|Landscape and Illusion by Aaron Rothman
September 13, 2013
(…) Lauren Marsolier, a French artist living in Los Angeles, creates faked spaces that are convincingly real using multiple source photographs, unrelated fragments of reality collected over time in a wide variety of locations. Marsolier’s landscapes are stripped down to elemental parts — barren hillsides, open stretches of sand or gravel, ambiguous and simplified human structures — but, unlike many artists working with digital photo-montage, she does not combine these elements in an overtly symbolic manner. Her images draw their impact from the atmosphere of the spaces they depict. I am reminded of the cool, stark aesthetic in many contemporary architecture and lifestyle magazines, but with a pervading unease —that sleek minimalism transmuted to desolation. The perspective of Marsolier’s images puts the viewer into their space, and the intentionally awkward cropping implies a world beyond the bounds of the frame. I imagine myself sitting in the plastic lawn chair in one image or at the edge of a parking garage in another, staring off into a deserted expanse located somewhere between idea and reality. (…) Read more.
|Interstitial Spaces: The Visual Dreams of Filip Dujardin and Lauren Marsolier
March 4, 2013
(…) Lauren Marsolier is a contemporary photographer who also works in photomontage. Marsolier’s ongoing series Transition, which just opened at Robert Berman Gallery in Santa Monica explores the phenomena of transition. Marsolier probes the effects that a change of view can have on emotional, perceptual, and spatial awareness. She explores this question of transition both as a psychological force and as a spatial condition. Her concept of transition is framed by the loss of the solid grounding of the ideologies of the past, the implosion of clear boundaries, and a sense of placelessness caused by collapse of stable signifiers. Her works contain subtle juxtapositions of location, mismatching the foreground buildings and background landscape. The scenes are calm, even serene but discomfiting, too quiet to let viewers guard down. The works’ content, mostly of buildings and deserted landscapes are quite eerie. (…) Read more.
|part of the feature article on Ceci n'est pas...Art between Paris and Los Angeles by Phil Tarley
(1st quarter 2013, issue 19)
Marsolier's photographs are deceptively tranquil yet filled with allegorical allusions to modern living. This is the best kind of conceptual art_ visually arresting in its perfect compositions, simultaneously provoking a rich conversation filled with subtextural anxieties that lurk beneath the surface of her photographs.
|by David Andrew Frey
(2012 December, issue 93)
Deceptively assembled from photographic material from the United States, France, and Spain, Lauren Marsolier has created in her ongoing series, Transition, a set of tableaux whose activity breaches that of the landscape. At first, each appears to be an honest document of the sun-drenched places found around the outskirts of civilization. After a moment, however, the contents of each vista refuse us. The locations are familiar but identifiable in only the most broad, categorical sense — streets, buildings, bridges, mountains, skies. Part societal detritus, part hostile nature, these images lead to a disorienting place created by the horrors of life or the imagination. Ultimately, each work places the viewer on the edge of an inconceivably empty and sterilized space.
|One of 20 photographers to watch in 2013 in The British Journal of Photography Jan 2013 issue|
|Landscape With Covered Car triptych selected among Best Images of 2012 by American Photo Magazine|
|Interior Architecture by Conor Risch
(2012 Oct issue)
Lauren Marsolier uses photographs of the physical world to create images that represent a psychological landscape affected by radical transition and a world of constant change.
At a glance, Lauren Marsolier's images look like simple color landscapes, depicting a house or office building or lakeside or parking garage against a rocky mountain backdrop. While the images appear carefully composed and pop with crisp, vibrant color, one could be forgiven for thinking they depict rather mundane scenes. But something isn't quite right, so we're draw in.
Why is this home isolated in an arid, desert landscape? How will the newly planted sapling grow there? How is it that people get to this Ferris Wheel and roller coaster when there are no apparent roads, pathways or other built surroundings? Has someone laid a concrete walkway in a mountain landscape or are the mountains fake, part of some diorama simulating the natural world? Also: Where are the people? There are manmade structures and built environments, yet they seem completely unused, clean, post-human.
Marsolier, who is French but lives in Los Angeles, creates her images digitally, assembling elements of photographs she's made both in Europe and in the United States, where she has resided since 2009. Though she's drawing on photographs of the physical world to create her images, they depict a psychological landscape, a mind as it undergoes change and upheaval.
