Site-Writing

Station F (October 2020)
  • Pauline Blanchet | Paris, France

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  • Station F (October 2020)
  • Pauline Blanchet | Paris, France
  • In 2017, Station F, the world’s largest start-up incubator, opened as an anchor to the Paris Rive Gauche building development, the largest development in Paris since Haussman’s renovations, enticing new business to the capital. My site visit to Station F suggested an entanglement between the future-oriented space and its appropriation of the past through its reuse of an industrial structure. I used my camera and a recording application, capturing the sounds and simultaneously taking photographs as I traversed from the 12th arrondissement’s Pont de Bercy, and into the 13th.


    Using a hybrid methodology of photography, audio, and post-production, my site visit aimed to analyse Station F’s entanglement with the past and future. Reusing the 1920s Halle Freyssinet is a compelling example of the entangled fragments of the railway and industrial economy and the conversion towards a knowledge-based economy. This process pacifies the perception of high-technology industries by familiarising itself with its industrial past. Station F is staged at the crossroads of an attempt to disavow the historical past whilst being unable to untether itself from it. 

    I used my camera and phone’s recording application, capturing the sounds and simultaneously taking photographs as I traversed from the 12th arrondissement’s Pont de Bercy, crossing the Seine, and into the 13th. Using an editing software, I overlayed the sound recording, matched the photographs, replaced my sound recording layer with the 24:57 minute ‘STATION F Big Launch Party with Emmanuel Macron’ audio from the opening day of Station F, and transcribed the video to match the photos with the text. 


    Biography

    Pauline Blanchet is a filmmaker and podcast producer. After graduating from SOAS, University of London she founded Aral Sea Productions which seeks to widen participation in the creation of documentaries, photography, and audio. Her own work has been shortlisted for the London Development Photography Competition and has been awarded numerous grants. 

    Her research dissertations from SOAS have been presented at numerous conferences including ‘A Bilingual in Marseille: Regional Aspects and Adolescent Speech’ at ULAB, London, UK (2019) and ‘Graphic Narratives: Representations of Refugee-Hood in the Form of Illustration’ at the Migration Conference (2019). 

    Born in France, she has spent most of her life in London and currently based in Paris studying an MA in Urban History & Culture at the University of London Institute in Paris (ULIP).

    Website: www.paulineblanchet.com


    Practices

    The methodology allowed me to analyse the difference between the ‘imagined’ Station F described by political figures such as Anne Hidalgo and President Macron, overlayed with my own photographed site visit. The moments where the photographs and transcript align, allows for a new way to understand the site. Through this method, I hope to critique its inaccessibility and contradictory narrative of the ‘disruptive’ start up culture with its capitalist nature. Using film-making and podcasting as a form of situated practice brings into play the ‘distance’ between the site and the subject operating the camera and the voice recorder, making this an interesting lens for site-writing.


    Keywords
    Technology, video, start-up, industrial space, renewal

    References

    Hannah Williams, ‘Drifting Through the Louvre: A Local Guide to the French Academy.’ In S. Sloboda & M. Yonan (eds.). Eighteenth-Century Art Worlds: Global and Local Geographies of Art (New York: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2019) 171–190.

    Iain Sinclair, The Last London: True Fictions from an Unreal City,  2017).

    La Friche Belle de Mai, a cultural arts centre building in Marseille.


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