Arcangel Constantini, Phonotube

In 1880 Alexander Graham Bell Invented the Photophone. While his earlier invention, the telephone, uses electricity to transmit voice communications, the photophone relied on a beam of light to send sound. A person's voice was projected through an instrument toward a mirror. The vibrations of the voice caused vibrations in the mirror. Sunlight was then directed into the mirror, where the vibrations were captured and projected back to the photophone's receiver where they were converted back into sound.

Bell believed that the photophone was "the greatest invention [I have] ever made, greater than the telephone". He might be right, the photophone was a precursor to the fiber-optic communication systems. The reason why the photophone didn't take off during Bell's time is simply that the system was useless whenever the weather was cloudy.

A photophone receiver and headset, one half of Bell and Tainter's optical telecommunication system of 1880 (photo)

Inspired by Bell's patent for the photophone, artist Arcangel Constantini developed the Phonotube which uses fluorescent tubes and strips of leds as light instruments and sound sequencers for audio and visual performances.

The tubes are covered with negative offset, printed with sound patterns that spin at variable speeds. The oscillation from the light emitted by these patterns is transduced into sound processes by light excitation, through a variety of electronic circuits as pre-amps photo-cells and photodiodes, voltage control oscillators, relays, circuit Filters, 1bit systems.

The Phonotube is part of the program of the Sight + Sound festival which will take place in Montreal next month. And because i've been admiring Arcangel's work from afar on too many occasions, i thought i should take the upcoming festival as an excuse to get in touch and interview him about the work.

Phonotube Live : Calit2 auditorium UCSD " three junctures of remix" 2013

Phonotube Live : Calit2 auditorium UCSD " three junctures of remix" 2013

Hola Arcangel! Reading through the description of the Phonotube on your website, i had the felling (perhaps wrong) that it relies on a fairly simple technology. Is that correct? How much did you have to tweak.improve/modify the Graham Bell patent for the Photophone?

In reality, it is a very simple technology, the patent is very crude, clever and significant. It is about the transmission of information using vibrating light, Graham Bell state that this was his legacy to human kind and this is true.

We perceive our surroundings because of light oscillations, our retina transmits the perception of the visible spectrum of light to the part of the brain that interpret this light frequencies as images.

Every aspect of reality is on its own frequency, mystics knew this by meditation and contemplation, science by theory and experimentation, all this intermingling knowledge is a legacy, Graham Bell had an intuition on how to manipulate light to integrate information on it, and with this started a revolution. I'm interested in researching this simple perception principles through art practice, in exploring the meanings and implications while experimenting with the process.

Phonotube is part of this research, based on a simple principle, in this case experimenting with fluorescent lights. To energize this kind of lamps, a transformer and electronic circuit are used to generate high voltage in a high frequency energy, the gas inside the lamp is expelled and turns into a light that is vibrating to this energy frequencies. The light produced is a kind of carrier, the repetitive patterns printed in the tube give a new oscillation to this light, small Photocells are transforming light into electrons, this energy is pre-amplified to audible sound, and processed trough filters. Furthermore, a circuit with Photo diodes is used as a variable for Low Fidelity Voltage Controlled Oscillators.

A second sound artifact uses a strip of LED lights inside a transparent Tube. A series of AtTiny85 microcontrollers are programed in 1 bit sound (1, 0) that produce light pulsations on each of these LEDS. Small photocells and a pre-amplifier Circuit transform these pulsations into audible sound. OculO is another instrument involved in the performance, it uses a Joule thief hack from a disposable camera that energizes a 22 watt circular lamp with a 1.5 volt battery. Photocells transform the gaseous light into sound. These energy frequencies and the electromagnetic induction become part of the sound performance of OculO. I also interact directly with my body, canalizing energy by receiving tiny electroshocks in my fingers trough contact with the electrodes and the lamps.

Phonotube & OculO Live : -->Metting Point<-- CasaDaros Rio De Janeiro / OculO

Arcangel Constantini, OculO

You use the Phonotube in performances but is it an instrument anyone could use? I suspect many people in the audience wouldn't mind to have a go and play a bit with it? is it intuitive or is there a steep learning curve to be able to play the instrument?

I started to explore this project as an installation for stop motion animation, in the style of Emontiscope or seminscope.