It was a "radical and long phase of transition in my personal life," Marsolier says, that spurred her to create the series, "Transition," which is comprised of three parts organized chronologically, the first beginning in 2005 and the most recent incorporating work made this year. After living abroad for ten years and working as a commercial photographer in the United States, Marsolier moved to the French countryside to concentrate on personal work. But rather than idyllic, Marsolier says, she found the life there isolating, and she grew depressed and disoriented during her four years there. "Working on these images has helped me make sense of this mental process during which our consciousness is transforming."
As she created more work, Marsolier realized her exploration of her personal psychology also addressed shared human psychology. "I became interested in how we perceive reality and how our times, marked by constant changes, affect us on a psychological level," she explains. "A motivation that was initially personal and emotional raised more general questions for me."
The meaning of the images evolved in other ways as well. Initially Marsolier scrubbed her images of "the tracks of time and the signs of life" as a method of describing a lonely experience, like being lost in your own mindscape, something close to an existential angst.
"But I think that a lot more goes into an artist's work than their initial intention," she adds. "Looking back at my depopulated landscapes, I often think of humanity withdrawing from their material world to live a more virtual life, and I often feel that the more we get connected, the more we feel disconnected."
While Marsolier's work is photographic, her process is more closely akin to painting, she says. "months or years often separate the capture of elements juxtaposed in my landscapes," she says. "This approach reminds me of many painters who would make sketches at different locations to use as reference for their future paintings." To create her source material Marsolier simply photographs landscapes or structures that she's drawn to instinctively, "without thinking much about why they interest me at that stage," she says.
When she sets out to create a new work, a process that can stretch over long periods of time, she has a "vague idea," she says, of the image she wants to make. "But it almost always fails," she adds. She begins with one image, adds a second, then a third and so on, working intuitively. She compares the process to building a puzzle, "except I don't know beforehand what the final image will look like." Through trial and error she works toward "a combination of elements that resonates and is meaningful to me."
"By the time I am done with an image it usually is completely different from what I had in mind initially," she says.
Marsolier views her process for making these images as an extension of the work she used to do printing her photographs in the darkroom. That process "was as important for me as capturing the images." Creating images digitally "extended the possibilities of image manipulation that existed in the darkroom."
For the past 7 years, Lauren Marsolier has been working on a series of photographs called Transition. Her large-format prints, which are part-montage and part digitally-altered,
communicate a constant sense of ambiguity. The viewer, who is somewhat unsettled, wonders
what is real and what is fictional in compositions where skies are flattened out, where everything
is smooth and desolate, where shapes and textures take the place of people. After capturing the
image of a given setting, Marsolier puts her mark on it to offer a vision of recomposed reality.
How did the Transition project get started?
Around 2005, a series of radical changes in my personal life threw me into a troubled phase that changed my outlook on things. This is around the time that I started to compose fictional landscapes. Bit by bit, I realized that my compositions reflected what I was going through psychologically. To me, that’s a fascinating aspect of art. You resonate with what you create. Thoughts and emotions that were buried inside of us manifest themselves to our consciousness through making art. In turn, these little breakthroughs influence the way you think. That’s how our creations can hold up a mirror to us, even as a collective. We live today in a world that is almost entirely man made. The increasingly artificial nature of our environments means that, more than ever before, they are a reflection of the mind. This is why I can easily establish a link between the components of our contemporary landscapes and the expression of a mental state.
What is it about landscapes and all the signifiers linked to roads that interests you?
I’ve been working on the idea of transition for about seven years, and more specifically on that psychological phase when the loss of certain reference points throws us into an emotional confusion. All of a sudden, we can no longer see ourselves or our lives and what surrounds us in the same way. We feel disoriented. The landscapes that I build in photographs have a metaphorical dimension for me. They allow me to explore and express the inner experience, all while conjuring the reality of a changing world. Indeed, the road is often present in my work. You find it constantly deserted and without movement. Freeway, for example, touches on doubt, the questioning in that paradoxical situation of finding yourself alone and stuck on a road when it would be easier to give in to the intoxication of speed. You can read this picture from a personal or social point of view.
