Thibault Brunet has found his subject in the blurred boundaries between reality and virtuality in the digital age, and a field of experimentation in video games. His earliest works as a photographer devoid of a camera, from the late aughts, are artificially conventional shots of landscapes and portraits in Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty, in the series Vice City (2007-2013) and First Person Shooter (2009-2012). He recently threw himself into Minecraft, with the aim of developing scientific knowledge of a virtual gaming world, through a series of expert-guided expeditions. Has the artist-as-gamer replaced the artist-as-researcher?

On January 11, 2022, he gave a conference-performance in the Jeu de Paume auditorium, accompanied by the illustrator Laura Gouby and the photographer Jules Séverac. This closed his major project, Minecraft Explorer, which up to then had taken the form of Twitch sessions. That evening, a virtual and meticulously constructed replica of the Jeu de Paume was discovered with surprise; the field artist led us through its rooms to present the results of his explorations. Surpassing their playful function, videogames confirmed their heuristic value as a tool for discovery and knowledge – poetic as well, in revealing the world form before our very eyes. This tutorial, ensuing from this event, is an invitation for a visit.

Étienne Hatt