The Paris Reseau project


Session Title:

  • Digital Geography

Presentation Title:

  • The Paris Reseau project



  • This paper describes the construction of Paris Reseau, a “(net)work in progress”.Texts, images, and sounds collected in various ways before, during, and after a “performance” by members of the group Art-Reseaux at the Videotheque (Video Library) of Paris form different layers in the Paris Reseau archives, a hypermedia database. To begin with, the author will present excerpts from Paris Reseau: Art-Reseaux (1995), as well as more recent developments in this on-going information art project such as the Paris Reseau/Paris Network Web site (1996—) and the Paris Reseau Guide CD-ROM. P-R assembles photographs, videos, sound-samples, and texts to form a composite image of the city mixing reality and fiction, past and present, combining mediated (digitized) traces of physical places and people with information garnered from individual and collective memory. The second part of this paper deals with some of the theoretical questions raised by this project.Is it possible to articulate a heterogeneous and continually changing set of images into a unified esthetic statement? Can a structure be found which will be sturdy enough to convey a strong artistic position, yet flexible enough to integrate new data capable of perturbing or modifying this point of view? What is the role played by digital and electronic technologies? Since this project was begun, the cranes and bulldozers have left the Grande Bibliotheque and it has officially opened to the public, road construction crews have put in over 50 kilometers of bike lanes, Isabelle has moved again, taking her mannequins with her, Gilbertto has gone back to Brazil…All the while, P-R continues its sedimentation, accumulating, like Borges’ labyrinth,” infinite series of times … a growing, vertiginous network of convergent, divergent and parallel times”. Does the city “inform” (give form to) this work or does the work inform the city (insofar as it shapes our experience of it)? Is one a container and the other its content(s)? In what ways do (digital) images shape the content (our perception) of the city? In what ways do electronic networks, and the Web in particular, transform not only the content of individual artworks, but the very nature of art itself?