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by Dominique Moulon [ July 2010 ]
The 2000’s passed without any artistic movement whatsoever emerging. Critics were silent, gradually replaced by curators and other festival art directors. But there are however a few practices and trends that are identifiable today.

spacerThe post photographic


Christophe Luxereau,
“Vanities”, 2009.
Courtesy Dexter Gallery.
spacerThe practice of photography is essential in the work of Christophe Luxereau just as the use of machines is. The artist also remembers the time spent in drawing bones – in order to better understand and assimilate them – in the anatomy room at the Beaux-Arts in Paris. But the five skulls in the vanities series have nothing to do with photography, other than perhaps their brilliance and presence. The artist has modelled them, almost invented them before covering them with textures that give them a certain physicality that is so convincing, there are people who ask to see the original skulls. Perhaps one day Christophe Luxereau will create objects from pre-existing photographs. The red “body work”, of one of the vanities reminds us that manufactured objects are preceded, as announced, by representations of them. And is this not the role of the “Vanities” in painting; to serve a future summons through representation so as to incite us to put the importance of a vain existence into perspective.

spacerA global world

Still Moving

Maurice Benayoun,
“Still Moving”, 2008.
spacerThe Internet, in only a few short decades, has truly modified our perception of the world, so it is only natural that artists, after the fashion of Maurice Benayoun, should also. His interactive work entitled “Still Moving” looks like a flattened planet. But the rough patches coloured yellow, red and black correspond to human emotions rather than any geological realities of the earth’s surface. One can perceive, by touching it, the vibrations of music reserved for the body that animates it. But our caresses also trigger the appearance of projected video textual data that are necessary for reading these ephemeral human emotion maps, because this indeed involves emotions that are expressed by words like Nervous, Excited or Anxious, and whose associations with the names of the cities of the entire world have been captured via the Internet. Like a photograph, this sculpture bears witness to a precise instant, that of its capture. Like a photograph, it also contains its part of shadow where we can guess the continent that its quasi absence reveals: Africa that the artist compares to “an amputated limb whose phantom pains we don’t even feel”.

spacerBodies and data

Crossing Value

Samuel Bianchini,
“Crossing Values”, 2008.
spacerThe use of sensors in art is not new, but they have become a lot more widespread over the past ten years because they are now simpler and less expensive. Samuel Bianchini’s light installation “Crossing Values” is based on this kind of technology. It appears in the form of a wall of hundreds, of thousands, of little digital counters. Without an audience the values are all initialised at 999, but they vary as soon as the piece detects the presence of visitors who then find a recessed imprint of their bodies in movement while the counters show the distance that separates them from the piece. It is a metaphor, among other things, for the digital traces that we leave behind us as much in real space as in the virtual space of networks. But this device is also a witness to the necessary coming together of the world of creation and that of research because it results from a collaboration between the artist and two laboratories. One is private, Orange Labs, the other public, the CiTu, a federation of university laboratories. This is in fact the subject of the recent book “Research & Creation” directed by the artist, researcher Samuel Bianchini.

spacerArtificial life

Fractal Flowers

Miguel Chevalier,
“Fractal Flowers”, 2008. Software Cyrille Henry.
Courtesy Tarasiève Gallery.
spacerEven the name of Miguel Chevalier’s series “Fractal Flowers” betrays the algorithmic origins of these oversized coloured flowers. They “look” at us and follow our every move in space because here what is also in play is the relationship between the body and the work. They grow, bloom and die without our being able to do anything about it. Their existence is programmed, but they are nevertheless autonomous and sensitive to the slightest breeze in the projected video image. Their coloured petals, comprised of opaque or translucent primitives in three dimensions, give away their artificial genesis. And yet the movements that animate them literally breathe life into them. The artist “printed” a few of them in three dimensions and the images, once again, preceded the existence of the objects. Thus crystallised, having lost their colour, transparency and movement, they are even more comparable to coral taken out of their natural milieu before themselves disappearing following the rules inherent in the genetic algorithms that have been pre-defined by the artist himself.

