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Interview

Is it past, or is it future ? – Interview with Floryan Varennes –

Floryan Varennes is an artist whose work is positioned in a temporality between medievalism and science fiction. His visual universe, adorned with armor, medical equipment and plants, offers us other possibilities for thinking about bodies and ways of caring for them. On the occasion of “Violence Vitale”, his exhibition which is open all summer at the Maison des Métiers du Cuir in Graulhet, he gives an interview to Expo156. A chance to discover his work which, without any complex, appeals to multiple imaginaries.

Can you present us the path that led you to the work you have been producing for the last four years?

I have a double curriculum, like many other artists I had a DNSEP (master II in visual art) in 2014 with a specialization in sculpture. Then afterwards, I attended a lot of seminars in Paris in several universities to perfect my historical knowledge on several specific topics related to bodies in art. In 2018, after 4 years of conceptual wanderings, I decided to start all over again, or at least to be more radical in my practice and research, so I started a new Master’s degree, this time in Medieval History at Paris-Nanterre. In June 2020 I graduated on a well known tutelary figure: Joan of Arc. I chose to study this heroine and more precisely her representations in paintings from the XIXth to the XXIst century because it echoed my practice as a visual artist on the body outside the norms and more precisely on medieval pageantry (panoply, emblems, armor, weapons, etc.). This investigation on the image of Joan of Arc in the visual arts from the 19th to the 21st century, allowed me to analyze a set of two-dimensional works that depicted her life, her physiognomy in transition and her equipment, while questioning the gender representations of the young heroine. It was a long, very long and dense work in terms of historical and artistic research.I had to track down the smallest painted images of Joan of Arc in France, Europe and beyond.

At the same time, during the last three years, my investigations have been focused on my relationship to the equipped body – Human enhancement – through curative universes in the era of techno-enchantment (augmented bodies, prosthetic science, curative technology, attention to vulnerability etc.). I had to navigate between my historical research, my practice and my investigations of the rather complex medical universe. To talk about the work, I have very defined phases, stages of intense research on my favorite themes and others of practice in residence. I have the particularity, for the moment, of only producing while I am in artistic residency, which allows me to be frenetic/abundant in my production and placid/concentrated in my research phase.

What are the words you use to present your work, how do you define it?

On the one hand I would say sculpture, installation, bas-reliefs, three-dimensionality and volume for the medium used. On the other hand, my work speaks of the body, of bodies in a general acceptance, without ever showing it or figuring it directly. By a metonymic* system I always try to represent it by elements that compose it, its pageantry, its equipment and its emblems linked to its parade, and more and more devices that mix the whole with powerful olfactory ambiences. Then, medieval history and its echoes up to our days compose a core of continuous research in my practice, always linked to readings, conferences, investigations, documentaries, films, series that are reflected in my practice… Finally, a few words about my interest in the speculative future that opens up to us, and more precisely in the sphere of care in a broad understanding. It is a question of reflecting on care, protection, repair, transformation and healing, inseparable from their “twin” states generally linked to persecution or scattered violence. In this way, I ambivalently mix representations linked to violence with curative technologies.

*A metonymy is a figure of speech which, in the language or its use, uses a word to mean a distinct idea but which is associated to it.

Your current artistic activity is focused on Violence Vitale, a monographic exhibition at the Musée des Métiers du Cuir of the city of Graulhet, which follows a residency* that you did there in the spring of 2021. How do you situate the new pieces you will present there, and produced on this occasion, in relation to your work?

This immersive residency took place with companies located in the Tarn region of France (Comptoir Icart, Maison Philippe Serre and La Fabrique leather goods). I had the chance to work with professionals who were able to help me in my practice from A to Z. Thanks to the know-how linked to the leather professions as a whole, from the choice of skins to the leather goods, I was able to “surpass” myself. In this, my production became more excessive, more disproportionate, made of immersive atmospheres and quite sophisticated installations. I was also lucky enough to be able to exhibit in an imposing museum of more than 300 square meters, I was able to take risks in the hanging, in the scenographic course and the lighting. Moreover, the pieces produced are in the continuity of my career but take a radical tangent. I was able to renew my theoretical base by going towards a fractional questioning on temporality, I arrived at crossings that I always tried to touch. In connection with echoes of the medieval period but combined with an aesthetic and aspects of my work more futuristic, more cyber-fictional. In connection with echoes of the medieval period but combined with an aesthetic and aspects of my work more futuristic, more cyber-fictional. I was able to achieve this goal through my latest research on medical pods [medical devices to regenerate bodies]. With my Hildegarde installation, I was able to create links between medieval armors, futuristic hospital beds and thus join all investigations on the panacea. This universal remedy that would have the ability to cure any disease and protect the body from all aggressions. I was able to elaborate a new installation at the crossroads of these fields of research transposing the whole into sculptures/civiers quilted with white leather and coated with an antibacterial treatment. Arranged in a circle in one of the rooms of the exhibition, this piece is for me the translation of the title of my exhibition: Violence Vitale.

* within the framework of the device called “residence of artist in company” of the french ministry for the culture.  

There are pieces in this exhibition, such as “Sursum Corda” or “Hildegarde” that seem to emerge from the darkness in an environment that could be described as “raw”. How does this environment resonate with these pieces?

I like the play of light and elaborate spatial arrangements and these two installations lend themselves to this. On one side the iridescent diagonals of Sursum Corda and on the other the white satin blocks of Hildegarde seem to effectively emerge through the lighting. Even more, it is a play of reflections and materials that I put in place, the darkness allows for focus with the light rails, and a certain tension in the space. Moreover, this chiseled lighting creates an ambivalent atmosphere, on the one hand there is a feeling of confrontation because the pieces are frontal, and on the other there is an exalting atmosphere, because the sculptures are bathed in a zenithal light. The setting in space is also a game between the works and the public, going from a rather dark space to a light space creates a story. The light is also the narrative in an exhibition.

There is a hybridization of time expressed in your work, which is rooted in medievalism and science fiction. What role does temporality play in your work and where does this interest come from?

I am a child of the 90’s, I was fed very young with scattered references that shaped me, two trilogies were revealing of my artistic preoccupations : The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix, to this can be added several other references such as Evangelion or Record of Lodoss War, but also a lot of historical, scientific and academic readings that came to be added during my studies, and still now.

Thus my research articulates several temporalities, first of all the echoes of the Middle Ages that we find nowadays in several types of productions. This is what we call medievalism (or survival or medieval revival) and it corresponds to a set of artistic, political and cultural manifestations elaborated in a conscious will to recreate or imitate in whole or in part the Middle Ages. My goal is not to reproduce this era, but rather to perceive some analogies with our time and some polarities. This is how I present and use the Middle Ages as a radical otherness to our time. It works for my part as a heuristic modality, a comparative that allows us to perceive, under certain fixed categories, the denials, the compromises and the advances of our Western civilization. In addition to this, there are convergences and oppositions, which we also find in certain productions on speculative futures with science fiction, or at least science in general, with systems of repression or cures that emanate from it. As I said before, I am very interested in augmentations and body reinforcements as well as in different types of medicine. I then try to join – in aesthetics as well as in concepts – these two types of temporalities in my production.

This temporal anchorage, allows you to inscribe in imaginary sometimes born in other artistic spheres, and in their aesthetics. What is your relationship with aesthetics and beauty, how do you manage to make it a framework that structures your work, a weapon that produces meaning?

The relationships of beauty in art are complex, generally (independently of the geographical situations) this tension comes from the history of art and the schools of art which perpetuate certain schemes, and what is beautiful, what is pleasant to the eye because sometimes too seductive is rejected, prohibited or put aside. By escaping this time from the important philosophical traditions linked to Kant or Hegel on the beautiful, post-modernity maintains ambiguous links with what can be qualified as beautiful, and everything is shattered. In my case I fought – and I still fight – against this, because I quickly understood that my research on the substance was going to overflow on the form. It is necessary however to define what one calls the word beautiful, for my part I speak in the first place of dichotomous reports of seduction and aversion, the “beauty” of my work resides in its ambivalence, it is which occurs through my rather violent, aggressive or disturbing topics of research but that I treat with fragile, soft, ephemeral or life-saving materials… These materials have various qualities, they allow me to have several types of effects, transparency, reflections of lights, shine, and that from glass to iridescent leather, from pearls to rivets passing by high-tech fabrics like velvet or medical polymers, but also surgical steel, to dried plants which transpose more deleterious ideas of beauty. Finally, I often speak of extreme aestheticism, I try to push this notion to its maximum.

Who are the people (artists, authors, curators etc….), with whom you find an affinity in your approach?

I have several affinities and sources of research to feed my work, I have very abundant artistic references with which I maintain intimate links. On the one hand, with ancient artists who are linked to a period called International Gothic, I often take as an example the Limbourg Brothers, Simone Martini or later Enguerand Quarton, Jêrome Bosh, Albrecht Durer, Jan Van Eyck, but also John William Waterhouse and my absolute love for the Symbolists and the Pre-Raphaelites (Millais, Rosseti, Burnes-Jones…), who rightly are my aesthetic ground. For the more contemporary – among others – Louise Bourgeois, David Altmedj, Frederick Heyman, Stelarc, Lee bul, Franz Erad Walter, Jordan Wolfson, Elaine Cameron Weir, Ivana Basic, Anicka Yi, Hannah Lévy, or Violet Chachki and Alexis Stone… I like some fashion designers like Alexander McQueen, Mugler, Robert Wun or Iris Van Herpen. And finally some anime, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Spirited Away, Vampire hunter D : Bloodlust, Grimgard or other video games like Halo, Fable or Elder Scroll.

On the theoretical side, I rely heavily on historical readings such as those of Jacques Legoff, Michel Pastoureau or Vincent Férré; philosophical or psychoanalytical readings with Paul Préciado, Donna Haraway, Susan Sontag, Joan Tronto, Paul Ricoeur or even Carl Gustav Jung. I have deeper affinities with other fields of research and I do not limit myself to artistic spheres, I also draw my research from what represents and historically activates the body such as heraldry, medieval weaponry, military chivalry, armorial systems , but also what heals or increases it to be understood as an anthropotechny, such as biotechnological sciences (and bioethics), phytotherapy (nootropic), pharmacology & toxicology, biohacking, orthoprosthetic systems, exo-armors, robotic surgery…

There is a recurrent use of vegetation in your pieces, in particular lavender, but also thistles in “L’assemblée” or prunus thorns in “Gothic my Love”. Vegetation also plays a key role in the articulation of the themes that are dear to you, especially because of its role in the care of the bodies in the Middle Ages. Can you tell us about it?

