World skin

Maurice Benayoun, 1997 > 2000

Interactive digital artwork 

Materials, techniques and processes: Cave automatic virtual environment (CAVE), webcam, camera, printer 

Dimensions: vary from space to space

Themes: photo safari in war-torn countries

Armed with cameras, we wander through a three-dimensional space. We encounter a war-torn landscape: destroyed buildings, armed militia, tanks, artillery, débris, the wounded, the mutilated. This selection of photographs and images - originating from many different conflict zones - comprise a universe saturated with a kind of tranquil violence. The soundscape evokes a world in which to breathe is to suffer. We become very aware that our presence, as spectators, could upset this chaotic equilibrium. And yet it’s our actions which will exacerbate the pain we see. We take photographs, and yet here, photography is a lethal weapon.           

The war-torn country doesn’t have borders. We visit the space like tourists; camera at the ready. We can all centre and capture a moment in this world of agony. But what we photograph thereby ceases to exist. Every photographed object disappears from the scene to be replaced by its white silhouette. The world gradually fades away as more and more photographs are taken. Each photographed image is printed. By the time it’s on paper, it’s no longer on the screen. Only its spectral outline remains; positioned according to the observer’s point of view, it haunts the photographs to come. Our progression through this universe reveals its infinite nature; we reassemble elements in the process of rediscovering them, forever different, chaotic, in an endless tragedy.  


Music by Jean-Baptiste Barrière
Photos and video by: Maurice Benayoun.

Voice over : Harry Long