Joséphine Michel is a French artist
I have followed Joséphine’s work for several years. I am close enough to her to call her a friend, and I am a deep fan of her work. Our crossover comes from a shared passion for music and sound art. I have nearly all of her photobooks and consider her point of crossover by working with composers such as Miko Vainio incredibly refreshing. I contend that more image-makers working with photography should consider the medium of sound as a rich field of discovery for which to cross mediums.
Throughout the episode, we spoke about her new book, Syrinx, an exciting book that, on its outside, looks to be a collection of aviary photographs. On closer inspection, Joséphine’s photographs resonate with a hint of noise and vibrate, further questioning the notion of ecological balance and natural world anxiety. It is an eerie bestiary that suggests sentience and forewarning. Working with noted anthropologist Tim Ingold, the book combines Michel’s images and Ingold’s apt observations…
It’s perhaps this enigma of song and the sonic world in general, that which invades and penetrates us as if to animate us that Joséphine Michel deploys in her heterogenous images. Most of her photographs of birds discard the figure or grace of the overall body, and the myth of gravity-defiance. They are committed to a form of revelation of these motifs wherein an intimate and singular approach leads to the borders of abstraction. There are eyes and feathers that one cannot simply look at, but into which we are suddenly plunged, as if the gaze could for a moment lose its loquaciousness and join, through magnetized observation, the passion of listening. As if it were no longer just a matter of deciphering and reading, but of capturing and allowing oneself to be captured. To fuse together seizure and seizing.
In a remarkably daring and audacious text, the anthropologist Tim Ingold leads us to question this very obvious duality between seeing and hearing, a duality undoubtedly inflected by the techniques of writing. From his study of bird sounds he questions some shamanic practices of healing among the Shipibo-Conibo people in eastern Peru, in which an aerial conception of being supersedes the corporeal approach and where light and song exchange their forms and ways; ephemeral and radiant figures which are not to be read but heard. – Tim Ingold