Charting space
Philomène Longpré’s electronic octo-art entices
Noisemarkers 2004 – Mirror, ARCHIVES: Jan 08-14.04 Vol. 19 No. 29

An octopus has strange eyes. Their eyes can focus on two separate scenes simultaneously, and sometimes each eye is specialized to see in either low or bright light. Local electronic artist Philomène Longpré will be presenting her own Octopus starting Feb. 21 at Oboro (4001 Berri, #301) – a show worth waiting for from an artist worth checking out.

Like the real octopus, Longpré’s installation, as with all of her work, explores individual space from two perspectives. “All my research is based on physical and virtual space,” she explains. “The physical space is the one we live in. Virtual space is the one we build around us with our imagination and actions.”

Longpré started as a painter and photographer but found her real niche, interactive video installations, while studying at Concordia. In one of her past pieces, she mechanized a screen so that as we watch a video performance of a woman struggling to free herself, the screen itself bulges towards the viewer mimicking her efforts. In Octopus, the installation reacts to the movements of the audience, but not in an obvious manner. Part of the interest as a viewer is trying to figure out how to communicate with her work. Longpré says, “I’m working on the interaction between the movement of a structure, the video sequences, the viewers and the individual performer in the video.”

To research the fluctuating parameters of individual space, Longpré has travelled to India, Asia and New Mexico. Most recently she spent time in the high-altitude plateau of South America. There she captured sounds such as wind blowing through the spines of huge cactuses or noises emanating from a volcano. These will be used in an upcoming project that attempts to recreate the immensity of space.

Keep your eyes open for presentations of her work in 2004. There are lots of possibilities emerging for this artist who just graduated before Christmas. Octopus may be off to France for an exhibition, and meanwhile, Longpré will most likely be heading to another country herself for post-graduate studies.