Quentin Lacombe uses photograms, 3D renderings and digital collage to construct an alternate universe in his series Event Horizon, which he's just published with RVB Books and which is on show at BredaPhoto in September
In astronomy an ‘event horizon’ refers to the boundary that marks the limits of a black hole, where nothing, not even light, sound or radiation, can escape. “This work is a personal attempt to construct a cosmology through photographic means,” says Quentin Lacombe, describing the alternate universe in his new book Event Horizon.
“In my opinion, photography is, by nature, interdisciplinary,” he says, explaining how he has combined photograms, 3D renderings, and images from studio shoots to “challenge the immediacy of photography, and defy its ability to restore reality by creating fiction”.
Inspired by science-fiction films and novels such as John Brunner’s Crucible of Time, Event Horizon is intended to blur the boundary between scientific and metaphorical approaches, and abstract astronomical theories. “Instead of dissecting and clarifying the concepts, Event Horizon understands the universe as a fragmented, complex, and infinite experience”.
Lacombe first discovered photography while studying architecture in Paris, where he became fascinated by the communicative power of images. “Like architecture, photography draws its influences from everyday life,” he says, “It becomes a gateway to the world and makes it possible to take an interest in other fields of study that we might think are inaccessible”.
But what captivates Lacombe most is photography’s ability to transcribe, and at the same time deform, reality. In Event Horizon, laser beams, mutated animals, and pieces of technology are collaged into photographs of desert landscapes, as well as architectural shots of astronomical observatories in France and the Jantar Mantar monument in India, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Layering these images lends the project to exploring theories of infinite time and space, and Lacombe says that, if you remove the front and back cover, it runs cyclically from beginning to end. His choice of Japanese binding also expresses “an endless flow that doesn’t stop at the physical end of the page”.
Even so, the book isn’t just a jumble of fragmented images – it is structured by a narrative. “In a constant stream of images, it is necessary to produce a rhythmic sequence to keep the reader’s attention,” he explains.
Divided into three chapters, the first introduces us to a world in which science and astronomy have a “domestic place in everyday life”. Specialist scientific equipment invades the home, and the garden shed is transformed into a control room for a telescope.
In the second chapter the world collapses into a flurry of abstract images flooded with laser beams and coloured light, signalling the introduction of a “disruptive element”. The final section is marked by a triptych of green lasers, where the hypothetical world begins to regenerate following its collapse.
Animals, technology, and architectural objects roam freely through the narrative, “as if they inhabited the universe with equal agency,” says Lacombe. The idea to include animals comes from a short Brazilian film, Ilha das Flores, which tracks the life of a tomato from vine to landfill, where it is considered inadequate for the pigs and instead fed to poor women and children.
In Event Horizon, humans are absent from the scene, “as if they have retreated inside bunker-like houses to hide from the radiation which they themselves have actually set in motion”. Like Ilha das Flores, Lacombe wanted the animals to act as a comment on our human condition, questioning how we treat our world, and one another.
www.quentinlacombe.com Event Horizon is published by RVB Books, priced €30 https://rvb-books.com An exhibition of the work will be on show at BredaPhoto in Netherlands from 05-09 September www.bredaphoto.nl