The Uneasy Sleep of the Operator


Sébastien Cliche

The Uneasy Sleep of the Operator

20.03 — 19.04 / 2015

Vernissage 20 March 2015 – 5 p.m.

A reel-to-reel tape recorder is perched at the very top of a metal staircase, playing an audio track. But instead of carefully rewinding the tape, the device’s mechanism is letting it get away and slowly slip onto a sloped surface. At the bottom of this slope the tape forms arabesques that pile up on top of one another. They are then undone as the tape continues along its path and goes back up to the tape recorder to complete the circle. Farther on, a video camera connected to a projector shows us, magnified and in real time, this constantly repeated exercise.

The question of control that drives Sébastien Cliche’s work is once again at the heart of his project. But can control exist without its opposite, the lack of constraint? Does not this letting go of control, far from generating chaos, give rise instead to self-regulating processes, to involuntary control mechanisms? This, at least, is what the operator who sleeps uneasily is counting on, for this is the fictional character responsible for this precarious system which risks jamming up if the minimal conditions for its smooth operation are not in place.

Sébastien Cliche wishes to thank the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec for its financial assistance.


Photographs: Tanya St-Pierre

/// Sébastien Cliche talks about his installation from Sporobole on Vimeo.


Through a mutlidisciplinary approach, Sébastien Cliche interrogates the limits of narration and the spectator’s place in its construction. For the last fifteen years, he has produced installations, photographs, text works, videos and sound art. His work has been shown in many solo and group exhibitions including at the Centre d’art contemporain de Meymac (France, 2008), l’Œil de poisson (Quebec City, 2010) and la Galerie de l’UQAM (Montreal, 2012). His works have also appeared in well-known festivals, such as MUTEK International Festival of Digital Creativity (Montreal, 2005, 2010). As a curator, he has produced, among others, the touring exhibition The Hearing Eye (Montreal, Ottawa and Quebec City, 2007-2008). In 2012, he received the Claudine and Stephen Bronfman Grant in Contemporary Art and his video installation The Castle was shown at Momenta Art (New-York). Sébastien Cliche lives and works in Montreal.

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