Philippe Braquenier - 'Palimpsest'

The Ravestijn Gallery
Feb 16, 2017 10:03AM

noun pa-limp-sest \ pa-l m(p)- sest, p - lim(p)-\

: a very old document on which the original writing has been effaced and replaced with newer writing

: something that has changed over time and shows evidence of that change

Metas (Swiss Federal Office of Metrology) – Bern, Switzerland – 17/03/02014                                                                                                     FOCS 1, a continuous cold caesium fountain atomic clock located in Switzerland, started operating in 02004 at an uncertainty of one second in 30 millionyears, thereby becoming one of the most accurate and unique devices for measuring time in the world. It is one of five atomic clocks in the Time and FrequencyLaboratory of METAS that provides the data used to compute Coordinated Universal Time (UTC) at the Bureau International des Poids et Mesures(BIPM), which compares data from approximately 250 clocks distributed around the globe. This laboratory is kept well shielded from external influencessuch as vibration or temperature and humidity fluctuations. The main goals of this lab are to participate in the realization of the international atomic timestandard (TAI) and to be part of the ground station system for the 02016 ACES (Atomic Clock Ensemble in Space) mission, in which a primary atomic clockwill be operated in the International Space Station and will be compared with atomic clocks on Earth.   

The natural foundations of our memory are slowly collapsing. Remembering as a basic human activity is turning into an underrated exercise. This is because more and more information is externalized on portable devices, hard drives and online cloud services. Mankind’s burgeoning desire is to rescue every bit of information from obscurity and safeguard scientific and cultural knowledge. Yet, to do so means that we are becoming increasingly dependent on technology and digital media.

The acceleration of technology introduces some serious risks. It dangers the preservation of entire bodies of knowledge. This is due to the decreasing life-span of digital formats and platforms used to storing mankind’s memory. Large scientific institutions like NASA have had to encounter the challenges of digital revolution with diligence. Their efforts have been progressively focused on recovering data from complete obliteration from old file formats.[1] This said, digital dark age is a factual threat if sustainable methods for safekeeping data are not addressed with urgency.

University of Neuchâtel – Neuchâtel, Switserland – 18/03/02014                                                                                                                               This is one of the tiniest miniaturized atomic clocks in the world. The goal is to insert this type of clock in portable devices (phones, computers and PDAs)to improve synchronization in communication networks and increase transfer rates through high accuracy coordination between devices. Atomic clocksare useful in telecommunications for time multiplexing techniques: when transferring data from a point A (e.g. a mobile phone) to a point B (e.g. a base stationof the cellular network), this method can allow multiple users to transmit information packets on a single channel or on a single frequency. This requireshighly accurate synchronization of the emitters and receivers to identify time gaps between each of the signals and improve the demultiplexing process.In a case like this, the more accurate the clock the more data can be sent over the channel. Atomic clocks are therefore excellent candidates for this job,as they are more accurate than quartz oscillators.   

Philippe Braquenier's Palimpsest is an exhibition that crops up from this hastily developing technological landscape. It bears witness to the contemporary infrastructures of information repositories. In architecture, the word palimpsest is used to refer to the accumulation of design elements in a particular place over time. Braquenier’s photographs incorporate architectural, technological and natural components with impressive clarity. The libraries, data centres and both natural and built environments Braquenier approaches, hold a strong reference to the legacies of human knowledge.

The proximity of natural and technological milieus seems to propose a dependency in which one cannot exist without the other. Braquenier’s interest in the information depots expands from the question of their relationship to landscape and urban infrastructures, to what is required to sustain the archives of human history. The aesthetic quality of Braquenier’s work is exquisite and well-measured. It points us to consider our forever sprouting interactions with technology.

AT&T Tower – New York, USA – 15/07/02015                                                                                                                                                     The Long Lines Building hosts the large long distance telephone exchange switches that connect US phone networks with internationaltrans-oceanic lines. It has been hailed as one of the world’s best connected buildings, and is home to one of the biggest internet‘switch’ points in the world, helping bring the internet to the US. Its pink-hued granite façade has no windows and was designedto be entirely self-sufficient, with its own power generators and the ability to survive for two weeks following a nuclear blast.   

Philippe Braquenier, born in 1985, is a Belgian artist working in conceptual and documentary photography. He received his BFA in photography from the Helb INRACI and has exhibited in Foto Museum Antwerpen, The Brussels Royal Museum of Fine Arts and Aperture Foundation in New York among other institutions and galleries. His work has recently been published in Wired, Aint-Bad, Médor and Accattone Magazine. Palimpsest will be published as a book later on during the year. 

Text by Dana Amina Daniela Benlakhdar 

[1] Sandra Blakeslee, Lost on Earth: Wealth of Data Found in Space, (20 March 1990), The New York Times,    

Pont d’Arc Cavern – Vallon-Pont-d’Arc, France – 06/07/02016                                                                                                                             The Pont-d'Arc cave is the replica of the Chauvet cave. The construction began in October 02012 and it was opened to the public in 02015.On a surfaceof 3.000 m2 floor, 8.000 m2 of walls in all their geomorphological diversity are created. From frames of metal hanging cages, 150 km from metal rods frameshand-shaped welded to form grids imitating the shapes of the rock, are covered with prestressed concrete projection. This bonding layer, sculptors modelwith special mortars surfaces and textures that are then weathered. Then integrated all the speleothems (solid concretions) and parietal resin panels.   

Montserrat Abbaye – Montserrat, Spain – 01/08/02016                                                                                                                                               La Biblioteca de Montserrat forma parte del monasterio y sus dependencias sólo son accesibles a los monjes de la comunidad.Por este motivo no creemos viable la participación de nuestra institución en este proyecto fotográfico y documental.   

The Ravestijn Gallery