Mapping a Modern Diegesis: Terre des Hommes and Robert Altman's Quintet (2013)

Paul Landon

About this exposition

This project maps the locations in the old Expo 67 site in Montréal used in the film Quintet (Robert Altman, 1979). It reflects upon how the representation of the international, modern architecture and design of the Expo pavilions could shift from signifying promise and potential for social betterment to becoming indexes of technological catastrophe and social decay. It also looks at how the architecture of Expo 67, both as a site of technological spectacle and as an impromptu film set, has disappeared. The interface for the project reflects the process of looking for something that has been forgotten. Like the characters of the film Quintet, lost in a nuclear winter landscape, the reader wanders through expanses of white space to find remnants of the expo site and of the film's set, to find artefacts and fragments of meaning.
typeresearch exposition
published inJournal for Artistic Research

comments: 3 (last entry by William Straw - 17/12/2013 at 23:22)
Sarah Breen Lovett 16/12/2013 at 11:27
The subject of the derelict Expo 67 site, as used for the Quintent film is historically fascinating. The method of walking / mapping project through the various forms of documentation, writing, drawing, photography and film is interesting as an approach to practice as research. The ability of this project to portray a specific atmosphereabout the site is explored through a mixture of image, moving image and text. The arrangement of spatial mapping, and the disjunctures between them convey the palpable emptiness of the site.
The text creates an appetite for visual and sensory information of the site, and while this being pared with sparse visual documentation means that the experiential nature of the site is conveyed somewhat, it could have been pushed further with recorded sounds from the site, drawings, sections and more images.
The exploration of site documentation, information on the film Quintet and imagery from Expo '67 asthree parallel streams is interesting, however it could be more visually interwoven with images from the Quintet film, rather than this section being wholly text based. An 'in-map' cross referencing between site documentation and notes/images on the film and Expo 67' would have helped build up comparisons between them in a more direct manner, but doing this too frequently could mean the appealing desolate nature of the work could be lost.
Juan Carlos Castro 16/12/2013 at 11:28
The interface of present day geographical investigation, mapping the remnants of the Expo 67 site and the settings for the film Quintet offer a number of fascinating possibilities for contemplating the relationships between place, narrative, and spectacle. However, the form of the exposition creates some obstacles to experiencing the potential of this interface of mapping. The number one salient quality of this exposition is the potential to interface through cartography, present day narrative/photographic investigation, historic maps, and fictional/historic maps.
What this exposition attempts is what JAR hopes for the research catalogue. Its non-linear interactive design intension is well suited for this concept and JAR. While three “layers,” (it should be referred to as sites) allows the reader/viewer to navigate fairly well it is not intuitive and disjoints the core potential of overlapping content representing the three sites of "data" (personal narrative, historical documentation of Expo 67 site, and the narrative map of Quintet). Instead, the sites are presented in various places with sporadic depth in regards to content (both textually and visually). It is admirable that the design of this exposition is a non-linear map and there needs to be further exploration of this means of knowledge dissemination.
William Straw 17/12/2013 at 23:22
I found this work interesting. Methodologically, it combines the contemporary interest in mapping with a specific interest in film locations (and in the potentials for working with them made possible by digital media.) The manner in which the fading utopia of Expo comes to stand for a post-nuclear civilization is well-handled, and the joining of these themes to broader questions of North-ness is well-handled. The article moves nicely out of its key focus into discussion of the Bill Viola work then back to the Altman film. It is well-written and shows familiarity with the key areas of theoretical work on which it draws.
The exposition provides new knowledge, inviting us to see the site cartographically, as the space of diegesis of the Altman film, and as an existing remnant of Expo '67.   This is an interesting work, which allows us to see anew what, to thousands of people, is a familiar site. It recasts it interestingly in terms of a winter in which Expo '67 is never imagined as having existed. The minimal skeleton and openness of the work are among its key virtues.
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