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An interactive event at the Batofar with the musician Vadim Vernay and Motus in November, "8 Seasons" on the program of the Atrium, at Chaville in the Hauts-de-Seine, in January… Another piece, "De Chair et D'âme", in theatres soon, as well as, constantly, more awareness¬raising activities, on the interaction of multimedia and art… The multidisciplinary dance company Mobilis-Immobilis is on all the fronts. Meet the company’s director, Maflohe Passedouet.
De Chair et d'Âme
"My primary concern has always been the body, which is the natural interface of our relationship with reality, from my beginnings as a painter and a visual artist. "
When you founded Mobilis-Immobilis, a little more than ten years ago, you wanted to focus on new types of scenography that would create a link between corporal expression and new technology. Could you tell us a little more about your approach?
When I created the Mobilis-Immobilis Company in 1998, I wanted to bring together professional artists from a number of different fields, including dancers, musicians, visual artists, but also researchers and programmers. I wanted to create a space where we could work together productively, in order to develop cross¬disciplinary projects, and encourage new artistic experimentation. We also wanted to further stimulate the evolving relation¬ship between the body and technology, between the body and scenography.
My primary concern has always been the body, which is the natural interface of our relationship with reality, from my begin¬nings as a painter and a visual artist. I only realized a few years ago, however, how technology could be used to an artistic purpose, when I met Michel Bret and Marie-Hélène Tramus, research professors at the ATI laboratory of Paris 8 University. That first meeting, and my subsequent discovery of their research, changed my outlook on artistic creation, because It raised the issue of real time interactivity, which is at the heart of artistic work, as well as the relationship between people and machines, and sensorial interactivity. That encounter was what prompted me to try to combine artistic and scientific skills in the framework of artistic creation. Technology can give the artist the means to create new types of artistic expression, leading to the discovery of new systems of representation, and the expansion of the physical envelope. The show or the performance may, as a result, adopt more mobile forms, and can acquire a potential for expansion, inversion, and transformation. The coding of digital processes becomes the heart of this real time media transformation. We’ve conceived and designed our body¬interactive scenography to be complex, dynamic systems; they elicit new, rich esthetic and symbolic forms of expression, that feed off of each other. The scenic space is a laboratory which brings together various artistic disciplines, invokes scientific knowledge, and integrates, in an interactive dynamic, sound, visuals, and magic.
Indeed, this dynamic appropriation of scenic space has led to the creation of a number of rather unique performances...
That’s right, our creations often bring to light a fantasmagorical universe of moving bodies that have an impact on the audio landscape, on animated events, and on the resulting environment, be it virtual or real. Objects become autonomous, and can become rebellious, a little like in fairy tales, wherein speech gives way to sound, to the moving bodies of actors, dancers and Circassians. I’m constantly trying to create a scenography that’s similar in structure to insane art, children’s art, primitive art; a chaos-resistant scenography that celebrates onirism and childhood. 8 Seasons(1), for example, is an interactive Franco-Japanese dance performance that I created with Atsushi Takenouchi, the dancer-choreographer who invented Jinen Butoh. In Jinen Butoh, I found what I had been trying to convey in my paintings and scenography: empathy with nature, the power of the elements, a primordial dance where opposites come together to become one (the sun and the moon, life and death, light and darkness).
It’s a celebration of life where everything is connected. Thanks to a tailor-made technological system, virtual images are projected, created, and manipulated in real time… To accompany this dance of the infinite, there’s a live performance of electro¬acoustic music. It resonates with the image as it comes forth out of the air, from space, or from the inner body, and trans¬forms it into sound. We model natural sounds and reproduce them electronically, in real time, to create a deep, rich sound environment. Actually, 8 Seasons reproduces the cycles of nature, a metaphor for life's four stages: embryo, youth, maturity, old age. It's a time dance, a transcription of how the dancer crosses, and is crossed, by time, a dance like a universal prayer, a chamanic dance… We’ve just finished creating our latest multimedia choreography piece, De Chair et d’Âme, during a residency with the Fées d’Hiver (Centre de Créations en Arts Numériques (Digital Arts Creation Center) in the Hautes-Alpes region). Philippe Baudelot put it on the Novela (knowledge and innovation week) program in Toulouse as a preview. Now, of course, we're trying to distribute it…
You also work on collaborative, interactive events, such as "Résidence(s) part 3", conducted alongside Vadim Vernay and Motus at the Batofar last November…
Résidence(s) part 3 was triggered by the juxtaposition of three artistic universes: current music, acousmatic music and digital arts. It’s a visual and audio journey specially written by Vadim Vernay and spacialized by Motus during the first two residencies organized by the Batofar team. I was invited to participate in the final stage, in order to transform the boat into a gigantic interactive installation. It was an opportunity for me to work again with Fées d’Hiver’s artistic director, Erik Lorré, on building a number of different immer¬sive, interactive spaces: audio multicasting, video walls, interactive systems and digital sensors. The simultaneous stimulation of hearing, sight and touch, within an original multi¬media environment, was like an invitation to the spectator to plunge headlong into the piece of art. By walking through this giant installation, the spectator/actor would transform the images and sounds in real time, and impact the musical score as it was being played, live. Rather than approaching the audience frontally, the challenge here was to sidestep the classic concert format, and to approach the audience immersively. We wanted to show that Mobilis-Immobilis was capable of reinventing itself beyond the dance boards, capable of offering up new, creative ideas, transforming community space, and experimenting for the public. In fact, we’re being contacted by more and more musical stage performers, asking us to create interactive scenographies for their concerts.
You also conduct awareness-raising activities about the interaction between art and multimedia with children, as well as with teachers.
Yes, that’s right, mediation and awareness¬raising have been a major concern for us since the Company was first founded. We offer, and organize, workshops and training on the various new technology¬related themes that we deal with in our shows, as well as themes chosen in coope¬ration with local authorities, schools or companies. It’s a way of encouraging the exchange and the mixing of different types of know¬how and skills; we want to establish a cross-disciplinary approach to digital practice in the social, cultural and educa-tive landscape. We also run a residence at the Chaville Atrium, where the Company was created 11 years ago, and where our offices are located during the 2009/2010 season. Having the residency within the city is a way for us to have access to a rehearsal space, to present our work, and do awareness¬building activities with various segments of the local population. We’ve signed partnerships with the youth section of the Atrium, primary schools and the local education authorities in order to set up multimedia-dance workshops during the school year. We've also contacted a number of Chaville's organizations for the disabled, and set up a partnership with the Association of Parents of Learning Disabled Children. We’re offering Dance, Puppet and Multimedia workshops to a group of learning disabled young adults throughout the 2010 season.
The idea is to create a show/performance that should go up in early June at the Villette for the Futur Composé festival. I've been working on creating a link between disability, creation and multi-media for a number of years, and so I personally feel very strongly about this project.
Given that you’re already so firmly anchored in a cross-disciplinary approach, how do you see the company's work changing in the coming years?
More and more scenic creation. And longer-lasting projects… We need to promote a better understanding of what’s needed in order to disseminate this so-called “multimedia” type of performances, performances that should really be made available to audiences beyond the digital arts circuit. Thanks to multimedia, we can create "intermediary" spaces, meeting spaces, with interferences composed of movement, immediate presence, and sound matter. It’s an extra-dimensional reality that upsets traditional artistic disciplines, in a framework of sensorial transposition.
(1) 8 Seasons will be shown at the Chaville Atrium (Hauts-de-Seine region) Saturday 23 January at 8:45PM.
< www.mobilisimmobilis.com >
Published in the Digitalarti Mag #1.
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