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It's Void Vs. Structure in This Cosmic A/V Installation

We talked with Joanie Lemercier about 'Blueprint,' his newest collaboration with James Ginzburg, at STRP Biennial.

by Benoit Palop
Mar 27 2015, 2:00pm

Images courtesy the artist

Live audiovisual performances, large scale installations, and experimental film screenings are taking over Eindhoven, the Netherlands. Last week the STRP Biennial kicked off, bringing 10 days of digital art-centered celebrations to the converted Klokgebouw factory space. 

Located at the meeting point between art, technology, and pop culture, the 2015 edition of the biennial, known as SCREEN ON | NO SCREEN, highlights the use of screens in the modern era, exploring their impact and omnipresence in both the creative fields and in everyday life. "Screens are everywhere nowadays, but seldom do we halt and think about how we use them, and what they mean for our culture," STRP director Angelique Spaninks says in the event's program. "'We shape our tools, and then they shape us' is a famous saying when it comes to the ever-increasing flight of technology. We want to explore this a bit more this edition.” 

This year, an impressive team of artists, including Daito Manabe, Robert Henke, Rafaël Rozendaal, Zimoun, and more locally Bram Snijders and Goof Kloosterman, featured their cutting edge creations alongside lectures, workshops and gatherings. Among them, the prolific duo made up of French visual artist Joanie Lemercier and electronic act James Ginzburg of Emptyset unveiled a brand new 15-minute-long audiovisual installation, Blueprint, that sits alongside their Nimbes digitized forest piece.

"With Blueprint, Lemercier and Ginzburg translate the immateriality of space, architecture, and causality into a choreography of structural elements," the project's description explains. "The installation is formed from a central monolithic tower that is flanked by two large screens and activated by light projection and sound. Together, these tell a story of the cosmos and architecture, climaxing in an anamorphosis."

Immersing viewers in the heart of a mesmerizing light and sound experience, Blueprint offers a disorienting exploration into various aspects of architecture, prying open unique relationships between scale, space, art, and immateriality. In order to learn more about Blueprint, The Creators Project conducted an interview with Joanie Lemercier:

The Creators Project: Could you talk to us about your aspirations and your ideas regarding the origins of this project?

Joanie Lemercier: The starting point of Blueprint was a keyword: architecture. For several years I've been using façades as a canvas for artworks and projections of light, from modern buildings to baroque cathedrals, and I wanted to work on a piece where the architecture itself would be the main focus, the main character.

Not all architectures are fascinating to me, so I tried to understand which of its characteristics would inspire me the most. I based my research on patterns, geometric structures, and connections between human made structures, and more "natural" structures that can be found in the universe.

Blueprint appears to be an extension of Nimbes. Could you give us a few more details on this "evolution/adaptation?"

I spent months doing research and development for Nimbes last year, and the discoveries I made then are inspiring most of my new projects this year: I found new techniques to capture bit of the real world into digitized version.
It feels like photography can now be enhanced with three-dimensional data, and it opens new fields and playgrounds for experimentation and artworks.

You explore and use unusual projection formats that question architecture and its geometry. Could you talk to us about this dialogue specifically for this piece?

When we first visited the venue for STRP Biennale, I was stuck by the space. It's a former Phillips factory where bulbs were made, and it's basically a huge block of concrete and metal, and a remain of the industrial era of the city of Eindhoven. The company, the workers and the machines have left the building, and it now feels like a modern cathedral, abandoned from it's original owner and purpose. I wanted to build a structure within this space, something that would echo with the scale of the gigantic venue. The structure is a 23' high x 11.5' wide monolith in the center of the factory's hall.

Can you explain to us your creative process on this piece. Technically, how did you generate the visual aspect? 

I'm surrounded by architecture specialists—many close friends and my younger brother are trained architects—but I never studied it myself, so I consider my approach very naïve. But I managed to turn my ideas and sketches into 3D models, and I learned a lot about trussing for this project. I also got the support from the STRP Biennale, to build and put together the physical elements, and this project was only possible with the work of my producer Juliette, who has managed to pull all the pieces together, and solved every possible problem that was driving us away from the creative process.

It's interesting to see that my work has shifted a lot from virtual to real within the past few years.

In terms of sound, you're once again working with James Ginzburg. How did your collaboration come about and how did you integrate his soundtrack in this piece? 

James is a genius. He also has his very own vision of reality, and alternate narratives on what we consider to be a real, genuine experience of life. He has put into words the basic starting points I had, and he developed ideas on emergence of matter, patterns, structures, and architecture as a shelter from the infinite.

Once we had storyboards and chapters, the workflow was pretty smooth, James worked in Berlin, Stockholm (contrabass recordings of Yair Elazar Glotman) and mixed all the materials in his studio in Bristol, and finally all fine-tuning was done on site.

For those who are not able to experience the "physical" piece, can you describe the sensorial and immersive experience that Blueprint offers to the viewers?

The piece is made to be experienced. Pictures and videos might give an idea of proportion and aesthetics, but more than any of my previous pieces, Blueprint can hardly be captured.

I'm under the impression that each of your pieces inspires the next. What can we expect for what follows Blueprint? Any hints?

We're currently working two new formats for Blueprint, a performance and an architectural projection versions of the piece. We're already planning on bringing the show to several epic locations this year.

See Blueprint now through March 29, 2015 at STRP Biennal, Eindhoven, Netherlands.

VISUALS:

Joanie Lemercier

Software development: Nikolay Matveiev

Media servers development: Tom Butterworth

MUSIC:

James Ginzburg

Contrabass – Yair Glotman

PRODUCTION:

Artist production – Juliette Bibasse

commissioned by STRP Biennale.

Thanks to Angelique Spaninks, Bram Snijders,

Jan Dams & STRP team.

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