In the Studio with Cecil Touchon
Collage works in Sound, Text and Image
Living the last four years in the central Mexico city of Cuernavaca, Cecil Touchon gives us a rare glance into the startlingly wide range of his creative working process. Touchon explores the various strands of the construct he identifies as the ‘massurreality’ – the meta discourse of globalization as it relates to modernist art and its aspirations to radically recreate the world in a utopian fashion. Touchon’s installation of hundreds of works on paper, digital photographs, notes, poems, and sound collages in constant loop on several portable CD players connected to headphones, seeks to overwhelm the viewer with an inordinate amount of information intended to simulate his sense of information overload as typified by the Internet the ultimate expression of Modernist Culture.
A basic premise of the exhibition is that we are living in the future world designed by the modernist pioneers of the creative community between the World Wars of the 20th Century and which only existed as a science fiction type dream of the future only 80 years ago. Touchon’s exhibit seems to ask the question; ‘So where to from here?’
As one stops to ponder the message presented by Touchon’s exhibit, it becomes clear that the exhibit is the product of a multifarious inquiry into the variegated intentions of many different avant garde artistic heritages from the past with the purpose being to find the spiritual underpinings that give our present modern life a value worth spending one’s time to pursue. These heritages include Constructivism, Minimalism, de Stijl, Bauhaus, Cubism, Futurism, Letterism, Fluxus and other visual idioms of the last 100 years that Touchon combines, recombines, mutates and contorts in order to find new and unexpected combinations. Touchon maintains his center in seeking out and exploiting elegant abstract relationships from the heaps of visual material his work compiles and explores.
It this doesn’t seem enough to cause overload, add to it a several inch thick pile of ‘collage poems’ constructed by Touchon from material gleaned from email correspondences, spam mail, text from web pages found through strange search processes on Google’s search engine and other digital sources that are cut and pasted line by unrelated line into ambiguous yet provocative clusters of intuitively poetic statements.
It is clear that these are not wholly random, such as John Cage might have constructed by mechanical means but rather are the product of gathering and constructing the lines of text into collages not unlike his visual works. Other compilations of notes, books in progress and the like are on view.
Then there are the sound collages called Massurrealist Meditations that can only be heard through the earphones attached to portable CD players where several minutes of constructed sound works are playing on continuous loop so you don’t know where they start or stop. These works are composed of sounds from Touchon’s field recordings of Paris subways, Mexican market places and water parks and/or ‘found noises’ that Touchon appropriates from unnamed sources on the internet which he manipulates and alters with audio editing software on his computer in the manor of which is currently known as Microsound. The works range in emotive content from frantic to sublime to humorous and clever.
In addition there are digital photographs taken of scrambled TV images that have then been blown up, amplified, edited, isolated into lyrical abstract relationships of color and form. And there’s more! But you’ll just have to go see the show for yourself.