Newsletter Issue:
Fall 2021

Daphné Le Sergent: Object Photography and Drawing as Sensuous Visuality

by Amy Schuessler, Cohort ’20

During the IDSVA Summer Residency in June 2021, students and faculty enjoyed a lecture and virtual exhibition titled Photo-Drawing- Passage-Line, Haptic and Sensory Habitus by Daphné Le Sergent. Dr. Le Sergent lives in Paris, France, where she carries out artistic and theoretical research into the notions of discordance regarding both geopolitical boundaries and potential internal disjunction. She holds a Ph.D. in Aesthetics, Sciences, and Technology of Arts and is an associate professor at Paris 8 University in the Department of Photography. Dr. Le Sergent is a member of the AICA research laboratory, which is concerned with contemporary arts and the role of images in all their forms favoring theoretical, experimental, and philosophical methods to explore photographic, digital, and media-based technologies.

Through her theoretical and research-based practice, Le Sergent investigates the concepts of schism, border, and the occasion of cleaving. Using various arrangements, juxtapositions, and tensioning within disparate areas of the image, she creates disassociation in the direct perception of the viewer to account for the presence of a split or crack in the intimate space of the gaze. One component of Le Sergent’s multi-media creative practice involves layering and melding photography and drawing to search for what she calls "volume effect" (Le Sergent 03:20). She examines the analogous relationship between the terms optic and haptic to express the complication of the viewer’s gaze. Dr. Le Sergent explains how her research-based practice has led her to the conclusion “that the gaze can be a very complicated process, not simply the image reaching the retina of the eye and translating to the brain but something melting, engaging the whole body” (Le Sergent 09:57).

Untitled installation view, Silver Memories: How to Reach the Origin. Atelier Hermes, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, 2019

The artist likens these phenomena to synesthesia or other poly-sensuous conditions. Her image-object/photo-drawings are about effectuating the sense of touch through the optic function of the eye. In her engagement with the haptic, Le Sergent asks, ‘how do we discover objects?’ and what does visuality imply in reference to our other senses? 

Dr. Le Sergent led the audience through a discussion and virtual exhibition of her work, Silver Memories, the desire of rare things, exhibited at The Centre Photographique d’Île-de-France (CPIF) in Spring 2021. CPIF is dedicated to artistic research-based projects, digital and new media studies, and contemporary photography, acknowledging emerging creative praxis and theory. Le Sergent’s recent exhibition is the culmination of research carried out between 2018 and 2021. An earlier iteration of this work, Silver Memories: How to Reach the Origin, was exhibited at Atelier Hermes, Gangnam-gu, Seoul, in 2019. These hybridized works bring together photography, drawing, video, and installation to address the inception and invention of photography by examining the silver halide compound vital to its analog process, a resource that may well become exhausted.

Exhibition View, CPIF, 2021 (left) Silver Halide Grains, 2019 (right)

Le Sergent explains, “If silver disappears at a certain point, and if we were not able to take photographs in the ways we did in the past, we would be deprived of a precious way of storing our memories” (The Korea Herald). Le Sergent wants the viewer to find a visceral connection to the image. She is asking us to seek the materiality of this precious metal to understand the implications and connections to the construction of our perceptual world. “From the colonization of Mexico at the start of the 16th century to the mining industry today, she explores the relativity of our cultural horizons” (CPIF). The artist invites us to consider an alternative history of photography, one that allows for a polysemantic narrative that centers around the debate concerning overexploitation of natural resources, extractivist cultural models, and our own sensuous perceptions.

Works Cited

Le Sergent, Daphné. Photo-Drawing- Passage-Line, Haptic and Sensory Habitus. IDSVA Virtual Residency Lectures, Summer 2021

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