- Colloquium : Contemporary Digital Art: Conservation, Dissemination and Market Access
- Molior 15 years | Fund raising
- Rhythms of the Imagination, Technological Tools and Works
- TransLife International Triennial of New Media Art 2011
- Fanfare (Ottawa)
- Captatio oculi
- Silly Circuits
- Contrainte/Restraint : New Media Art Practices from Brazil and Peru (Montréal)
- eARTS BEYOND : Shanghai International Gallery Exhibition of Media Art
- Fanfare (Montreal)
- FILE 2005
- VAE 9 – Festival Internacional de Video/Arte/Electrónico
- Rotoscopic Machines
- Totem sonique (Montreal)
- Silverfish Stream
Sweeping SpiralsJean-Pierre Gauthier
Sweeping SpiralsJean-Pierre Gauthier
Stressato : Samurai SerpentsJean-Pierre Gauthier
Stressato : Samurai Serpents (detail)Jean-Pierre Gauthier
3 Tryphons, installation, Moscow, 2009NXI GESTATIO, photo: Asya Ablogina
Tryphon, installation, Moscow, 2009NXI GESTATIO, photo: Asya Ablogina
Living PodYing Gao, photos: Dominique Lafond
Living Pod (detail)Ying Gao, photos: Dominique Lafond
Living Pod (detail)Ying Gao, photos: Dominique Lafond
FILE (Festival Internacional de Linguagem Electrônica)
The Restless Object
Molior’s participation in FILE 2012 brought four remarkable installations by Quebecois artists who use kinetic technologies to the attention of a Brazilian audience. The works by Ying Gao (linked to the fashion world), Jean-Pierre Gauthier (between visual arts and sound creation) and Nicolas Reeves (close to architecture and design) which are part of FILE 2012 offered a rich overview of current practices in the field of kinetic and robotic art in Quebec.
This selection is representative of a context in which the development of such practices has flourished due to the influence of some renowned Quebecois artists and the solid training Quebecois universities provide in this research and creation area. It is thus that artists such as Bill Vorn, Louis-Philippe Demers or Istvan Kantor, to name but these, have garnered recognition on the international scene with compelling robotic projects throughout the years. These artists have left a stimulating heritage for many and have cleared the path to reflect on (power) relationships between humans and machines. They have also explored psychological dimensions and scenographic elements in their installations and performances, which have had a far reaching impact in the art world.
Nowadays, however, practices in this field are increasingly moving away from the robot aesthetic and anthropocentrism that characterized the trailblazer robotic art projects. Artists have multidimensional relationships with the machine world and they resort to kinetic technologies to explore the numerous aspects of human experience and the surrounding world. As for the movement producing technologies, they turn to digital tools just as well as to more traditional (low tech) means, depending on the projects.
Regardless of the technology’s origin, the choice of movement introduces new behaviours into the material world and opens the possibility of novel effects and meanings. The passage from the static to mobility doubtlessly brings about a major recasting of the object and our understanding of it. Essentially, movement breathes life into inert things and thereby fundamentally questions their identity. In moving, these usually immobile objects begin to take on the characteristics of living organisms. Each of the works brought together for FILE expresses this affinity with the alive in its own way.
As the two interactive Living Pod garments designed by Ying Gao, slowly expand they look to be breathing. Their internal components gently inflate like a rising ribcage. Life seems to have been passed on to the coats by those who had previously worn or made them. The light projected on the coats appears to awaken this link to life, as though by photosynthesis.
Stressato : Samurai Serpents by Jean-Pierre Gauthier is characterized by a very different organic quality. Triggered by approaching visitors, the nervous wriggling of intertwined cables on the table is reminiscent of a defense mechanism against a threat, comparable to that of a hunted animal. As for Sweeping Spirals, by the same artist, the brooms’ disorganized and awkward movement recall an out of control marionette, who having been left to its own devices by an absent master, indecisively and ineffectively tries to carry out its assigned task.
The flying cube of Paradoxal Sleep by NXI GESTATIO (Nicolas Reeves, David St-Onge and Ghislaine Doté), moves slowly and, like the flying machines imagined over the centuries, draws its inspiration from the natural world. It evokes hovering animals or those who navigate using echolocation. The association with a living organization is reinforced by its reactions—before the audience with which it negotiates the space, or in response to voice commands in a performance context.
In these four installations, the presence of everyday objects is palpable. Whether it be Gao’s coats, Gauthier’s table and broom, or Reeves’ cube, they establish an immediate connection with the man-made environment. Like objects encountered in everyday life, they extend human presence in space. What do these common objects tell us when they begin to move in an improbable way?
Among the objects presented in these works, the coats of Living Pod are without a doubt those with the closest connection to intimate space. The garment is worn directly on the skin, it covers and shrouds it. It clearly constitutes an extension and an expression of the self. Removed from the individual who wears it, it still bears a trace of his or her presence. Reanimated by the viewer, these coats seem to claim a life of their own, beyond any bodily attachment.
