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By Kevin Thome de Souza

capture3The Internet has turned everybody into an artist. Anyone can now release online a video, a song or a movie for the entire world to see. This phenomenon has deeply affected the cultural industries, apparently still struggling to adjust to this new model. Grégory Chatonsky explores the limits of this model with I’ll Be Your Mirror, his new exhibition opening next month at the Centre des Arts of Enghien-les-Bains, near Paris. The entire show is based around a single project, Capturea set of generative machines producing autonomously the songs of a fictitious rock band, as well as its music videos, books and merchandising. The programs respond to each other and continuously create to the point that no human being can consume its entire production. Our desire for consumption is aroused but we soon realize that this quest for endless consumption has no point. Complex and sensible, Grégory Chatonsky’s exhibition will change your perception of the world we live in.

essai2
CAPTURE-images-43

What is the starting point of Capture and how did it evolve to integrate so many different aspects?

The project emerged from two events: the lecture of Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Age Of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism and a meeting with Olivier Alary in Montreal. Olivier is a music composer who collaborated with Björk, Cat Power or Doug Aitken and I immediately wanted to work on a project with him.

There was also the context of cultural industries. It was a time where everybody kept talking about copyright, copyleft and free software and I became affected by these claims. I found odd all these people who seemed to stage the death of the cultural industries. I couldn’t help but to adopt a critical point of view because what was the meaning of this so-called death of music, cinema and written press? The Internet was held responsible since the reasons for this death were illegal downloading and the assertion of the people to transform the conditions of trade and value that are at the core of our civilization.

I tried to imagine a utopian solution to this economical problem: how to protect the economy of a rock band in the context of a global network and widespread looting? I immediately had the idea of a rock band that would be so productive that nobody could ever consume its entire production. As soon as we listen to one track, another is already produced, making it impossible to capture its actual value.

A band does not only produces songs. There are also lyrics, images, videos, merchandising, and social media interactions. In a way, a band is a model to apprehend the work of a contemporary artist whose  practice relies on a computer. This “Jack of all trades” aspect is a crucial element of our culture. We are all amateurs.

This explains the over-productive nature of Capture, but also how it keeps evolving, integrating new dimensions and options. It acts as a computer program that would continuously integrate new variables and add new plug-ins to the original project. Capture tries to reach the average aesthetics we live in, this vanilla flavor that affects every thing we listen to, watch and love. We love repetition, that a song says it is a song.

CAPTURE-images-11

How does Capture actually work?

Capture is a set of generative machines, in other words, programs producing 24/7, without ever taking a break. Each one of these machines produces something different, whether it is music, lyrics, biographies, albums reviews, interviews, social updates, music videos and so on.

They are all connected to each other. When a text is generated by a program using Google suggestions, it is automatically synchronized by a singing voice synthesizer to a MIDI file created by another program. This music is the result of a morphological model, a set of rules that tries to define what makes a Pop track. Keywords found in the lyrics of the song are then used to look for videos on YouTube. The videos are then automatically edited and uploaded back on YouTube. And so forth, until the exhaustion of perception. Capture is a network of machines that translate each other in a circular fashion. Not only does Capture go looking online for existential data in order to feed its production, but it is also active on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It status are either stolen from its friends or auto-generated. It can like other status or share images and links. We can even chat with it. A bot programed to have a certain personality is online 24/7.

Materialization, getting out of the computer screen is one of the fundamental dimensions of Capture. It becomes possible thanks to the convergence of generative software and postindustrial production techniques. For example, scripts edit the generated texts in InDesign to produce a unique book that will be printed by the self-publishing website Lulu. Capture only produces unique copies part of unlimited series. This axiom questions our consumerist and industrial society. If industrial techniques can produce identical objects for a large number of people, companies organize the obsolescence and rarity of their production to provoke desire. On the contrary, Capture produces continuously in order to exhaust the consumerist desire.

The exhibition at the Centre des Arts d’Enghien-les-Bains is an environment that immerses the visitors in Capture’s universe. The machine sucks up the memories they leave online. Internet is no longer a form of communication between human beings but a way for machines to discover our world, to record our emotions in their databases so they can draw statistics from them.

39_39_img2818

The exhibition seems to contain the same irony found in Telefossils. Is it a way to distance yourself from the world we live in?

I don’t know if Capture is ironic because irony can also imply some kind of complicity with the domination system in place. For me, it’s more about pushing certain tendencies of the industrial and consumerist system to unveil its contradictions.

Like with Telefossils, I try to defamiliarize what seems obvious, what we are used to in our daily life. This incongruity is applied to consumption, whose force and violence on human beings and on the environment are hard to explain. The intricate relationship between manufactured objects and desires is remarkable as it structures our lives and the organization of our societies. The ongoing consumption can be considered absurd if we’re moralist or can be seen as a powerful affect, a movement of life, dreadful but still alive. I slowly realize that through all these projects, I try to understand the historical moment we’re in to transform it into an artistic form condensing all its affects.

