An architect talks about the city he has built. Gradually we realise that the city is imaginary. His account is an attempt to give his ideas a fixed shape. This, in a nutshell, is the story of Thing.
In previous works, such as Pixelspleen – where two pixels meet in a dark and vast space – or Swan Song – a speculation about a pixel’s last song or last dance before death – Anouk De Clercq draws on what might be called “the smallest unit” that makes up the digital image. In Thing, it is no longer about the pixel, but rather about the dot, or more accurately, about the scale interplay between the dot and its multiplication and organization in the digital image and space. Screened at a very large scale, Thing is an architectural universe that ceaselessly reveals its own virtuality for it exists only as a nebula of points wherein the camera, or actually, the point of view, wanders.
Indeed, the technology used in Thing does not allow talking about a camera since it is made of 3D scans of urban spaces. Instead, we could talk about a point of view, a gaze, or even a body (that wanders). Thereby, a tension is generated between the mechanical register of space and its embodied perception. A tension or overlap between two sensing interfaces: the scanner and the body, without any need to determine whether there is a desire to reproduce the mode of sensing of the latter through the technology of the former.
Unlike other works in which the animation is for the artist an occasion to create spaces without memory (precisely because animation does not capture anything), in Thing the virtual universe does have a memory; the scanner does capture. The same memory that a body has or that is required in the learning of perception.
Calling it Thing is a resistance to provide connotation beyond the signalling of a paradoxical – for it is virtual – materiality. Notwithstanding the nuances between authors and periods, the word "thing" in philosophical and psychoanalytic traditions has often been used to refer to the inaccessible, a stronghold of inexplicable emptiness on which meaning is built. Thing is a film that is built from a text that progressively describes, creates, or builds a space. The dot and the word become thereby parallel compositional elements. (Anna Manubens)
As part of this work, a book of the same title was also published.
This work is part of The art of ~scaping, a research project by Anouk De Clercq, funded by the Research Fund University College Ghent.