This Means More
- Nicolas Gourault
- 22 min
- Luc-Jérôme Bailleul (Le Fresnoy, Studio national des arts contemporains)
Liverpool FC supporters talk about their experience of a tragic event: the 1989 Hillsborough disaster, which caused the death of 96 people and changed the nature of football.
At the beginning, we see an archive image: a crowd rippling in a movement that is both voluntary and involuntary. Off-screen, we sense that a football match is in progress. The camera then zooms in to reveal the supporters’ faces. A few seconds later, we see a computer-generated crowd moving much less gracefully and idiosyncratically. This Means More crosses the space-time separating the first crowd from the second via the decisive date of 15 April 1989. This was the day that, in Hillsborough Stadium (Sheffield), 94 supporters of Liverpool’s football team died suffocated under the pressure of an over-compact human mass. Nicolas Gourault hi-jacks simulation tools, used mainly for commercial purposes, to analyse changes in stadium architecture and the football experience. The software is used to recreate a “kop”, an old-style terrace with no seating or dividing barriers, which allowed the flows of human waves recorded in the initial archive. It was the two-pronged attempt to both control and commoditise the crowd that fencing had been added – fencing that caused the Hillsborough tragedy, which itself served as a pretext to rent out individual seats to each spectator at a ruinous price. Nicolas Gourault employs the expressive potential of machines to recount how a popular sport has been transformed into commercial boon: the chilling hammering that resonates in a plastic-seat-making factory and the robotic movements of virtual spectators paint a nightmarish vision of human society – and the dream of any advertiser.
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Nicolas Gourault is a french artist and filmmaker trained in contemporary art schools but also in visual studies at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales. His work is imbued with this double training and aims at creating bridges between visual techniques and political concern by means of a documentary critique of new media. He is particularly interested in how simulation technologies transform modes of representation and control spaces in order to prevent unwanted events.