L’Image Habitable (The Livable Image) - Version D
imaginary constructs

Sven Påhlsson (www.svenpahlsson.com)
            Centre for Contemporary Images

Sprawlville, Sven Påhisson’s latest animated project in 3D explores America’s suburban space. The creation of this American dream brings into play three essential components, the construction of individual houses, a network of automobiles (the Interstate Highway System) and places for buying necessities and other supplies (shopping malls).

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Sven Påhlsson, Sprawlville, 2001

Sprawlville returns to the simple yet “progressive” features of this dream which, when translated into statistical data and transformed by a computer program however, form the outline of what looks like the spread of a contagious disease.

To examine the complexity of this suburban life, Påhisson has turned to 3D-animation technology. The very high definition images of Sprawlville, a ten-minute film shown on a large screen, create an almost palpable reality. The images have an atmospheric quality, reworked with a nuanced palette of colors. Aerial views, tracking shots along highways and rhythmic successions of high-angle shots of day and night details play out over the beat of electronic music. The imagery of Sprawlville recalls what can be seen in various simulation games like the extremely popular Sims on the one hand, and the images relayed by security cameras on the other. A tension is thus created between the images that are so close to the reality they organize, and the oppressive emptiness they give off.

“To me the experience of the suburban world is almost unreal, and the diminishing difference between the virtual world as constructed in the computer and the actual spreading suburbia is both uncanny and frightening. This is an actual virtual reality model world that we can experience and live in, and it is spreading throughout the western world.”

Sven Påhlsson, extrait


Born in 1965 in Lund, Suède. Lives and works in Oslo and New York.
Sven Påhlsson has shown in a number of cities in 2002, in Amsterdam (De Appel) and Oslo (Kunsthall) and has taken part in Statements, Art Basel 33, “Out of Site” at the New Museum of Contemporary Art (New York), as well as Manifesta 4 (Frankfurt) with his piece “The Research Room.” The Spencer Brownstone Gallery in New York (which represents his work), the Kunstnerforbundet Gallery in Oslo and PS1 Contemporary Art Center in New York devoted shows to him in 2001. In 1997 he presented “Antebellum America” in the Nordic Pavilion at the Venice Biennial.