HomeProjects — By Means of a Sigh (À portée de souffle)

By Means of a Sigh (À portée de souffle)

By Means of a Sigh

Jean Dubois and Chloé Lefebvre



By Means of a Sigh is an interactive video installation that invites the viewer to engage with large format video images in a public space.

We see two faces in profile, each blowing a bubble of gum and letting it collapse; the two bubbles appear to connect the two characters. The viewer is prompted to call a number on the screen, blow into his mobile phone, and thereby control the breath of these characters. The interaction continues until the tension breaks : the thin membrane of gum tears, and the characters recede to their sides of the screen. Shortly after, the faces slowly reappear and the cycle continues, awaiting a call from another spectator. This simple system generates complicity between the two characters and between the work and the spectator--who now holds the ambiguous responsibility of at once controlling the image and putting it at risk.

In English we use the expression “to be on air”, while in French the same expression is “être en ondes”--the invisibility common to both atmosphere and electromagnetic waves evokes a similar imaginary space. The video installation By Means of a Sigh makes it evident by underscoring the precarious state of the connections we make with our breath and our telecommunications. The symbol of the bubble suggests this fragility. As soon as one begins to form, we fixate on its existence, knowing it will be short-lived. As beautiful as the bubble seems, we take a sinister delight in the anticipation of its collapse.


Photo gallery

    À portée de souffle img_3679_hdBy Means of a SighBy Means of a Sigh
    By Means of a Sigh



Chloé Lefebvre has never limited her practice to a single media--instead she shifts between video, photography, sculpture and installation. Her approach blends wit and irony to express her reflections on the everyday. She holds a Masters in visual and media arts from Université du Québec à Montréal. She is a member of Galerie Clark and sits on its board of directors.

Jean Dubois produces media installations that explore interpersonal relations in a poetic and critical manner, resulting in encounters between the viewer and characters or environments. He teaches at the École des arts visuels et médiatiques at UQÀM, and co-directs the creative research group Interstices. He is a member of the board of directors of Vox Contemporary Image Centre.


  • Philippe Jean : Programming and system design
  • David Beaulieu : Programming and audio analysis
  • Gabriele Kislat : videographic assistance
  • Andreas Rutkauskas : photographic assistance
  • Brett Bergmann : video documentation for Oboro version



Aaron Pollard, Alain Thibault, Amy Jesse Stevens, Ana Ascensio, Bastien Gilbert, Clare Needam, Claude Bélanger, Claudine Hubert, Dan Nguyen, Daniel Dion, Guy Asselin, Guy Levesque, Hugo Valcourt, Jean Gervais, Jessie Bédard, Julia Frainier, Lisanne Nadeau, Lucie Bureau, Marie Guiblin, Marie-Anne Moreau, Pascale Bureau. Marianne Groulx, Sylvette Babin, Vincent Boulet

HomeProjects — By Means of a Sigh (À portée de souffle)

© Interstices : Groupe de recherche et de création en arts médiatiques, 2010
© Interstices : Media Arts Research-Creation Group in 2010