Panoptical Identity started from the observation that France’s electronic phone book contains 33 Xavier Lambert at various addresses. This piece uses the concept of archiving to establish a file of the various lives that have been fictionally given to all these Xavier Lambert. The raw material came from a stock of over a thousand black-and-white photos, mostly from the late nineteenth century, acquired here and there at flea markets. Photos from my own personal history were then added. In a broader context of identity and otherness, this work questions tools insofar as it represents the paradigm of archiving from both technological and ideological viewpoints. An administrative-type filing system turn these 33 fictional lives of 33 different peoples into 33 potential variations on a single life (as though only on Xavier Lambert existed or, more accurately, as though “Xavier Lambert” was a term referring to a generic species). The home page was designed to make it impossible for viewers to determine a precise order for accessing these various lives, eliminating all possibility of classification among them, even though the very conception of the script necessarily implied classification itself. The principle of navigation generated a special relationship to the concept of archiving, notably the classificatory aspect, since it is not organized (in the specific context of this script) along a linear arborescence, as is often the case in normal archiving methods.
- Xavier Lambert. Multimedia artist, 50 years old, teaching electronic art at the fine art department in Toulouse University, France, notably at DESS multimedia creation*). Several exhibitions at international electronic art festivals (Video – art plastique, Videoformes, ISEA2000, Bandits-Mages). Working since 1994 on identity and otherness, in connection with computer, and digital operations. Several CD-ROM and still installations. *) DESS: Dipôme d’Etudes Supérieures de Spécialité.