39_39_img2822

Is the way cultural industries work still relevant or should it be renewed?

The cultural industries are going through a crisis as well as a staging of this crisis. They are experiencing real difficulties but they are also fascinated by the drama created by this death sentence. The cultural industries behave like dying gods waiting for new gods to take over. The new god is the Internet. It is both the murderer of the old media as well as the one item they all place their hopes in.

We are also transitioning from a centralized and pyramidal society to a horizontal and flat civilization, more spread out, where the center of decision is lost and where every individual has a voice. The ongoing crisis must be a symptom of this change. The industries used to impose products by appealing to our perception through advertising but now artists outside of the industry can become famous on YouTube. The industrial and postindustrial systems are obviously accomplices but there is still a friction affecting the way we create, we share and perceive.

One of the questions asked by Capture is about postindustrial production: how to transition from an object reproduced ad infinitum destined for everybody to a unique object produced for a single individual? Along the same line, mass media like TV or radio represented a very little number of channels compared to targeted audience. Internet transforms each receiver in a potential transmitter because the computer is a reversible machine. What happens to my desire in a world where everything is unique but where everything looks alike?

capture

Capture seems to be symptomatic of the Tumblr/Pinterest generation where everybody can become a curator looking for the rare find that will set them apart from the masses.

I’m indeed referring to this world where everything looks alike. When one looks at Facebook, it is easy to be disgusted by the bad taste, by the likes for some vulgar and naïve creations. At the same time, we are fascinated by this multiplicity and some time there is a genius post. It will disappear in a second, swept away by something else, but this brief moment still happened.

One must act fast in order to be the first to post the rare pearl and to be followed and reposted by million of people. We hope to be at the origin of a flux that will spread and disappear in an instant. There is a kind of beauty in the terrible fleetingness found in online celebrity.

I’ll Be Your Mirror - Grégory Chatonsky, in collaboration with Olivier Alary, Jean-Pierre Balpe et Dominique Sirois Centre des Arts Enghien-les-Bains - April 10th to July 6th 2014
All images courtesy XPO Gallery

Tags: , , , , , , , ,

By Kevin Thome de Souza

capture3The Internet has turned everybody into an artist. Anyone can now release online a video, a song or a movie for the entire world to see. This phenomenon has deeply affected the cultural industries, apparently still struggling to adjust to this new model. Grégory Chatonsky explores the limits of this model with I’ll Be Your Mirror, his new exhibition opening next month at the Centre des Arts of Enghien-les-Bains, near Paris. The entire show is based around a single project, Capturea set of generative machines producing autonomously the songs of a fictitious rock band, as well as its music videos, books and merchandising. The programs respond to each other and continuously create to the point that no human being can consume its entire production. Our desire for consumption is aroused but we soon realize that this quest for endless consumption has no point. Complex and sensible, Grégory Chatonsky’s exhibition will change your perception of the world we live in.

essai2
CAPTURE-images-43

What is the starting point of Capture and how did it evolve to integrate so many different aspects?

The project emerged from two events: the lecture of Jeremy Rifkin’s book The Age Of Access: The New Culture of Hypercapitalism and a meeting with Olivier Alary in Montreal. Olivier is a music composer who collaborated with Björk, Cat Power or Doug Aitken and I immediately wanted to work on a project with him.

There was also the context of cultural industries. It was a time where everybody kept talking about copyright, copyleft and free software and I became affected by these claims. I found odd all these people who seemed to stage the death of the cultural industries. I couldn’t help but to adopt a critical point of view because what was the meaning of this so-called death of music, cinema and written press? The Internet was held responsible since the reasons for this death were illegal downloading and the assertion of the people to transform the conditions of trade and value that are at the core of our civilization.

I tried to imagine a utopian solution to this economical problem: how to protect the economy of a rock band in the context of a global network and widespread looting? I immediately had the idea of a rock band that would be so productive that nobody could ever consume its entire production. As soon as we listen to one track, another is already produced, making it impossible to capture its actual value.

A band does not only produces songs. There are also lyrics, images, videos, merchandising, and social media interactions. In a way, a band is a model to apprehend the work of a contemporary artist whose  practice relies on a computer. This “Jack of all trades” aspect is a crucial element of our culture. We are all amateurs.

This explains the over-productive nature of Capture, but also how it keeps evolving, integrating new dimensions and options. It acts as a computer program that would continuously integrate new variables and add new plug-ins to the original project. Capture tries to reach the average aesthetics we live in, this vanilla flavor that affects every thing we listen to, watch and love. We love repetition, that a song says it is a song.