With their dysfunctional brooms and restless table, Jean-Gauthier’s projects call on a personal and domestic space. Both household chores and drawing generally require a certain diligence. Here, the objects follow their own logic and behave in a disorderly and unpredictable manner. Through their unbridled behaviour, they affirm an identity all of their own.
The NXI GESTATIO flying cube is evidently an object of a more conceptual nature than the others. Primarily a geometric form, the cube is also linked to the architectural domain of which it is a basic element. It belongs as much to mental space as that of the built world, both inner and exterior space, at once private and public. In moving above the ground in a state that oscillates between stationary levitation and mobility, as though suspended in a dream, the cube defies gravity.
These everyday objects, which are part of our intimate, personal and mental spaces, are already human creations; the movement they are endowed with magnifies this human aspect by associating them with life forms. The movement also enables them to exhibit behaviours and actions that are of a theatrical nature. They thus become characters, who while remaining true to their familiar status, reinvent themselves by introducing new dimensions into the viewer’s experience. In all cases, their unexpected behaviours express a desire for autonomy and emancipation from codes. In carrying out their unpredictable and unusual gestures, they defy expectations and invite us to see the known in a new light. As characters, they embody a certain part of who we are and act as a mirror which reflects an altered image of our relationship to the world.
Broomsticks, strings, motors, motion sensors
Courtesy of Jack Shainman gallery, NY
Sweeping Spirals is part of series of suspended installations in which geometric forms (Instants angulaires) break up and reassemble in an unpredictable manner. The work is also related to a set of works the artist created around the theme of house cleaning (Remue-ménage and La pause-café du concierge, for example). In Sweeping Spirals, two brooms situated on the opposite ends of a set of interconnected broomsticks take on the shape of a long spiral. Each spiral segment seems to act on its own and the perfect form is only rarely reestablished. In fact, motors pull strings attached to the joints between the segments, creating jerky movements that manipulate them like a big marionette. Moreover, now and then the brooms rub against the floor and push a bit of debris without ever really collecting it. At once tragic and comic, this spiral, which is endlessly disassembling itself and never properly carrying out the task, seems to be engaged in an awkward dance under the viewer’s complicit watch. Involved in an obsessive and inefficient activity that seeks to be useful but fails miserably, the piece nevertheless does function, in terms of its own logic.
Stepper motors, metal cables, plywood, silicone, infrared and ultrasound sensors, micro-controllers.
C++ Programming: Jason Cook
Stressato : Samurai Serpents resembles Jean-Pierre Gauthier’s drawing machines (such as Marqueurs d’incertitude). Like many of the artist’s creations, the work emphasizes graphic quality and the movement of a line in space. On a large panel covered by an “action painting” (that is reminiscent of the textured and dark surfaces of a Borduas, Soulages or Kline), which looks like a (drawing?) table, cables are activated by an approaching viewer and begin to wiggle all over the place, twisting and intertwining in a surprising way—as though they were actually reacting to a threat. In moving about in this way, these silver lines on a black ground continuously change the “painting’s” composition and transform it into an animated image. Like a musical improvisation, the line’s disorganized movements create sounds that vary each time.
Polyurethane bladder, composite structure, ducted fans, on-board computer, LEDs, polycarbonate tubes, ribbon wires, interactive sensors
Voice Engineer: François Séverin
Performance: Ghislaine Doté
The Paradoxal Sleep project is part of a series of works in which big robotized cubes, measuring 2,25 m3, serve as floating structures to be used as platforms for various multimedia projects and performances. In the context of FILE 2012, the NXI GESTATIO team will present a single cube that will move in the exhibition spaces. The cube will continually readjust its position by measuring the distance from the surrounding walls. Its sometimes hesitant movements endow it with an organic quality. At regular intervals, the cube will respond to the vocal commands of a performance artist (Ghislaine Doté) and will exhibit particular behaviours. A hybrid choreography will bear witness to the nascent relationship between the two. During the moments not reserved for the performances, it will be the viewer’s turn to engage with the floating cube and the space.
Leather, super organza and electronics
Robotics designer: Simon Laroche
The Living Pod project consists of two coats placed on dress form mannequins. The two garments make up a couple in which one is the more “expressive” copy of the other. Actually, when a viewer points a flashlight towards the first garment, it begins to slowly move, while the other imitates these transformations by exaggerating them. As the first coat opens very slightly to allow only a glimpse of its delicate inner fabric, the second unveils an inside comprised of several fabric components which expand and unfold like the petals of a blossoming flower. In unfolding and expanding the fine layers of organza and leather, the garments appear to be breathing. These coats are like characters whose attitudes the viewer may influence. The project invites us to think about the communicative behaviours humans sometimes exhibit.