The Telephone is Killing the Cosmos
Le Téléphone Tue Le Cosmos
series of 21 paintings, Modeling paste, acrylic, ink, varnish on Resin Coated Paper, mounted on canvas, 30 x 40 cm or 40 x 60 cm, 2018-2019.
Lièvre et Fruits sans Titre [Untitled Hare and Fruits]
from the project Le Téléphone Tue Le Cosmos [The Telephone is Killing the Cosmos]
Jean-Baptiste Maitre titles his project after a 1923 quote by German cultural theorist Aby Warburg: “The telephone kills the cosmos.” Conversation technology, Warburg suggests, means men can talk at a distance without the need to walk to one another. And by not walking the world, man does not encounter the natural world and therefore does not create poetic, mythic interpretations of nature.
Maitre made a colorless painting—white acrylic on a white canvas. A modest size: 30 x 40 cm [11.8 x 15.75 inches]. It was, he says, a traditional still life symbolically engaged with issues of life and mortality: dead birds and hares, fruit, a tree branch. Maitre then scanned the white-on white work and used text recognition software “to identify an image in the painting.” This end-point piece is the image produced by the software. It encapsulates mortality, transformation, drift, and mutation in the time of plague.
Text from the exhibition: "Art in the Plague year" at California Museum of Photography, 2021.