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The Creation of the Universe

Emmanuelle Jacques The Creation of the Universe

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The Creation of the Universe is an exhibition featuring work by Emmanuelle Jacques. It explores the generative nature of print media and its transposition into video animation. Based on a series of 25 linocuts featuring celestial imagery, this experimental project developed around a creative process inspired by The Library of Babel, by Jorge Luis Borges, which details an endlessly vast library containing books written with an alphabet of 25 characters.

The 25 lino blocks used to compose the prints stand in for the alphabet found in the library – their space motif is symbolic of the infinite possibilities. As with ancient books comprised of individual lead characters and printed on a typographic press, Jacques uses combinatorial processes to generate (in theory) all the prints possible using a 25-block “alphabet”, like so many imaginary celestial landscapes, viewed through the lens of a telescope.

What resulted are 1250 unique images out of the 15,625 possible combinations. Each print is comprised of three of the 25 blocks, printed in the three primary colours. Though varied in combination, the colour is consistently layered in the order of yellow, magenta, and cyan. Each block was assigned a number to identify its place within the gradual transformation of this motif.

Using a typographic press, each block’s corresponding number was printed in the bottom right corner of each piece, revealing the code of its composition, authenticating its uniqueness. While Jacques was printing, the thought of God creating the Universe crossed her mind. She pictured him, like her, randomly combining the elements of the periodic table, getting sometimes a fruitful assemblage, sometimes a series of insignificant amalgams. Hence the tongue-in-cheek title: The Creation of the Universe.

The prints are presented in the order implied by their numbers, demonstrating the gradual progression and rhythm of the image in its successive combinations. The installation is accompanied by a video animation made with the prints, using the same combinatorial process but revealing this transformation over time rather than within space.

Curated by Justin Muir

Emmanuelle Jacques lives and works in Montreal. She completed her Bachelor of Visual Arts at Université du Québec à Montréal in 2004. She has exhibited her work, participated in artist residencies, and lead workshops across Canada.

She recently took part in Eastern Edge’s Art Marathon Festival (Saint John’s, Canada), had a solo exhibition at Martha Street Studio (Winnipeg, Canada), and was on the shortlist for the Art Gallery of York University’s Artist Book of the Moment competition (Toronto, Canada).

Emmanuelle Jacques is interested in issues of territory, urbanism, astronomy, great explorations, psycho-geography, and toponymy. By pursuing endless tasks, such as the mapping of vast continually transforming spaces, she challenges the absurdity of the human condition.

Her practice is based on drawing and print media, although it often borders with other disciplines. The language of cartography, with its pictorial and semantic qualities, is the basis of her research on territory — an open notion that she addresses freely, as a dilettante.