Night Language

While looking like evocative abstract drawing, the tar calligraphy of Night Language reminds us of the wearing out of a manufactured substance that is part of our daily lives in an industrial world. We manufacture tar to temporarily repair the cracks in the roads, an attempt to resist or slow down the natural breakage.

Night Language comprises a series of photos, transparencies in light boxes, and a 4-minute video with a soundtrack.

Three large backlit prints installed in light boxes have been exhibited at:
BC Culture Days, Vancouver – Group show galerie nomade 0.1 in 2018
Art Gallery of St. Albert, St. Albert, AB – Group show Delineate,
curator Jenny Willson-McGrath, in 2014

This video has been exhibited in:
BC Culture Days, Vancouver – Group show galerie nomade 0.1 in 2018
Le Labo, Toronto, ON – Group show, Fissures, curator Pascal Paquette, in 2012
Vidéoformes, Clermont-Ferrand, France, in 2011

Click here to view the Night Language 4-minute video



In her 2007 documentary Giants Leap / À pas de géants, Florence Debeugny had explored Vancouver’s hasty building construction. She was struck by the consequent increase in vehicles on the streets, including many trucks. While walking at night in her neighbourhood, she noticed black marks on the asphalt—tar, sealing the cracks in our roads to maintain them in decent condition. She took slide photographs of these markings at night, when traffic is less and when they are most noticeable under the lighting of street lampposts. Using the car’s headlights as the sole light source, she videotaped the marks to convey the sound and movement of vehicles driving on the roads, wearing them away.



We manufacture street lamps and car headlights to light up the darkness which is the natural state at night. We manufacture roads with surfaces perfectly smooth since the natural ground of the earth is too rough to drive cars on.



Everything we manufacture is subject to the forces of nature. Even if nature seems far away when we drive, it relentlessly erodes the surface rough again. The constant wearing down takes place above the road with rain, wind, cold of snow or ice, heat from the sun, and debris such as dirt or gravel, as well as below the road with tree roots spreading and water running in streams. How long would it take for a road untended to decay and return to nature, until even the memory of the road is gone?



All photographs, videos and soundtracks in this website are the intellectual
property of Florence Debeugny.

Please contact Florence Debeugny by e-mail at

© Florence Debeugny 2014-2023