Plants arrived quite late in my practice, and are indicative of a new branch of care that I am exploring. There is a twofold aspect to my work on the notion of care in its entirety, on the one hand because I use surgical instruments, medical tools, fabrics and high-tech polymers, but on the other hand because I also invisibly try to operate a real work and a certain logic of solicitude and vulnerability, and the role of care in a strong way in my work. The plants have a place of choice in my research, so they create social link but also temporal because they have a direct affinity with the Middle Ages, I use a lot of plants that have to do with this period (that we find in manuscripts, tapestries, coats of arms, but also medical codexes etc). The plants that I use have multiplied phytotherapeutic effects. I call them super-vegetables, I use them in my installations to mark time, space and the senses. Of course I am also interested in their olfactory properties and especially their incredible prophylactic properties.

For example, lavender, a plant that I use a lot with thistles or ivy, is a masterpiece in my work, and I always use it dried. Its therapeutic importance, purification and cleansing are two characteristics inscribed in the very name of lavender. Indeed, its Latin name – lavandula – comes from the Latin lavare, meaning simply to wash. In addition, my beloved Hildegard of Bingen explained that: “Lavender is hot and dry and its heat is healthy. If one cooks lavender in wine and drinks it often lukewarm, one soothes the pains of the liver and the lung, as well as the vapors of the chest. “. The lavender intervenes thus on a certain number of diseases. Its virtues are considerable, antiseptic, anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic as well as analgesic, but also cardiotonic, anticoagulant, healing, and regulating the central nervous system: calming, sedative, anxiolytic, antidepressant, neurotropic, musculotropic… In short a cocktail to which we can add “aromatherapy” memories, we can not forget this scent so specific to the southern sun, that our grandparents also used to sanitize the household linen.

There is in your work the relation of the body to the medical world and more generally to the care, how do you consider that the notion of Pharmakon, particularly dear to the philosopher Bernard Stiegler, is part of your approach?

Yes, the bodies are not present but shown in a roundabout way, as I explained, never frontal, always made explicit by a battery of elements that increase or equip it with its finery, its armature and its parade (whether it is nuptial or military, or even a mixture of both). Moreover, I carry a more general reflection on the ambivalence of the affects, the feelings and the refusal of a binary division between pleasure and sorrow. This thought is concretized in my production of sculptures and duplicate devices, which mix the vocabulary of the war and the medical field to better reassess the distinction between wound and care. This is how the notion of pharmakon takes on its full meaning, as Bernard Stiegler explains: “the pharmakon is both poison and remedy, it is both what allows us to take care of and what we must take care of, in the sense that we must pay attention to it: it is a curative power in the measure and excess that it is a destructive power. This at once is what characterizes pharmacology, which tries to apprehend by the same gesture the danger and what saves. “. It is a process of attack and self-defense at the same time, contrary states and temporalities that I like to bring together in my work, and that I am now doing in a totally unconscious way: fragile but aggressive glass weapons, quilted stretchers as soft as they are hieratic, banners that cannot be easily identified, panoplies mixing medical objects that spread flesh while healing it, armored and translucent drones or a bed of lavender flowers that assaults the senses so much the smell is almost unbearable. The pharmakon is at the heart of my reflection, but declined in such a way that several types of antinomy (temporal, material, conceptual) act as a balance which one cannot know if they are destructive or saving.

Do you think there are aspects in your work that can resist any explanation and assume a part of darkness, of mysteries?

I wouldn’t speak of mystery, but of a discourse that escapes us, and that’s good. Not everything has to be explained, even if I tend to do so because I conceptualize my work (too much). But it seems to me that appreciating a work – in general – for its aesthetic, relational, contextual or formalist qualities is the least we can do. A work has also emotional qualities, we tend to forget it in the digital age, and of the fast culture, a work whatever its medium and its size it can make us vibrate – if a little bit we see it IRL. In short, if a work is ineffable it is already a good start, the rest will follow.

How do you see the future of your artistic production, what are your upcoming projects?

Concerning projects, I have just entered a gallery in Paris, I will see what the future holds for me, I have several group exhibitions coming up with residencies. The classic scheme we would say, but not only. I have also had in mind for a few months to create a fragrance, or at least an olfactory work, which could be sold as a perfume, based on lavandula angustifolia, incense, benzoin but also a rather cold, metallic, even repulsive smell. Finally, the idea of teaching is making its way, in an art school, or in other spheres that are close to me. And I wish to be more involved in the young French and European creation by helping young visual artists to understand the complexity but also the abundance of the contemporary artistic network.

For further information :

– Medievalism https://journals.openedition.org/itineraires/1782

– Pre-Raphaelitism https://histoire-image.org/fr/etudes/preraphaelisme-anglais-quete-absolu

– Queer approach https://journals.openedition.org/rechercheseducations/6611

– Augmented body https://www.cairn.info/revue-d-ethique-et-de-theologie-morale-2015-4-page-75.htm

– Science fiction https://journals.openedition.org/genrehistoire/405

– Care of the future https://journals.openedition.org/lectures/39389

Version Française

Floryan Varennes est un artiste dont l’œuvre se situe dans une temporalité entre médiévalisme et science-fiction. Son univers visuel, paré d’armures, de matériel médical et de végétaux, nous offre d’autres possibilités pour penser les corps et les manières d’en prendre soin. À l’occasion de « Violence Vitale Â» son exposition qui se déroule durant tout l’été à la Maison des Métiers du Cuir de Graulhet, il accorde une interview à Expo156. Une chance pour découvrir son travail qui convoque sans aucun complexe, des imaginaires multiples.

Est-ce que tu peux nous présenter le parcours qui t’a mené jusqu’au travail que tu produis depuis maintenant quatre années ? (différentes phases artistiques, cursus beaux-arts, et universitaire…)

J’ai un double cursus, comme beaucoup d’autres artistes j’ai eu un DNSEP (master II en art visuel) en 2014 avec une spécialisation en sculpture. Puis par la suite, j’ai suivi beaucoup de séminaires à Paris dans plusieurs universités pour parfaire mes connaissances historiques sur plusieurs sujets précis liés aux corps dans l’art. En 2018, après 4 années d’errances conceptuelles, j’ai décidé de tout reprendre à zéro, ou du moins d’être plus radical dans ma pratique et mes recherches, j’ai ainsi commencé un nouveau Master, cette fois-ci en Histoire médiévale à Paris-Nanterre. En juin 2020 j’ai eu mon diplôme sur une figure tutélaire bien connu : Jeanne d’Arc. J’ai choisi d’étudier cette Héroïne et plus précisément ses représentations en peintures du XIXe au XXIe siècle car cela rentrait en écho avec ma pratique de plasticien sur le corps en dehors des normes et plus précisément sur l’apparat médiéval (panoplie, emblèmes, armures, armes, etc). Cette enquête sur l’image de Jeanne d’Arc dans les Arts visuels du XIXe au XXI siècle, m’a permis d’analyser un ensemble d’œuvres bidimensionnelles qui ont figuré sa vie, sa physionomie en transition et son équipement, tout en questionnant les représentations de genre de la jeune héroïne. J’ai fais cette recherche transdisciplinaire historique, pour conjuguer médiévalisme et histoire de l’art à l’aune d’outils critiques liés aux études de genre, et ce dans une nouvelle perspective liée à ses représentations. Ce fut un travail long, très long et dense en terme de recherches historiques et artistique. J’ai du traquer les moindre images peintes de Jeanne d’Arc en France, en Europe et plus encore.

Parallèlement durant ces trois dernières années, mes investigations se sont précisées sur ma relations aux corps appareillés – Human enhancement au travers d’univers curatifs à l’ère du techno-enchantement (corps augmentés, science prothétiques, technologie curatives, attention à la vulnérabilité etc). J’ai du naviguer entre mes recherches historiques, ma pratique et mes investigations sur l’univers médical assez complexe. Pour parler du travail, j’ai des phases très définies, des étapes de recherches intenses sur mes thèmes de prédilection et d’autres de pratique en résidence. J’ai la particularité, pour le moment, de ne produire que pendant que je suis en résidence artistique, cela me permets d’être frénétique/abondant dans ma production et placide/concentré dans ma phase de recherche.

Quels sont les mots que tu utilises pour présenter ton œuvre, comment la définis-tu ?

Alors, d’une part je dirais, sculpture, installation, bas-reliefs, tridimensionnalité et volume pour le medium utilisé. D’autre part, mon travail parle du corps, des corps dans une acceptation générale, sans jamais le montrer ni le figurer directement. Par un système métonymique* je m’attelle toujours à le représenter par des éléments qui le compose, son apparat, son appareillage et ses emblèmes liés à sa parade, et de plus en plus de dispositifs qui mêlent le tout avec de puissante ambiances olfactives. Ensuite, l’Histoire médiévale et ses échos jusqu’à nos jours compose un noyau de recherche continu dans ma pratique, toujours liée à des lectures, des conférences, des investigations, des documentaires, des films, des séries qui transparaissent dans ma pratique… enfin quelques mots sur mon intérêt sur des futur spéculatifs qui s’ouvrent à nous et plus précisément celle de la sphère du soin dans une compréhension large. Il s’agit de réfléchir au soin, à la protection, à la réparation, à la transformation et à la guérison, inséparables de leurs états gémellaires « jumeaux Â» généralement liés à des persécutions ou des violences éparses. Je mêle pour ainsi dire ainsi de manière ambivalente des représentations liées à la violence à des technologies curatives.

*Une métonymie est une figure de style qui, dans la langue ou son usage, utilise un mot pour signifier une idée distincte mais qui lui est associée.

