Skip to Content

Reviews & Articles

Stéphane Couturier, Melting Point (斯特凡.古特日埃:熔點)
Gerard HENRY
at 4:54pm on 13th April 2012

Stéphane Couturier. "Melting Point" Series - La Havane. 2006/ Photo nº 1. Courtesy of Galerie Polaris, Paris.


(原文以法文撰寫,中文翻譯請往下看。 This article was originally written in French and is a review of Stéphane Couturier's works. Please scroll down to read the Chinese translation. )

Stéphane Couturier was born in 1957 and currently lives and works in Paris. Since 1994, he has produced exhibits of his work, grouped by series: Urban Archeology focusing on evolving urban spaces; Generic Cities: Landscaping; and the series Melting Point, which was unveiled at the same time as the work on the Toyota factories in 2005.

Stéphane Couturier sees cities, industry and built landscapes as premises for questioning the relationship between the work of art and the subject being represented. This duality - the inseparability of documentary study and the pursuit of a personal visual aesthetic - characterizes all of his photographic works.

In his earliest works, he captures the city in transition: the city as an assemblage of cranes, scaffolding, pipes and building materials. Rather than isolate a building as an architectural object, he seeks to emphasize its wider context. In fact, Stéphane Couturier views the city as an ever-changing work site, as a living organism whose innards must be exposed, whether the subject be Berlin, Havana, Seoul or San Diego:

“I am interested in producing ambiguous images, images that lie at the junction of a series of documentary, aesthetic, urban and sociological analyses. "

"Whereas architectural photography often isolates an architectural objects from any meaningful context, my photographic approach, which emphasizes the purity of the illuminated three-dimensional form, evokes the city’s “contextuality". The truly great cities are markedly heterogeneous. Cities are hubs for unceasing architectural activity. Time -- especially the temporal relationship between man and urban space -- is the contemplative notion driving this work. Cities are the result of successive stratifications. By juxtaposing a series of representative finished buildings and vertical cross-sections of the bowels of the initial work sites, I am exploring the sedimentary aspect of cities. My work places this built landscape in a temporal nether region. This city can be compared to a living organism. It is constantly changing. I see work sites as a sort of wound to a very dense urban fabric that accentuate urban verticality by evoking the city’s seemingly unlikely architectural roots, proliferating according to its wealth of historical sediment. "

While the documentary approach is still present in Couturier’s latest series "Melting Point", he no longer considers it sufficient to offer up a simple celebration of beauty. The object here is to expand on photography’s documentary aspect, to shift and move beyond its narrative dimension while keeping intact its constitutive documentary elements: reality is no longer made up of isolated things with fixed geometric shapes, but instead becomes a reality in flux and in perpetual motion and transformation.

Rather than focusing on one perspective, this project seeks to question the notion of subject by superimposing two photographic records. The resulting duality provides a fresh outlook on the recorded reality. The figuratively abstract series “Melting Point” confronts the intersection of two photographs and shifts the representation back and forth between document and fiction:

"In any event, the combination of these two shots attempts to reveal the increasing complexity of the world in which we operate. The human aspect itself is questioned: in the spirit of Charlie Chaplin’s "Modern Times", what is humanity’s place in this robotic, ultra efficient, ultra rational world?  In creating these photographs, I sought to question our perception of the world, constantly caught in a temporal nether region between document and fiction, between tangible reality and virtual reality.”

The technical and aesthetic protocols applied to achieve these photographs enable an expanded vision of their documentary aspect and a shift beyond their narrative dimension while keeping intact their constitutive documentary elements.


斯特凡. 古特日埃 (Stéphane Couturier) 生於1957年,現於巴黎定居和工作。自1994年開始致力籌辦攝影作品展覽,其系列作品包括:專門探討城市空間演化的「城市考古學」(Archéologie urbaine)、典型城市 (Villes génériques)、城市造景 (Landscaping),以及2005年拍攝豐田車廠作品:「熔點」系列。








Exhibition: Playgrounds - Contemporary French Photography
Date: 6.4. – 2.5.2012
Venue: Avenue of Stars, Tsimshatsui

A version of this article appeared in Paroles, No. 232, April 2012.

Search by Writer: