A Conversation w/ Jocelyn Robert

A Conversation w/ Jocelyn Robert

The following email conversation took place in April 2015, upon the acquisition of B Movie (2015) directed by Jocelyn Robert for active Video Out distribution.  This work will be presented at the fourth installment of Video Out’s New Additions Series which will be held on April 16th 2015  from 7:30pm – 9:30pm at VIVO Media Arts Centre, 2625 Kaslo St.

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SJD: Shauna Jean Doherty
JR: Jocelyn Robert

SJD: Many of your works deal with the manipulation of time and duration, however this particular work seems to be in real time. Can you explain this choice?

JR: I would probably question your question and ask what is “real time”? Although the video frames are played back in the same order and at the same pace they were recorded in, the particular view offered by the images seems to me to be presenting a very subjective time. It may happen to coincide with the camera time, but it is in fact the time in the mind of the viewer —either the one who shot the video or the one who watches it— and not some documentary or “objective time”. In other words I would suggest B Movie presents the same “alternative” time (or alternative times) that most of my videos offer, I just didn’t have to manipulate the order of the frames to get there.

SJD: We have many works in our distribution collection that document trips on transit, can you comment on what is appealing to you about this subject?

JR: Going back to the first question : the number of different times and spaces that are present in this one shot. At first it may seem to be one travelling from one point of view, but there are many reflections either in the first window or in other surfaces where people are in their own space, many shadows, partly hidden activities which in the end altogether break up and reconstruct the video. Somehow, maybe it is more about everything that happens out and around transit, the context of transit, the number of alternative times that transit can reveal, than about transit itself.

SJD: Where was this work recorded?

JR: Brussels, Belgium.

SJD: The sound in this work contributes to the overall tone, does sound play a major role in your other works?

JR: Yes, and very often by its absence. I often make videos that have no sound. When my videos have sound, the place it takes is so that the sentence could be reversed : one could ask if the video has sound or if the sound has video.

SJD: How does your diverse educational background (with your studies in architecture, pharmaceuticals, and visual arts) inform your work?

JR: In a general way, I don’t have a favorite media : I write, I make sound, music, I make video images, photographic ones… I think I got, from my background, a way of looking at things that applies not only at the world I am looking at but also at the tools I am using to look at the world. If I seem to be seeing some discontinuity in the world, I will probably end up seeing the same thing in the tools and media. If I see some harmony in the world, I will probably end up seeing it in the images or sounds…

SJD: Technology, though not as central in this work, is an ongoing motif in your practice, can you describe your interest in technology?

JR: I like the way you ask that question. It is true that it is not central but it is still ever present. I have a strong interest in people, in animals, in the time that goes by, in words, in ideas, in technology, etc. I have a strong interest, generally speaking. Technology is an important part of our lives so I am very interested in it, but it is not a specific interest around which my activities or dreams revolve : it is part of the fabric of the life I —we— live. Like books, trains, philosophy, pictures, tennis or race cars. Sometimes playing around with letters or sounds is the best way to re-invent the world, often times it is using a computer with some software.

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Video Out offers video artists professional representation for rentals and sales of their moving image work. Video Out’s distribution collection features over 5000 videos, both historical and contemporary, by video artists from Canada and abroad. Video Out returns 67% of revenues generated from sales, rentals and broadcast licenses to the video producers we represent. Video Out was founded as a non-profit, artist-run distribution centre in 1980.