American identity depends upon, and is configured for transmission and broadcasting. To encounter America is to have viewed its images, received its advertisements, and absorbed its desire. Directed towards the individual through the subjectivity of dreaming, America is imagined as much as it is actualized. Advertising is its prominent force and economy. Graphic and iconic, it exists through motifs and signs: its shorthand is the Star Spangled Banner, the American flag.

Our encounter with America, then, is recurrently through the screen – whether witnessed in person or at a distance. (Corinne Vionnet’s) Total Flag directly engages with this phenomenon. She traces the transformation of images of America through reproducibility. Taking the most charged symbol of American identity, the flag itself, she does not attempt to transform it, or mould it to her wishes. She simply repeats its appearance, showing us the results of a process that the image is always already passing through.

We might call her first image a faithful copy: on the screen, the flag sits on a white ground. Its colours are saturated and bright, lines sharply aligned (we can trace them by observing the sharply reproduced cells of the screen itself). Subsequent images are at first very similar: a small shift, as the straight lines of the flag seem to give way lightly to the subtle curvature of the camera lens – little or nothing to has changed. But with each image, an effect is traced growing, a curve becoming a compression, a squeeze, pressure: the reproduction of the flag has begun to transfigure noticeably. Its saturation is at first washing out, before the screen – the mediation of the image, camera and screen, introduces a pink hue, and then a ghost image.

Testing repetition in its compulsive form, Vionnet shows how the camera and the screen combine not to precisely repeat, but to adjust, modify and transfigure. Total Flag sees and understands the American flag as an icon, but notes that it’s endless reproduction is also it’s modification. The image is not stable, but moving, altered by changing significations. It is unfixed. A diluted red and blue saturate the screen, until they bleed into each other. The ground gives way to an allover sharpening pink, the flag becoming an apparition and residue. The blue ground of the stars – representing the individual states - takes over, darkening, becoming black and blue like a bruise.

Approximately 150 million American flags are sold in the United States each year, a flag for almost every two people. The copy extends, refreshes, and renews. It makes familiar, that familiarity becoming ordinariness, the natural. Like any dream or aspiration, it is different for each person, and this difference, sometimes unifying, is also a source of divergence. How can this be seen, traced in an abstract idea such as America? It is traced in reproducibility itself – lossy and plussy, losing information and gaining noise – which will cease to resemble itself over time. Images function as analogies: here, it seems to suggest that endless repetition will produce radical difference. 

by Duncan Wooldridge, 2021

TOTAL Flag, 2018 


Corinne Vionnet
Self-published in 2018; 48 pages; size 270x190mm; Risograph printing on Fedrigoni paper; softcover with Singer binding.
200 copies  



Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds _  curated by Gabriel Umstätter _ "Replicas - Originality on trial in and around Olivier Mosset's collection"

Musée des Beaux-Arts, La Chaux-de-Fonds _  curated by Gabriel Umstätter _ "Replicas - Originality on trial in and around Olivier Mosset's collection"

Total Flag charts the metamorphoses a picture of the American flag goes through when it is reproduced over and over again. First it was diplayed on a screen, which was photgographed with a digital camera and then shown on the same screen again, then photographed again and displayed again, and so on until it lost absolutely all its features.
by Gabriel Umstätter / curating the show "Replicas - Originality on trial in and around Olivier Mosset's collection"