27 April - 21 July 2024

Blank Memory

François Bellabas

The fruit of a long period of research, Blank Memory makes use of the machine considered as an object and a system of thought to question visual culture and more particularly the widespread image of California fashioned by photography, cinema and video games.

Since 2016, François Bellabas has been photographing and scanning California, creating and adding to his vast database, an accumulation of thousands of files that bears witness both to his profound fascination with the subject and a widely-shared feeling of concern. 

In parallel, he delves into this mass of images, taking samples and using artificial intelligence and the digital tools at his disposal to produce new representations. Following a method of successive activations, he explores the interactions between collective and individual imagination, while constructing a narrative that conveys his reflections on the medium of photography. 

At this exhibition at the CPIF, François Bellabas is presenting an installation that creates a dialogue between photographs, sculptures and interactive digital environments The art centre is transformed into a unique space-time continuum traversed by a flow of images in the making, a place where the physical and virtual worlds meet. Transported into this fantasised world, visitors actively experience how photographic images and data are used to construct both a space and a way of thinking. 

The expression “blank memory” has been borrowed from the field of computers. It refers to the volume of available memory and defines a potential for storing and processing data. As such, the exhibition title evokes the collaboration between human and artificial agents. In the light of this exchange, photographs are portrayed as computational objects that are constantly being redefined, thereby raising questions as to their production and consumption. 


Curated by Francesco Biasi


This exhibition is part of the Les Précipités (#8) programme. It follows on from the artist’s research and postproduction residency at the CPIF in 2018.
The research that led to the works presented in this exhibition received the support of the Centre Photographique d’Île-de-France, Centre National du Cinéma et de l’Image Animée, Centre National des Arts Plastiques and Gourau Phong studio. 


François Bellabas (born 1989) is a French artist. He graduated from the École Supérieure d’Art de Lorraine (Metz, 2012) and the École Nationale Supérieure de la Photographie (Arles, 2015). He was nominated for the Prix Robert Schuman in 2018 and his works have been presented at numerous events including: Art-o-rama (Marseille, 2017), Biennale de l’Image Possible (Liège, 2018), Jeune Création (Paris, 2020), 100% l’EXPO (Paris, 2021), Rencontres d’Arles (2021), Palais Augmenté 2 (RMN/Grand Palais, Paris, 2022) and Pla(t) form FotoMuseum Winterthur (2022). In 2018, François Bellabas was awarded a research and postproduction residency at the CPIF as part of which he continued working on his project Escape from L.A. (which has also received the support of the CNAP and the CNC/DICRéAM).
In 2017, François Bellabas founded creative studio Gourau Phong together with Benjamin Roulet. A technophile and an engineer at heart, in his work he forges connections between the different levels of reality produced by and resulting from the medium of photography, while exploring the image as data.

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