Hanako Murakami

La parfaite - Film - 11min - 2015

présenté dans le cadre de l'exposition Panorama 17


One day I witnessed the invention of photography in a studio in Paris. In a silvered copper mirror an image slowly emerged. To capture the image, I had to manipulate the plate to distinguish its surface in the reflection of my face. The daguerreotype. This almost alchemical technique which dates from the dawn of photography forces us to look at ourselves before we confront the image.

The American Indians believed that having your photo taken could lead to the theft of your soul. But the different phases of the process made me think that it would more likely be the daguerreotypist’s soul that was in danger. For this process calls for mercury vapour, a toxic substance that can damage thoughts. Nobody in those days imagined the product could be dangerous. Daguerre no doubt breathed in large amounts of the stuff. The stories about this inventor tend to indicate that with mercury he suffered hallucinations to such an extent that he was persuaded the end of the world was nigh.

“La Parfaite” (The Perfect) is the name of a brand of photographic plate that was put onto the market in the 1920s. These glass plates had to be kept in the dark. Some of them have survived into the present, having never served. On these plates, which have become unusable over time, the accumulation of darkness has ended up becoming light.

Hanako Murakami