Your work seems to reference Paul Virilio, when you refer to the themes of speed and hyperreality, and to Baudrillard in the idea of the simulacrum. Does your work have other references, such as painting or photography?
That’s exactly right. In fact, I find that Baudrillard’s quote highlighted in your magazine
(Garagisme #1), “Above 100 kilometres per hour, there is a presumption of eternity”, has a link to my work. On the road as in life, speed puts us in a state of weightlessness. Images and events pass too quickly for us to be able to correlate them and truly make sense of them. You somehow feel that you have been pulled out of time, in a hypnotic state. Paul Virilio condemns the tyranny of the instant which is imposed by progress and prevents one from taking a reflective distance, from putting things into perspective, and therefore upsets our rapport with the world. The increasingly hyper-real nature of our environment has a similarly disturbing effects on our psyche.
Among my other influences I could name Carl Jung and Paul Diel, for their research into symbolic language. In photography, I constantly research what is being created, so it’s difficult to name any examples in particular. Andreas Gursky and Thomas Demand come to mind. Among other things, I like their esthetic and the way they recompose or simulate reality to better draw attention to it. In painting, the atmosphere that emanates from some Edward Hopper and Chirico paintings speaks to me on a profound level. Finally I would say that my husband, Marc Fichou, has a major influence on the making of this series, not only because he supported me, but also because his approach to art is a constant source of inspiration to me.
How important is the image-collecting phase that precedes your montages?
Image collecting is an important part of my work. It’s very intuitive. I take pictures of things and places that have an impact on me. It started in Europe and is now continuing in the Unites States. Since I live in Los Angeles, I cover quite a lot of distance by car, which allows me to scout a number of locations. When I leave the city, even if I’m headed for a specific location, I no longer hesitate to take detours and navigate randomly.
What are you working on right now?
I am still building on this series. Right now I’m working on several images that I hope to collect into a tryptic.
Depuis sept ans, Lauren Marsolier travaille sur une série de photographies : Transition. Ces tableaux photographiques grand format, entre montage et manipulation numérique, maintiennent en permanence un sentiment d’ambiguïté. On s’interroge, un peu troublé, sur ce qui appartient au réel et ce qui relève de la fiction dans ces compositions où les ciels deviennent des aplats, où tout est si lisse et désolé, où les formes et les textures se substituent aux hommes. Une fois capturé, Marsolier intervient sur l’environnement établi (souvent subi) et propose une vision d’un réel recomposé.
Comment a débuté le projet Transition?
Vers 2005, des changements radicaux dans ma vie personnelle m’ont fait connaître une longue phase de trouble qui a modifié mon regard sur les choses. C’est à cette époque que j’ai commencé à composer des paysages fictifs. Peu à peu, j’ai réalisé que mes compositions étaient à l’image de ce que je vivais sur le plan psychologique. C’est là un des aspects de l’art qui me fascine. On entre en résonance avec ce que l’on crée. Des pensées et émotions enfouies en nous se manifestent à notre conscience par le biais de l’activité artistique. Et ces réalisations nouvelles nous influencent à leur tour en profondeur. C’est ainsi que nos créations peuvent nous tendre un miroir, y compris a l’échelle collective. Nous vivons aujourd’hui dans un monde presque entièrement façonné par l’homme. L’artifice croissant de nos environnements en fait plus que jamais une reconstruction de l’esprit. C’est pourquoi je peux aisément établir un lien entre les composantes de nos paysages contemporains et l’expression d’un état mental.
Qu’est ce qui vous intéresse dans l’idée de travailler sur le paysage et le champs
sémiotique de la route ?
Je travaille depuis environ sept ans sur le thème de la transition, plus précisément cette phase psychologique durant laquelle la perte de certains points de repère nous plonge dans une période de déséquilibre émotionnel et de confusion. Soudainement, nous ne percevons plus nous-mêmes, notre vie, ou ce qui nous entoure, de la même façon. Nous sous sentons déroutés.