Phonotube is still an experiment. I have tested different sound circuits. The intensity of the sound frequencies in its current state are meant for live performance. I included small speakers on it, thinking that it could be used by the public also as an installation, as it is simple and intuitive to use. Now, the speakers are used during the performance to Generate some EVP, Electronic Voice Phenomena using piezoelectrics directly on the speakers, performing it with OculO turn into a spectral portal.

seminscope, Laboratorio de Arte Alameda Mexico, 2005

The descriptive text says that the Phonotube was "inspired by visuals experimenters as Norman Mclaren, that used the optical sound of cinema, reversing the process to experiment with it." I looked online but didn't find much information about McLaren's experimentations. Could you tell us what they were about?

Norman is a pioneer of experimental sound and animation. He was artist in residence with the National film Board of Canada, he started to work directly in clear film, drawing, scratching, painting the material to produce abstract Motion films. This lead him to invade the film area dedicated to the optical sound. Fascinated by the abstract Sound Frequencies archived by different visual patterns, and how sound worked in synchronicity to the visuals, he started to produce an Impressive work using this techniques.

Arcangel Constantini, Phonotube

Arcangel Constantini, Phonotube

The description also said that "In the history of the invention of electronic instruments, the study of light and its behavior as a particle or wave, and its application to sound processes (...) is currently, one of the areas of scientific research with the greatest potential in human communication." Now that sounds really interesting. Do you have examples of how the study of the behaviour lights can lead to innovative means of communication?

Most Telecommunications nowadays are based on light transmission, fiber optic cables crisscross the planet connecting the continents transmitting terabytes of data using laser technology.

There is an important research in the spectrum of visible light to transmit wireless data, instead of electromagnetic radio WiFi. The researchers are using pulsating Led light to transmit data with a huge increment in broadband velocity.

There is also the fantastic research on Quantum teleportation that tries to establish instant communication between photons separated by large distances, the record now is 143 km,

Arcangel Constantini, Phonotube

The object looks stunning. I really like its simple and striking design. How important is the visual aspect of the Phonotube in your performances?

Gracias Régine. As i mentioned, the research started as a visual project. Aesthetics become very important in its relation to sound. The tube has an the aura of a partitur. The intensity of the sound frequencies of the Low Fi oscillators are meant for live performance, the plan is to develop the project as an instrument, but as the lamps are no longer on production there is now an obsolete quality to it. The light of the lamps is the only light on stage, and for Sound & Sight performance will explore the use of analog video filming the tube.

Thanks Arcangel!

Previously, by the same artist: Nanodrizas, "flying" saucers for polluted waters, Net-art wrestling match.

Also at the Sight + Sound festival in Montreal: Crystal forming robots.

Sponsored by:

Christian Faubel, Crystal forming robots on overhead

The Crystal Forming Robots are little autonomous robots that are placed on an overhead projector. Each robot is powered by the light of the projector and their movements over its surface make tangible the growth process of crystal structures.

When a robot has collected enough energy, it will start moving around. The robots are equipped with tiny magnets, and as soon as two robots with matching polarity come close, they attract each other. Over time, more and more pairs of robots form, create larger clusters and a crystal like structure eventually emerges. The overhead projector magnifies the process into an abstract movie.

The background of this work are the early experiments of cybernetician Gordon Pask on building a chemical computer as a learning system. With the help of software simulation the idea of a growing structure that modifies its own perception of the environment is illustrated. The robotic implementation of the growth process is a first step towards making such a process tangible.

The robots are going to be presented in a performance and exhibition at the Sight + Sound festival in Montreal next month. The programme of the event is, as usual, rather exciting. Sadly, i can't make it to Montreal so i figured out that the next best thing would be to talk to some of the artists who will be there. Hence this little Q&A with Christian Faubel...

Photographs of a clustering sequence, it took approximately 20 minutes for the final structure to build

Hi Christian! I'm very curious about the way the little bots move in this video. For example, what happens when they all get immobile? Is the system 'trying to figure out' what to do next? What controls the behavior of the robots? Why do some move and others are more passive? Is there a hierarchy?

There is no hierarchy, each of the robots is fully autonomous and triggers a movement when it has collected enough energy through its solar panel. Even though they are all built with the same components, they may have variations in timing and duration of their movement. These variations appear because the components are not perfect, they have physical differences and theses differences contribute to the behavior of the robots. Another contribution to differences in behavior, is the fact that environmental conditions on the ohp vary, in the center there is stronger light and thus more energy for the robots to harvest. As a consequence robots in the center move more often than those on the borders.

