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Light Art's Heavy-Hitters Combine Forces for "Bright Matter"

We spoke with Joanie Lemercier, the visual and new media artist who curated this show.

While working out the last details of Bright Matter, a new group show that explores, questions and redefines the creative and artistic use of light in the digital era, digital art producer Juliette Bibasse took a moment to admit she's “used to working for festivals and very short events," but this exhibition has already taken over 7 months. Starting Friday, November 21 at Muriel Guépin Gallery in New York City, the show will feature a number of works that use innovative practices, cutting-edge materials, and new technologies to highlight the ever-blurring lines between light, space, and perception.

Curated by artist Joanie Lemercier, who, in the past, has created digitized forests360-degree artworks, and hyper-detailed 3D geometries, the show features a veritable dream team of visual and new media artists including LAb[au]Numen / For UseNONOTAK, and François Wunschel. "Usually when the show starts, it's almost already over. This time, things really begin on the night of the opening, and we will have to wait to know if we succeeded in bringing together an interesting exhibition,” she explained.

The Creators Project spoke with Joanie Lemercier about his transition from large-scale digital production to meticulous gallery work, and to gain a better insight into Bright Matter:

The Creators Project: Could you talk to us about the exhibition's theme and how you went about choosing the artists?

Joanie Lemercier: The show is called Bright Matter, and it presents pieces by artists who use light as a medium, and space as a canvas. Using various techniques, they manipulate light to somehow bend our perception of reality. All the artists chosen for the show are familiar with emerging technologies, and usually work on a larger scale: Francois Wunschel from 1024 architects is mostly known for his stage design works, NONOTAK are touring the world with their audiovisual performances and installations, Numen / For Use are currently presenting a huge tape installation at Palais de Tokyo in Paris, LAb[au] has made several permanent art installations in public spaces, while many of my own projects were based on using the architecture and immersive displays as a canvas for projection.

The works selected for the show crystallizes these artists themes and visions, into smaller, subtle and more intimate pieces.

Numen/For Use, N-Light Objects, Trapezium, detail, 2008. Glass, lamps.

How did the transition between A/V creation and curation come about, and what made you do it? How did you manage to adapt your own work for the show?

Over the past few years, the canvas I’ve used for projection got bigger and bigger, from the cathedral of Breda in the Netherlands, to a big facade in South Korea, or immersive projection in a dome with Nimbes  (an immersive projection in a giant dome, with a 360-degree camera shooting at 4k resolution, laser scans, 8 projectors)...

The level of technical complexity often affects the creative workflow, and I find it very refreshing, if not salutary, to sometimes go back to small projects and simple materials. I then use mostly paper, and light, to explore how light defines the world we live in.

Numen/For Use, N-Light Objects, Membrane Cube small, 2010. Glass, CCF-lamps, custom tailored electronic. Images courtesy of the artists.

What does the gallery work add to your artistic approach?

To be honest, the change in format and scale was a bit challenging at first: I didn’t want the pieces to have audio, in order to focus purely on the visual element, as well as the practical aspect of showing works in smaller spaces. By losing the strength of synchronicity between the two senses, it felt more difficult to create impactful work, but it also forces you to try harder. My inspirations evolved a bit, and I tend to be more excited to discover the new works from James Turrell, Olafur Eliasson and Ryoji Ikeda, when a few years back, I was more into Daft Punk, Justice, and well, Ryoji Ikeda already... 

LAb[au], 0rigami1_helix, 2014. Mixed technique: SMA, OBS, MDF, paper, aluminium, custom tailored electronics. 

Can you explain your creative process for this kind of work?

I use computers and software a lot in my work, but every project now starts with a piece of paper and a pencil, to sketch the idea and narratives. Once I know where I’m going, and since my pieces often involve technology (at the moment super bright LEDs, laser cutter, and a hacked video projector), I start a long R&D phase, where I test materials to understand their properties and limits, and once I have a sufficient knowledge of the medium, I can then combine the idea and the technique together.

Joanie Lemercier, Landforms, 2014. Giclee print on paper, projection.

Your are curating this exhibition. Why have you chosen to switch sides and what do you think this will bring to your artist's career?

I can’t explain why I like bringing artists together. I did it at the time I co-founded visual label AntiVJ, and after 3 years working with Muriel Guépin, and showing works at Art fairs (Miami, Basel, SCOPE NYC), I wanted to use this opportunity to invite friends and other artists I love. This is an opportunity to put the pieces in perspective, and to create a context, that I think benefits to all the artworks.

Joanie Lemercier, Landforms_lightbox, 2014. Paper, lightbox.

François Wunschel, Rotation X, Y, Z, 2014. Lenticular print.

Could you briefly describe what works will be shown and what the audience can expect?

All pieces are silent, and based on how light defines and affects our perception of reality, using various technologies: LAb[au] is bringing two large geometric sculptures, slowly animated by servo motors, scattering light and colors, as well as a series of 3D-printed origami structures.

François Wunschel, Rotation X, Y, Z, detail, 2014. Lenticular print.

Numen is showing 2 sculptures of mirrors and light, where structures self reflects to infinity. Then comes the 100% analog pieces: Francois Wunschel is presenting a triptych of lenticular prints, that gets animated as you move around, as do Masks, the pieces from NONOTAK based on subtle shadows and moiré effects. I will be presenting a series of parametric landscapes, using different techniques: laser cutting, bright LEDs and a hacked projector.

NONOTAK, Masks 20, 2014. Plexiglass, tape.

Finally, do you have any other projects that you can briefly talk about?

Right after the NYC opening, we’re actually bringing the exhibition to Miami project, during the Art Basel Miami fair, and we’re working on bringing the show to more galleries and hopefully museums in 2015. I’m also looking for a home for a large sculpture I developed last year during a project in collaboration with Jay Z, and I want to develop more permanent pieces in public space. 

NONOTAK, Masks, detail, 2014. Plexiglas, tape.

Bright Matter, a group show featuring LAb[au], Numen / For Use, Joanie Lemercier, NONOTAK & François Wunschel , will be on display at Muriel Guépin Gallery in New York City from November 21st 2014 through January 11th 2015. Click here to learn more. 

Curator: Joanie Lemercier

producer: Juliette Bibasse

Video and Sound: Takami Nakamoto

Gallery: Muriel Guépin

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