Manuel Braun, Déplacements

This is a work that Manuel Braun developped for his Diplôme Nationale Supérieure d’Arts Plastiques in June, and which has just been exhibited in Toulouse at the Centre régional d'initiatives pour l'art contemporain. It is a 5 x 5 pixel array made out of computer fans. Each fan represents one pixel which together make a very singular display. On that display runs an artificial life program based on Coway’s famous Game of Life. It‘s a beautiful work, quite mesmerizing and yet very simple. When Brigitte Bosch from the bbb gave me « carte blanche » to select the work of a young multimedia artist for an exhibit she was preparing, I chose this work — principally because I wanted to defend a certain tendancy we currently have been exploring in the Atelier Hypermedia : i.e. the move away from purely screen based work by introducing visual algorithms increasingly into the phyiscal space. But I was also particularly happy with this work having watched Manuel’s research over the years on the infinite variations one can inflict on the idea of the « pixel ». I felt with this work that he had evolved from the research stage into a coherent phase plastique. And finally there is the fairly obvious (and humorous) reversal of the role of matérial/mimetic component, a sort of digital form of the old support / surface debate.

I don’t usually talk about other people’s work here, using this blog mostly as an easy form of communication. But I probably should talk more about my students’ and former-students’ works, as their work is so influential to my own, especially given the very particular structure of the Atelier Hypermedia. I’m also mentioning it here because this work was the first final-year diploma installation to use Processing and more importantly the PicoIP Processing library Stéphane Cousot and I developped last year for Jean-Pierre Mandon’s PicoIP project. When I look at the work we were doing with Macrodobe’s Director and the work we’re now doing with Processing, I think the change was definitely worth it.