A film by Benoît Labourdette (3’09s, 2019).
21 June 2019. Published by Benoît Labourdette.
Reading time: 3 min  

Tribute seen from the sky to the work of Victor Vasarely.

Film produced as part of the research seminar “Images at risk” (2017).


  • Vasarely Foundation
  • The office
  • Alphabetville
  • Benoît Labourdette production

Intentions and direction of this film

Why film the building of the Vasarely Foundation (Aix-en-Provence), with a drone? To bring what, when Vasarely’s work is so powerful, interactive and speaking for itself? Why add more? What is the meaning of such re-mediation? For this film and in general.

Victor Vasarely (1906-1997) was an artist-researcher, founder of what is called “optical art”. An absolutely abstract but popular art, offering its viewer a real experience of perception. Still images whose arrangement produces movement in the viewer’s brain. Optical movement, but also philosophical movement, because these images call us into question, because of the essential disorder in which they plunge us. They make us think about ourselves.

With a small group of “explorers” (Emmanuel Vergès, Colette Tron, Perrine Boissier, Denis Corgiat, ...), who are reflecting on the risks of contemporary images and tools, we set up a research seminar, “Images at risk”, at the Vasarely Foundation in Aix-en-Provence in 2017. Moments of practical experimentation between science, art and machines.

Vasarely had anticipated the production of geometric images by the future “intelligent” machines, which are now beginning to populate our daily lives, of which the drone is one of the most obvious avatars. He was an experimenter of movement. Why film with a drone the building of his Foundation, opened in 1975, which he had created and designed himself? Precisely because, in my opinion, he already had, in his art, sensitive investigative leads on our future relationship to this type of machine.

This film, these images, result from experiments, from in-depth questioning, on the relationship between man and machine, between man and his fear, between the automation of life and its risks, in echo and immersion in the place created by Vasarely. What this film proposes and the meaning of its existence, in relation to Vasarely’s works, is not a reinterpretation, it is the extension of a dynamic of the same order. Thus this film, a contemporary living creation assuming its filiation and sharing of vision with what Vasarely has bequeathed to the world, weaves in all humility a link between current representations, tools and concerns and what Vasarely has enriched us with.

To answer the initial question, why this film: to make a deep connection with what has been left to us, to weave the web of our history, of our lives as human beings, always so surprised to discover ourselves in the face of the mathematics (or rather the computer science) that gives us existence, in such a mysterious way.

The drone is an automatic flying object controlled by an algorithm (a rudimentary “intelligence”). Its way of looking at Vasarely’s fixed-mobile images in the architectural space, as if in a mirror, of reacting to them in its own way, offers us, I believe, a breach to study and experience in a sensitive way philosophical questions related to the mystery of our existence.


The following three quotes (André Breton, Gilles Deleuze and Mark Alizart) may shed some light on this mystery. I compare them together, then with Vasarely’s works and with the look of the drone that gave birth to this film. They are thirty years apart, so is the film. As a proposal for a triad around “genetics”.

  • “The convulsive beauty will be erotic-veiled, exploding-fixed, magical-circumstantial, or will not be.” (André Breton, Mad Love, 1937).
  • “The forces in man come into contact with forces from outside, those of silicon taking its revenge on carbon, those of genetic components taking their revenge on the organism, those of grammatical forces taking their revenge on the signifier. In all these respects, it would be necessary to study the surplice operations, of which the ’double helix’ is the most well known case.” (Gilles Deleuze, Foucault, Editions de Minuit, 1986).
  • “Information theorists wondered whether life could not be understood in terms of program and information. The discovery of DNA in 1953 by biologists Francis Crick and James Watson proved them right. We discover that there are lines of code in nature. We are learning that computing is not an invention of man but a property of the living. [...] Far from being a tool at our disposal, a thing, a machine, computers are a medium, our medium, the medium that is the world, and that produces itself, through us. [...] Man does not create computers. Nature creates computers by using this computer that is man.” (Mark Alizart, Celestial Informatics, PUF, 2017).

Title of the film

The title “Roaalysieovtfadnn” is a simple anagrammic mystery, also a playful little distorting mirror of the double helix of deoxyribonucleic acid that gives us existence.


The drone, this flying camera that comes among us, raises, for a filmmaker, important issues. Military object, object for surveillance and death, object of cartographic ubiquity by multinationals, and soon business purpose, delivery device. Forbidden gaze from the sky, filmmaker object from virtual worlds that happens in the real world, look with no body to hold, object subjected to wind, cold or warm air, sensitive to the invisible movements of nature, camera flutters around us... These changes of perspectives question our worldview. New places of view to explore, to question, to divert, (...)