Ton actualité artistique est marquée par Violence Vitale, une exposition monographique au Musée des Métiers du Cuir de la ville de Graulhet, qui fait suite à une résidence* que tu y as effectué au printemps 2021. Comment est- ce que tu situes les nouvelles pièces que tu vas y présenter, et produites à cette occasion, par rapport à ton œuvre ?

Cette résidence immersive a eu lieu avec des entreprises du Tarn en France (le Comptoir Icart, la Maison Philippe Serre et la maroquinerie La Fabrique). J’ai eu la chance de travailler avec des professionnels qui ont pu m’aider dans ma pratique de A à Z. Grâce aux savoirs-faire liés aux métiers du cuir dans leurs ensembles, des choix de peaux jusqu’à la maroquinerie, j’ai ainsi pu me « surpasser Â». En cela, ma production est devenu plus excessive, plus démesurée, faite d’ambiances immersives et d’installations assez sophistiquées. J’ai aussi eu la chance de pouvoir exposer dans un musée imposant sur plus de 300 mètres carrés, j’ai pu prendre des risques dans l’accrochage, dans le parcours scénographique et la mise en lumière. De plus, les pièces produites sont dans la continuité de mon parcours mais prennent une tangente radicale. J’ai pu renouveler mon socle théorique en allant vers un questionnement fractionné sur la temporalité, je suis arrivé à des croisements que j’ai toujours essayé de toucher. En lien avec des échos de l’époque médiévale mais combinés avec une esthétique et des aspects de mon travail plus futuristes, plus cyber-fictionnel. J’ai pu y atteindre ce but grâce à mes dernières recherches sur les médicals pods [appareillages médicaux destinés à régénérer les corps]. Avec mon installation Hildegarde, j’ai pu créer des liens entre des armures médiévales, des lits d’hospitalisations futuristes et joindre ainsi toutes investigations sur la panacée. Ce remède universel qui aurait la faculté de guérir n’importe quelle maladie et de protéger le corps de toutes agressions. J’ai pu élaborer une nouvelle installation aux croisements de ces champs de recherches transposant alors le tout en sculptures/civières matelassées de cuir blanc et pelliculées d’un traitement antibactérien. Disposée en cercle dans une des salles de l’exposition, cette pièce est pour moi la traduction du titre de mon exposition : Violence Vitale.

*dans le cadre du dispositif appelé « résidence d’artiste en entreprise Â» du Ministère de la Culture.  

Il y a dans cette exposition des pièces, comme « Sursum Corda » ou « Hildegarde » qui semblent émerger de l’obscurité dans un environnement que l’on pourrait qualifier de « brut » . Comment cet environnement entre en résonance avec ces pièces ?

J’aime les jeux de lumière, et les mises en espace élaborées et ces deux installations s’y prêtent. D’un coté des diagonales iridescentes de Sursum Corda et de l’autre des blocs blancs satiné de Hildegarde semble effectivement émerger par la mise en lumière. Plus encore, c’est un jeu de reflets et de matières que je mets en place, l’obscurité permet des focus avec les rails de lumières, et une certaine tension dans l’espace. De surcroît, cette mise en lumière ciselé crée une atmosphère ambivalente, d’un coté il y a une sensation de confrontation car les pièces sont frontales, et de l’autre il y a une ambiance exaltante, car les sculptures sont baignées d’une lumière zénithale. La mise en espace, c’est aussi un jeu entre les œuvres et le public, passer d’un espace plutôt sombre à un espace clair crée une histoire. La lumière c’est aussi de la narration dans une exposition.

Il y a une hybridation des temps qui s’exprime dans ton œuvre, qui trouve un ancrage dans le médiévalisme et la science-fiction. Quel rôle joue la temporalité dans ton travail et où cet intérêt trouve-il son origine ?

Je suis un enfant des années 90, j’ai été abreuvé très jeune de références éparses qui m’ont façonné, deux trilogies ont été révélatrices de mes préoccupations artistiques Le seigneurs des anneaux et Matrix, à cela s’ajoute plusieurs autres références comme Evangelion ou Les Chroniques de la guerre de Lodoss mais aussi beaucoup de lecture historiques, scientifiques et universitaires qui sont venues s’ajouter pendant mes études, et maintenant encore. Ainsi mes recherches articulent plusieurs temporalités, en premier lieu les échos du Moyen Âge que l’on retrouve de nos jours dans plusieurs types de productions. C’est ce que l’on nomme médiévalisme, (ou survival ou medieval revival) et c’est ce qui correspond à un ensemble de manifestations artistiques, politiques et culturelles élaborées dans une volonté consciente de recréer ou d’imiter en tout ou partie le Moyen Âge. Mon but n’est pas de reproduire cette époque, mais plutôt de percevoir certaines analogies avec notre temps et certaines polarités.C’est ainsi que je présente et j’utilise le Moyen Âge comme une altérité radicale à notre temps. Il fonctionne pour ma part comme une modalité heuristique, un comparatif qui nous permet de percevoir, sous certaines catégories figées, les dénis, les compromis et les avancées de notre civilisation occidentale. A cela s’ajoute des rapprochements et des oppositions, nous les retrouvons aussi dans certaines productions sur les futurs spéculatifs avec la science-fiction, ou du moins la science tout court, avec des systèmes de répressions ou de guérisons qui en émanent. Comme je l’ai distillé précédemment je m’intéresse beaucoup aux augmentations et aux renforcements corporels ainsi qu’à différents types de médecines. J’essaye alors de joindre – aussi bien dans l’esthétique que dans les concepts – ces deux types de temporalités dans ma production.

Cet ancrage temporel, te permet de s’inscrire dans des imaginaires parfois nés dans d’autres sphères artistiques, et dans leurs esthétiques. Quel est ton rapport avec l’esthétique et le Beau, comment tu parviens à en faire une armature qui structure ton œuvre, une arme qui produit du sens ?

Les rapports de beautés dans l’art sont complexes, généralement (indépendamment des situations géographiques) cette tension provient de l’histoire de l’art et des écoles d’art qui perpétuent certains schémas, et ce qui est beau, ce qui agréable à l’œil car parfois trop séduisant est rejeté, interdit ou mis de côté. En échappant cette fois-ci aux grandes traditions philosophiques liées à Kant ou Hegel sur le beau, la post-modernité entretient des liens ambiguës avec ce qui peut être qualifié de beau, et tout vole en éclat. Dans mon cas je me suis battu – et je me bat encore – contre cela, car j’ai vite compris que mes recherches sur le fond allaient déborder sur la forme. Il faut pourtant définir ce qu’on appelle le mot beau, pour ma part je parle en premier lieu de rapports dichotomiques de séduction et d’aversion, la « beauté » de mon travail réside dans son ambivalence, c’est qui se passe au travers de mes thèmes de recherches plutôt violents, agressifs ou bien dérangeants mais que je traite avec des matériaux fragiles, doux, éphémères ou salvateurs… Ces matériaux ont diverses qualités, il me permettent d’avoir plusieurs types d’effets, de la transparence, des reflets de lumières, des brillances, et cela du verre au cuir iridescent, des perles aux rivets en passant par des tissus high-tech comme des velours ou polymères médicaux, mais aussi de l’acier chirurgical, jusqu’au végétaux séchés qui transposent des idées plus délétères de la beauté. Pour finir, je parle souvent d’extrême esthétisme, j’essaye de pousser au maximum cette notion à son paroxysme.

Quelles sont les personnes (artistes, auteurices, curateurices etc….), avec qui tu te trouves une affinité dans ta démarche ?

J’ai plusieurs affinités et sources de recherches pour alimenter mon travail, j’ai des références artistiques très abondantes avec lesquelles j’entretiens des liens intimes. D’une part avec des artistes anciens qui sont liés à une période que l’on nomme le Gothique International, je prends souvent comme exemple les Frères de Limbourg, Simone Martini ou bien par la suite Enguerand Quarton, Jêrome Bosh, Albrecht Durer, Jan Van Eyck, mais aussi John William Waterhouse et mon amour absolu pour les symbolistes et les préraphaélites (Millais, Rosseti, Burnes-Jones…), qui à juste titre, sont mon terreau esthétique. Pour les plus contemporain.e.s – entre autres – Louise Bourgeois, David Altmedj, Frederick Heyman, Stelarc, Lee bul, Franz Erad Walter, Jordan Wolfson, Elaine Cameron Weir, Ivana Basic, Anicka Yi, Hannah Lévy, ou bien Violet Chachki et Alexis Stone… J’aime quelques créateurs de mode comme Alexander McQueen, Mugler, Robert Wun ou bien Iris Van Herpen. Et enfin quelques animés, Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Le voyage de Chihiro, Vampire hunter D : Bloodlust, Grimgard ou d’autres jeux vidéo comme Halo, Fable ou les Elder Scroll.


Niveau théorie je m’appuie beaucoup sur de lectures historiques comme celles de Jacques Legoff, Michel Pastoureau ou Vincent Férré ; Philosophique ou psychanalytique avec Paul Préciado, Donna Haraway, Susan Sontag, Joan Tronto, Paul Ricoeur ou encore Carl Gustav Jung. J’ai des affinités plus profondes avec d’autres champs de recherches et je ne me limite pas à des sphères artistiques, je puise aussi mes recherches dans ce qui représente et actionne historiquement le corps comme l’héraldique, l’armement médiéval, la chevalerie militaire, les systèmes armoriaux , mais aussi ce qui le soigne ou l’augmente à comprendre comme une anthropotechnie, tel que les sciences biotechnologiques (et la bioéthique), la phytothérapie (nootrope), la pharmacologie & toxicologie, le biohacking, les systèmes orthoprothétiques, les exo-armures, la chirurgie robotique…

Il y a une utilisation récurrente du végétal dans tes pièces, et en particulier de la lavande, mais aussiles chardons dans « L’assemblée » ou les épines de prunus dans « Gothic my Love ». La végétation qui joue aussi un rôle clé dans l’articulation des thématiques qui te sont chères notamment de par son rôle dans le soin des corps au Moyen-Age.  Est-ce que tu peux nous en dire quelques mots ?

