Marcel Proust, A La recherche du Temps perdu

MARCEL PROUST, À LA RECHERCHE DU TEMPS PERDU – Version 01
Tome 8/1 – Le Temps retrouvé. Chapitre 1 – Tansonville
1927 / 2014
édition Noir et Blanc, 20 x 13 cm, 2014

In 1913, Marcel Proust publishes the first volume of his famous Novel, À la recherché du temps perdu. As reflexion about memories, time and literature, this novel is an essential book that opens a new space in the French literature. One of the distinctive features of this book and of Proust’s writing is the importance given to punctuation. Proust established the structure early on, but even after volumes were initially finished he kept adding new material, and edited one volume after another for publication. Proofs have been kept and show the substantial corrections Proust brought to his work, rewriting entirely paragraphs and chapters. Correction proofs were essential for Marcel Proust. His concern to create a visual impression of continuity in his story, brought him to work about white space and punctuation. For example, white spaces between replicas in dialogued part were removed so that as he said to Bernard Grasset, dialogues « are absorbed in the continuity of the text. » From the microcosm of the sentence to the macrocosm of the work, punctuation involves linearity and temporality of the text. This aspect of Proust work is at the center of this project. Wanted to highlights it and to imagine À la recherche du temps perdu as a door open on other space, I suggest Proust’s prose to be reinvested as a galaxy. Proust text is still there, but melted in black page, only its punctuation is highlighted and shown as stars in the black night skies. That is why I chose to have white punctuation on black pages and switch ink roles between black and white. The project play with the place of punctuation in the text and the book become a short of celestial atlas, perhaps of Proust Time Regained. It is also a kind of tribute to Marcel Broodthaers, Un Coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard (1969), based on Stephane Mallarmé’s poem. The book can be thought of as an object and take another dimension. Pages can be glued on walls, next to each other, side by side and constitute a short of planetarium. This project is also a kind of sheet music. Musical writing is one of the origins of punctuation. White punctuation is a short of music on the black space of the page. I have also introduced another dimension to this project by using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). The text was uploading from Gallica, the french national digital Library. So, it’s possible to obtain several pages of the document as an electronic file, and to choose one of the following formats : PDF, single page JPEG (image of the original copy) or plain text. By choosing plain text, the robot used OCR. With this technology, text will have some errors (recognition level obtained is 96 %). Some character are transformed in other or in punctuation signs ; dust marks on paper are converted in punctuation signs or characters ; signs of wear and markings are transformed in spaces, characters or punctuation signs. Time traces interpreting by technology create some coincidences and opening a new dimension in the object.