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Joséphine Michel - Syrinx

Joséphine Michel - Syrinx

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Book Launch / Signing
October 26, 2023
6 - 8 PM


Hearing/Seeing : For a long time, western culture has separated, if not opposed, these two sensory modes : while the eye puts the world at a distance in order to subject it to the rigours of reason, the ear immerses its subject in this same world to lead to its bewitchment. While sight has time at its disposal, listening must seize the moment in which what is due to it emerges and disappears.

We would be wrong to believe this typology unwavering. That which one can apprehend in the hearing of birds upsets the rigidity of such a model : their use of listening seems allied to an active and directional hearing, like that of seeing, and a relative indifference to rhythm and melody carried by that which we perhaps rather hastily call their song. This characterises itself rather by the presence of motifs whose temporal order is unimportant.

It’s perhaps this enigma of song and the sonic world in general, that which invades and penetrates us as if to animate us that Joséphine Michel deploys in her heterogenous images. Most of her photographs of birds discard the figure or grace of the overall body, and the myth of gravity-defiance. They are committed to a form of revelation of these motifs wherein an intimate and singular approach leads to the borders of abstraction. There are eyes and feathers that one cannot simply look at, but into which we are suddenly plunged, as if the gaze could for a moment lose its loquaciousness and join, through magnetised observation, the passion of listening. As if it were no longer just a matter of deciphering and reading, but of capturing and allowing oneself to be captured. To fuse together seizure and seizing.

In a remarkably daring and audacious text, the anthropologist Tim Ingold leads us to question this very evident duality between seeing and hearing, a duality undoubtedly inflected by the techniques of writing. From his study of bird sounds he questions some shamanic practices of healing among the Shipibo-Conibo people in eastern Peru, in which an aerial conception of being supersedes the corporeal approach and where light and song exchange their forms and ways ; ephemeral and radiant figures which are not to be read but heard.

« Where pattern is released into song, light turns to sound. Could this be key to the mystery of how the bird sees its song ? For as a composition of light, colour and sound, the bird is indeed a spirit. When the shaman hears the chorus of his spirit attendants, he might as well be listening to the chorus of birdsong, since for him, birds are spirits, and spirits birds. Is it too much to imagine that when we hear the bird sing, the bird itself – with its eye in its ear – ‘sees’ its own sound as a pattern in the light ? Or that this is how other birds of its kind, in the vicinity, also ‘see’ it ? These audible visions may be beyond the ken of ordinary humans who, like patients in Shipibo-Conibo healing ceremonies, hear only the song. For us, the interchangeability of light and sound is hard to grasp. But for the bird it is perfectly obvious. How, it wants to know, can we possibly claim to hear sounds without seeing them ? » - Tim Ingold

Joséphine Michel is a photographic artist. She holds an MPhil from the Royal College of Art, titled ‘The Sonic Photograph’. She has exhibited at Charlie Smith Gallery, London ; Bienal de Fotografía, Lima ; Agora Space, Berlin ; and Rencontres d’Arles. Her publications include :
The Heat Equation, book-CD with Mika Vainio, Touch, 2019
Halfway to White, book-CD with Mika Vainio, Touch, 2015
Lude, Filigranes Editions, 2007

Tim Ingold is an anthropologist and Professor Emeritus at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland. He has published numerous books, including :
Imagining for Real : Essays on Creation, Attention and Correspondence, Routledge, 2022
Correspondences, Polity, 2020
Anthropology : Why it Matters, Polity, 2018
Making : Anthropology, Archaeology, Art and Architecture, Routledge, 2013
Lines, a Brief History, Routledge, 2007

118 pages
24 x 29 cm
Printed on Fedrigoni
ISBN: 979109190298

© éditions fario

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