Les végétaux sont arrivés assez tardivement dans ma pratique, et sont révélateurs d’une nouvelle branche du care (prendre soin) que j’explore. Il y a une bicéphalité dans mon travail sur la notion de soin dans sa globalité, d’une part parce que j’utilise des instruments chirurgicaux, des outils, tissus et polymères high tech médicaux, mais d’autres parce que j’essaye aussi de manière invisible d’opérer un véritable travail et une certaine logique de la sollicitude et de la vulnérabilité, et du rôle du soin de manière forte dans mon travail. Les végétaux ont une place de choix dans mes recherches, ainsi il créent du lien social mais aussi temporel car ils ont une affinité directe avec le Moyen Âge, j’utilise beaucoup de plantes qui ont trait à cette période (que l’on retrouve dans les manuscrits, tapisseries, armoiries, mais aussi codex médicaux etc). Les végétaux que j’utilise ont des effets phytothérapeutiques démultipliés. Je les appelle les super-végétaux, je les utilise dans mes installations pour marquer le temps, l’espace et les sens. Bien sûr je m’intéresse aussi à leur olfactivité et surtout leurs propriétés prophylactiques incroyables.

Par exemple la lavande, une plante que j’emploie beaucoup avec les chardons ou le lierre est une pièce maîtresse dans mon parcours, et je l’utilise tout le temps séchée. Son importance thérapeutique, purification et assainissement sont deux caractéristiques inscrites dans le nom même de la lavande. En effet, son nom latin – lavandula â€“ est issu du latin lavare, signifiant tout simplement laver. De plus ma très chère Hildegarde de Bingen expliquait que: « La lavande est chaude et sèche et sa chaleur est saine. Si on fait cuire de la lavande dans du vin et qu’on en boit souvent tiède, on apaise les douleurs du foie et du poumon, ainsi que les vapeurs de la poitrine. Â» La lavande intervient donc sur un certain nombre de maladies. Ses vertus sont considérables, antiseptiques, anti-inflammatoires, antispasmodiques ainsi que celle, antalgiques, mais aussi cardiotoniques, anticoagulantes, cicatrisantes, et régulatrices du système nerveux central : calmantes, sédatives, anxiolytiques, antidépressives, neurotropes, musculotropes… bref un cocktail auquel nous pouvons y adjoindre des souvenirs « aromathérapeutiques Â», on ne peut oublier cette senteur si propre au soleil du sud, que nos grands parents utilisaient aussi pour assainir le linge de maison.

Il y a dans ton travail la relation du corps et au monde médical et de manière plus générale au soin, comment-est ce que tu estimes que la notion de Pharmakon, particulièrement chère au philosophe Bernard Stiegler, fait corps avec ta démarche ?

Oui les corps ne sont pas présents mais montrés de manière détournée, comme je l’ai expliqué, jamais frontale toujours explicitée par une batterie d’éléments qui l’augmentent ou l’appareillent par sa parure, son armature et sa parade (qu’elle soit nuptiale ou militaire d’ailleurs, voir même le mélange des deux). De surcroît, je porte une réflexion plus générale sur l’ambivalence des affects, des ressentis et le refus d’un partage binaire entre plaisir et peine. Cette pensée se concrétise dans ma production de sculptures et de dispositifs duplices, qui mêlent le vocabulaire de la guerre et du champ médical pour mieux réévaluer la distinction entre blessure et soin.

C’est ainsi que la notion de pharmakon prend toute son ampleur, comme l’explicite Bernard Stiegler « le pharmakon est à la fois poison et remède, il est à la fois ce qui permet de prendre soin et ce dont il faut prendre soin, au sens où il faut y faire attention : c’est une puissance curative dans la mesure et la démesure où c’est une puissance destructrice. Cet Ã  la fois est ce qui caractérise la pharmacologie qui tente d’appréhender par le même geste le danger et ce qui sauve. Â» C’est un processus d’attaque et d’auto-défense en même temps, des états et des temporalités contraires que j’aime réunir dans mon travail, et que je fais maintenant de manière totalement inconsciente : des armes en verres fragiles mais agressives, des civières matelassés aussi douces que hiératiques, des étendards qu’on ne peut facilement identifier, des panoplies mêlant des objets médicaux qui écartent les chairs tout en les soignants, des drones armaturés et translucides ou bien un parterre de fleurs de lavande qui agresse les sens tellement l’odeur est quasi insoutenable. Le pharmakon est au cœur de ma réflexion, mais décliné de tels sortes, que plusieurs types d’antinomies (temporelle, matérielle, conceptuelle) agissent comme une balance dont on ne peut savoir si elles sont destructrices ou salvatrices.

Est-ce tu penses qu’il y a des aspects dans ton travail qui peuvent résister à toute explication et assumer un part d’obscurité, de mystères ?

Je ne parlerais pas de mystère, mais d’un discours qui nous échappe, et c’est tant mieux. Tout ne doit pas être expliqué, même si j’ai tendance à le faire car je conceptualise (trop) mon travail. Mais il me semble qu’apprécier une œuvre – en général – pour ses qualités esthétiques, relationnelles, contextuelles ou bien formalistes est la moindre des choses à faire. Une œuvre a aussi des qualités émotionnelles, on a tendance à l’oublier dans l’ère du digital, et de la fast culture, une œuvre qu’importe son médium et sa taille elle peut nous faire vibrer – si un tant soit peu nous la voyons IRL. En somme si une œuvre est ineffable c’est déjà un bon début, le reste suivra.

Comment est-ce que tu vois le futur de ta production artistique, quels sont tes projets à venir ?

Niveau projets, je viens de rentrer dans une galerie à Paris, je vais voir ce que l’avenir me réserve, j’ai plusieurs expositions collectives qui arrivent avec des résidences. Le schéma classique diront nous, mais pas que. J’ai en tête aussi depuis quelques mois de créer une fragrance, ou du moins une œuvre olfactive, qui pourrait être vendue comme un parfum, à base de lavandula angustifolia, d’encens, de benjoin mais aussi d’odeur plutôt froide, métallique, voire même repoussante. Enfin, l’idée du professorat fait son chemin, dans une école d’art, ou dans d’autres sphères qui me sont proches. Et je souhaite être plus engagé dans la jeune création française et européenne en aidant le plus possible les jeunes artistes plasticien.ne.s à comprendre la complexité mais aussi le foisonnement du maillage artistique contemporain.

Pour aller plus loin :

РM̩di̩valisme https://journals.openedition.org/itineraires/1782
РPr̩rapha̩lisme https://histoire-image.org/fr/etudes/preraphaelisme-anglais-quete-absolu

– Approche queer https://journals.openedition.org/rechercheseducations/6611

РCorps augment̩ https://www.cairn.info/revue-d-ethique-et-de-theologie-morale-2015-4-page-75.htm
– Science fiction https://journals.openedition.org/genrehistoire/405
– Soin du futur https://journals.openedition.org/lectures/39389

Interview by Charline Kirch // Interview par Charline Kirch

A huge thank you to Floryan for his answers // Un grand merci à Floryan pour ses réponses.

Featured image credit : “L’assemblée” by Floryan Varennes // Image de couverture : “L’assemblée” par Floryan Varennes

⚔

“Violence Vitale”, is open to the public until 03/09/21 at the Maison des Métiers du Cuirs in Graulhet. // “Violence Vitale”, est à visiter jusqu’au 03/09/21 à la Maison des Métiers du Cuirs de Graulhet.

Find all July on the Expo156 Instagram account a visual selection made in collaboration with Floryan Varennes. // Retrouvez tout le mois de Juillet sur le compte Instagram d’Expo156 une sélection visuelle réalisée en collaboration avec Floryan Varennes.

Interview

Head in the Water – Interview with Talking Shell –

Camille Mercier, aka Talking Shell, is a jewelry designer and illustrator. Her exceptionally delicate work is largely inspired by the biology of wild and aquatic worlds. In this interview, which I am extremely proud to present to you, she expresses herself for the first time on the meaning of her work and takes us on a journey through the world of plankton with a communicative joy.

Can you introduce yourself, what is your background ? 

I’m Camille, I’m 27 years old and I live in Versailles, France, a beautiful city very close to its conservative cliché !  I studied Applied Arts in Paris for a year (scenography, graphism, drawing…). Soon after, I wanted to learn a craft profession, something very  technical that would never leave my hands, which would help me translate drawings into 3D creations. I hesitated between studying  stained-glass, lace, corsetry or lingerie, but I had a big crush for the BJOP School, (Haute Ecole de Bijouterie Paris) where I learned french  traditional high jewelry technics, CAD, jewelry painting, gemmology for 2 years, and jewelry design for 2 more years.  After 4 years studying in the backstages of the french high-jewlery scene, I didn’t feel that my work would make a change at a social or  environnemental level. So I choosed to work as a supervisor in a boarding school in Versailles instead, which has a pedagogic aspect that I enjoy. I have a weird rythm and work mostly by night, I make my art every time I have a moment for myself. Sometimes I bring some work at so I can share a little of the process with the students too.

Facemasks, earrings, crowns, necklaces and many others, you have a wonderful and varied work of creation of jewels, with a vocabulary that comes from biology. Can you present it to us ? 

In a few words, I would say that my creations are jigsaw puzzles of details with a fragile balance.
I like them to be seen as adornments, prosthesis, masks, but also as purely useless structures, just there to sparkle for a few moments in the eye.

The mask has been my main preoccupation for the last 2 years; it is at the same time a tool of pure identity expression, a fascinating area of the body to explore, (and thus rich in technical challenges).
This taste for the mask is hyper linked to my fascination for digital filters and virtual worlds. I find some of them so beautiful, so magical, that I want to create my own with the means at hand, that is to say my knowledge in jewelry.
I feel very happy when someone asks me if my masks are «real» or not !

My masks etc are very fragile for a reason; I always look for a kind of «extreme» delicacy in the shapes, which I think reminds us of the ephemeral nature of beauty, to provoke a feeling of being confronted to a moving, living maze of details.

They also have an intrinsic relationship with my body and my own biology, which is in a way the basic ingredient of my inspiration. I also draw on the biology of the wild world to translate my senses and concerns into a language that is both visual and intuitive. I work a lot with analogy, which allows me to look for synchronicities between my behavior and the world around me, between the biological capacities of an animal or a plant and the hopes I have for my future self.

