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Text by Bethany Rex

Dislocated Flesh features the work of Julien Ottavi and Jenny Pickett. This new body of work stems from their long term collaboration exploring perception, memory and architecture. Considering physical and virtual space they are intrigued how these phenomenons influence the body, particularly in a post-human construction of society. Aesthetica spoke to Julien and Jenny about their collaborative practice:

A: When did you meet and how long after did you start to work together on your projects?

JP: Julien Ottavi and I met briefly in 2007 at DEAF – the Dutch Electronic Arts Festival. I was collaborating on a tactical media project with the artist Sunshine Frère which involved gifting hacked objects for the purpose of again reconfiguring or recording by peers. One of these objects ended up in the hands of APO33 and Julien Ottavi, we were subsequently invited to participate in ECOS rencontres in Nantes in 2007. Here Julien and I met again and go on like a house on fire. We began to exchange immediately and planning collaborations from early 2008.

JO: We are working all the time together, the ideas and projects that we come across circulate in a fast flow of exchange through practices. Our collaboration started really quickly after we met.

A: Your work explores physical and virtual space in a post-human construction of society. Does this mean that your work focuses on science fiction or the speculation on future developments in science?

JP: There is definitely an element of science fiction and/or technological, scientific futures that arise through the subjects and materials we work with, however as a focus we find the human condition or conditioning vastly complex, historically rich and still relevant to current social and political aesthetics.

JO: The concept of post-human is not only coming from science-fiction, unfortunately we are already post-human. We have somehow re-created a new environment, we are seeing the world through different filters: machines, digital, networked, speed, flying, and so forth. Our bodies have mutated through pollution, ready-made foods, GMO, preservatives, medication, prosthesis, machine parts that let us live longer and much more. The virtual space is already a place that has its own life, where odes, worms, viruses and other avatars “live”. Our work questions the “reality” that surrounds us, our future is embedded in the questions we asses in our artistic work.

A: What was the inspiration between Possession, a suspended human scale cocoon-like sound sculpture?

JO: This work has multiple roots but predominantly conjures the sense of an “in between” state of being. The cocoon is a form potentially containing all the others forms, it’s a representation of what is coming, it’s a gate between our past and our future through an instant (the flash), it is also a digestive system that transform one thing into another state. Possession is this state of becoming that goes beyond our inherent condition.

JP: The form, materials, sound and flashes of Possession could be read on a number of different ways and produce various narratives from protection, transformation, desire, aspirations and emergence. Our inspiration comes from a marriage of retinal traces, intestinal echoes and nature as we try to uncover or discover a transition, prolong an instant or discharge a reflection.

A: What experience do you hope this will create for the viewer?

JO: In Possession, there is an intense flash that almost blinds the viewer so quickly that he doesn’t know what happening, he is attracted and is slightly afraid. The cocoon represents a hidden side of our psychology. It is also a beautiful sculpture hanging in the gallery, as mystery that suddenly hatched.

JP: Possession is a large looming and tactile object in the Tenderpixel Gallery’s modest space. The sound is quiet yet intense and may cause some people to feel uncomfortable in the space, but it can also draw the viewer in to listen more closely. Then there is the light and the overall experience is perhaps perplexing but we would hope for visitors to spend a little time to contemplate this work, its ideas and meanings.

A: Moving on to the other work in the exhibition. Could you talk us through this?

JO: Radotage is a piece that brings the obsession of being in a loop, all those wigs turning endlessly, scratching the surface of a cymbal. It creates a space for listening that is both minimalist sound and repetitive visually creating a worrying strangeness.

JP: Radotage has a haunting appeal to it both sonically and visually. The piece is a reflection on aging, narrative memory and entrenched loops. Loosely translated Radotage means drivel. On another level Radotage plays with ideas of composing with these repetitive behaviours, live sampling and importantly the disturbances and difference.

A: What exhibitions are you looking forward to seeing in the coming months?

