Magnus Bärtås — statement, bio, archives
Peio Aguirre
essay about "Who Is?"

Agence TOPO — the web project

Re-enacted biographies
Notes about adapting Bärtås' work for the Web

Click here to see the original editing by Magnus Bärtås

Four words behind the story: factual, formal, unexpected, experienced

At the time when we were preparing the adaptation of Magnus Bärtås’ work for the web, we questioned ourselves about the biographies’ narrative structure and the potential of re-construction we could play with. During a discussion with the artist, he droped four words which later guided our reinterpretation of its work for the Internet: factual, formal, unexpected, experienced. Speaking about his films, Bärtås said that he woud generally begin with some formal and factual information before introducing an element of surprise, something unexpected, an anecdote, a subject which would later be recalled and further developed. Little by little the fragments of the story add up, mixing references between one statement to another, and build a highly subjective biography of the people portrayed.

In the original films of Bärtås, the order in which the statements follow one another –the statements being at the base of his Who Is...? project– is unquestionably the choice of the artist. For the Internet, where the Net surfer is accustomed to more control and nonlinear navigation, it seemed to us interesting to redistribute the statements classified in one of the four categories, supposing that the Net surfer would probably consult some factual statements before jumping to another group of statements, thus rebuilding a new version of the original film, trying here and there the other languages available.

Re-enacted biographies : a reconstruction obviously subjective

For us, this process of grouping the statements in categories had another advantage by underlining four types of information necessary to build a biography, re-enacted according to what we could call the Bärtås method. This same method, we transposed it in the interactive section where the Net surfers can build other biographies. Let us be clear on one point: it is not the method followed by Bärtås , his process being much more intuitive, but these are the four words he employed to explain us his project that we seized at flight. The classification of the statements remains an obviously subjective exercise and whoever will try it will be confronted with the same difficulties. What is the share of unexpected in a lived event - experienced? Is such statement more formal than factual? Actually, these qualifiers have gray zones and it is possibly in this balance of overlappings, suprises and oppositions where resides the real secret of his stories.

You can see the see the original editing by Magnus Bärtås by clicking on the images appearing on the left of the screen.

Michel Lefebvre
Agence TOPO

Click here to see the original editing by Magnus Bärtås

Click here to see the original editing by Magnus Bärtås