Golux, a new series of Gobo Projector made by Goboservice, recently debuted internationally in Paris, projecting gobos on architectural works such as La Tour Eiffel, the “Invalides” dome, the Arc de Triomphe and the National Library. The four most important monuments have unintentionally been the backdrop to the self-promotional incursions of the well-known French artist, John Hamon – the “most famous unknown face of the capital” – as the media renamed it, whose enigmatic smile has recently become more renowned than that of the Gioconda, especially now that it has been projected with a powerful and concentrated beam of light on the monuments of Paris.
The images, projected by Golux, and were transported up and down the boulevard of the metropolis by the 34-year-old photographer, along with a small electric generator. This soon spread to social media, fuelling debate and controversy and thus achieving the goal of the creator: to stay in the public eye.
This is no a new initiative. Hamon inaugurated his very own Street Art form in 2002, compulsively plastering the city with the photo used for his identity card. A plain and simple provocation with the slogan: “c’est la promotion qui fait l’artiste ou le degré zéro de l’art”. One night a week, the artist would hang around the city to attacch between 50 and 100 posters to fences, yards, walls and stands, causing the most varied reactions: from complacency to fierce criticism. Everyone talked about this illustrious stranger, while he remained (and remains) in rigorous silence, continuing his work of communicating in 33 countries and 77 cities with the help of a group of friends.
Time goes by, the card fades and the projection technique evolves. And so, the artist could of asked himself if version 2.0 of this form of visual communication was a possibility? An internet search brings the young man to the site of the Italian company. He fills out the form on the Goboservice store to purchase one projector and one gobo. The commercial team and the creators look puzzled as the picture is played back to the computer, ready to become a gobo, wondering who the mysterious subject might be. In less than 24 hours the product is finished and is shipped to France.
And so, on a humid Parisian night, and inspired by Batman, Hamon begins to fire his own identity logo from distance on the main monuments of the city, with a speed that the previous system of paper and glue could never allow for.
Instead, Hamon now merely needs to startup the generator, press the power button and focus the image by setting the size through the powerful manual zoom provided. Within a few seconds, this clear gigantography of light is seen by hundreds of people. Next, on to another spot in the city to repeat the venture, also creating involuntary comic situations as when – and we arrived in mid-June – he calls the officials of the“Palais de Tokyo” to propose one of his expositions. It is too late for the officials to realise that the artist did not want to do it in the palace but on the palace. The large glass facade with a view of the Seine had suddenly become the shimmering frame of the artist’s satisfied face. And all of this, thanks to the extreme versatility of the projector, its simplicity of use and portability. It was these elements that allowed Hamon to move fast on his own, mocking not only the rules and regulations of the city, but also hypothesising the technical limitations of the buildings themselves, such as the Iron Curtain of the Great Tower.
Security officials have since branded the images that spread on social media as “fake”. The artist, who feeds his fame through a desired mix of provocation and communicative secrecy, takes note of it and responds with a second challenge informing by email that he would repeat the undertaking, this time posting a video. And so it happens, as can be verified on the artist’s website, not without a tinge of embarrassment for the leaders of the management company, “Sete”.
The luminous beam of Golux could also handle the empty spaces of the trellis, succeeding in marking France’s most famous tower a canvas for Hamon’s provocative smile.