Family Portrait

Luc Courchesne

Family Portrait ,
Co-workers & Funding
  • Portrait de famille, 1991-93
    360 × 241
Imagine a portrait. You walk up to it and engage in conversation. You pick a question from a pre-established set on the screen. The portrait gives you an answer. A new set of questions, or coments
appears. You get further reactions. As this process goes on, a conversation develops according to your curiosity and the subject’s mood. The encounter may be cut short due to a lack of sympathy on either part, or it may develop into discussion of ideas, values or personal experience. The interaction is structured into levels of intimacy; you have to get to know and trust one another before getting on to highly personal matters. In the end, you may have made a new virtual acquaintance... or friend.

Following the painted and photographic portrait, the hypermedia portrait demonstrates the same interests for human beings, this time capturing and rendering not only physical likeness but also fragments of behavior. These virtual beings do not appear in the flesh (I use video); and the questions are not verbal (they are chosen from a computer screen). Yet the interactivevideo installation, which uses widely available technology, works as a metaphor for an encounter. As with other virtual reality systems, my portraits are worlds onto themselves (that of the portrayed subject), in which visitors are invited to play a role (that of a conversational partner).

Imagine a series of hypermedia portraits that make a society of virtual beings. They all exist as individuals, lending themselves to personal encounters as previously described. But they are also “aware” of one another and may react to what is happening. They may want to speak their own truth about what is being said on them, or simply add to an interesting conversation without being asked. Or they may discuss things among themselves, chat about the weather or argue about a favourite controversy. Who these virtual beings are, and what they have in common is to be discovered by visitors. Visitors, by their perspicacity or mishandling, may trigger a family drama that could turn a quiet portrait gallery into a wild video theater.

A society of virtual beings is made of networked individual systems. As new virtual beings are added, each capable of hosting one active visitor, the installation grows from a single user to a multiple user system. A better balance is thus achieved between the society of virtual beings and the society of visitors. One possible outcome may be a forced interaction between visitors, as a response to the interaction among virtual beings.

Family Portrait is about people; it documents their life and tells about the process in which the work evolved. The group portrait was recorded in Marseille.

(Luc Courchesne)
  • aesthetics
    • hypermediacy
    • interactive
  • genres
    • installations
      • interactive installations
  • subjects
    • Arts and Visual Culture
      • portraits
    • Body and Psychology
      • humans
    • Media and Communication
      • communication
Technology & Material