Joseph Rabie (France)
Joseph Rabie was born in South Africa under the apartheid regime, where he developed a sense of satire as a means of resistance, via writing and cartoon drawing. He received a degree in architecture and town planning from the Technion, Israel Institute of Technology in 1981. During the eighties, he worked in different architectural offices in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Inns-bruck and Paris. In 1989 he spent a year in the CIMA (Centre d’Informatique et de Méthod-ologie en Architecture) laboratory in Paris where he conducted research on the computer rep-resentation of urban planning regulations. He subsequently ran, between 1990 and 1994, an urban design office in Toulouse. Followed a long interlude during which Joseph Rabie created one of the earliest multimedia companies in France, Magelis. Apart from company work on CD-ROMs and later web sites, he commenced an artistic activity exploring different avenues in multimedia art. His pioneering interactive cartoon strip (with Sylvie Rabie) received a noteworthy mention in the “New Voices New Visions” competition organised by Wired Mag-azine and the Voyager Company in 1992. His “Iceland Sundaes” website project was shown at the “LA Freewaves” exhibition in 1998. He created international interactive demonstrations on the internet: the “Children of Immigrants” project, against the racist National Front in France, and the “Over My Dead Body” project against the war in Iraq. Since 2000 he has been working on interactive photography, a new art form uniting digital photography with the power of computer algorithms. “Collidoscope” was created during a residency at the Cube multimedia centre in Issy-les-Moulineaux for the 1er Contact festival in 2002. “Dachau: the Prototype” was shown at the “Traverses Video” festival in Toulouse in 2006. “Breche-Brecha” was exhibited at Siggraph in San Diego in 2007. Other works have been shown in other venues. Joseph Rabie has since returned to urban planning and is currently working on a doctorate in “What Makes Place”.
Title: Dachau: the Prototype, 2005, interactive
Dachau, the first Nazi concentration camp, was established shortly after Hitler came to power, and served to conceptualise the methodology of terror that was to be used to annihilate the enemies of the Nazi state. The work is a contemplative exploration of the camp as memorial, in confrontation with the impossibility to resuscitate the millions of victims of the Shoah. The viewer interacts with scenes of the camp: the barracks, the prison bunker, the crematorium, the whole guided by a tumultuous, dying heartbeat.
The work is made up from three main sequences of images, each representing one of the pri-mordial places of existence and death in the Dachau concentration camp. These are the bar-racks, where the prisoners, who were generally subjected to slave labour, lived; the bunker, where prisoners were held and tortured by the SS; the crematoria, where the bodies of those either murdered, or dead from disease or exhaustion, were disposed of. The three sequences are arranged vertically on the screen, the barracks occupying the top third, the bunker the bot-tom third, and the crematoria in-between the two. As long as the observer does not intervene, the images of the three sequences continue to merge into each other in a never-ending fade. The observer interacts with the work by moving the mouse about vigorously. This causes the work to speed up, and each of the three places take precedence on the screen, in relation to the mouse’s movements.
The continual juxtaposition of the images reveals the underlying geometry of the diverse, manufactured artefacts that constitute the environment of the concentration camp. Before people were brought to Dachau to die, engineers and artisans, tradespeople and sub-contractors came there to assemble it all together, ordinary objects, beds, doors, latrines; and less ordinary ones, iron bars, ovens… Today these artefacts of horror have reappropriated the present, the unbearable emptiness of place resonates with the presence of all those whose absence is everywhere marked.
The memory of those who are no longer here is symbolised by the heartbeat that rhythms the work. Thus the present day “peaceful”, empty spaces of Dachau are “given back” to those who sojourned and, for so many, perished there.
One may speculate on whether the constant beating of the heart, intruding within the perime-ter of human consciousness at times of serenity or of great stress or distress, educated our minds through the long path of evolution in the appreciation and understanding of harmony in music and geometry. The heartbeat changes, speeds up and becomes louder, becomes breath-less, transforms into thunder, as the observer interacts with the work, to finally cease beating when one quits the crematorium…