Your description of the text talks about parasites and ecosystems. The way the robots move has something a bit organic. It's particularly uncanny in the video version with colorful umbrellas. How important is the observation or imitation of nature when you're developing robotic artworks?

I see most of my robotic artworks as reflections on nature, I consider these robots as philosophical toys because they make the abstract concepts of autonomy and self-organisation tangible. These concepts were developed to describe and understand the way behavior is organized in living beings. So i think that ideally the artworks tell us something about ourselves.

The crystal forming robots are actually an experimental platform that i keep working on as part of my artistic research at the lab3. The first version, that is also documented in the video, had rectangular shapes, while I am currently working with hexagonal shapes. This local difference in shape has global effects in form of the growing shapes. My next step is to add contact points on the robots, so that when they cluster electrical connections are created. Once i have this in place there are so many experiments to do with growing electrical connections, i am really looking forward to this.

What is the 'diffusion limited aggregation algorithm', developed for simulating crystal growth? Can you explain us how it works?

The diffusion limited aggregation algorithm was developed and described in a seminal paper by Witten and Sander in the 80ties to simulate crystal growth processes. [Witten, T. t., and Sander, L. Diffusion-limited aggregation. Physical Review B 27, 9 (1983).]

The basic principle is to simulate particles that do a random walk (diffusion), when they hit a structure (by chance), they attach to that structure (aggregation). The structure is initialized with a single element, over time more and more particles dock onto the structure and a crystal like structure will form.

When you google for it you will find an overwhelming number of beautiful implementations in processing. Andy Lomas presented very nice simulations on Siggraph in 2005. I became interested in this algorithm by a general interest on growth processes and specifically through works such as Roots by Roman Kirschner, which took the works of Gordon Pask on building a chemical computer as starting point. My research on this topic is documented in a seminar on plasticity. When you scroll down you will also find some examples of experiments on crystal growth, as well as some simulations with the diffusion limited aggregation algorithm.

"Over time a crystal like structure emerges from more and more little robots forming larger clusters." What happens once the structure has been formed? is the bots work over and done? or do they separate and start again the clustering process?

0allelelti9390.jpgDetail of the current hexagonal prototype

No they will not separate again, the whole process runs into one direction and after an hour or more there will usually be only one single big structure. The robots need to be reset manually when the process has converged. I would say that the experiment is finished, when the process has converged and that you then start another experiment, by putting the robots apart again. What you will observe over the course of multiple experiments is that the shapes that form are always different in detail, but structurally similar.

I saw on the festival program that you will also take part in a Monochrome Layering performance at the festival. Will the Overheadbots be part of the events? Or are you going to do something that has nothing to do with them?

The overheadbots have a lot to do with the performance. When we (Tina Tonagel, Ralf Schreiber and myself) started to work on our performance project some years ago, the overheadbots were sort of a trigger for this project. In our performance, the key is the simultaneity of sound and vision. We place kinetic objects such as for example overheadbots, but also all different kind of small robots or self build instruments on the ohp and we use pick-up microphones to amplify the sound that they make when moving. So that in parallel to the moving shadow, or moving light you also hear the sound of the movement.
this is maybe best captured in these two videos:

Kunst und Musik mit dem Tageslichtprojektor @ Designacademy Eindhoven

Performance at the Shinytoys festival, September 2011

Why do you chose to work mostly with analog robots?

I like the openness of analog circuits. You don't need to implement any sort of digital communication protocol to link up to a device. Instead you can couple thinks by simply putting a cable that creates electrical connection. For example the when the crystal forming bots are equipped with contacts, so that an electrical connection between them is created, it is enough to put that connection in between the trigger points of the two circuits and the robots will from the moment the connection is created move in synchrony. This happens without any re-programming or other re-configuration.
Another aspect of analog robots is their adaptivity to variations in the environment, that comes as an emergent property. As a matter of fact the behavior of these robots look very organic. I have explored this in more detail in a paper and presentation i gave last year at the xcoax conference in Bergamo http://2013.xcoax.org/pdf/xcoax2013-faubel.pdf.

