Initially created for long-distance surveillance and communication purposes, much like its counterparts 1, the semaphore of Créac’h, posted on the “end land” of the tiuessant Island, offers an unobstructed view of the Atlantic, which separates the European continent from the Canadian coast. From its heights, Capucine Vever spent hours scanning the landscape: the expanse of the ocean’s varying fluctuations, and furth(est), the unchanging line that we call the horizon, on which the water and sky marry via the infra-thin, under varying lights and shades.
The focal point, metaphorical object and (no)where of all of these projections, oftentimes romantic or Romanesque, is this imaginary line: immaterial and inaccessible, a true mirage produced by an optical effect, that illustrates less an end in itself than a threshold between the visible and the invisible. If the horizon observes, it also serves as a screen.
Continuing the mental maps and stories that she projects onto phenomena outside of our line of site, as well as atopic spaces, Capucine Vever leans towards elements that stretch beyond what appear to be the limits of our vision. This approach works as a countercurrent to the idyllic image of a seemingly (or nearly) desert-like aquatic world. “Behind” the horizon, far from its shores, an incessant back-and-forth movement of boats is operating, transporting all sorts of merchandise. Given that it is decidedly less expensive to produce at the other end of the world, the high seas, rarely subjected to international norms, has become the theater of unbounded commercial operations that progressively, and tacitly, ruin the marine ecosystem.
Capucine Vever executes this process of degradation of both material and image through the series Scraping the bottom (Lame de fond), in which she manually reproduces a maritime transportation card centered in Shanghai, the first world freight port, with a Rotring pen. This card is engraved on a copper plate, which serves as a matrix, progressively plunged nine times in an acid bath, thereby giving way to as many prints as the alteration and loss of readability amount to. The shady zones correspond to the maritime paths as they gain ground until engulfing the land, which appears to be aiacked: contaminated by some destructive element.
It’s within these troubled waters between reality and science fiction, the present and a future more or less distant, that swim the artworks of Capucine Vever: imprints of an atmosphere belonging to a “horizon of events.” “tine day, in my presence, a wizard removed the horizon that surrounded me”: in his book In the Land of Magic (1941), Henri Michaux reports this sensation, so strange that he doesn’t even dare to describe it. Created with the help of a device equipped with a highly sensitive sensor, the photographic series eponym reveals nocturnal visions of the surroundings of the semaphore of Créac’h, which cannot capture the human eye. These photographs go as far as predicting the imperceptible sunrise. The “noisy” images with extraterrestrial accents, where (super)natural lights emiied by the sky dialogue with artificial lighting and other lighthouses2 sweeping land and sea with their broad beams; wild water and rock, along with human constructions.
The spaces of the semaphore and the ocean constitute the decor of a film with an invisible protagonist, who is simultaneously present and absent. The guardian of the lighthouse, a figure who has disappeared along with the automatization of this type of structure, always off-camera, makes us see through his eye, which has replaced the subjective lens of the camera. We see the landscape and panoptic architectures from which he contemplates, from a ghost’s point of view. The thoughts of this invisible, omniscient narrator, the perfect acousmêtre,3 makes themselves heard from his internal voice, offering a glimpse of the anxiety he experiences in a time and space that seem to repeat themselves and stretch towards infinity: like the image of the horizon line that reveals itself as we walk towards it, and the incessant traffic that plays out far away, beyond.
A line which the artist comes, in some way, to materialize in the manner in which a line draws itself via a series of natural deposits of white limestone, according to a geological temporality, onto a series of stones collected during walks, which are then played according to their overhanging score, then inscribed onto the same painting, where they find themselves juxtaposed.
Evoked by the title of the book The Songlines in which Bruce Chatwin returns to this oral tradition of “songlines” as a way to perceive the land (in Australia in particular), the piece It’s in singing the name of everything which they have encountered along their path […] that they brought the world into existence (2017) calls back and preserves the cartography of an imaginary landscape, all while projecting memory on playback, until the end of a world condemned, sooner or later, to sink.
Anne-Lou Vicente, March 2019