spacerArt in networks

IP Monochrome

Reynald Drouhin,
“IP Monochrome”,
spacerOur machines, whenever we connect to the Internet, are identifiable via their IP addresses, which stands for, “Internet Protocol” comprising a sequence of numbers that are unique on the World Wide Web. Reynald Drouhin has conceived an application that converts these addresses into flat colours that obviously refer to monochromatic art. So we don’t choose the shade that will represent us at the moment we access the online work IP Monochrome. The programme then archives our connections by assembling them in the form of shades that are comparable to that of the painting by Gerhard Richter entitled 1024 colours that is part of the Centre Pompidou collection. Each one of us then participates in building a global artistic database. Our squares of colour are dated like paintings in a museum. There is in the informational captions that accompany our coloured squares, the number of our visits and nothing prevents us from saving the Web page that harbours the monochrome created by our action. So by visiting IP Monochrome, we are all potentially author, visitor and collector.

spacerThe “Low Tech” spirit


Etienne Cliquet,
“IPv6”, 2007.
spacerCould Vinton Cerf and Bob Kahn, the fathers of the TCP/IP, meaning Transmission Control Protocol / Internet Protocol, imagine the penury of addresses that we are now experiencing as we move from version 4 to version 6 of this same protocol? Perhaps not, but IPv6 should guarantee us enough addresses for our ever-expanding numbers of electronic devices. It was therefore to measure this important mutation in the world wide web that in June 2007, Etienne Cliquet made a “folded piece of paper a metre square comprised of 2,000 intersection points, which represents the number of IPs per square metre expected to cover our planet in the years to come, according to the experts”. He has been tirelessly folding origami since 2005 that allow him to better understand the constantly evolving technological world in which we are living. Without scissors or glue or tape, he produces folded paper that he documents on his website called “Ordigami”, a contraction associating the world of the computer (‘ordinateur’ in French) and the world of origami. Each one of his folded creations is methodically documented on the site.

spacerIntelligence and artifice

Fight Club

Stéphane Sautour,
“Fight Club”, 2002.
Courtesy Loevenbruck Gallery.
Private collection.
spacerThe two Aibo robots, modified by Stéphane Sautour, are inexhaustible and never cease to rub up against each other. But what are they doing? The artist, by naming this robotic performance “Fight Club”, is making a reference to the eponymous David Fincher film and so encourages us to see a combat. We think of boxers who at times remain attached to one another to regain their breath before starting their combat again for a public craving action. But the combat in the gallery does not recommence. In reality, it has never actually begun, other than in the minds of the spectators whose commentaries are voluble and rapid. During the robotic performances, the spectacle generally plays out on the side of the public where we project our fears and fantasies on simple machines that we vainly try to humanise. But was it not the case that a chess-playing automaton apparently beat some of the great figures of this world in the 18th century? Not to mention Deep Blue, who without the slightest artifice, beat the greatest chess player of the moment. The imaginary then precedes the reality…

spacerVideo games

Vigilance 1.0

Martin Le Chevallier,
“Vigilance 1.0”, 2001.
Courtesy Jousse Entreprise.
spacerMartin Le Chevallier suggests we take on the role of a surveillance guard watching control screens with his video game entitled “Vigilance 1.0”. And we are soon taken in by the game as we madly click on tiny animated figures hoping to catch them committing an offence and so increase our score. But beware of false accusation because it will diminish your score. Drunkenness brings in fewer points than carrying a concealed weapon but more than littering. The lure of gain represented here by a score is enough to explain how at ease we can be in the virtual practice of informing. The application, which can be downloaded on the artist’s site, is version 1.0 leaving no doubt that a later version of the game could include possible new infractions, such as wearing a Burqa. Just like the exponential increase in public space video surveillance cameras, the game reflects a disquieting invasion of privacy.

Written by Dominique Moulon for "Images Magazine" and translated by Geoffrey Finch for "newmediaart.eu", this article is also available in French on "nouveauxmedias.net".