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Au fil du temps

Research output: Exhibits, objects and web-based outputsDigital or Visual Products

  • Neil Boynton
Publication date2013
Place of PublicationLucerne
PublisherLucerne International Film Festival
EditionLIFF 2012 DVD
Medium of outputFilm
Size7’33”, .mov, H.264, 1920 x 1080
<mark>Original language</mark>English
Event32nd Cambridge Film Festival - Cambridge, United Kingdom
Duration: 13/09/201223/09/2012


Exhibition32nd Cambridge Film Festival
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


Au fil du temps builds a picture of an Alpine landscape from a variety of temporal and spatial perspectives. In chronological order, ten scenes present time-lapse sequences captured during the same season in three different locations. The soundtrack may be understood as an extension of this environmental scene but stands out of (the visual) time both structurally and representationally. Structurally, the dominant sound layers resonate with the large-scale rhythms of the environment that are glimpsed in the time-compression of the image sequences (the daily heating and cooling of the earth, and the concomitant effect on weather systems); the moment-by-moment surface details of the scenes are traced only in the video channel. Representationally, the cowbells, which were recorded in the mountain pastures in September and, in iconic musical terms, are a feature of such landscapes—think Mahler (Webern) and Strauss, are out of season with the video. The temporal disjunctions between audio and video (both these sensory channels providing mostly different information) and the spatial disjunction in the split-screen scenes showing synchronous images from two geographically separated cameras combine to provide multiple descriptions of a landscape, while denying the customary correspondence between audio and visual domains.

The proportions of scale in the environment and the time compression of the image sequences magnify changes in the scene. Giant peaks, despite their size and seeming immutability, are continually transformed by the weather: temporally animated clouds efface the static, awe-inspiring peaks of the Dents du Midi, for example, making them look, momentarily at least, insignificant.The Alpine world of white, black and blue and all intermediate shades is presented, with dramatic contrasts between reflected light and shadows. Of particular note in this connection, is the illumination of the ridge below les Hauts Forts by moonlight.

The soundtrack creates a fragile, tender sound, that in establishing a counterpoint with the visual imagery, emphasizes the notion of observer and observed, as if the viewer were in a state of reverie. Slowly evolving synthesized sounds and recordings of cowbells from the mountain pastures combine to present a weave of interleaved textures. The dominant cycles of repeated clarinet-like sounds lock the video into a pace that temporally mirrors the unfolding of natural events on the grand scale of the imagery.


1. Mer du nuages
2. Les Hauts Forts
3. Dents du Midi, les Hauts Forts
4. Dents du Midi, les Hauts Forts
5. Les Hauts Forts: moonlight
6. Dents du Midi
7. Dents du Midi, Lac d’Avoriaz: moonrise
8. Lac d’Avoriaz
9. Dents du Midi, Lac d’Avoriaz: sunrise10. Dents du Midi

Considerations of method

The video presents images captured by cameras positioned in the snow-capped peaks of the French Alps over a period of four months.

The cameras were placed in three different positions around the ski resort of Avoriaz: one in an alpine rescue hut, two in the resort itself, the first of these on the highest apartment block looking toward a ridge, and the other looking across the frozen lac d’Avoriaz toward a valley with the peaks of les Dents Blanches in the background. Each was placed in order to give different perspectives on the mountains (a peak, a valley, a ridge), providing an experience that could notbe achieved from a viewer’s single geographical location within the landscape.

The cameras were set to shoot at 30-second intervals. The images were then compiled into short vignettes, powerfully condensing the actual time taken to shoot. The process enables the viewer to experience the landscape over a longer period than is normally possible, e.g. a twenty-four hour period can be seen approximately 80 seconds.

The time-lapse technology allows observation of variations in landscape scenes, from different times of day and night, and contrasting weather conditions. In any one visit the typical visitor would be unlikely to see as wide a range of environmental elements captured during the period of shooting.