CAPTURE-images-11

How does Capture actually work?

Capture is a set of generative machines, in other words, programs producing 24/7, without ever taking a break. Each one of these machines produces something different, whether it is music, lyrics, biographies, albums reviews, interviews, social updates, music videos and so on.

They are all connected to each other. When a text is generated by a program using Google suggestions, it is automatically synchronized by a singing voice synthesizer to a MIDI file created by another program. This music is the result of a morphological model, a set of rules that tries to define what makes a Pop track. Keywords found in the lyrics of the song are then used to look for videos on YouTube. The videos are then automatically edited and uploaded back on YouTube. And so forth, until the exhaustion of perception. Capture is a network of machines that translate each other in a circular fashion. Not only does Capture go looking online for existential data in order to feed its production, but it is also active on Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. It status are either stolen from its friends or auto-generated. It can like other status or share images and links. We can even chat with it. A bot programed to have a certain personality is online 24/7.

Materialization, getting out of the computer screen is one of the fundamental dimensions of Capture. It becomes possible thanks to the convergence of generative software and postindustrial production techniques. For example, scripts edit the generated texts in InDesign to produce a unique book that will be printed by the self-publishing website Lulu. Capture only produces unique copies part of unlimited series. This axiom questions our consumerist and industrial society. If industrial techniques can produce identical objects for a large number of people, companies organize the obsolescence and rarity of their production to provoke desire. On the contrary, Capture produces continuously in order to exhaust the consumerist desire.

The exhibition at the Centre des Arts d’Enghien-les-Bains is an environment that immerses the visitors in Capture’s universe. The machine sucks up the memories they leave online. Internet is no longer a form of communication between human beings but a way for machines to discover our world, to record our emotions in their databases so they can draw statistics from them.

39_39_img2818

The exhibition seems to contain the same irony found in Telefossils. Is it a way to distance yourself from the world we live in?

I don’t know if Capture is ironic because irony can also imply some kind of complicity with the domination system in place. For me, it’s more about pushing certain tendencies of the industrial and consumerist system to unveil its contradictions.

Like with Telefossils, I try to defamiliarize what seems obvious, what we are used to in our daily life. This incongruity is applied to consumption, whose force and violence on human beings and on the environment are hard to explain. The intricate relationship between manufactured objects and desires is remarkable as it structures our lives and the organization of our societies. The ongoing consumption can be considered absurd if we’re moralist or can be seen as a powerful affect, a movement of life, dreadful but still alive. I slowly realize that through all these projects, I try to understand the historical moment we’re in to transform it into an artistic form condensing all its affects.

39_39_img2822

Is the way cultural industries work still relevant or should it be renewed?

The cultural industries are going through a crisis as well as a staging of this crisis. They are experiencing real difficulties but they are also fascinated by the drama created by this death sentence. The cultural industries behave like dying gods waiting for new gods to take over. The new god is the Internet. It is both the murderer of the old media as well as the one item they all place their hopes in.

We are also transitioning from a centralized and pyramidal society to a horizontal and flat civilization, more spread out, where the center of decision is lost and where every individual has a voice. The ongoing crisis must be a symptom of this change. The industries used to impose products by appealing to our perception through advertising but now artists outside of the industry can become famous on YouTube. The industrial and postindustrial systems are obviously accomplices but there is still a friction affecting the way we create, we share and perceive.

One of the questions asked by Capture is about postindustrial production: how to transition from an object reproduced ad infinitum destined for everybody to a unique object produced for a single individual? Along the same line, mass media like TV or radio represented a very little number of channels compared to targeted audience. Internet transforms each receiver in a potential transmitter because the computer is a reversible machine. What happens to my desire in a world where everything is unique but where everything looks alike?

capture

Capture seems to be symptomatic of the Tumblr/Pinterest generation where everybody can become a curator looking for the rare find that will set them apart from the masses.

I’m indeed referring to this world where everything looks alike. When one looks at Facebook, it is easy to be disgusted by the bad taste, by the likes for some vulgar and naïve creations. At the same time, we are fascinated by this multiplicity and some time there is a genius post. It will disappear in a second, swept away by something else, but this brief moment still happened.

One must act fast in order to be the first to post the rare pearl and to be followed and reposted by million of people. We hope to be at the origin of a flux that will spread and disappear in an instant. There is a kind of beauty in the terrible fleetingness found in online celebrity.

I’ll Be Your Mirror - Grégory Chatonsky, in collaboration with Olivier Alary, Jean-Pierre Balpe et Dominique Sirois Centre des Arts Enghien-les-Bains - April 10th to July 6th 2014
All images courtesy XPO Gallery

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