Jaeger-LeCoultre And The Impact Of Images In Artful New Exhibition At Paris’ Jeu De Paume: ‘The Supermarket Of Images’
by Martin Green
It is nice that a brand does something simply because it believes in it rather than for exposure.
Since 2006, Jaeger-LeCoultre has been a loyal supporter of Jeu de Paume, an arts center in Paris that exhibits and promotes all forms of mechanical and electronic imagery from photography and cinema to installations and online creation. Located in an historic building in the Tuileries Gardens next to Place de la Concorde, the Jeu De Paume is one of the temples of art that make Paris such a rich and vibrant cultural place.
Szendy, in everyday life a French philosopher, musicologist and the David Herlihy Professor of Humanities and Comparative Literature at Brown University, was kind enough to give a small group of journalists a tour of the exhibition, explaining stories behind some of the art pieces we saw as we went along.
The exhibition’s central premise is that our lives are increasingly saturated with images. The impact of this, in all its ways and forms, is the story that this exhibition wants to tell.
Images, so many images
Today images are a commodity, with three billion of them shared every day on social media alone. This tremendous volume comes with consequences, including how images stick – or not – within the mind of the beholder, the data warehouses needed to store them, the many cables running across the bottom of the ocean allowing them to be accessed from all over the world, and the energy required to make this all happen.
My phone alone currently holds 18,920 pictures, with around 50 of those taken in just the last couple of hours!
Upon entering the Jeu de Paume, the first thing one sees is the entrance staircases wrapped in a wallpaper mosaic of a variety of images. This is an art piece by Evan Roth called “Since You Were Born,” which used the image cache of his computer to provide fascinating insight into what, and how many images, we are exposed to through our computer.
Yet images are not forever as becomes clear from the installation “Por um Fio” by Ana Vitória Mussi. As a photographer, she transferred from classic film to digital photography like so many others. However, instead of putting all her negatives in with the trash, she used 22,000 of them to make this stunning installation resembling a waterfall of still lifes.
What we tend not to realize when we look at a picture online is that its data is stored in massive data warehouses, which require tremendous cooling capacity to continue running.
Artificial intelligence also plays an increasingly critical role, especially in managing and categorizing images. Trevor Paglen provides insight through his art on how computers look at pictures, depicting how a computer sees an image of Shoshone Falls.
These are just a few examples of how this exhibition provides intimate insight into the modern world of images in all of its facets.
A mirror reflecting us
The exhibition puts a mirror in front of us, on how we deal with images, and what role we play in them.
Especially as a journalist, writing articles like this one, it poses some interesting questions. What is the value of an image and how much effort is taking one worth?
Brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre can provide me with all the photos I need for my articles without leaving the comfort of my home. However, I still prefer to go out and take my own. It is easier to write a story after visiting the Jaeger-LeCoultre manufacture, having spoken with its people and felt their passion. But in terms of images, mine will never be as good as the ones that Jaeger-LeCoultre will have provided of its facilities.
Yet now we come to the value placed on an image: taking one myself is like dropping an anchor in time; seeing that picture again allows me to go back in time and relive that moment.
We have learned that readers like you prefer the perhaps not perfect pictures we take ourselves as well.
Why? Because they may not be as polished, and as a result they allow the reader to get more of a feel of how it actually is to be at a place or have a specific watch on the wrist.
That is the added value that we offer, and one that hopefully gives us an advantage over the others, yet for which we sometimes fly halfway around the globe to achieve. These images will soon be pushed down by newer images, and in a seemingly only short time they lose their added value of being current.
All told, The Supermarket of Images is a fascinating exhibition that provides so many original insights into something that we have grown so used to: the massive amount of images we see and process each day.
The Supermarket of Images runs from February 11 until June 7, 2020 at the Jeu de Paume in Paris.
For more please information, please visit www.jeudepaume.org and/or www.press.jaeger-lecoultre.com/jaeger-lecoultre-supports-the-supermarket-of-images-exhibition.
* Disclaimer: Jaeger-LeCoultre paid for the author’s travel to the exhibition.