JP: I would like to catch the Anselm Kiefer show at White Cube (9 December 2011 – 26 February 2012) and Elsa Tomkowiak at Le FRAC (Fonds Régional d’Art Contemporain des Pays de la Loire) in Nantes (19 November 2011 – 22 January 2012). JO: For me it’s Memories of The Future, the Olbricht Collection (22 October 2011 – 15 January 2012) at La Maison Rouge, Paris.

A: Finally, what projects can we look forward to from you in the future?

JO: For the coming year, we are preparing a couple of projects, residencies for the spring but nothing is official for the moment. We are also working with videos/film and one of our films will be shown in March 2012 at Experimental Intermedia in New York City. In addition we have lots of performances coming up: Subtecture, Great Steaming Orchestra, Block2030, Apo33, amongst others.

JP: In addition to our personal practice we are working on different projects with our Association APO33: Open Sound Group is a European sound art network with artist run organisations from seven countries: Modus (UK), Live!iXem (Italy), Granular (Portugal), Audiolab Arteleku (Spain), Piksel (Norway), NK (Germany) and APO33 (France). We will also be working with Upstage, a virtual stage (online) along with other European partners we are collaborating on realising a new updated version of this platform which has been producing an annual online festival since 2007 for Live Networked Performances.

Dislocated Flesh by Julien Ottavi and Jenny Pickett, 02/12/2011 – 22/12/2011, Tenderpixel Gallery, 10 Cecil Court, London, WC2N 4HE.

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Caption: Courtesy the artist

Posted on 20 December 2011

Art processes can’t hide anymore in their lovely, protected tower – an interview with Julien Ottavi

Piotr Tkacz / 10 stycznia 2013 / wywiady

Piotr Tkacz: How have you began making music and what made you interested in music in the first place?

Julien Ottavi: I began making music with radio works and drumming.

I was interested in music as a fan when I was doing a radio show and a fanzine in the early nineties. My interest in music was at the beginning, when I was 15 years old, only a matter of feelings and nothing was really pre-organized.

Could you tell us a little bit about your education and how it influenced your artistic practice?

I received a MA in art, specialization in sound, composition and computer music from ERBAN (Nantes) in 2002. I had training in real-time interaction and psycho-acoustics at IRCAM in 2001. Between 1998 and 2001 I studied musique concrète under Yann Le Ru tutelage also at ERBAN. In 2000 I received DNAP (which equals BA in art) at the same school. Earlier, in 1996, I obtained economy & social sciences baccalaureate (A level). I began with drums and percussion lessons in Tours in 1995.

Of course, drumming classes, musique concrète composition and art school had a huge influence on my artistic practice. Especially in art school I explored some of the musical and visual practices, mainly in terms of critical feedback, as I was already in a self-learning process. I was far beyond my tutors in terms of music, sound art, sound poetry, types of knowledge and practices… they used to ask me to teach the others about it.

You continue with teaching or spreading the knowledge in general. You organize a lot of events, workshops and so on. Do you find those activities important? And if so – why, what are the benefits and what problems do you have to face while doing it?

For the last 10 years I organized and suggested doing many workshops, teachings, shared various kinds of knowledge about art, technologies via free software, open hardware, all sorts of DIY electronics, urban intervention and so on. Those actions are very important for me first as a self-learner still in process of learning from the others. Furthermore it is valuable for the community in order to spread ideas and share contents. But it is also very efficient way to exchange with other artists and the public the relations between art and technologies. Art processes can’t hide anymore in their lovely, protected tower. They needs to confront themselves with our modern realities. The benefits are numerous, such as discovering new things, meeting new people, exchanging on different subjects, freeing myself and my work from pre-conceived ideas and pre-made and controlled technologies. The problems that I can face are frustrated people who will abuse the trust implied by the relations of sharing your knowledge. But those people would be frustrated anywhere anytime with any other human activity. Besides, there are isolated difficulties. The real problem we could face is violence imposed upon us by industrial-militaro-politician to consume certain goods, foods, to follow certain rules or education that fits minority views. In these everyday actions that I organize with others, I always face the limits of the norm established by this machine of power and therefore the consequences have impact on people behavior, and enclosed relations to each others. A lot of work needs to be done to open people minds and change our habits that we learned almost from the day we were born!