Les paysages que je construis en images ont pour moi une dimension métaphorique. Ils me permettent d’explorer et d’exprimer cette expérience intérieure tout en évoquant la réalité d’un monde en mutation. La route est effectivement souvent présente dans mon travail. On l’y retrouve constamment déserte et sans mouvement. Freeway par exemple évoque à la fois le doute, la remise en question qui se manifeste dans la situation paradoxale de se retrouver seul et immobile sur une voie toute tracée alors qu’il semblerait plus simple de s’abandonner à l’ivresse de la vitesse. La lecture de cette image peut s’effectuer aussi bien sur le plan personnel que sociétal.
Votre travail semble faire référence à Paul Virillio, quand vous parlez des thèmes de
la vitesse et de l’hyper-réalité, et à Baudrillard dans l’idée du simulacre. Avez vous des
influences autres, dans la photographie ou la peinture par exemple ?
C’est tout à fait juste. D’ailleurs je trouve que la citation de Jean Baudrillard mise en exergue dans votre magazine (Garagisme N°1) : “Au delà de 100 kilomètres-heure il y a présomption d’éternité” est en rapport avec mon travail. Sur la route comme dans la vie, la vitesse nous projette dans une sorte d’état d’apesanteur. Les images, les évènements, se mettent à se succéder trop rapidement pour que l’on puisse les corréler et en comprendre véritablement le sens. On se sent comme projeté hors du temps dans un état presque hypnotique. Paul Virilio dénonce cette tyrannie de l’instant que nous impose le progrès et qui empêche la distance réflexive, la mise en perspective, et bouleverse ainsi notre rapport au monde. L’hyper-réalité croissante de notre environnement a un effet similairement perturbant sur notre psychisme.
Parmi mes autres influences, je pourrais citer Carl Jung et Paul Diel pour leur recherche sur le langage symbolique. En matière de photographie, je regarde constamment ce qui se crée, donc il est difficile de citer quelques exemples en particulier. Andreas Gursky et Thomas Demand me viennent à l’esprit. J’aime notamment leur esthétique et leur façon de recomposer ou simuler le réel pour mieux en rendre compte. En peinture, l’ambiance qui se dégage de certains tableaux d’ Edward Hopper et Chirico me parlent profondément. Enfin je dirais que mon mari, Marc Fichou, a eu une influence majeure sur le développement de cette série, non seulement par son soutien, mais surtout parce que son approche de l’art est pour moi une source d’inspiration constante.
Quelle importance prend la phase de collecte d’images qui serviront à vos montages?
Cette collecte d’images est une phase importante de mon travail. Elle est très intuitive. Je prends des photos de choses et de lieux qui m’interpellent. Elle a débuté en Europe et se poursuit aujourd’hui aux Etats-Unis. Vivant à Los Angeles, je parcours pas mal de distance en voiture et cela me donne l’occasion de faire régulièrement un certain nombre de repérages. Et puis quand je quitte la ville, même si je pars généralement vers une destination précise, je n’hésite pas à prendre beaucoup de détours et à laisser le hasard guider ma route.
Sur quoi travaillez-vous en ce moment ?
Je continue à développer cette série. En ce moment je travaille sur plusieurs images que je cherche à relier en un tryptique.
Interview by Celie Dailey (July 2012)
Seven years ago Lauren began her Transition series, compiled from photographs taken in the US, France, and Spain, though the images are none of those places exactly. She describes her phenomenological pursuit as first “being in a place we know but can’t quite identify” and then as having a gestalt change, that is, a shift in how the world is seen. Her images are formal, both serious and superficial, deep and void. They are pleasurable to view—maybe it’s something about the symmetry. But, her photographs seem to play a little trick on us. They look so real at first, too real, and so elegantly plain that we know that something is wrong.
Most recently, Lauren’s work was displayed at the Flash Forward Festival in Boston. Her work will be a part of “31 Women in Art Photography” at the Hasted Kraeutler Gallery in NY opening next month. Last year she had a solo show at Robert Berman Gallery in Los Angeles and paired up with Marc Fichou for a show at E6 Gallery in San Francisco.
How are these images titled?
All my titles are generic, just like the elements I choose to compose my images. I tend to combine basic elements. When I construct the image of a house I don’t intend to make a specific house with its own particular history. To me it is the idea of a house—the house as a universal type. Although all the parts of the photographs I use exist somewhere in the world, the new landscape they form only exists as an image. They loose their particularity to take on a more general meaning.
