Adrien M et Claire B
In their projects, Adrien M & Claire B combine art and digital technology, dance and pixels, through both shows and exhibitions in augmented and virtual reality. Their chosen technique primarily serves as a media for poetry and sensations.
Adrien, you are a juggler and computer scientist, and Claire is a graphic designer and visual artist. How did you start working together on projects that combine art and digital technology, two areas that seem to be very far apart?
Adrien Mondot: We met with Claire ten years ago - at laboratories for artists from diverse backgrounds - with the feeling that we didn't necessarily need rules to work together. We just wanted everyone to be open to other disciplines. We put our respective tools - juggling and computing for me, graphic design and staging for Claire - in the middle of the table and together we started playing with testing things with these different tools, without necessarily knowing where it would take us.
Claire Bardainne: Our first joint project was XYZT in 2011, which is still alive almost ten years later as part of our exhibition “Faire corps” (“As One”), running at the Gaîté Lyrique cultural centre until May 2020.
From the very beginning, you used augmented reality and virtual reality. Are these two technologies so different?
Adrien Mondot: Augmented reality already existed a decade ago. It could be an augmented reality image of a virtual image presented on a tablet for example. Virtual reality, which plays out in a closed world with a headset, is for me a subset of augmented reality.
Claire Bardainne: By including a layer of information, augmented reality integrates the vision of reality as a sensitive and imaginary scenario. And it is precisely this overexposure and this diversity that interests us. We pay close attention to the technical aspects and carry out a very thorough technological survey at the start of projects. We ask ourselves many questions: how does it work? How far will it go? At what point will it stop working? For our installation Mirages & miracles, which was launched in 2017 and is still being shown, we are questioning the dead/alive, inanimate/animate dichotomy, which is unique to augmented reality. This technology can bring things alive: an inanimate stone comes to life when you look at it with a tablet that, for us, is like a window. We are trying to make sensitive and technical issues resonate.
Acqua Alta, created in 2019, takes many forms – show, book, virtual reality experience and workshops. Is the use of different media essential for you?
Adrien Mondot: Each medium reveals its own perspective. Not all of our projects take this form, but for Acqua Alta we wanted to set the viewer in motion between a show that mixes dance and digital, a pop-up book whose drawings and paper volumes form the backdrop of a visible story in augmented reality, and an immersive virtual reality experience. With these different experiences, the audience channels several viewpoints between the stage, the book and virtual reality.
Claire Bardainne: This desire to present each work in different media is the basis of our encounter. From the outset, we did not want to limit the time and space needed to embody the projects we wanted to carry out. Each medium is a different perspective on the same story. And the audience, through its journey between the stage, virtual reality and the book, reconstructs all facets of the project like a puzzle.
Poetry and storytelling are always very present in your projects. How do you work with them?
Claire Bardainne: It is very important to clarify that technique does not dominate poetry, and vice versa. We go from one to the other all the time. For each creation, we feed ourselves with readings, observations and metaphors. We are truly in a theatre of sensations, whether in our creative process or through the result on stage and the experiences we offer.
Adrien Mondot: We don't even ask ourselves the question of poetry: we simply implement our ideas. We then hope that something powerful will emerge from this work, which the public will be able to call “poetry”.
Your works often show silhouettes, pebbles and steam, as in L’ombre de la vapeur (The Shadow of the Vapour) presented at the Fondation d’entreprise Martell (Martell Corporate Foundation) in Cognac in 2018. What is the place of nature in your work?
Claire Bardainne: Nature is very important in our projects. Experiences in a natural environment are very important in our creative process. We are also inspired by other artists, such as Hayao Miyazaki, whose animated films help us understand our relationship with nature. Adrien and I consider ourselves animists, with a strong sense that we are in touch with beings and that we must listen to them. In our projects, we try to transpose this attention with the aim of passing it on to the public, to make them in turn want to have this attention to nature, to take care of things and beings, living and non-living, human or non-human.
Which technique do you want to use for your future projects?
Claire Bardainne: We are moving towards low-tech. We use recent and contemporary technologies, but in a spirit of reuse and appropriation. We put as much energy, if not more, into trying to create and transmit powerful, palpable sensations and emotions rather than having incredibly efficient technology. We are more attached than ever to the question of the living, but we don’t yet know what form it will take.
You are currently building your own work studio. What will that mean for your next creations?
Adrien Mondot: With our new workplace we can let organic research take place, and find the right technologies at the right time. If you take the metaphor of the gardener, we're going to be able to grow things and pick what we think is ripe in the right season, rather than forcing things to grow.
Adrien M and Claire B will take part in professional meetings on March 11, 2020. These meetings are organised in Lyon by the Institut français as part of the Mirages Festival.
Their Hakanai performance was shown at the Dakar Institut français in 2018, as part as Novembre Numérique (Digital November), the great celebration of digital cultures celebrated on five continents. More information on Novembre Numérique
Their « Mirages & Miracles » exhibition was also presented as part of the Ars Electronica festival in Linz, in Austria, from June 2019 to March 2020, with the support of the Institut français in partnership with the City of Lyon. Find out more about project assistance programmes in partnership with local authorities
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