09.12 — 17.12 / 2015

From December 10 to 18, you are invited to the presentation of François Quévillon’s non-linear video Waiting for Bárðarbunga. From 4 p.m. , the video will be projected in the gallery, but will be visible from the outside, as well as the soundtrack that will be broadcast on the Sound Window located above the sidewalk. On December 18, François will discuss his work just before the start of Sporobole’s holiday party. The more the merrier!

Waiting for Bárðarbunga

This project was initiated during a residency in Iceland in August 2014. I was south of the Vatnajökull glacier and heading north-east when warnings of the possible eruption of the Bárðarbunga subglacial stratovolcano begun. They were communicated in a spectacular, almost apocalyptic way by some international media while a certain calm reigned in the areas I was traveling through. I was regularly checking webcams installed in the region, consulting weather and seismic data to see how the situation evolved (examples : 1, 2, 3 & 4). During this period, I made audiovisual recordings of weather stations and monitoring systems, of the territory’s transformation due to volcanic activity, as well as geothermal phenomena and power plants. An eruption started at the Holuhraun fissure on August 29th. This «quiet» eruption ended February 27th 2015. It was the most important lava emission recorded in Iceland in over two centuries and it released high levels of toxic gases in the air. Since June 2015 the alert level of Bárðarbunga has been set to Uncertainty Phase by the Iceland Civil Protection authorities.

Waiting for Bárðarbunga is made of hundreds of video sequences which are presented according to the evolution of a statistical model that integrates data about the state and activity of the computer that presents them : temperature of components, fan speed and energy consumption. The video database consists of stationary camera shots that last a few seconds each. Most of them can be seamlessly looped and sometimes evoke remote webcams watching isolated areas. The audiovisual sequences are interconnected one to the other inside a rhizomatic structure. They are grouped and linked according to formal, conceptual, location-based and event-based characteristics. Amongst others, they show rivers under surveillance, glaciers breaking into drifting icebergs, foggy landscapes, hissing steam vents, boiling mud and geothermal power plants. The non-linear audiovisual piece evolves based on a probabilistic system influenced by real-time information coming from the computer’s sensors. According to the amplitude of their variation and the correlations between the types of data, what the viewer experiences ranges from contemplative spaces where time seems to be suspended to energy-charged audiovisual blasts.

The video is projected with a stereo soundtrack. A monitor located next to the computer displays dynamic graphics of its sensors’ data, for each type a different time scale is covered. No information is given about what these graphs represent, therefore leaving their meaning open to the imagination. The work has an unpredictable unfolding and its conclusion may never be given. The system’s monitoring influences the course of events it presents, and vice versa.


François Quévillon wishes to thank the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, SODEC, Sporobole, Necotis, Perte de Signal and SÍM Residency for their contribution to this project.


Photos: Tanya St-Pierre