Prise Multiple

Prise multiple is a new project from François Coulon, creator of Le Reprobateur (“The Reprover”) on which I previously wrote here and here. Like Le Reprobateur, Prise multiple (“Multiple Takes” or else “Multiple Sockets”) allows the player to play with and recombine pieces of a story never fully spelled out, using segments of live video. The piece consists of a number of short scenes (listed down the left side of the screen), each performed four times with a different arrangement of actors. (One of them is the lead actor from Le Reprobateur.) Reshuffling the actors is rather fun, because they have distinctly different personal styles ranging from grave to smarmy. And the videos are very carefully timed to make this trick work; I hate to think of the technical effort that must have gone into making sure the dialogue timings were exact enough for easy switching.

The story that emerges is not meant to be taken seriously. The main character sits at his desk, haranguing three subordinates who never themselves speak, and who might from context be agents, policemen, private detectives, or something else entirely. (There is at one point a reference to their possessing uniforms, but they certainly don’t dress in uniforms during the shots we see.) The world of these characters has been overrun by “the punks,” who are responsible for everything wrong — from terrorism at the airport to cannibal attacks. The characters are largely off-hand about these disasters. (“The nuclear apocalypse that struck mankind two years ago… you remember it?”) Over the various scenes Prise multiple echoes and mocks many of the common tropes of disaster plots and superhero movies, from specific threats (kidnapping, hostage-taking, radiation, virus attacks, terrorists, cyborgs, space aliens, invisible ninjas) to the girlfriend you can’t keep because your enemies will get her and the hero with the suddenly-revealed tragic past.

As the themes of the work emerged, I often wondered whether I was missing something about French culture. If it is common to blame crimes on “the punks” in French news or political commentary, then perhaps there is more of a social critique here than I am entirely equipped to recognize.

From the perspective of someone perhaps lacking this context, Prise multiple is altogether a slighter piece than Le Reprobateur, and not particularly a game, but it is quirkily appealing.

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