Radioactive paradise (2007)

Common field of exploration/creation is what my tableaux programmés (programmed paintings) are about. Starting with the tools and materials available to the painter, they transform them through an algorithmic manipulation where the computer code acts as a new kind of paint medium.

The forms’ structure and arrangements within the space of the picture are governed by a complex set of rules, relying upon the expressivity of programming. It’s a complex, autopoietic system, self-organizing, whose inner workings take from scientific modelizations, both in cellular/molecular dynamics and in celestial mechanics. Motion capture inserts a entropy factor, both local and global, which deeply affects the behavior of each work. The tableaux programmés are conceived from the start to allow for such interactions. Each picture dissolves and is regenerated by a constant relation between the software and whatever “share of reality” the system is able to capture. So the picture keeps conversing it with an external force — the network’s global “intelligence” —, which may reshape at any moment its plastic vocabulary and grammar. I see it as a good illustration of what repercussions our individual and collective behaviors do find upon the balance of our ecosystems. In this way, the tableaux programmés initiative can be seen as an ecological manifestation.

Tableaux programmés is a testimony to the individual/collective dialectics of natural forces, to the increasingly global perspective Science is casting upon our world — and to the necessary bond which must perdure between Art and Science.

Full Description

the main concept A set of “programmed paintings” where a vocabulary of elaborate plastic forms is animated through an open set of programming rules. This “transformation grammar” allows for a deliberate part of accidents, while taking inspiration from modern scientific models (auto-organizational systems).

Each tableau programmé is interactive and reacts to the viewer’s movements. Motion capture is deeply imbedded within the work’s rules and conception.

Furthermore, all paintings are both global and local, always linked through the Internet and communicating with each other all around the world. This means the attitude of a single viewer has direct repercussions upon what she, or all other viewers of other works, are seeing and experiencing at the same time.

Tableaux programmés is a testimony to the individual/collective dialectics of natural forces, to the increasingly global perspective Science is casting upon our world — and to the necessary bond which must perdure between Art and Science. a turn in science Our understanding of the world is being transformed everyday through radical innovations in dynamical analysis, new ways of observing and thinking biological or physical phenomenons. Such advances appear spectacular in every sense — as if science was now taking for itself the old Aristotelian motto: “Ars imitatur naturam” (art must imitate Nature).

In the current state of our scientific knowledge, complex interactions within the biosphere, auto-organization effects in nano-biological or nano-chimical structures — these are perceived and represented by increasingly spectacular models. Initiatives such as S. Wolfram’s cellular automata or Virgo Team’s “Millenium Run” universe simulation program might well be heralding the dawn of a Simulation Era.

While Science seems about to produce “works of the esthetic simulation of reality'' — as Artaud once wrote — art, having taken long ago distances with its mimetic fundations, could ignore what is coming and be left apart. My belief is that in the light of such revolutions of our representations, we artists shouldn’t leave Science alone to think Nature.

a question for arts Arts and Science do entertain a fecund dialogue. Artists have always fed on scientific advances, using every tool available and creating by oppositions — rationale/irrationalism, causality/randomness, truth/beauty… Scientists, for their part, have always sought in Arts the new semantic or plastic tools they required to convey revolutionary representations of the world. As a small example of this, the name “quark” (a subatomic particle) is taken from James Joyce.

So from the very first representations of a thee-dimensional space, in Renaissance Annunciations, from the Euclidean principles of “incommensurable measure” applied to classical perspective — to the genetic manipulations of Steeve Curtz’ Critical Art Ensemble, or the work of other current artists who use the living as a raw material, not mentioning Beuys, who questioned deeply the developments of technoscience — artists and scientists have always ventured in contiguous territories.

what it’s about This common field of exploration/creation is what my tableaux programmés (programmed paintings) are about. Starting with the tools and materials available to the painter, they transform them through an algorithmic manipulation where the computer code acts as a new kind of paint medium.

It all starts with drawing on the pen tablet. Thoughts, unorganized and plastic, are recorded in sequences. This is an essential step for me — my base material has to be informed in a plastic sense.

This base vocabulary is then animated through an open frame of programming, a visual grammar allowing for many different outcomes while eliminating irrelevant transformations. This is where auto-organization comes into play. The forms’ structure and arrangements within the space of the picture are governed by a complex set of rules, relying upon the expressivity of programming. It’s a complex, autopoietic system, self-organizing, whose inner workings take from scientific modelizations, both in cellular/molecular dynamics and in celestial mechanics.

Programming of course allows for a controlled measure of accidents: unexpected occurrences might always question the work’s logic and stability, claiming space for a zone of uncertainty where open proposals can appear.

entropy / communication Lastly, these works react to movement. Each tableau programmé has a sensor capable of interpreting its viewer’s motions. It may react to it directly, but it also relays this information to the global network these paintings — permanently linked to each other through the Internet — provide.

Actually, what each viewer is seeing (forms and transformations) depends in part from her own motions — and in part from the motions of all viewers in the world, at that same time. In this way, all viewers are linked through the paintings.

Motion capture inserts a entropy factor, both local and global, which deeply affects the behavior of each work. The tableaux programmés are conceived from the start to allow for such interactions. Each picture dissolves and is regenerated by a constant relation between the software and whatever “share of reality” the system is able to capture. So the picture keeps conversing it with an external force — the network’s global “intelligence” —, which may reshape at any moment its plastic vocabulary and grammar. I see it as a good illustration of what repercussions our individual and collective behaviors do find upon the balance of our ecosystems. In this way, the tableaux programmés initiative can be seen as an ecological manifestation.

technical stuff — in brief Each programmed painting is provided on a specialized display unit framed like a painting. Within its frame, it includes a LCD graphic display (1024x768), processor, internal battery with reasonable autonomy, Wi-Fi access, internal web cam for motion sensing, facilities for set-up and maintenance.

The unit runs a specialized software, with open-source code, in kiosk mode. It cannot be used for other purposes than displaying the programmed paintings. It communicates through the Internet with a protected Web server where graphic designs, programming, and any rules of actualizations are stored.

These units are thought as integrant part of the work. They will be made in a limited number, and will provide ultimately the only way of access to the whole series’ dynamic paintings. The artist is committed to maintenance of his works/units.

Existing prototypes, made from salvaged laptop parts, are now fully functional — hardware and software.

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