Balises numériques 32Ko
un projet de Catherine Rannou

produced by the Festival @rt Outsiders / Maison Européenne de la Photography, Paris, 2009
in collaboration with the Contemporary Art Center Passerelle, Brest


Digital Beacons 32Ko

||||||||||||||| A project by Catherine Rannou

in collaboration with the Festival @rt Outsiders
and the Contemporary Art Center La Passerelle.
From October 15th 2008.

Email exchanges —following a protocol defined by the artist in relation to specific technical constraints— between Catherine Rannou and five people belonging to her professional environment and chosen by her (Annick Bureaud, Ulrike Kremeier, Rafael Magrou, Roger Perrin-Jaquet and Jean-Luc Soret), during her journey in Antarctica from October 2008 to February 2009.

Catherine Rannou is a video artist and an architect, she teaches at the "l'Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture de Bretagne" (ENSAB) (Higher National School of Architecture of Britany) in France. She is conducting a research in collaboration with the French Polar Institute (IPEV), a glaciology scientific laboratory (LGGE), the Australian Antarctic Division (AAD) and a technical research office (T.E.S.S) in the Antarctic continent, that she started in 2006, during her artistic residency « art at the poles », at the French Polar Base Dumont d'Urville.

During her "Summer Campaign", thanks to a grant from Cultures France Villa Médicis hors les murs, on the French base of Dumont d'Urville (DDU) and the franco-italian bases of Prud'homme and Concordia during the austral Summer 2008/2009 (October 2008 – February 2009), Catherine Rannou proposes to five persons, close to her working field, to be associated to her research through a communication protocol and exchanges about the research conducted in situ and during her travel.

Antarctica scientific bases, if they are first and foremost working places, are also, du to their isolation and the forced confinement, living and intimate spaces.
Data communication, constrained by the extreme isolation of the Antarctic continent from the rest of the world, is difficult and not in real time and exchanges through the usual means of dialogue (telephone, mail, email) is restricted to the utilitarian necessities, mostly technical.
This specific difficulty for dialogue from the Antarctic continent with the rest of the world, which favors mediated exchanges of digital datas against the expression of the body (voice, gestures, ...) is taken into account in the protocol that has been defined.

«Digital samples » are simultaneously sent by Catherine Rannou to the five chosen addressees during her whole journey: from her departure from Paris to her arrival at the Franco-Italian base of Concordia, to her return from Concordia to Paris.
Those « digital samples», no matter their content (digitalized drawings, digital photographs, videos, texts, ....) are restricted to the authorized maximum size for emails from Antarctica, that is 32Ko.

Those exchanges are like beacons or signals which, in return can be interpretated, annotated, expanded and thrown back by the addressees to the sender as well as to the other addressees participating in the project. The distance, growing with the journey, disconnections and other transmission difficulties are distording the exchange.
A parallel space should appear, as an inprint, like a radar that registers the echo of the waves that are bouncing on obstacles.


The contents of the samples are free but related to the perspective of the artist doing them and to the datas sending format. It has to deal with territory planing, spatial appropriation, waste management, import-export, temporalities distortions and spatial reference points, logistic. Those datas measure, by their addition and chronology the space that has been travelled. Their measurement scale, as well as their topics, are variable, they constitute a transversal gaze, a kind of vision in a 3D cut of the « Antarctic system ».


The time lag does not allow for specific days and time to issue the posts. One post per week minimum will be done by the artist depending on the conditions of communication and on means of transport, hence a minimum of 15 digital beacons will be sent. The frequencies of the posts by the addresses is free. The beacons will be sent to addresses located in France, working in a precise professional environment, but no immediate answers or questions are awaited.

Organisation of the Digital Beacons

The chronological order, in Universal Time (TU) has been chosen to order those exchanges. When the artist is back in France, other methodologies may be used, depending on the means of diffusion.


during the time of the journey

Festival @rt Outsiders / European House of Photography, Paris
exchanges are available on the web site of the @rt Outsiders Festival. A link is established from the @rt Outsiders website to the website of The Contemporary Art Center Passerelle.

Contemporary Art Center Passerelle, Brest
an installation presents the digital beacons sent by the artist as they arrive, in real time, and a link is done from the Contemporary Art Center Passerelle website to the @rt Outsiders Festival website.


  • Annick Bureaud (AB)
    Art critic, theoretician, co-curator of @rt Outsiders 2009, director of Leonardo/Olats
  • Ulrike Kremeier (UK)
    Director Contemporary Art Center La Passerelle
  • Rafael Magrou (RM)
    Critic and curator (architecture design and arts)
  • Roger Perrin-Jaquet (RPJ)
    Professor in sociology of habitat (ENSAB)
  • Jean-Luc Soret (JLS)
    Artistic Director of the Festival @rt Outsiders / European House of Photography