How is your creative process organized ? 

As my practice is fairly new and constantly evolving, I don’t have an organization as such. However there are recurring elements in each project, there is always a new technical challenge for example.
I started making my own jewelry in early 2018, in response to a need to create objects that feel like me. I was exhausted from hiding.
I was dealing with the aftermath of dissociative disorders and PTSD, so forcing myself to work from my own face and body helped tremendously.
I started by standing in front of my mirror and carefully observing my face as a landscaper or a surgeon would, and little by little, playing with artificial petals or pieces of brass wire I created my first mask called «Terrible butinerie, tous les jardiniers sont morts». (It’s a kind of wordplay, butinerie is a mix between the verb butiner and mutinerie, so it means «Terrible butinerie, all the gardeners are dead».)

Since then I have been working systematically in front of my mirror, very slowly. I have to be very careful to not hurt my face when I use  metal or hot glue, I take the time to observe my bone structure. This slowness, working in detail has an extremely calming effect on me, it helps me to stay focused on one thing at a time (I get distracted very easily) and to learn to link self-expression with discipline. While slowing the pace of thought to develop a synthesis of simultaneous dreams through a drawing or an object, I find a place of healing and gratefulness.   

The mask has become a tool for self-expression, a revelation of what is hidden, intrinsic, but it is also a kind of protection, of camouflage that helps me feel more honest, uninhibited and a bit proud. 

Each mask is linked in one way or another to one of the five senses, or to a specific feeling which I love to translate in my own terms. The «Anemonargh» facemask for example refracts the sensation of water rising to the mouth, of an appetite that is both voracious and very attentive to the most subtle tastes. The underboob necklace underlines the sensation of the chest about to explode during premenstrual syndrome, while the golden mask «Solar winds blowing a moth into pieces» expresses a joy that explodes an old representation of the Self. 

Finishing a mask is like finishing a chrysalis, that I can put away with the feeling of having changed into a more honest person, more full of herself. Allowing myself to do what I like is also how I manage to express generosity to myself and others.
I always feel like I’ve been travelling into a far away and timeless land, and I am bringing back memories and gifts to my friends.

The selfie and the sharing on social networks is entirely part of the process of healing, once it’s shared, it’s done, like «I finally said it, even if I feel so, so very clumsy.» With time, at each post on @talking.shell (the alias wasn’t choosen by hazard, it’s inspired from the anime Ghost in the Shell and the amazing cartoon Song of the Sea), this moment feels easier.
And it can just be a nice moment where the 27 year old me winks at the 13 year old Camille, where I give myself all the cutest, brightest and sometimes a little bit provocative stuff I’ve ever dreamed of !

We find in your work a strong interest for the living world, and especially the aquatic world, what are its origins ? And what are the media that allow you to feed this interest (scientific resources, books, websites, documentaries, etc.) ? Does this make you claim an ecological dimension in your work ?

Pleasure !
I have a very vivid memory of the first time I went to the beach when I was 2 years old. I remember it as the most irrationnal thing I have ever seen, it felt like a totally new dimension. Exploring, running butt naked on the beach with nothing to do but play is heaven !
While bathing and playing in the sand, you are constantly tickeld by something.
For me, this is where I started to develop a sense of erotism (that I really differenciate from sexuality here), a very natural sense of pleasure.
For the little anecdote, my first dream tinted with erotism involved a cloud and a sea anemona tickling the back of my knee !
I was also very deeply shocked by the shipwreck of the oil tanker Erika on the coasts of Brittany and its consequences on the wildlife.
I explored some injuried areas with my class when I was 6 years old and it was both a great experience of observations in team, but also a source of anger and a feeling of helplessness.
Seing how obsessed I was, my mother bought me a book called «My friend of the seas», with some simple scientific informations about the seas, winds, wildlife on the beach.. This is how it started !

When I discovered the world of plankton during an exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, I definitely fell in love with the abyss and the teeming unknown that is hidden there, constantly multiplied.
It was the day scientists presented the first photo of a black hole. I prefer to look at what’s going on down there.We know more about the surface of the Moon or Mars than we do about our oceans. I think it says a lot about humans. Of course, no one wants to “reach the bottom”, darkness and depths are still equated with hell. But it’s really a paradise teeming with life and a reservoir of knowledge and revelations !

The Pleurobrachia Pileus plays a major role of inspiration in my work. When I discovered this macroplankton specie, I was simultaneously obsessed with the electricity that runs through the different areas of the human brain, and I was trying to materialize this electrical network in the form of a mask.
I found that the millions of bioluminescent cilia and the oval body of the pleurobrachia resembled my representations of my own neural electricity. It was a funny unexplained feeling of kinship that still obsesses me.
Why the pleurobrachia, why do I have the intimate feeling that this tiny creature is “me” in another form?
It lives in darkness, and despite its gelatinous and entirely translucent body, it evolves gracefully, perfectly adapted to the pressure of the waters.
It has no eyes, but it has millions of tiny luminous eyelashes that vibrate at full speed, and two long arms thinner than hair. It doesn’t need light, it makes its own, and this also serves as a signal, a “language” of sorts. It is a predator the size of a gooseberry.
It often comforts me to know that there are tiny, seemingly vulnerable creatures that live in symbiosis with their environment through wonders of extremely refined behavior.

I learned later that this peculiar specie is the one of the first to develop a neural system ! I was mindblown by the synchronicity between my physical sensation of electricity, this kindred intuition, and the biological history of the Pleurobrachia.
This particular moment got me obsessed with phylogeny, (the study of the links between related species) and I am still looking for synchronicities between strange organisms and ourselves, to finally reveal it in my own way, through jewelry for example.
It is the wildlife that brings me the most comfort, confidence and peace. Emphasizing the connection between a flourishing mentalhealth and a rich, beautiful and respected environment, inspiring curiosity, ultimately empathy for either is I hope a consequence of my approach.

I check in regularly: 

https://oceans.taraexpeditions.org

http://planktonchronicles.org/fr/ 

https://www.futura-sciences.com

Some of my favourite books are written by sailors; The Long Road by Bernard Moitessier, Cette nuit, la mer est noire by Florence Arthaud. 

I also enjoy reading Ernst Haeckel, Darwin and Lamarck, especially their thoughts on phylogeny. Claire Nouvian (abysses), Christian Sardet (plankton), François Sarano’s work about sperm whales.

I watch a lot of documentaries; Chasing Corals, Night on Earth – Mission Blue is my favorite, about the life of Dr Sylvia Earle who one of my  favorite heroins ! 

The movie Oceans is a basic, I also go through the BBC Earth (Blue Planet) and National Geographic networks. 

I follow a hundred instagram accounts like: @jam_and_germs, @waterbod, @womanscientist, @marine.animals @the_story_of_a_biologist, @noaaoceanexploration, @800down, @fondationtaraoceans

French speaking friends, I recommend you @hugorichel dissertation “L’Odyssée des Abysses”, which is really great ! I also grew up with the Tv show Thalassa 🙂 

I listen a lot to whale songs (humpback whales mainly, dolphins etc). 

You also have an important practice of drawing, which can be seen on @magma.seed, your second Instagram account.  You express a generous graphism through its details and arborescence, which can be reflected in sweet and powerful organic forms. Can you talk about this work, and how you relate it to your jewelry design activity ?

@talking.shell is the evolution of the @magma.seed Pokemon.


I am glad you mention this, these accounts are stages of my evolution but also two facets of my personality. They might look like opposites somehow (black and white versus colors) but to me they truly go hand-in-hand.


@magma.seed is a raw tiny ball of energy, judgmental as hell, who likes to analyse and dissect everything she scans in an enormous pattern of tiny details.
I always draw the eyes of the characters first, their vision lead the rest of the drawing.
At the end of it I want to have the intense feeling that I synthetized the contrasts, the contradictions in me to the point that I feel like I didn’t do this drawing myself.
So the use of black & white is very important to me, I like that it is so exacting, half warm, half violent.


After around 10 years of drawing in this style, not really moving out of this comfort zone I looked for a way to work in color, which I didn’t feel comfortable with, and this frustration coincided with the discovery of digital filters and my desire to use my knowledge of jewelry.
I needed to develop a cheerful universe around me at that time, and to claim my need for fun, for nuances.


In january 2018 I made the decision to find a way to show this side of my personality that I kept inhibited and shy. I wanted to share another face, at first it felt like wearing masks was something very provocative. My sister told me multiple times «You are finally coming out !».
I buzzed my head (which is still a punk thing in Versailles haha) and created the alias @talking.shell which was an expression of my will to give one of my facets a voice.
She is another part of the puzzle, eager to communicate with other humans and who gets dressed up for the occasion.
She wants to play, to experiment lighteness, sensuality and to share it with her friends, to transmit her interests and passions. She is way less of a perfectionist than @magma.seed and would allow herself lots of mistakes.
The masks are a kind of metamorphosis tools in a quest for identity, they have to be delicate, so they can meet a newborn self, carrying it to another edge.
Delicate is my kindest way of precision, an empathetic side of respect, and patience the calm way of my determination.

The drawing process has changed a lot since I started making my masks, it has become a moment of rest, a kind of refuge after spending a lot of time in holographic colors and rhinestones. There is something tiring about showing my face (even masked) on a social network, especially after looking at it in detail during the whole creation process. I like to hide a little sometimes.

So these two are as different as complementary now, it often makes me think of the myth of Persephone, a goddess of eternal spring, who spends 6 months on earth, 6 months in the underworld. Whether it’s on one side or the other, she cultivates her secret gardens.

How would you define the artistic sphere in which you are involved ? And what are the creators that you think are important to include in it ? 

I would say that it is a sphere that defines itself as a breach, an intersection between biomimicry and technomimicry.
It includes an abundance of identity researches, hybrid self-expression tools; between make-up, VR filters, jewelry and clothing.
With this creative dynamism, I feel like social networks like Instagram have become a kind of video game where you can embody as many aspects of yourself as necessary, “choose your fighter” moments, a pantheon of avatars which goes hand in hand with a dynamic of self-seeking.
Dystopias blend into everyday life, anchoring dreams in a continually archaic world.

