PREFACE I be-imaged speech



PREFACE I - be-imaged speech, 2011

Le livre des questions by Edmond Jabès,  dialoge “Au seuil du livre”


When a language is barely comprehensible the eyes  look to the  face of the speaker,  caught in that lapse between the mouth moving, the words spoken, heard and perhaps translated.


Preface I is the first of a series of video portraits of texts by various authors. Elsa Hourcade reads the dialogue “Au seuil du livre” from Le livre des questions. A voice speaks in french, text appears upon a white background — the English translation of the words spoken. Line by line, text emerge from a point on the page, crawling over the screen, writing that slowly, but never completely, reveals the reader’s face.

The idea of a dialogue being read, aloud, in a single voice, emphasising the internal quality of the text. Central is the idea that face, as a whole, is contained within the voice and the text, but is never more than partially revealed, either in image or words.

The structure of the work allows a certain ambiguity in how it can be looked at. Looking can involve reading or not, listening or not, reading and listening and looking, or just looking thus emphasising the dialogue(s) between the original and its translation, between text and image, between reader and listener.

In Preface 1 the dialogue between the text and the image mirrors that of two voices of the text being read.

In Preface 2 the text is very different, a singular voice hoping “to be enveloped in words”, to be a kind of channel, to be revealed in the words of an other.



18-20 June 2015

EMMA – Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier

Cinéma Utopia, Montpellier