Do the images create transition in your life?
When I started this work, I was going through a radical and long period of transition in my life and I became interested in how transitions affect our consciousness, our perception of who we are and how we view the world. It is a fascinating subject to think about because we now (and more than ever) live in a world where we constantly need to adapt to change. Our fast evolving technologies require not only that we adapt to them, but they also greatly affect the way we live, the way we work and how we handle our relationships. These changes are not always smooth. They often cause a period of disorientation during which the perception of our reality is shifting. It is this psychological experience that I explore in my compositions.
You don’t provide an intricate world of sociality and signs, but rather a stripped-down image, like a parking garage in dirt-piled background with only sky beyond, on the edge of nothingness.
By being increasingly connected to mediated and virtual worlds, we tend to favor mental over body experience. There is great attraction to living in our heads. Bad memories can be put aside, truth can be rearranged, nothing is definite. In our heads, there is no linear timeline, no actual life: nothing gets old and rotten. A tweak of the imagination and we can escape to another reality. The mind can be a place of creativity and serenity, but it can also be a place of disconnection and loneliness, like my landscapes. I tend to erase unnecessary details from my images, like the mind filters out what it deems unimportant or inconvenient to build its own subjective view.
What is fabricated in your images, exactly?
All parts of my images are derived from real photographs that I digitally alter and seamlessly combine to create a new landscape. In other words, the parts are almost real (I say “almost” because they are often manipulated) and the whole is fabricated. My process feels a little bit like building a puzzle except I don’t know beforehand what the final appearance of the image will look like.
The borderline between a sense of reality and a sense of fabrication is essential in my series. I manipulate and combine photographs, but I do it in a way that raises doubts about the nature of my images. Digital manipulation when not obvious, can propel us outside of the frame and make us question the medium itself. The experience of transition is about shifting perception and redefining what is around us. And I feel that the uncertainty regarding my medium (real or simulated photographs) adds to the uncertainty felt from my subject matter (transition rendered as ambivalent landscapes).
When I look at your images, I reference my own experiences, finding places in my memory like your places. Your images remind me that: “All art is at once surface and symbol” and “It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors,” from Oscar Wilde’s introduction to The Picture of Dorian Gray.
You might find my landscapes alluring or unnerving, serene or lonely. One spectator might see one or the other, and that is where my images can act as mirrors. But ideally I’d like all these opposite feelings to emerge simultaneously in the viewer’s mind, because this is what going through a period of transition often feels like. For a while you feel in between two perceptions of reality and you tend to go back and forth between one and the other, a bit like when looking at a Rubin vase.
Why did you move to Los Angeles from Paris? I admit I’m guilty of assuming that you must be “american made” when I first looked at your images.
When I am here I feel history does not weigh as much on me and I feel a sense of freedom that breeds my creativity. I also like the cultural mix and I am fascinated by the fact that the city developed around the huge image factory Hollywood has provided. When I drive in many neighborhoods, I see so many architectural styles, a lot of them copies of European styles (built differently but looking very similar). LA sometimes makes me think of replicated fragments of the world blended together. Maybe a bit like my images?
HAIKU REVIEW (jan 2011):
LAUREN MARSOLIER photographs (or more precisely, makes photographs of) what seem to be impossibly lucid places, clean, brilliantly lit, devoid of people but clearly manmade, full of atmosphere and yet as arid spiritually as they are physically. Of course we recognize quickly - albeit not quite instantly - that Marsolier has fabricated these places, deftly manipulating reality with digital intervention. But the incontestability of their falseness does not diminish the profundity of these pictures' effect, any more than it would were they paintings or drawings (which one or another seems occasionally to be). These are dreamscapes, pure and simple, as unlikely but as unshakeable as an apparition conjured just before waking, the photographic equivalent a century later of De Chirico's Metaphysical painting. Peter Frank
Art LTD ((September-October 2011)
BLOW (Issue 8)
It's Nice That Annual 2012
Orlando Arts Magazine
Spot (Spring 2013)
The Photo Review Journal 2012
The Book LA
It's Nice That
Lost At E Minor