One of the aspects I feel very close to is a metamorphosis of the notion of craftsmanship, which I feel is gradually giving up its cliché “dirty hands and wooden tools». Iris Van Herpen is a prime example of a hybrid creator with haute couture technics mixed with 3D printed structures and materials.

I cannot talk about the artistic sphere in which I am involved without talking about the artists I’ve been in contact with, and how their influence guided me in my art-therapy process. I love to think that their is no such artistic sphere (at a personal level at least) without friendly and caring interactions. Without those open hearted talks late at night, without sharing doubts or technical difficulties, without support etc, no sphere or «community» would happen.
So one of the best ideas I had during these 3 years was to keep in mind @ines.alpha’s advices all along. Independently of her incredible sense of integrity and discipline in her art, thinking about it is always an intense source of enthousiasm and bravery. Her bold and colorful work feels to me as an invitation to trust myself.
@proxima2000taur has been an incredibly supportive friend and an inspiring artistic presence. He plays a huge role into this sphere, using his face and body almost like land art. He definitely is some of the creators that make me think about an interesection between biomimicry and technomimicry, alongside with @antr0morph for example. They share an interesting way of blending their personal lives with dystopias in order to propel themselves into the future. @nusi_quero and @uaun are milestones in this sphere. As Nusi inspires me to refract an impetuous generosity, Uaun’s work is an invitation to look inward more closely, to explore my blind spots and dig out the roots of my energy. The words entanglement and diffraction/refraction often came back in our discussions and it inspired me to use more photoshop in my creative process in order to multiply the shapes I realised in metal etc.

I am fascinated with artists like @casey_curran, @lokidolor, @james.t.merry of course, but also @hany_b__ and @11v151131_m06@harriet.blend or @andrewthomashuang, @entangledothers, @adem.elahel…  

As for my drawings on @magma.seed, I feel close to Belkis Ayon and the Spirit Codex by Solange Knopf. 

You worked with Sarah Mayer on the creation of an Instagram filter from one of your masks, called Pleurobrachia. How did this collaboration go ? 

Working with Sarah felt like an evidence and it was so simple ! I sent her two pictures of the mask, a video of a pleurobrachia, a few indications about textures and movements… And she just made it happen and translated it perfectly !
It was a dream come true, when I made the mask I constantly imagined it moving, shiny and a bit glossy.
We are actually thinking about updating the filter for Instagram !

What are your current projects ? 

Now that I have been exploring my face, hiding it under strass and petals, I am taking a few steps back to reflect on what happened during these last 3 years. I think that I am done sitting and trying to look pretty behind my masks, it’s time to investigate other parts of my body, to expand the space my work occupies, which implies a lot of new challenges !

I am increasingly interested in creating complete characters, and to give them a context, an environment, a voice.
I’ve spent a lot of time looking for delicacy, sparkles and a form of grace in my work, intimately linked to a questioning of my femininity, and I realize that I stayed in this representation of myself in order to avoid expressing the qualified as «raw» and «violent» sides of my personality.
The thing is this side might be carrying the roots of my creative energy and the craddle of my emotions. I want to give it more space.

I also realized that I was not sharing the trajectories of thought, the reflections that I was making during the making of the masks, that until now I have not shared the “why” of my creations. For each mask, I have dozens of stories to tell and I think I’ll share them via the website I’m working on.
Let’s just say that I feel like I’ve reached a point where I need to allow myself some “maturity” and confidence to move forward into a new stage of my journey, which also includes thinking about how I would like to earn a living, create a positive dynamic in response to environmental issues, and thrive in the creative process.
I am also very eager to be able to exhibit my work, at the moment a few people have been able to see my masks in real life or try them on and I can’t wait to make it happen !
I am actually working on a custom wedding mask and this is a very good challenge. I am considering making a few small facemasks for sale, to celebrate these last 3 years of hesitations and my will to have faith and move on.

A heartfelt thank you to Camille for her answers, for the time and energy she devoted to it.

✨

Interview by Charline Kirch

Featured image credit : Planktonic Sword by Talking Shell

Find on the Expo156 ‘s Instagram account a curation of works and images elaborated with Talking Shell that will make you continue our journey through the deep sea 🦑

Interview

Eromorphosis(1) Les Âmes en Fleurs. Interview with Valentin Ranger

“Eromorphosis (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs” is a 3D film directed by the artist Valentin Ranger. This film presents us with a virtual poetic walk through the villa Noailles, around a profusion of sculptural and theatrical installations, metamorphoses celebrating the diversity of bodies, Love and the fragility of flowers. I wanted to talk with Valentin about his film because I was moved by this work, by its tenderness, its hybrid graphic beauty, its power to enchant.

Can you introduce yourself and your plastic work?

My name is Valentin Ranger, I am an artist and I am currently working in Paris. I worked in the theater before entering the Beaux-Arts de Paris. My artistic mediums vary between 3D, installation and drawing. My research evolves with the understanding of how the body functions and interacts with its environment at a quantum and macroscopic level, carnal and spiritual. 3D allows me to build an ecosystem that celebrates our mutations, our fluidity and our ability to connect to new narratives, linked by post-human and anthropological questions.

Following a residency that you did at the Villa Noailles in June 2020, you made a film entitled “Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs”. How did the residency and the creation of this film go?

I went to the Villa Noailles to work on an exhibition (Heroes/Heroïnes) where I made drawings. The exhibition was a true testimony of the solidarity and love that resides inside the Villa Noailles. During this residency I had the chance to discover an incredible architecture, but above all a sunny, generous and very inspiring team. It is a place of immense creative strength. The region is magnificent, the vegetation is lush, everything led to contemplation and dream.

There is in your film an invitation to let go, something very heartwarming. It also seems to be part of a form of surreality. There is the presence of Marie-Laure de Noailles, who was a supporter of the Surrealist movement. She also appears in Man Ray’s “Les Mystères du Château de Dé” filmed at the Villa Noailles in 1929. The Villa is like transfigured in your film, bathing in art and vegetation. How did the figure of Marie-Laure de Noailles and the architecture of her Villa help you to construct soothing visual landscapes, rich in beauty and symbolism? What meaning do you give to all these visions?

The architecture of the place, conceived by the architect Mallet-Stevens, was strongly inspired by a ship that I wanted to rethink as a ship flying through the cosmos. I was very inspired by the influence of Marie Laure on Dali, Man Ray, Brancusi and Cocteau. There is a lot of love inside this place, a celebration of flowers through the gardens, a tolerance for beautiful dreams.

It was the perfect place to tell the story of the creation of new body forms, linked to our powerful and sensitive image of flowers, to their diversity. I wanted to imagine a new form of poetic and sensual reproduction, the birth of a new species linked to these new bonds. Focused on tenderness, vulnerable but strong.

You use 3D modeling not as a means of realistic representation but rather as an extension of your visual world. We can see it with the integration of your floral drawings or for example with “les laboureurs du cœur” which by their bodies, their textures evoke living sculptures. Can you tell us about them?

Drawing is a real support for my work, it is a place of freedom that directly welcomes our instincts and sometimes our fragility. There is an ambivalence that exists within this film where the sculptures cannot live but still try to deliver a message of love. The creatures are protected from the deep construction that we have of our representations of the body. These bodies are rather metamorphoses of feelings and inner affect. The biomorphic sculptures are filled with magic, phantasmagoria, and assumed interiority. There are no rules that prevent them from loving.

In a description of your film, you mention a celebration of the diversity of bodies. What place do you give to queer identities in your work in general?

Thanks to the Queer community’s fight against exclusion, new bodies are acquiring the right to live and love. But this right is fluctuating, the exclusions persist and the fights are always present and renewed. The 3D and the virtual universes are potentials, criticisms of our possible worlds. Of our solidary communities. The deconstruction of our westernized bodies leads us to define new links that we had then lost. The bodies are strange and complex. We define ourselves by the representations we have acquired, when scientific progress reveals an inner world far from our education. My work is directly linked to this complexity and to the future possibilities of assuming ourselves always in metamorphosis and fluidity. The virtual is a new theater for all our bodies in transition.

Version Française

“Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs” est un film 3D réalisé par l’artiste Valentin Ranger. Ce film nous présente une balade poétique virtuelle dans les murs de la villa Noailles, autour d’une profusion d’installations sculpturales et théâtrales, des métamorphoses célébrant la diversité des corps, l’Amour et la fragilité des fleurs. J’ai eu envie d’échanger avec Valentin sur son film car j’ai été émue par cette œuvre, par sa douceur, sa beauté graphique hybridée, son pouvoir d’enchantement.

Est-ce que tu peux nous présenter ton parcours, ainsi que ton travail plastique ?

Je m’appelle Valentin Ranger, je suis artiste et je travaille actuellement sur Paris. J’ai travaillé dans le théâtre avant de rentrer aux Beaux-Arts de Paris. Mes supports varient entre la 3D, l’installation et le dessin. Mes recherches évoluent à mesure des compréhensions sur le fonctionnement du corps et ses interactions avec son environnement à un niveau quantique et macroscopique, charnel et spirituel. La 3D me permet de construire un écosystème qui célèbre nos mutations, notre fluidité et nos capacités à nous connecter à des nouveaux récits, habités par des interrogations post-humaines et anthropologiques.

Suite à une résidence que tu as effectué à la Villa Noailles au mois de Juin 2020 tu as réalisé le film intitulé « Eromorphosis” (1) Les Âmes en Fleurs Â». Comment s’est déroulée la résidence, et la création de ce film ?

Je suis allé à la Villa Noailles pour travailler sur une exposition (Héros/Heroïnes) où j’ai réalisé des dessins. L’exposition était un vrai témoignage de la solidarité et l’amour qui réside à l’intérieur de la Villa Noailles. Pendant cette résidence j’ai pu découvrir une architecture incroyable, mais surtout une équipe solaire, généreuse et très inspirante. C’est un lieu d’une force créatrice immense. La région est magnifique, la végétation luxuriante, tout amenait à la contemplation et au rêve.

