Massot’s work has long been concerned with the theory of photography and the effect of this medium on the human perception of time and space. By the early 2000s, he developed a concept he named COS•MO (Constant Self-recording Mode), based on his idea that the invention of photography in the 1830s initiated an age in which things were no longer just represented, but laterally recorded with the help of a mechanical device. He posits that this radical transformation of the human relation to time and space resulted in today’s Infocom society.
While teaching the history of photography at Nanyang Technological University, he came across the work of Jules Itier, a French custom officer who travelled around the China Sea in the 1840s with a daguerreotype camera. Itier’s images are the earliest extant photographs of China. He took many more in other countries around the region, including one in Singapore dated in his journal to 6 July 1844.
In this talk, Massot will discuss his research on the coming of photography to Asia, and how it combines with his theoretical concerns. What if that Singapore daguerrotype was not just the earliest dated photograph of this port city, but marked the shift into the age of COS•MO for the whole Asian continent?
About the speaker
Gilles Massot teaches at LASALLE College of the Arts and has been based in Singapore since 1981. Born in France, and a recipient of the Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, his work has been presented in over 50 exhibitions in France and Asia. His multidisciplinary process seeks to establish links between narratives, occurrences, and parts of the world. His first book, Bintan, Phoenix of the Malay Archipelago (2003), deeply influenced his artistic work, which now often deals with history and ethnology, while conceptually concerned with the theory of photography and the phenomenon of "recording" that it initiated. His research on Jules Itier was published in the journal History of Photography in 2015. Currently he is exploring the relationship between the history of photography and quantum mechanics.
Organised in conjunction with the exhibition