Foam 3h: Jan Rosseel - Belgian Autumn

Foam 3h: Jan Rosseel - Belgian Autumn: A Confabulated History is an experiential installation resulting from a collaboration between photographer Jan Rosseel and myself. The exhibition took place in Foam 3h, a space encouraging experimental exhibitions in Fotografiemuseum Amsterdam, 27 June - 17 August 2014.

Visitors enter a darkened space with little illumination coming from a small highlighted photograph of a leaf on a dark background. As their eyes adjust to the darkness, they take little steps into the space following the wall as their guide. Scarce and at random, bright flashes from different corners of the space disturb the darkness. Depending on your position in the space and the right timing, you can briefly see an image – the black contours of someone wearing a ski mask or an axe used to cut telephone wires - being lit up for an instant. But considering the flash of light is so short, bright and blinding, you do not actually see the real image. What you see is the remaining afterimage of what was there, slowly morphing into decay on your own retinae.

Jan Rosseel's work Belgian Autumn is a visual investigation into the violent and ambiguous robberies and killings by the gang of Nivelles in 1980’s Belgium. Rosseel -who’s father was one of the lethal victims- started his own investigation: Based on police files and reports, witness accounts and newspaper clippings, Rosseel reconstructed the events from the past, something he calls a confabulated history. Read more

Thematic throughout Belgian Autumn is the (un)reliability of our memory. "In an investigation witness accounts are still quite important, we never know if its really true what they've seen".-Jan Rosseel. So the afterimage becomes a metaphor for our memory: the actual images are being lit up very briefly, creating a transient decaying afterimage in the eye of the beholder. "So the afterimage becomes the real image, ... and makes you wonder, if what you saw was true, or was real."

Affected by the total experience and afterimage effect in my graduation work mousse ambiguë, Jan Rosseel and I teamed up to work out a similar approach for his Belgian Autumn project, applying the afterimage as a metaphor for the (un)reliability of memory. To control the lamp flashes at random intervals I developed custom soft- (max/msp) and hardware (arduino,electronics). Additionally I created an atmospheric soundtrack that softly plays in the background at the threshold of being noticeable.

Foam 3h: Jan Rosseel - Belgian Autumn website

Foto: Christian van de Kooy Foto: Christian van de Kooy Foto: Christian van de Kooy