“I try to find a balance between the aestheticisation of the project, its structure, and its message,” explains Lausanne-based photographer Quentin Lacombe of his experimental documentary practice. Taking its name from the astronomical term, Quentin’s project Event Horizon, strikes this balance in its intriguing concept, thorough design sensibility and acutely referential imagery.
“In astronomy,” he explains, “an event horizon is the term that designates the boundary around a black hole beyond which events cannot propagate, therefore warping the surrounding spacetime.” Quentin’s project, in response to this, is a “personal attempt to construct a cosmology through photographic means” resulting in a series of digital collages, photographs, 3D renderings and photograms published in a book of the same name.
The project began while Quentin was studying photography at ÉCAL, when several factors aligned. First, he concluded that “documentary also allows a free formal approach of the subject and makes possible a personal subjective interpretation of the subject”. At the same time, Quentin found himself consuming a plethora of science fiction films, including Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner and John Carpenter’s They Live. Lastly, Quentin wanted a subject which could embody some sort of personal link or experience. “My father is an astrophysicist and I grew up in this field,” he tells us, “I remember well the afternoons I spent at the Meudon Observatory playing in my father’s laboratory, fantasizing about the stars, astronomy and science in general. I tried to integrate those feelings into the project.”
The “personal cosmology” produced as a result of these various elements sees animals, organic matter, technological artefacts and architectural objects roaming along an endless timeline “as if they inhabited this universe with equivalent agency in a flat ontology of sorts”. Quentin’s fabricated world is one where humans retreat from these entities, blurring the boundaries between scientific and metaphorical concepts.
Early on in the project, Quentin encountered the problem of how he would translate this “infinite astronomical phenomenon” into the conversely very finite space of a book. As a result, the images flow from one page to another in an endless cycle. “If you remove the cover, then the book becomes an object that works cyclically without beginning or end,” he explains. This continuing transition is only furthered by his choice of Japanese binding, which allows for the illusion of an endless flow, not restricted by the edge of the page.
In order to produce rhythm within this cyclical design, however, Quentin introduced three distinct chapters. The first sets the context for an environment where science in general and astronomy, in particular, have a domestic place in everyday life. The second features the inclusion of a “disruptive element that will challenge the context posed in the first chapter”. The third finally corresponds to the regeneration of a hypothetical world.
Event Horizon is currently on display in Bredaphoto in The Netherlands. “I am very excited about this exhibition because the project will be presented as a great complete horizon, as close as possible to the original version: the book,” explains Quentin. Bredaphoto runs until 21 October 2018 will several pieces of work exploring the continuing impact of science.
About the Author
Ruby joined the It’s Nice That team as an editorial assistant in September 2017 after graduating from the Graphic Communication Design course at Central Saint Martins. In April 2018, she became a staff writer and in August 2019, she was made associate editor.