© Xavier Cahen, 1999


Xavier Cahen

Images and animations
Xavier Cahen

L'internationale (music box) and Xavier Cahen

Marc Bolard

Xavier Cahen, 1999
Direction des affaires culturelles de la ville de Paris
Sacem, Galerie Donguy
Original French Version/ Macintosh™ and Windows™



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As quoted in the definition : by metaphorical extension, one can call "tool" all means of thoughts.

What is more elementary for an artist than diverting the objects from their original function in order to reveal their poetic faces and transform our everyday routine into a space of reflexion about human condition.

The PC democratisation is an incontestable social mutation, which is sometimes inescapable. It is the same for artists. They are often marginalized from the system. I therefore purchased a computer with a similar spirit, full of benevolent curiosity and  unspeakable pressure. I thus completed the varied ranges of my tools I had acquired along the way.

I already called the computer "a work tool " since the world already labelled it so, and I gave it some space in my workshop. I was ready to use it. The complex technics of my computer, his broad potential and its immaterial information management troubled the builder craftsman in me. Facing these issues, I then opened my Encyclopædia Universalis, a quaint 1976 edition, and started reading the tool definition.

During my first reading, I was moved by the poetic aspect of the text. Each word echoed as an invitation to discover more definitions. Then, a float of images and daily events came and involuntarily jumble together. It was just as if they wanted to verify the exactness of the ideas developped by the definition of the tools.

A strong idea came up during the next readings: the use of the tool is depending on the user. If the tool is a mean to transform nature, as suggested by the definition, one has to decide about its orienttion. It was the same for me.

I started to explore the multiple and various facettes of my computer, slowly and laboriously. As stated by the definition from my Encyclopædia, " the mechanization way added the alienation of knowledge to the alienation of work.". I eventually discovered that I was using the " same tools " as the old ones used in the past, such as a saw to cut, to glue to open or to superimpose, but here, by using an immaterial source where the painter’s repentence is infinite and invisible.



Exposition Sauvage (Wild Exhibition) is a series of 12 multisupport images, each confronting a tool and a " collective " photography, a press photo together with an excerpt of this definition.

The reflection around the tools is the true backbone of the work. Its crosses the artist’s various fields of interest, such as art, his relation to the public, and naturally, the discovery of a new tool, here the computer.

Today this work exists in diverse forms. In the shape of twelve printed images which have been exhibited and distributed all along year 1988, in public places and art places, via Gallery Donguy, Paris, and also through postal mailing. During the whole duration of the exhibition, the images were also sent to more than a hundred persons every month .

Exposition Sauvage is also in the shape of a luminescent light and a sound file on the communication net, the Internet.The guest is able to reproduce these images by using his personal printer as a reproduction " workshop ".

The exhibition mode and the choice of the presentation place contribute to a significant complement to the general meaning of the images.


It is the very same idea as this source " without any materiality ", without any support, paradoxally, became soon the most exciting perspective of my tool. In fact, without the obligation to accomplish a frustrating and degrading metamorphosis of the work, as it could be for a painting vis à vis a photography of the same painting. It became easy to change the presentation, the size, the definition, without thinking that one of the version was the original, and the other was the copy of the work. The multiplication and the diversification of the presentation would then allow me to change the accessibility of my work, to amplify its encounter, and the circumstances of the encounter.

So Marcel Duchamp brought along art places a common object, his urinal, as an ironical emissary from the outsideworld. Since he presented it lying, he tried to change people from the art world’s point of view, in order for them to focalize on the world. So Robert Fillou stated that " art is what makes life more interesting than art ", it was still true that the existence of an " original " work of art would not allow a printout. With this new tool, I had no more reason to regard art places as the exclusive element of encounter and existence of my work.

This is when the concept of Wild Exhibition took place. It was a crossing point, and a meeting point of various interests, including everything uncertain involved in a meeting. I felt like taking advantage of the potential that my new tool was offering me, such as getting closer to you, without degrading the work, but simply by multipling it and diversifying its presentation mode, therefore diversifying its localisation. I felt like talking to you my way about this definition of the tools, because of its poetic and philosophical importance. It is standing at the heart of the creative process. It is true that what seems to differentiate a house painter from a painter (artist) is the way that each of them looks at his tools, sincer both of them are using the same tools.

At last, because this definition highlights the acknowledgement of dysfunction of our society, we are the actors.

Xavier Cahen


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