When Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin first released “Je t'aime… moi non plus” (which translates to “I love you… me neither”) in 1969, the song was met with criticism from radio stations all over the world. It’s eroticism was immediately deemed offensive and the song was banned in multiple countries. But despite all the criticism, the song gained popularity, and by the 80s it had become a date night favorite, on par with pretty much anything by Al Green or Marvin Gaye.
But Martin Bircher’s new installation …moi non plus, whose name alone suggests a dialogue with Gainsbourg’s original intentions, seems to ask that viewers reassess the song’s implicit meanings within the context of the digital age. Viewers are invited to interact with a digitized version of the song by operating a joystick that controls the only original parts of the song that Bircher leaves in: the moans and sighs of Jane Birkin (and an additional male guest?). Like Gainsbourg’s song, Bircher’s installation seems to focus on the limits of physical love. But unlike the original, Bircher adds a contemporary digital element, which as the piece suggests, further distorts our human understanding of these limits.