“With the architecture of offices today being more transparent, I decided to explore this area as an extension of my work of social urban archaeology. These photographs capture the reality of individuals who are closely linked to modern architecture. They dig into the world of the service sector through the glass openings of modern office towers. Open spaces become completely accessible then and reveal the details of a standardized world which usually escape us. In architectural chaos, it’s the recurrence and obsessive repetition which finally lead to the crumbling of unknown beings.” Jean-Pierre Attal
Text : A Tertiary Compensating Area : Christian Gattinoni
In the heart of cities, the façade of one of those office blocks in a commercial center often appears, especially at night, as the page of a still indecipherable grimoire for which we’ve lost any closeness. The modern city keeps people more and more distanced from its functions and its authorities. The plastics artist Jean-Pierre Attal has armed himself with the photographic means of reducing or trying to destroy these distances by creating an intimacy through trompe l’œil.
His work in urban spaces, in their diurnal appearance, has given a new presence to places trafficked by city crowds. Pedestrian crossings, streets, boulevards, subways and towers have undergone digital processing to become set in art. In this way these scenes now have a physicality which was lost in their banality of “non-places” as referred to by the sociologist Marc Augé. Jean-Pierre Attal asserts: “Giving this perspective to reality plants a decorative frame onto super-charged megapolis.”
If the dimensions of these offices, these places of the service sector, remain incomprehensible, it is because the image of work itself is not iconic. By rebuilding the space of these exchanges, flattening and simulating them, the artist offers us a rhythmic transcription of this social score. As a European colorist, he digitally prolongs a tradition begun by the American photographer Ray K. Metzker whose work already resonated with the jazz improvisations of his time just as geometric abstractionism was developing in painting. In the case of our artist, we cannot refer to collage or montage which today are hackneyed terms. Instead, we prefer to evoke the idea of cloning – with the cells of salaried renegades: where power gloats over the individualization of tasks, leaving its truth only in standardized attitudes.
Jean-Pierre Attal’s mark on our time is linked to transcodings which he likes to steer starting from scenes of urban life and which we see appearing in his “elementary particles”, i.e. his images of crowds rendered in barcodes, a symbol of humanity on the road to commercialization. When a genetic DNA-model grid is added, like an extra sense, the artist further enriches our approach to his work. As this requires a progressive unfurling, Jean-Pierre Attal uses large formats so that the observer must choreograph his own discovery of the work’s scenic space, entering into his own dialogue with this dance of static workers.
The most innovative character of the work lives in this movement, in this multiplicity of interpretations. As this is already felt a frieze, the design and understanding is further enhanced on the Internet site which provides a series of horizontally or vertically moving images just like the exhibits. In this social archaeology, Jean-Pierre Attal first of all demystifies places of power. Then, in search of “monograph of the social masses” he translates the co-existance of economic exchanges and the bodies at their service, bodies which are given an imaginary and friendly space and which find, in these “cells”, places in which to exert their singularity, if not their identity.