Retour aux sources Bill Bliothèque/ Bob Book

De 1989 à 1995, j'ai travaillé sur le projet de Bill Bliothèque. Gagnant du premier prix de Portfolio de la revue Ciel Variable en 1990 (connu sous le nom de CV maintenant). Avec Mac Tin Tac que j'écrivais en même temps, Bill Bliothèque a été le projet ou se sont mariés autobiographie et récit narratif. En 1995, j'ai publié une longue nouvelle qui accompagnait le chapitre 2 des aventures de Bill qui fut photographié en France (Paris et Arles) et en Espagne (Barcelone et Figueras). En 2005, j'ai retravaillé avec photoshop quelques images mises de côté à l'époque par manque de moyens.

Avec blurb, j'ai monté une version définitive du projet.

Je vais commencer à mettre à jour ma production photographique, car en marge de mes projets d'éditions, je continue d'explorer la photographie, ayant accumlué des miliers de négatifs depuis 1981 et des images sur support digital depuis 2005. J'ai déjà deux autrs livres de disponible, The Divine qui est une rétrospective de mes collages digitaux de ces dernières années et TAROT, les arcanes majeurs réalisé entre 1990 et 1995. D'autres livres de photos vont suivre (Voyages, Portraits et auteurs de BD).

In autumn of 1989, I got a freelance job to photograph the cover of a catalogue for an association of book publishers in Quebec.The graphic designer was my good friend Stéphane Olivier with whom I co-published a series of comic books (Mac Tin Tac, 1990-1995).

As a nod to the surrealism of André Breton and Man Ray, we came up with the concept of a man holding a book in front of his face. The book became a trompe-l’oeil, doubling as the man’s head (we are what we read).The client approved the concept.We proceeded, hiring Luc Gagnon to act as Bob Book.

When the catalogue reached the printer, as the presses were about to roll, at the very last minute our client got cold feet and replaced the photo of Bob Book with an innocuous abstract painting. In the end, he feared the image of Bob might “disturb” some publishers.We still got paid but I was immensely frustrated. I loved the character of Bob Book. I could not let him die. He was too close to me.

Bob Book forced me to make a choice. It became obvious that there was not much artistic opportunity for growth in doing freelance jobs. It did allow me to become a better technician and make money but that’s about it.To pursue photography as an artistic outlet, I would have to do it on my own.

With Luc Gagnon, I continued to photograph Bob Book in different situations with a vague notion that this was coalescing into a series. A Montreal photography magazine announced its first portfolio contest. I decided to participate by submitting a chronicle of the first twenty years of Bob Book’s life.

Essentially, I dug into my past and images resurfaced. Soon this project became pure autobiography. The produced photos were highly condensed re-visitations of crucial events of my youth.

A year after being ousted from that catalogue cover, the Bob Book serie won first prize in Montreal based CV Photo magazine’s first portfolio contest (Issue no 14, 1990).

I had so much fun with the first chapter, I wanted to continue Bob's adventures but try something different that would challenge me. I decided to explore the principles of automatic writing, as defined by the surrealists, and let my unconscious dictate a second Bob Book tale.

Bob goes on a quest to recover his wife’s soul which has been stolen. At the end of his quest, he liberates her soul free and acquires eyes. Set in a fantastic dreamscape,The Middle Age of the Soul explores some of the recurring motif of my work (the plastic babies; the giant eyes; keys, Cyclopes and books) on a grand stage.

The challenge was to create this world using traditional photographic tricks. I wanted parts of chapter 2 to be a tip of the hat to the masters who impacted my vision and inspired me early on : André Breton, Miro, Georges Méliès, Salvator Dali and Antonio Gaudi.

Part of the series would be photographed in Europe, particularly France and Spain where those artists lived. I received a small grant to pay for plane tickets for myself and four actors, including Luc Gagnon. They would play all the different characters Bob Book encounters.

For close to a month, I traveled around Europe with a humongous backpack containing the head of Bob Book, plastic dolls, costumes, props and a set of growing mustaches for Bob’s head (good thing I never got searched at customs!). I put to good use my guerilla filmmaking experience as we took pictures in different historic locations on the sly.

When I got back to Quebec, I started to ponder how to photograph the complicated effects scenes.Throughout my career as a photographer, it has always been imperitive to shoot and print the full negative. I tried never to re-crop a photo or manipulate the negative in a darkroom. Everything had to appear on the original negative. As a kid, I loved those old movies with special effects. I was amazed to discover that some of those incredible shots were achieved with simple means and great ingenuity.These artisans were magicians. It astounded me to discover how deceptively simple those tricks were.

For Bob Book 2, I devised the technique of Live Collages. I would first photograph Luc Gagnon playing Bob then, in the darkroom, I would print a twelve-inch version, cut him out, put him in different settings and rephotograph Bob.This way, I could create scale effects with other props. I made enlargements of eyes in different shapes, one as big as a head that became an actual mask for the actor playing the Cyclops. I placed cutout cityscapes in the distance and created false perspectives.To make it more realistic, I matched the lighting settings when I photographed separate elements so that when I shot the final collage, light seemed to come from the same source.This led me to experiment with ways to have still photographic elements interact seemlessly with natural settings.

Of course, some tricks and images were just impossible to achieve. In 2005, using digital technology, I finished some shot that were originally discarded. This book presents for the first time the complete tale of Bob Book's adventures in The Middle Age of the Soul.


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