Il y a dans ton film une invitation au lâcher-prise, une poésie très réconfortante. Il semble s’inscrire également dans une forme de surréalité. Il y a la présence de Marie-Laure de Noailles, qui fut une soutien du mouvement Surréaliste. Elle apparaît d’ailleurs dans « Les Mystères du Château de Dé Â» de Man Ray tourné à la Villa Noailles en 1929. La Villa est comme transfigurée dans ton film, baignant dans l’art et la végétation. Comment la figure de Marie-Laure de Noailles et l’architecture de sa villa t’ont aidé à construire des paysages visuels apaisants, riches de beautés et de symboles ? Quel sens est-ce que tu donnes à toutes ces visions ?

L’architecture du lieu, pensée par l’architecte Mallet-Stevens s’inspire fortement d’un navire que j’ai voulu repenser comme un navire volant à travers le cosmos.  J’étais très inspiré par l’influence de Marie Laure sur Dali, Man Ray, Brancusi et Cocteau. Il y a beaucoup d’amour à l’intérieur de ce lieu, une célébration des fleurs à travers les jardins, une tolérance pour les beaux rêves.

C’était l’endroit parfait pour raconter la création de nouvelles formes de corps, lié à notre image puissante et sensible des fleurs, à leur diversité. Je voulais imaginer une nouvelle forme de reproduction poétique et sensuelle, la naissance d’une nouvelle espèce liée de ces nouveaux liens. Concentrée sur la tendresse, vulnérable mais forte.

Tu utilises la modélisation 3D non pas comme un moyen de représentation réaliste mais plutôt comme un prolongement de ton univers plasticien. On le voit avec l’intégration de tes dessins floraux ou encore par exemple avec les laboureurs du cœur qui de par leurs corps, leurs textures évoquent des sculptures vivantes. Est-ce que tu peux nous en dire quelques mots ?

Le dessin est un vrai support pour mon travail, c’est un endroit de liberté qui accueille directement nos instincts et parfois nos fragilités. Il y a une ambivalence qui existe à l’intérieur de ce film où les sculptures ne peuvent pas vivre mais essaient pour autant de délivrer un message d’amour. Les créatures sont protégées de la construction profonde que nous avons de nos représentations du corps. Ces corps sont plutôt des métamorphoses de sentiments et d’affect intérieur. Les sculptures biomorphiques sont remplies de magie, de fantasmagorie, et d’intériorité assumée. Il n’y a pas de règles qui les empêchent d’aimer.

Tu évoques dans une description de ton œuvre une célébration de la diversité des corps. Quelle place tu donnes aux identités Queer dans ton travail en général ?

Grâce aux combats de la communauté Queer contre l’exclusion, de nouveaux corps acquièrent le droit de vie et d’aimer. Mais ce droit est fluctuant, les exclusions persistent et les combats sont toujours présents et renouvelés. La 3D et les univers virtuels sont des potentiels, critiques de nos mondes possibles. De nos communautés solidaires. 

La déconstruction de nos corps occidentalisés nous amène à définir des nouveaux liens que nous avions alors perdus. Les corps sont étranges et complexes. Nous nous définissons par des représentations que nous avons acquises, quand le progrès scientifique nous révèle un monde intérieur loin de notre éducation. Mon travail est lié directement à cette complexité et aux futures possibilités de nous assumer toujours en métamorphose et fluidité. Le virtuel est un nouveau théâtre pour tous nos corps en transition.

Interview by Charline Kirch // Interview par Charline Kirch

A big thank you to Valentin Ranger for this interview. All the images presented in this article are his property.

// Un grand merci à Valentin Ranger pour ses réponses. Toutes les images présentées dans cet article sont sa propriété.

Joint Interview

Creatures of the Virtual Realms

Like the biogeographic realms on the surface of the earth, the virtual realms are also populated with creatures, wonderful life forms. We will discover here through the presentation of ten works a multiplicity of creators’ viewpoints and creative approaches that explore the biological possibilities through virtual technology. From Miri Poppino Kut a raindrop that came to life to fashionista nudibranchs this article will also be for you the opportunity to make amazing encounters !

Sofia Crespo

“How do we engage with the rich diversity of the natural world in virtual, digital space?


This project is part of an ongoing exploration of artificial life using deep learning to generate insects as well as their names and anatomical descriptions. The intention is to celebrate the natural diversity of insectile life, not through the precise, sterile digital reproduction of it, but in the form of new specimens that are digital natives. These do not attempt to impersonate existing insects, but rather embody an insectile “essence” born from the training of machine learning algorithms on datasets of existing insects leading to novel, non-human understandings of the natural. Their diversity and decidedly digital qualities are in complementary contrast to the unsurpassable creativity of natural selection but can act as a prism with which to approach new perspectives and appreciation of the vulnerable, non-human world we too often take for granted.”

Video credit : @soficrespo91 with @entangledothers

Jingxin Wang

“For this piece of art, i attempted to create a trapped creature which interpret the concept of “Xenotransplantation” – the transplantation of living cells, tissues or organs from one species to another. Normally from animal to human. The singular eye is a metaphor of the vicous & selfish observation of human eyes.”

Image credit : @wjx_hasnoenglishname

Nina Muro

“Its name is Miri Poppino Kut. In the initial drafts, it was born from a drop of rain that came to life, so it was set up on a rainy, dark day. However, when creating the image I found that the rain took away from the character itself and it was better to set it up in a neutral environment, so it lost a bit of its origin story. We could say it’s a drop of morning dew that came to life, through a chemical reaction maybe, or perhaps just magic!” 

Image credit : @nninamuro

Konti Chr

“Since we know that the underwater world covers 75% of our world, and 5% discovered.
I am trying to show people they have to look deeper inside and around them to see the connection between everything. I think we are in the age of Aquarians who will pour new water that might have an exciting impact on communication and may even prove to be an opportunity to understand one another better.
 My style somewhat reflects metamorphic aliens in a hardcore way; since these things are a bit mystic, sometimes it’s hard to tell what it is indeed.I am drawing a line between anthropomorphic humans to underwater creatures. I can’t always determine how my work will look from the outside because it just comes from a recently discovered feeling. As I said, I will always be on the journey to find the deep ocean inside me and the others.”

Image credit : @konti_chr

Franco Palioff

“I have been creating creatures in different media since I’m a child. In a certain way, I think these ideas come from what was once a space of meditation, free association, and putting a special power into a thought, thing or creature in my mind, almost like an alchemic child trying to mix science with magic. Deepen into these forms and mechanisms since back then, has made me create robotic objects which I develop in parallel with figurative painting and 3D videos.”

Video credit : @francopalioff

Sukke Xu

“#MoMo/🌙
The inspiration of this piece is came from the social media trending #sailormoonredraw, Sailor Moon is a icon of a girl’s courage, adorable but special and full of mysterious identity symbol. In a cyberpunk world, MoMo/🌙 has the shyness of a girl but the sharpness of a warrior. The tongue of the snake is tempting and deterring. This is probably a very dangerous girl, pls don’t too close.
Momo is the name of my first cat, it’s very interesting that people often say that Momo the cat looks very similar to me, so I created a character image based on our two prototypes. He/she will be braver, crazy, and cuter, #MoMo can do things that Momo the cat and I could not accomplish in the parallel world.”

Image credit : @ssuukk_ee

Gunkspore

“With this piece, I wanted to depict a putrid & slimy creature, born to protect the path of a river leading to places currently unknown (& yet to be revealed) within the GunkVerse. Each piece I make is a bit more context to the world in which all of my characters live, & the expansion of that world is what drives me to wake up every morning & continue creating it.”

Image credit : @gunkspore

Sargon Khinoev

“I was meditating about organic and inorganic surfaces as well as aliens and xeno creatures in general, which are usually shown as something dangerous. In my opinion strange creatures are something lovely and inspiring. This was the idea behind this work: To find peace and freedom we need to accept and include the unknown.”

Image credit : @ssssskkkkkddddd

Sarah Ann Banks

“This image was inspired by tiny creatures called nudibranchs! They are sea slugs covered in bright colors, patterns, and textures. Lots of wiggly neon tentacles and polka dots. These two in the scene are alternate world fashionista nudibranchs, out on the town in their trendy outfits.

I had to make two together of course to show the unified effort to look cool and cute. I’m always inspired by nature and science and love to throw in modern elements to give the work some sense of relatability to myself and the world around me. I’m always working towards creating a dialogue between all my creations that sits somewhere between sci-fi and camp. This image to me connects what I often try to explore with my work; current trends, things I find interesting, and things that just make me laugh.”

Image credit : @ssarahbankss

Giusy Amoroso

“Nature itself is nothing else then a technology that may have been created for us; to mold us into the form and the physical shape that we are in. My artworks are fueled by the philosophical and enlightening idea that one can reach a higher form and free mind and body by creating something detached from the known. The possibility of reprogramming ourselves on a quantum level, additionally fuels the idea that our creator or creators have constructed this world for us. Equally we have the power to create worlds, creatures and entities, even identities and selves in the digital multiverse.”

Image credit : @marigoldff x @exitsimulation

Interview by Charline Kirch

Featured image credit : Nudibranchs by Sarah Ann Banks

A huge thank you to the creators who gave me some of their precious time to contribute to this article !

Joint Interview

Humanimality

In recent times my attention has often been focused on works that seem to converge, each in its own way, towards a point where humanity and animality cease to be perceived in a contradictory manner.

These works have a lot to say, whether it is about our cohabitation with nature, or about our identities and the links they have with our bodies.

To feed this reflection I asked three artists—Anthr0morph, Anni Puolakka and Omenmalum—how they articulate the relationship between humanity and animality in their work.

Anthr0morph

“I like to blur the lines between human and animal and reflect how biology is interconnected. We all evolved from each other and in a way are different forms of the same thing. Our DNA holds the history of so many other forms. I see the faces I create as some type of self designed exoskeleton. An exoskeleton gives shape and abilities to a body. By becoming a chimera, I explore these other types of embodiments that reflect the evolve potential of forms someone can take.”

Anni Puolakka

“In my view, humans are animals. My work reflects, amongst other issues, the need for changes in how we live amongst other species.

One of my recent projects, Oestrus, considers becoming a centaur as a way to love horses. It tells the story of a “horse girl” who has grown up to be an adult who couldn’t imagine mounting a horse. The character has physically distanced themself from horses and engages with them through fantasies of hippic transformation.”

