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Basing its work on the relationship between new technologies and art, the Belgium entity LAb[au] has succeeded in centering its reflection - and its production – around principles linked to architecture and urbanism. A multidisciplinary approach conveying the innovating character of architects active in the field of digital art, as demonstrated by their installation Binary Waves, last year on the Canal Saint-Denis.
Els Vermang, one of the four members of LAb[au] (with Manuel Abendroth, Jérôme Decock and Alexandre Plennevaux) says that the work of LAb[Au], form of "trans¬architecture" of an extended space, made by and around events that it hosts, is inspired by the idea of a certain continuity of a project like the Poème électronique (Elec¬tronic poem) by Le Corbusier, by a collabo-rative work of design for the Philips pavilion of the Universal Exhibition of 1958 in which took part artists like Xenakis, Agostini or Varèse, and by the prefigured conception of space, sound, image and movement in a coherent and multidisci¬plinary whole.
Els, one of the strong methodological axis of Lab[au] lies in the principle of "Metadesign", a practice that interrogates the connection between new media, techno¬logies of information and communication and their modalities of integration to the spatial constructions… MetaDeSIGN is a design philosophy deter¬mined by technologies of computation and communication aimed to create systems based on parameters and process relatively close of what we could call the parameter design or the process based art. In brief, architecture and urbanism are structural disciplines concentrating on the organization of functions while MetaDeSIGN is concentrated on the organization of information. To give an example, the luminous sculpture, interactive and kinetic Framework 5*5*5 is an architectural element that can be considered as a screen, designed to divide space and filter light but it is managed by contextual data, of the people movements around it, that constitute the Meta layer of the project.
Lab[au] is based in Brussels and has a dedicated space… In this place, the MediaRuimte ‘01t XYZ’, are located our office and our studio, as well as a gallery space managed by LAb[au]. It’s a platform for art, design and digital culture, with a programming focused on this media and its multiple forms of expression. MediaRuimte hosts different activities, exhibitions (MR.xpo), artists presentation (MR.ini), concerts or audio-visual performances (MR.wav), conferences (MR.txt), essays and studies published on line (MR.www), artists residences / artistic works production (MR.tmp), workshop (MR.exe) and our own research and deve¬lopment platform (MR.lab). This platform exists since fall 2003 and is located in the center of Brussels, the space open to the public is divided in 3 levels for a total surface of 300m2. The main intention of LAb[au] was to create an experimental platform made BY artists, FOR artists, and were experiences are shared with the public.
I was particularly interested by the "Binary Waves" installation, presented on the occasion of the exhibition Synesthésie, "Manières de fluer", during the biennial Art Grandeur Nature 2008… Binary Waves is a cybernetic urban instal¬lation based on the measure of flows and their transposition in light, sound and kinetic principles. This relationship between the installation and the urban activity is made in real time and allows the acknowledgement of the public who, as element of the urban context, becomes an element of the installation (…) that is made of a series of 32 mobile and lumi¬nous panels of 3 meters high and 60 centi¬meters large, spaced out of about 3 meters in order to form a kinetic wall. Their movement is managed by microcontrollers allowing to precisely determine the speed and the rotation angle of the panels. These microcontrollers are linked to infrared sensors, capturing electromagnetic fields, those data then determining the frequency of the impulsion and the ampli¬tude of rotation of the panels. This kinetic principle is inspired by the propagation of waves in water, element that, via the proximity of the canal, was one of the main parameters of the urban context of the installation.