What’s the story of Formanex, is this project still active?

Formanex is an electronic music ensemble, started in 1998, they play mainly around graphical score or new music compositions. They have played Treatise of Cornelius Cardew for 10 years, introduced by Keith Rowe.

Formanex came back to its original line up after we invited other musicians such as Christophe Havard, Laurent Dailleau to be part of the ensemble. So it’s now Anthony Taillard, Emmanuel Leduc and me.

Formanex could be considered as a trio but possibly as a larger ensemble, depending on the score or the composition we have to play.

We are actually very active as we had a couple of concerts and releases within last 2-3 years. We also asked some composers to write scores, pieces for us, such as Kasper Toeplitz, Keith Rowe, Seth Cluett and Phill Niblock. We are preparing a release of those new works.

A few years ago you began a new project, The Noiser. How does it differ from your previous works? In general, do you find a notion of progress useful when describing artistic activities – is it important for you to develop and reach new grounds?

I had created a lot of “aka” and other names in my work, this is part of my thinking and work around the notion of authorship and collective. The Noiser is an alter-ego that embrace some of my project especially those that are in relation with some others one-man-band or alter-ego name such as KKNULL, Z’EV and so on. I don’t think this work is so different from previous work. Maybe it is a question of branding as Z’EV but for me it’s more like a game with authorship and relation with the concept of individualization in relation to the idea of group, collective and our effort to identify and understand everything that is not attached to individual. This way of dealing with names is also to change somehow my point of view from my own self. In a long run it will be interesting to have a name per project or even per concert or release… to be continued.

What are the limitations of electronic music, especially the kind pursued by you, and what are the possibilities of overcoming them?

In itself electronic music doesn’t have much limitations as other type of music or human activities. I wrote an article many years ago about this subject, on this idea that electronic music doesn’t really mean anything and that the question was more about the use of the electronics in music. We are doing music with electronics instruments instead of classical instruments, the shift was conceptualized strongly by the Futurists and developed by numerous musicians and composers for the last 100 years. At some point in my work and musical research I could say that the limitations of the use of electronics in my music, more precisely or more directly, the use of computers would have been the lost of the body in the relations of the musical action. But that’s not true as I use voice, shout, sound poetry, percussions and different ways to play with computers that demand a high level of body activities. I think we should see the electronics and computer as what it is, an extension of our body and environment, even though it is taking more and more space in our everyday life activities against some other possibilities. In our case, overcoming a potential limitations will be to get rid of any technologies as such, from classical instruments (piano is a very advanced technology that requires a lot knowledge and care) to find the direct path to empowerment of the people through music.

Thanks to Maciej Janasik for his help.


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Spéciale Nantes – Apo33 & Julien Ottavi

Il n’y a pas de hasard, seulement des évidences. Parmi celles-ci, l’évidence nantaise.

APO 33 nous chatouillait l’oreille depuis un moment. Le temps est venu de parler de ce lieu labo/ performance/ partage/ réflexion. Mené et en grande partie incarné par Julien Ottavi, aka The Noiser, Apo33 représente une certaine radicalité sonore. Radicalité formelle et radicalité d’esprit. Pour la première, on vous engage à vous plonger dans les créations de Julien Ottavi, travail plastique pour les oreilles, création d’un univers rugueux, abstrait, où compte souvent le temps long. Pour la seconde, on discute ce soir avec lui du libre partage et de la libre circulation de l’œuvre. La réflexion est ancienne, se traduit par certains mots (copyleft, licence creative commons…), mais pose constamment la question de l’artiste et de son œuvre (sonore, en l’occurrence) dans un monde de plus en plus enclin aux frontières et aux péages.

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