The installation Copies Non Conformes* (Certified Inaccurate) explores the erosion and mutations that take place in the reproduction of small sculptures of the 17 letters in the sentence : “JE NE DOIS PAS COPIER” (“I must not copy”). This line is inspired by the punishment commonly meted out to schoolchildren, who are ordered to copy fifty or a hundred times by hand prescriptions and proscriptions like “I must not talk in class”. In this case, the prohibition is not copied by hand, but by a digital duplication process : each letter is modelized and printed in 3D, then the resulting object is digitized by a 3D scanner. This new model is reprinted, and so on and so forth, a certain number of times in a row. Because each subsequent generation accentuates the previous morphological alterations, the last reproductions become unrecognizable.
Copies Non Conformes diverts the printer and scanner from their usual functions, using them instead to generate shapes unobtainable in any other way. And through the random distortion of the letters, information is either added or lost at each stage.
Copies Non Conformes might be glossed as expressing one of the paradoxes of our digital culture : on the one hand, we have the endless reproduction of information, and on the other, the physical media carrying that information (CDs, hard drives etc.) – and hence the information itself – are becoming increasingly fragile.Copies Non Conformes is in this sense a vanitas, a vision of the digital world in ruins – rather like Hubert Robert’s Vue imaginaire de la grande galerie du Louvre en ruines, which he painted in 1796, the year the Louvre was closed due to structural defects only three years after the museum first opened to the public.
* The title of this piece is taken from the french translation of the title of a short story by Philip K Dick : Pay for the printer (1956).