portraits
Portrait
Digital

Benjamin Nuel, an artist featured in the exhibition Escape

What I’m interested in, both with virtual reality and video games, is a physical relationship with the world that you can’t get with film, or at least not to the same degree.

Working with material that he takes from video games, Benjamin Nuel’s interactive experiences and films explore situations outside the realm of time and shatter the rules of video gaming. His project HOTEL is being presented in the exhibition Escape by the Institut français. 

Published on 03/05/2022

5 min

Born in 1981 in St Etienne, Benjamin Nuel has developed a practice situated at the intersection of film, video games and digital art. For years, the use of 3D in real time, a twisting of codes unique to the creation of video entertainment and all forms of linear narrative have been central to his work. He trained at Arts Décoratifs school in Strasbourg and at Fresnoy, where he developed his project HOTEL, a video game that was turned into a two-season series, broadcast on Arte and exhibited at a host of art venues. He makes music videos, in particular for artists such as Phuture Doom, CHEVEU, Ricky Hollywood and Mick Strauss, and has also made traditional medium-length films, such as Un cheval sans nom (A horse with no name, 2013), Les éclaireurs (The scouts, 2014) and Silicon Valley (2015). 

To create his machinimas, Benjamin Nuel, like many filmmakers, begins with a screenplay before having actors record the dialogue. Using motion-capture, he then creates credible animations that he incorporates with re-used, pre-existing 3D models, such as those from the famous video game series Counter Strike or The Sims. The resulting pieces can be used interactively, but with the core experience still anchored in a narrative format. More recently, with HÉRITAGE (HERITAGE), a science fiction virtual reality piece that invites us to rediscover Earth, the filmmaker plays with the codes of the Star Wars saga to create a series of discrepancies. Similarly, his piece L'Île des Morts (Isle of the Dead), co-produced by Arte, immerses us in a graphic reinterpretation of Arnold Böcklin's famous painting, to the soundtrack of the eponymous symphonic poem by the composer Rachmaninov. 

Exhibited at the 2021 Venice Biennale, HOTEL is a distillation of the many issues that intersect in Nuel’s work: a specific spatial experience, an intentionally satirical atmosphere, and ways of rewriting pre-existing fictional material. Whether willingly post-apocalyptic or making aesthetic use of glitches and disturbance, his work is very frequently shown and selected at prestigious international festivals, such as Busan International Film Festival, Annecy Festival, São Paulo International Film Festival and the World VR Forum. His latest VR film, L’Île des Morts, won the Best Story Award at the 75th Venice International Film Festival and the prize for best film in VR at the China International New Media Short film Festival in Shenzhen. 

Hotel, The Box - Episode 1
Hotel, The Box - Episode 1
  • 1981

    1981

    Born in Saint-Etienne.

  • 2008

    2008

    Graduates from Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains, Tourcoing.

  • 2008

    2008

    HOTEL, an interactive piece that subsequently becomes a two-season series.

  • 2017

    2017

    HERITAGE, a VR short.

  • 2018

    2018

    L’Île des Morts, co-produced by Arte and awarded a prize at Venice International Film Festival.

The Institut français and the artist

HOTEL, by Benjamin Nuel, is presented as part of the Escape exhibition. 

Initiated by the Institut français, the exhibition Escape, voyage au cœur des cultures numériques is presented by the French cultural network abroad (Instituts français, Alliances françaises…) and his partners since November 2021. 

Members of the diplomatic network will find information on how to schedule this exhibition on this page

 

L'île des Mort is part of Culture VR: la sélection, a varied offering that showcases the best of French creation in virtual reality intended for distribution within the facilities of the French cultural network abroad or its partners. 

Find out more about la Sélection VR 

L'institut français, LAB