by Thomas KÖNER
2003 / 35mm / b&w / sound / 1S / 12' 12

Thomas Köner Banlieue du Vide

"To see" is often based on a balance between staring, which means that you concentrate your attention on an object right in front of you, and the mobility of a look that could be qualified as absent-minded.

This balance is at work in Thomas Köner's Banlieue du Vide (2003) which uses webcam pictures of winter landscapes. "During last winter I collected (via the Internet) about 3 000 pictures taken by surveillance cameras. The images I selected show empty roads at night, covered with snow. The soundtrack consists of grey noise and traffic sounds, created from memory. The only movement that is visible are the changes of snow covering the roads."1

Although the piece deals with surveillance and the Internet it doesn't refer to connotations like suppression or controlling. Banlieue du Vide is much more a series of pictures of snow-covered landscapes which are becoming subject of a patient and unspectacular observation. We are invited to observe time passing. The artist shows us snow-covered landscapes, slowly appearing and disappearing through a delicate process of fading in and out.

A feeling of transition and disappearance comes both from the slow movement of the pictures the artist has chosen and also from the sound composed by Köner. Both together gives the piece a timeless character. Banlieue du Vide refers to an existential quality of everything that is in the process of disappearing. Waiting and absence define our existence: what we are looking at is always fading away from us. Thomas Köner is underlining the importance of the trace, the erosion and also the time that is passing. A self-portrait.

Nicole Gingras
Taken from "Une affaire de regards", in Regarder, observer, surveiller, exhibition catalogue published by Séquence Gallery, Chicoutimi (Canada), 2004.

1. Quoted from Thomas Köner's Website.


distribution format 35mm
screen 1,37 - Standard (single screen)
speed 24 fps
sound optical sound
rental fee 51,00 €

distribution format Digital file on server (PAL)
screen 4/3 (single screen)
speed 25 fps
sound sound
rental fee 51,00 €