Dans La Nuit

April 1, 2009
Screen time: preparing for night images at Le Fresnoy.

Screen time: preparing for night images at Le Fresnoy. William Noland

Two Duke faculty members celebrated the visual arts in late December with French President Nicholas Sarkozy.

An exhibition at the Grand Palais in Paris, "Dans La Nuit, Des Images" (In the Night, Images), included installations by Duke artists Bill Seaman and William Noland, both faculty members in the department of art, art history, and visual studies.

The exhibition was organized by the French Presidency of the European Union as a celebration of the tenth anniversary of Le Fresnoy, a French institute devoted to teaching, research, and experimenting with visual media.

Earlier in the fall semester, Duke's Visual Studies Initiative announced the collaboration with Le Fresnoy (pronounced fren-WAH) to facilitate student and faculty exchanges and promote interaction between artists and researchers.

Screen time shot from Seaman's installation.

Screen time shot from Seaman's installation. Bill Seaman

"The overarching strategic goal of this partnership is to foster a multidisciplinary collaboration between Fresnoy artists and Duke scientific communities, research institutes, social scientists, and humanists," says Hans Van Miegroet, professor and chair of the department of art, art history, and visual studies. "The objective is to enable advancements in science, education, the humanities, and the arts by creating an environment where artists, scholars from the humanities and social sciences, [and] scientists can work together."

Le Fresnoy selects a small number of artists and scholars for a two-year residency to produce art works. The art created at Le Fresnoy is shown throughout the world, and selections will come to Duke at regular intervals in the future.

Seaman's installation, "The Architecture of Association," was done in collaboration with digital artist and computer scientist Daniel C. Howe. It featured a set of poetic sentences and related images that converged on plasma screens through a computer system programmed to connect associated words and images. Seaman likened the experience to watching somebody's thinking process.

Noland's work "Occulted" examines the use of increasingly sophisticated surveillance systems that are present throughout London. Viewers of the installation observed a populace that willingly submits to surveillance and raise questions about technology and privacy.

In addition to the exhibition opening, Duke faculty members and administrators met with their counterparts at Le Fresnoy and attended a reception and exhibition viewing hosted by the Duke Alumni Association, which drew ninety people.