...It is necessary to liberate cinema as an expressive medium in order to make it the ideal instrument of a new Art, immensely vaster and lighter than all those already in existence. We are certain that only by this means will it be possible to reach that poly-expressivity towards which all the most modern artistic work tends.1
Taking part in a performance of expanded cinema means giving oneself up to the synaesthetic experience, setting aside the traditional rules of film language and developing a receptive attitude, free of critical criteria. Through the perception of the artistic world, there is the possibility of momentarily glimpsing the invisible relational forces of the cosmos.
Light is the starting agent of this chain reaction, the projector its tool. As Gene Youngblood recalls, “thirty-eight percent of fibres entering or leaving the central nervous system are in the optic nerve. It is estimated that as much as seventy-five percent of information entering the brain is from the eyes”.2
Xavier’s expertise allows him to create extraordinary light effects with simple yet precise gestures. These effects wind around the projection environment and the viewers. Once again the interest is in the material and its potential: we find ourselves facing the projector not to watch a film with a plot, but to expand the borders of our personality, realising that cinema is capable of transmitting the magic of thought and dreams. At a few points, a small screen (handmade by Xavier himself with raw materials) is positioned in front of the cone of light, a few strips of celluloid changed by the careful positioning of objects, lenses and filters create abstract forms, a few short pieces of found footage show the setting free of seagulls or the shadow of someone who advances in unpredictable intervals, until he stops and burns. A détournement 3 of several independent expressions which substitute the original elements in a more efficient, concise organisation.
Quelques minutes de soleil après minuit, the title chosen for this performance, is a moment in time disconnected from the daily rhythm of clocks and calendars, but instead connected to the heart and the mind. The collective subjective, described by Maya Deren as “the communication of art between those elements common to all people”4, is the emotional invention which Xavier is able to transmit; interacting with him and establishing this dynamic and empathetic relationship is to create together a brief moment of affirmation and universal joy.
1 F. T. Martinetti, B. Corra, E. Settimelli, A. Ginna, G. Balla, R. Chiti, La cinematografia futurista, Milan September 11th 1916
2 Gene Youngblood, Expanded Cinema, New York 1970
3 Guy Debord & Gil J. Wolman, Mode d’emploi du détournement in Les Levres Nues n. 8, Brussels May 1956; “In the civil-war phase we are engaged in, we believe that art and creation in general should exclusively serve partisan motives, and that is necessary to finish off any notion of private property in these areas. Détournement is the free appropriation of other people’s creations. Détournement is decontextualisation…”
4 “As children we all had a box which we kept hidden; it contained a butterfly wings, a beetle, a lucky penny. For each, that box was private, intimate and secret; and yet we all (most of us) had it. Communication of art is between those boxes, between subjectivities, the secret that we all share, each privately…” - Maya Deren, New Directions in Film Art 1951
Xavier Quérel is active in different fields of experimental cinema, such as live performances with super8, 16mm films and light, mainly with La cellule d’Intervention Metamkine, a trio founded in 1987 together with Christophe Auger and Jérôme Noetinger. They also set up a film-lab Atelier MTK where is possible to process, print, blow-up, edit color or b/w, super8 and 16mm films by yourself for very low costs. Other projects are: Maki, an improvised shadow show including dance and music in collaboration with africans artists planned in small lost villages in Dakar, Bamako or Goree island; a solo, with a small set-up in front of the audience; Et/Ou and le Cube, improvised and collaborative performances… He organizes experimental cinema screenings, performances and improvised concerts, exhibitions, meetings and debates in le 102, owned by the City of Grenoble; it’s a non-profit organization, without subsidies, anyone is volunteer and participate to all the tasks. He participates actively to the life of this place for more than 15 years.