Mathieu Bernard-Reymond • Photographer, France


Landscape Stories: My first question comes from this consideration; your work, trades, seams to meld in perfect synthesis with your views as an author who in time has dealt with and rendered the “global landscape”, interpreted as a matter that ranges from geographic landscape to global economy flows. In trades, landscape and information merge reaching total abstraction. Where we can see the landscape of a sea’s horizon, we see in fact the graphic representation of Lehman Brothers busyness data. Where do we find the origin of your poetic vision? What inspired you? How did your vision refine with time?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond: Maybe the origins of this poetic attempt resides in my taste for two different things. First, my fascination for the freedom of the surrealists, the poetic power of unexpected collisions between ideas and concepts. And next, the idea that a computer is a platform where this sort of collisions can happen. It is the nature of the computer structure to allow the idea of landscape and financial data for example, to collide together to create an ocean of data.

© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘L’aménagement’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘L’aménagement’

Landscape Stories: How do you choose the locations you represent in your pictures? What draws you towards the choice of one location rather than another?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond: The very first reason to choose a location is how I will feel, standing in that place. Secondly, i ask myself: can it be a source of material for a work? Images I make with the camera constitute raw material, they are starting points.

© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Disparitions’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Disparitions’

Landscape Stories: Looking at your work, there is a transition from the direct shot “on the field”, the landscape, to the work where, to the taken landscape shot, you add an imaginary element, thus modifying the specific reality of the image or creating non existent elements in the photographed space. How did digital technology influenced the way you work? What more were you able to add, in terms of added artistic language, to the specificity of the analogue photographic image?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond:All my images are really constructed. They can be constructed with a camera, with a computer, or both. I just happen to use those tools, but for me the analog/digital divide is not relevant. I use those tools because they match my creative process. I can think when I old a camera, or when I use a computer, and I like the way those tools sometimes forces me to rethink.

© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Vous êtes ici’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Vous êtes ici’

Landscape Stories: In your landscapes, the opening up of possibilities that digital offers, to conceive, create and finally perceive an image, seams to imply how in fact man and land are changing through the images created. While thinking this out I have in mind your TV work… How do you perceive and convey “the world” in your images?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond: In “TV” series, photographic images are standing for what we call reality, and the inserted tv elements represent those fantasies we are dealing with everyday. And for sure, our experience of the contemporary world is certainly very much based on our relationship with flickering representations displayed on screens. Tv, Internet, augmented realities, are nothing but ways to generate more reality. Giving birth to those screen ghosts and letting them out into the world shapes our perception of the real world, from our more sincere dreams to our worst fears.

© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘tv’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘tv’

Landscape Stories: Landscape has been a constant subject in all artistic periods. What value and significance do you give to landscape nowadays? Should man still contemplate and understand landscape, the nature of its existence, through its representation?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond:Landscape is the product of our gaze to the world. Therefore being interested in landscapes in all its forms is paying attention to us being here, now. That is essential, it will never end. And landscape is also a product of our activity (what I am trying to convey in “Monuments”). So looking at it is certainly like looking at ourselves.

© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Monuments’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Monuments’

Landscape Stories: Your images seem to have a constant feature of “openness”, a get away point leading to an unknown infinite to be discovered or imagined… something “beyond” what we see and what the image allow us to see. Can we interpret your pictures and your ideas from this point of view?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond: As the viewer, having to “fill the gaps” of an image is the best way to enter it. Like a philosopher can stimulate the mind by asking very open questions, a photographer can leave a lot of unmarked spaces behind him. Those unmarked spaces open the boundaries of the viewer’s own territory. There are necessary.

© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Monuments’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Monuments’
© Mathieu Bernard-Reymond from ‘Monuments’

Landscape Stories:The reality of images has become ambiguous nowadays, reality and/or fiction. How do you think the degree of blending between the representation of a fact and its reconstruction/manipulation will change? How will we perceive what’s in front of us?
Mathieu Bernard-Reymond: Even if i am not sure that it is a problem specific to our times, our society is certainly very sensitive to that matter. Technology forces us to be aware of it. We all want more possibilities to escape the hard truths of life, but we are also always seeking the Truth as an ultimate right way to be into the world. That is a difficult paradox to live with. When limits are blurry there are risks but there is also magic, poetry, amazement. I think everybody is more aware than he wants to admit that a photograph is a lie, that a screen is captivating and dangerous, that the future technologies that will blur the limits even more will have some drawbacks. But yet, most of us want to explore unknown territories. This quest may last for long.

Intervista a cura di Massimo Spada
Traduzione a cura di Gianpaolo Arena