08 June 2017
Clément Lambelet studied photography at the ECAL in Lausanne. In 2013 he cofounded “Noeme“, a non-profit organization, that works for the dissemination and reflection on the contemporary artistic image. His practice is tied to society-based issues linked to human visibility. Lambelet is looking to explore the readability and visual comprehension of contemporary subjects such as the use of algorithms for human control. His work employs both photographic and video forms, as well as image and archival appropriation.
His current inquiries focuses on the issue of privacy and the place of man within machinic and algorithmic visions.
What is the task of photography?
Photography needs to be first and foremost a personal necessity – which subject, which form and which position? This implies a form of criticism of both society – the subject – and the images in themselves. Beyond that, photography is not there to make peace with the world, but to shake our certainties. Pictures are not really interesting if they merely traces the beauties that surround us without offering more meaning. The disorder is more exciting. The choice, the cut, in the confusion of the world.
When does photography reach its limits ?
Two limits affect me in photography: immediacy and information. A photograph seen on the wall or on a screen is immediately available. Everything is present in one temporality, one glance. It is one of the strengths, but also one of the limits of photography. This is why the project Collateral Visions (that I present to the Swiss Design Awards) includes videos. The duration of the moving image allows some wait, a suspense (or boredom), but also a time of reflection.
Even if it’s immediate, photography is never pure information. Despite its appearance of a transcription of reality, it remains free of interpretation – as evidenced by the need for legend in the press. But again, it’s both a limit and a force of the medium. The photographs that interest me contain little information. I prefer to present documents, such as press clippings or excerpts of scientific research alongside the images I produce. Their purely informative value contains an aspect that photography does not possess.
Is good photography invisible?
A good photograph is not invisible. An invisible image, a non-memorable image, has little power. It barely exists. It must not be simple either. Its shape can be simple, but it must contain a depth beneath its surface. Although, the meaning may not be apparent at first glance. Its visibility belongs to the spectator.
Must photography create something new ?
Each era produces new ways of seeing. Society will change and photography will continue to offer something new. Even if it takes on old forms or old techniques. There is also a force in the revival of old patterns or icons in new visions. It’s a process that I used in the project Collateral Visions, taking the position of Adam and Eve from an engraving of Dürer, but in an image created with an airport scanner. This allows to connect with our common visual culture and bring the spectator to read these images differently.
Which artists influenced you?
I admire the work of Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin, especially the updating of Brecht’s ideas with Holy Bible and War Primer 2. These two books, or the project Afterlife, have led me to think of photography in a broader way, in its relationship to power, in the way it circulates and is interpreted.