Cauchy Horizons

Black holes have a point of no return beyond which nothing comes back ... not even light can escape.

-Patricia Pisters

Black holes have a 'point of no return’ beyond which nothing comes back; not even light can escape. In physics these so-called outer and inner event horizons are considered gateways to the future and bridges into parallel universes. The phenomena are so strange that it comes as no surprise that science fiction has often been needed to present us with visions of the future and possible new worlds.

In Cauchy Horizons Martine Stig investigates the visual language of science fiction cinema as the 'gravitational force’ of our collective imagination. Landmark sci-fi films ranging from Voyage dans la lune, Metropolis and La Jetée to A Space Odyssey, Solaris and Videodrome, present patterns of symmetry, birds eye perspectives, double projections, grids, screens, circles, pipes and lines, and other aesthetic forms and figures (such as hibernating, sleeping or running humans) that have shaped our image of the future. Is it possible to envision what lies beyond this matrix of visual culture or is this our own point of no return?

Stig travelled to Tunis, Shenzhen, Geneva/CERN and Athens, cities that are on the verge of transition and captured glimpses of the future with her camera’s eye. The photos are alienating and familiar at the same time. They are alienating because we cannot (always) recognise which of the four cities the shot was taken in. Stig’s camera has transformed them into 'any-spaces-whatevers’, as Deleuze called these types of non-localisable, slightly disorienting images that are nevertheless rich in affective quality and virtual potentiality. You get the strange sense of a future that has happened, a future that is happening and a future that will happen somehow hidden in the visual field. They are familiar because we recognise the patterns and shapes.

In earlier work, such as her film Suto-ri- (2007) and Play (2010), Stig also transformed the documentary reality of modern cities, editing footage of the streets of Tokyo or New York into a suggestive narrative or adding surveillance suspense, building on the same power of the collective unconscious of cinematographic clichés. Cauchy Horizons is not a film, but a series of photographs, presented in a particular order thus implying some form of spatial montage sequence. Stig’s montage follows a serial logic of graphic matches and contrasts in colour and black and white. They present abstract variations on flash forwards. Each photo in Cauchy Horizons seems to be part of a database of images that can be classified according to its aesthetic principles and futuristic themes. Not only the images that are presented, but also all other images of the future we have stored in our collective cinematographic archive. The images could be replaced by other images from that database, their order could be re-arranged.

Stig’s work demonstrates that contemporary cinema presents a database logic that allows endless series, endless sequences, endless variations of the future, limited only by the priming operations of the shapes and lines within each detachable frame. Visual culture is a Cauchy horizon, a sort of membrane that makes it impossible to see what lies beyond.

-Priming the Future

-Patricia Pisters