Earlier on you were talking about "Framework 5*5*5*", recently presented at the Numeris Causa Gallery in Paris. It seems particularly significant of the action of Lab[au] to me. As much as the artistic result carrying out of "unlimited" serigraphies generated by a computer, and obtained from those turning frames, it is the principle of reflection around concepts of spatial and light configuration that seem to be the most important? Indeed, the sculpture F555 and the "notations" are complementary and of Dexia tower, Bruxelles. equal importance in the transcription of spatial configurations. Both medias – installation luminous-kinetic for one part, impression for the other part – visualize the concept of space and luminous confi-guration of a volume, of a frame in a frame. In addition, one of the aims of this work is the transposition of a construction and a bi-dimensional format towards a construction and a tri-dimensional format. A correlation that we can perceive in the cubes of Joseph Albers as well as in the cubes of Sol LeWitt or the hyperculbe n-dimensional of Manfre Mohr.
You also worked a lot on projects of visual and luminous covering around the Dexia Tour in Brussels… The projects on the Brussels Dexia Tower are developing three axes: interactive light (the Touch project), generative (Who’s Afraid of RGB) and performing (Spectr|a|um). We have inaugurated this cycle of projects of luminous artworks on this administrative building of 145m high, at the end of 2000, with Touch. The project allowed people to create, via a multi-tactile screen put opposite the tour, animations from points, lines and surfaces, viewed in real time on the 4200 windows composing the luminous infra-structure of the tour. Who’s Afraid of RGB was created as a series of generative works of art aiming to a permanent lighting of the tour, and centered on the abstract transcription of contextual data, like time or weather forecast. As for the Spectra|u|m project, it included audiovi-sual concerts and luminous art works made by a selection of international artists — Holger Lippmann, Limiteazero and Olaf Bender — and musicians, Balanescu Quartet and Frank Bretschneider, organized by LAb[au], that were created to view in real time sounds produced by the musicians in a specific software called "silo" (Sound In, Light Out). It is clear that the scale of those projects allows to touch a large audience. But it’s impossible to measure the quality and the accessibility of a project on the base of the size of its audience.
The Dexia Tour was also one of the broad-casting stands of the "Chrono project"… The Chrono series presents base unities of time in the primary colours of light: hours in red, minutes in green, seconds in blue. Following the principle of the synthesis of additional colour, the super-position of colours created the yellow (red and green), cyan (green and blue), mauve (red and blue), white (red, green and blue). The reduction to an abstract and geometrical language of primary colours allow to associate Chrono to the "hard edge" movement of the 60s (cf. Barnett Newman), confronting it at the same time to the parametrical approach of the programmed art. Chrono exists under different forms: luminous art exhi-bited of the twilight till dawn on the Dexia Tour in 2007, generative art turning in real time on Nintendo DS consoles or on a widget to download and finally under the shape of 24 impressions gene-rated by computer, viewing the 24 hours, equaling 86400 seconds in a day.
You were quoting Frank Bretschneider of Raster-Noton: I heard that you were still working on another project together. Can we say that there is a certain collabo-ration in time between Frank Brestschneider / Raster-Noton and Lab[au]? We met Frank at the beginning of 2006 on the occasion of a Liquid Space, our colla-borative design sessions during which we associated ourselves to local artists to create performances and audiovisual installations, during the ClubTransmediale event in Berlin. This was the starting point of our collaboration and of our friendship that still exist today. It took us to Spectr|a|um and, I hope, other future collaborations. There are several projects in sight with Raster-Noton, among which a collaboration with Olaf Bender (Byetone) and Mika Vainio, of Pan Sonic, who relea-sed several albums on the label.
Any new projects in progress? We are currently preparing an exhibition at the BOZAR, the Palais des Beaux Arts of Brussels, in the context of the Prix de la Jeune Peinture Belge, the most prestigious award dedicated to arts in Belgium, in which LAb[au] is selected as one of the 7 nominees and where we will be the first to present digital artworks in this context.
+ INFO: Website: < www.lab-au.com > MediaRuimte: < www.mediaruimte.be >
Published in the Digitalarti Mag no 00.
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anne cecile worms ARTIST, ARTWORK dm_innovation experiment experimental video and music expo paris noir et blanc photo I. P. C. Jason Cook LAb[au] mathieu lehanneur Peter William Holden tapper zeron by
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