption started at the Holuhraun fissure on August 29th. This «quiet» eruption ended February 27th 2015. It was the most important lava emission recorded in Iceland in over two centuries and it released high levels of toxic gases in the air. Since June 2015 the alert level of Bárðarbunga has been set to Uncertainty Phase by the Iceland Civil Protection authorities.

Waiting for Bárðarbunga is made of hundreds of video sequences which are presented according to the evolution of a statistical model that integrates data about the state and activity of the computer that presents them : temperature of components, fan speed and energy consumption. The video database consists of stationary camera shots that last a few seconds each. Most of them can be seamlessly looped and sometimes evoke remote webcams watching isolated areas. The audiovisual sequences are interconnected one to the other inside a rhizomatic structure. They are grouped and linked according to formal, conceptual, location-based and event-based characteristics. Amongst others, they show rivers under surveillance, glaciers breaking into drifting icebergs, foggy landscapes, hissing steam vents, boiling mud and geothermal power plants. The non-linear audiovisual piece evolves based on a probabilistic system influenced by real-time information coming from the computer's sensors. According to the amplitude of their variation and the correlations between the types of data, what the viewer experiences ranges from contemplative spaces where time seems to be suspended to energy-charged audiovisual blasts.

The video is projected with a stereo soundtrack. A monitor located next to the computer displays dynamic graphics of its sensors' data, for each type a different time scale is covered. No information is given about what these graphs represent, therefore leaving their meaning open to the imagination. The work has an unpredictable unfolding and its conclusion may never be given. The system's monitoring influences the course of events it presents, and vice versa.


Collaborators

Software development : Sean Wood and Louis Commère
Assistance : Nancy Lombart and Étienne Baillargeon

Project initiated at SÍM Residency (Reykjavík, Iceland) and completed with Sean Wood and Louis Commère of the Necotis research group during a residency at Sporobole in collaboration with the 3IT and Université de Sherbrooke (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada).

Thanks to the Canada Council for the Arts, Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, SODEC, SÍM Residency, Sporobole, Necotis, Perte de Signal and La Chambre Blanche for their involvement and support.


Diffusion

Éléments, solo exhibition at Espace F (Matane, Quebec, Canada), July 10- September 20, 2015.

Waiting for Bárðarbunga at RIDM | Montreal International Documentary Festival, UXdoc space, Norman-McLaren Hall of Cinémathèque québécoise (Montreal, Québec, Canada), November 12-22, 2015.

Waiting for Bárðarbunga, Sporobole (Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada). December 10-18, 2015.

En attendant Bárðarbunga at Mois Multi 17. Manif d'art's window (Quebec, QC, Canada). February 3-27, 2016. Curator : Ariane Plante.

Waiting for Bárðarbunga at FIMAV. Centre d’art Jacques-et-Michel-Auger (Victoriaville, QC, Canada). May 16 - June 11, 2016. Curator : Érick D’Orion


Articles and interviews

Waiting for Bárðarbunga – Non-Linear Landscape Cinema - Creative Applications Network
Artist-In-Residence: Volcanic Surveillance Data as a Medium - The Creators Project
Waiting for Bárðarbunga - Prosthetic Knowledge
Waiting for Bárðarbunga - Procedural Generation
Waiting for Bárðarbunga... in Canada - Iceland Monitor
New Landscape Photography
Installing Water in the Art Gallery and the Human Mind - Glacier Hub
Ces lieux que nous avons en partage : Catherine Béchard, Sabin Hudon, François Quévillon, et Patrick Beaulieu au Mois Multi (in French) - Article by Cynthia Fecteau. Artichaut Magazine - Hybrides, May 2016.
François Quévillon, En attendant Bárðarbunga - esse arts+opinions article (in French) - Claire Moeder
Éléments exhibition text (in French) - Nathalie Bachand
Mois Multi 2016: une odyssée sensible (in French) - Josianne Desloges, Le Soleil