Omenmalum

“We are a single living organism, man is a rational creature, thinking, but sometimes you need to feel and understand that an animal is sleeping in each of us. and I give the opportunity not only to others, but first of all to myself, sometimes to release this animal outside, aesthetically, according to the connections of art, sensually, beautifully and eerily at the same time.”

Interview by Charline Kirch

Featured image credits : Oestrus by Anni Puolakka at the Polansky Gallery, Prague. Photo by Jan Kolský.

Interview

The ornament of our enigmatic desires, Interview with Nusi Quero

I find in the work of Nusi Quero a form of glossary, a glossary of forms which cross as well the ironwork of Jean Lamour as the Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace, which goes from Rococo to Gundam, from our skeletons to our neural connections, from pure intuition to pure algorithmic. In the midst of this luxuriant and generous glossary stands out a new composition, that of the ornament of our enigmatic desires.

Can you introduce yourself?

Nusi Quero: You can call me Nusi Quero. I live in Los Angeles, CA. It is a place I consider to be fertile soil for my imagination to bloom in. I grew up in Florida. Prior to the pandemic, I had been working as a Junior Architect (unlicensed, but practicing for a firm). It’s unclear what that market will be like after all this. For now I am making as much art as possible. Before that I was producing playing live music for a living, my group was called Hundred Waters. I went to school for architecture. I have been practicing creativity since I was young, I believe writing graffiti was the first activity that unlocked my now unwavering desire to make something that I wanted to be beautiful and that nobody told me to make.

What words do you use to define the luxuriant and generous forms present in your work, and what meaning do you give to it?

Nusi Quero: I like that you used the words luxuriant and generous. I am very interested in lots of things, but my work of recent is tending to a certain selection of ingredients that I chose to sort of “accept”.. they are intuitive and selfish desires I think, ones maybe academia and people who know a lot about art and history may find disjointed or obvious or naïve or something, but I really enjoy cooking with them together… I think a sort of universe is starting to carve itself out.

I like shapes, wild geometries. I like to try to wiggle characteristics of shapes and mantras that are part of my aesthetic desires into my work: anatomy, aerodynamics, innuendo, intimacy, refraction, tessellation, faceting, voluptuousness, intricacy, eroticism, latticework, ritual, royalty, shamanism, opulence, systemic relationships, patterns, calligraphy. These are the descriptors of the work itself, but ultimately my lexicon of intention is to create an image, object or experience that will induce feelings of overwhelming awe, perhaps arousal, or enigma.

Luxury is certainly something I am interested in conveying, but not under the guise of it being earned or inherited by power or money: I love more the aesthetic artifacts that have been produced under its name. Most of the things I’ve physically made are of cheap plastic models and toys, fast fashion materials from the LA fashion district, cheap crystal rhinestones, old computer parts. I love ornament. The idea of dressing things up with idiosyncrasy or figurative wisps of detail is an exciting human tradition. I think we are at a point in history when ornament can come back without the loaded symbolism of master/slave that it once held. For example, Rococo era ornamentation took thousands and thousands of hours of work from artisans, and an unbelievable amount of money at the time. It conveyed some la-di-da chameleon paint Lamborghini Rolex Louis Vuitton monogram I’m-rich-and you’re-not sort of bullshit message that generally sucks. But I absolutely loved the aesthetic, and creative intention put into it. We are reaching a point with computational geometry, additive/subtractive manufacturing, and automation that I think the cost and sacrifice of human time and energy is much less, and ornamentation and detail can be physically produced and simply exist for the sake of beauty, without it necessarily feeling superlative or being a symbol for the owner’s socio-economic status.

I’m not really interested in the fiscal value of things, or even the actual physical materials of the work much right now. I am interested in the visceral feeling someone gets when they behold it, wear it, or use it, even superficially.

Which artists and works of art inspire you the most ?

Nusi Quero:

Brian Eno // https://vimeo.com/164368445

Hundertwasser // http://www.artnet.com/artists/friedensreich-hundertwasser/

Gordon Matta Clark // http://www.artnet.com/artists/gordon-matta-clark/

Andrew Thomas Huang // https://vimeo.com/37848135

HR Giger // http://www.gigerworkcatalog.com/photos/berlin/original/berlin_27.jpg

Sarah sitkin // https://www.instagram.com/sarahsitkin/?hl=en

Lebbeus Woods // https://hyperallergic.com/131802/the-radical-and-contagious-ideas-of-lebbeus-woods/

Alexander McQueen // https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CVN4WUKIzjA

Oyler Wu // https://www.oylerwu.com/screenplay

Giovanni Bertone // https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rr0YSZZ-FYg

Michael Hansmeyer // http://www.michael-hansmeyer.com/digital-grotesque-II

Are there any collaborations you dream of doing?

Nusi Quero: Not particularly right now, though I am hungry to collaborate with a person or brand or movement I might find synergy with. My way of working with my recent aesthetic language is non-linear- so that could introduce either great collaborative strides or a frustrating development process, I’m not sure. Regardless, I think it would be greatly beneficial for me to have partners in my vision: I absolutely love rules, as long as the people abiding by them are the ones making them. Having someone with a crystalline vision who wants to weave in my way of making in a specific or tactful way would be a fantastic experience, one I’m giddy about and looking forward to. Currently, I would love to create a sort of wardrobe for a virtual entity though, ie like War Nymph or Hatsune Miku etc. Would be so fun!

What is the technical production process to create your works? And also more specifically how do you transform a virtual design into a physical object? What softwares do you use?

Nusi Quero: I am interested in developing a language, a sort of identity that is described by the aesthetic characteristics of its morphology, details, or the implied or real material palette. I get bored too easily to decide on a specific product or even medium of expression, so I am betting on the hypothesis that if I can develop a certain way that things seem to be made or visually defined that is cross applicable between mediums, then I can sort of endlessly apply my ‘style’ to all sorts of things with a discrete identity, rather than create a repeated artistic product that I apply slight variations to over and over. I hope that makes sense.

This process requires a non-linear and frustratingly laborious task of building a procedural framework, or sets of constraints in which I can operate in, rather than a compositional brush-stroke / craftsmanship in the classical sense methodology sort of way.

Almost all of the actually physically tangible work I’ve shared as of yet has used no digital tools and technical prowess at all. The masks and objects are made of toy motorcycles, Gundam wing parts, cheap jewelry, plastic model kits of vehicles I like the shapes of. I was rigorous in my composition and selection of the pieces and parts, but they are all sort of manically and almost carelessly fused together with super glue. They are equal parts opulent and janky. They were simply the most convenient things to use at the time that I thought could free the fantastical things I was imagining from the walls my mind. So fucking tedious though.

For my digitally created works, I am obsessed with the notion that everything I want to say or do is already embedded within the sort of ‘site’ itself. For instance, all of the bodices, buildings, masks etc I make contain almost zero “brush strokes”, or sculpting in the traditional sense by me. Instead, I take a base mesh model (like a body, or a chruch, or a car, or the alphabet) and I run them through a series of carefully crafted and continually evolving procedural or mathematical operators. Then I composite them to reach the sort of intricate final products of my work.

It allows me to work much faster, and to continually surprise myself with what is possible, and stretch the elasticity of what I am defining as “my look”. Every line, point, vertex, shape is already embedded or nestled within the base model of a human body, or building, or church, or whatever- I am simply choosing which ones to refract through my operators – to subdue, hyperbolize, create a latticework from, mirror, turn into Gold, or rubber, or skin. My hands are busy connecting nodes or googling math formulas in code or endlessly scrolling google images rather than tediously drawing the lines that ultimately define the shapes in my work.

I really don’t like to talk about specific software etc because I feel like it deflates some of the mysticism in how things emerge, and also suggests that these tools somehow define my work. But I guess they do help define it, and folks want to know and I get it and I’m game ok ok ok so I use: Rhinoceros, Houdini, and Blender for the majority of my digitally conceived work right now.

Interview by Charline Kirch for Expo156
Images credits Nusi Quero

Interview

Kaan Ulgener, a biomechanical sensitivity

 

Of all the artists I enjoy to publish on Expo156, there is one whose work immediately sticks to our eyeballs, a bit like his extensions of metal or transparent glass which merge with the human body. This is the artist Kaan Ulgener. Originally from Istanbul, he lives and works in London. I told myself that I was going to ask him a few questions to learn more about his futuristic work with biomechanical sensitivity.

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Can you define your work?

Kaan: Id define my work as heavily conceptualized, scifi influenced works for the wearable technology industry and cyberfashion/digitalfashion and there are the brutal and erotic and yet Cyborg series that I’m constantly digging in for new rigs/tools.

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How do you articulate the relationship between the human body and technology?

Kaan: I’ve always enjoyed Seeing sophisticated devices attached to human bodys, a device that keeps the body parts alive in order to survive, basically an upgrade to human body that will lead to live healthier or easier than it before, and desiging this kind of concepts of futuristic objects and devices gives me more understanding of what to come in the near future of wearable technology!

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Which SF artists inspire you the most?

Kaan: There are several artists has been always giving me inspirations like Hans Rudi Giger, Moebius, Hajime Sorayama but Giger is my favourite of them all. He has a super important role in my life and on my works.

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(Images of H.R. Giger selected by Kaan to illustrates the interview)

What is the technical production process to create your works?

Kaan: The technical side of my works are always depending from what I do with the specific software, most of the time I start with concepting on 2d by sketching, if it makes sense or its looking fun, I start building it on 3d platforms such as Zbrush, Moi3d, Substance Painter, Blender, there are so many software for different kind of field, I use virtual reality as well, in my pipeline preferably in the making of the masks and for the real world sizing or just to see it in vr see the details or tweak the small features of the object. Rendering mostly take long because I work on high poly models however it depends wheater I use glass/liquid as they take extra time to render.

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Thanks for your answers Kaan! I hope that your hydroglass creations of which you have the secret will continue to flow for a long time in our other worlds and that the metallic frames of your art will always surround our minds!

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Interview by Charline Kirch for Expo156

Images credits Kaan Ulgener & H.R. Giger

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