Meinzer, In the Service of Clouds

Sylvestre MEINZER, In the Service of Clouds (extract: "Reflections in the Harbor"), 2013, video, 29:00 min. © MuMa Le Havre / Sylvestre Meinzer
"In the Service of Clouds" a film by Sylvestre Meinzer. A work acquired in 2014.
The painters exhibited at the Musée d'art moderne André Malraux (MuMa) were passionate observers of le Havre, its sky and fleeting weather patterns, the reflections in the water along the docks, the movement of the wind in the sails and of the waves on the sand... and using their paintbrushes, they sought to transpose their impressions onto their canvasses. The films presented here offer another interpretation of those luminous harbor settings, that have long since entirely metamorphosed themselves. Working with video, the approach is a largely imaginary and anachronistic one.
Searching for an "impressionistic vision" involves focusing on images of the modern seaport by finding new ways to treat color and light (using a digital pinhole camera) and discovering how throughout a series of scenes to recreate the inherent mystery of things, the innocence of first sight...
What is essential is a sense of silence and of contemplation in order to be drawn into the landscapes.
The soundscapes have been entirely reworked and music plays a major role in the film. The choice went naturally to Norman composers of the early 20th century, while taking the liberty of adding more contemporary works, even including a prepared piano loosely inspired by John Cage.
In the Service of Clouds is composed of seven sequences :
White Morning on the Estuary - 6 min.
The break of day on a small farm, a landscape marked both by nature and industry, a March snowstorm.
Reflections in the Harbor - 3 min.
Filmed in digital pinhole.
Music by Henri Woollett, Pastorale, performed by Guy Livingston.
Near the dry dock where France was repaired, the vessels are at rest.
Rays of light shimmer in the basin and the sunlight dances on the water.
The Beach and the Regattas - 6 min.
Filmed in digital pinhole.
Music by Erik Satie, Gnossienne 2, performed by Guy Livingston.
Eugène Boudin: "I watch the light flooding the earth, trembling on the water, playing on clothing ; I feel that poetry is here".
Containers, Twilight - 4 min.
Filmed in digital pinhole.
Music composed and performed by Guy Livingston, Rectangular Music.
As the sun slowly sets, the rows upon rows of containers become an almost abstract play of shapes and light.
A few loading vehicles pass through this dreamlike landscape.
Seawall in a Storm - 2:30 min.
Music by Lionel Sainsbury, Prelude, performed by Guy Livingston.
Enormous waves crashing over the seawall, birds whirling drunkenly in the sky, frail ships slipping away over the horizon, black clouds melting into the gray immensity... How can you get these moments across, when you are overcome by the force of nature?
Blue Hour at the Beach - 2 min.
Music by Alper Maral, Verschiebung, played by Guy Livingston.
Long tongues of sand, blue-shadowed foot steps, reflections of an evening sky.
The water slides along, foam floats on the edge of a wave, the freighter's lights are fading in the distance. Children are running by.
Night on the Canal - 5:30 min.
Music, Refinery Grid, composed and performed by Guy Livingston on a prepared piano.
The play of night-time lights along the Tancarville Canal.
The effects of industrial shapes and vapors, a voyage into an incongruous landscape.
Baudelaire, on Boudin: "In the end, all the fantastically shaped and lit clouds, the chaotic darkness, the huge green and gray shapes, hanging over and piling up one on top of another, the gaping cauldrons, the firmaments of black or violet satin, rumpled, rolled up or ripped apart, the horizons, draped in mourning or shimmering like molten metal, all these profound depths, all these splendors rushed to my head like an intoxicating drink or like the eloquence of opium". 1859

Sylvestre Meinzer
Guy Livingston
  • Pastorale, Henri Woollett
  • Gnossienne 2, Erik Satie
  • Rectangular Music, Guy Livingston
  • Prelude, Lionel Sainsbury
  • Verschiebung, Alper Maral
  • Refinery Grid, Guy Livingston

Works acquired in 2014 (3)

Sylvestre MEINZER, In the Service of Clouds, 2013, photogram (video). © MuMa Le Havre / Sylvestre Meinzer
Jem SOUTHAM (1950), Senneville-sur-Fécamp, "The Rockefalls of Normandy" series, 2007, color photography. © MuMa Le Havre / Jem Southam
Geneviève ASSE (1923-2021), Opening II, 1971, diptych, oil on canvas, 194.5 x 228 cm. . © MuMa Le Havre / Charles Maslard © ADAGP, Paris, 2015