Conceptually i like the concept of the analog, not in difference to digital computation, but estimating in contrast to counting. i have been influenced a lot by the book Analogous and Digital of the German designer and typographer Otl Aicher. In this book he writes for example that a digital clock always shows the time precisely to the second. It provides you with exact numerical values, but the landscape of time, whether it is morning or afternoon, too early or too late, i can easier deduce from the positioning of the clock hand on the clock face.

Speaking with Otl Aicher i would say that i am more interested in the landscapes than in numerical measures.

Thanks Christian!

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

In 1800, Alessandro Volta made the first electro chemical battery. The 'voltaic pile' demonstrated that a moist, porous material sandwiched between two dissimilar metals can produce an electrical current. The scientist tested several metals and found that zinc and silver gave the best results.

In his experiment, Volta used a disk of copper, covered it with a disk of cloth soaked in brine (i.e., the electrolyte), and stacked that with a disk of zinc. He repeated the copper-cloth-zinc disks piling up until the pile reached a height of about 30 cm. The positive end of the pile is the bottom copper disk, and the negative end is the zinc disk on top.

Volta's experiment was re-enacted on a gigantic scale at the Age of Wonder festival a few weeks ago in Eindhoven. Or maybe i should write that Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty re-enacted the re-enactment of the voltaic pile discovery that media art pioneer Dick Raaijmakers realized in 1995. Raaijmakers (or Raaymakers) is regarded as one of the founders of the Dutch electronic music. He is also closely connected to Eindhoven through his research at the Natlab (Philips Research Laboratories) in the fifties.

Dick Raaymakers at the Philips NatLab (image via V2_)

Over the course of a several hour long performance, the Volta team built up a giant and foul-smelling pile that alternated copper plates, clothes drenched in acid and zinc.

I didn't stand and stare until the final moments of the performance but I wish i had. The goal was to use the oversized battery to produce enough energy for one light bulb, suspended from the ceiling. I might have missed the grand finale but i've nevertheless been impressed by this over-sized lesson in physics and by the calm, repetitive gestures required to light up a mundane bulb for a few seconds. Also, it's always good to be reminded what a genius Raaijmakers was.

Thus, the audience can experience the relation between the invested labor and the resulting electric energy. And also, how and why the original visual quality of this 'proto-element' has been lost in favor of the efficiency of the modern battery. 'Volta' intends to recreate this lost plasticity, if only for a single moment.

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Michiel Pijpe and the Artscience Interfaculty, Volta, Dick Raaijmakers ('95) at the Age of Wonder Festival. Photo by Sas Schilten

Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

I've been hearing about, seeing and discussing the work of Antonin Fourneau for a few years now. I even met him and played with his works on more than one occasion. Yet, I never took the time to properly sit down and have an online interview with him. I'm sure many of you have read about Antonin's rather magnificent Water Light Graffiti or about his interactive pieces that revisit and reposition classic video games. Maybe i'll sit down again one day and interview him about his artworks but right now, i felt it was high time to get him to talk about ENIAROF, the geeky funfair he's been orchestrating since 2005. Eniarof looks like nothing you've ever experienced. It's like a very wild, very Far West version of a digital art festival, with elements of village fair, hacker meeting and circus thrown here and there.

Eniarof is a reinvention of the funfair where the concept of the attraction becomes an excuse for art. The creators of each Eniarof take their inspiration from popular culture, ancestral and new, obeying the rules of the "Dogmeniarof". Karaoke, Lucha Libre, video games, art installations, performances, gory films and curiosity cabinets can all be found on the jolly & unprejudiced grounds of the Eniarof funfair.

The last edition of Eniarof looked a bit like this....

Eniarof Aix 2013. Video by Alex "A2HN" Napoli

And without further ado, here's what Antonin had to tell us about Eniarof. Scroll down if you prefer to read the interview in its original version (french).

Hi Antonin! What is the story of ENIAROF?

I was a student at the Art School of Aix-en-Provence when I started Eniarof. The idea for the project started to germinate in 2004 when I was participating in the exhibition Power at Villette Numérique with the collective Téléférique.

The piece "Fan" contained already quite a few tracks for collaborative collaboration that i wanted to keep persuing in the future. At the same time, entertainment industry workers with intermittent contracts were protesting in France. In the context of the scandal of amusement park employees (Mickey, Minnie and the others) working all year long but under a casual employment contract, I had the opportunity to read an article about the disappearance of funfair model in favor of a business model closer to the amusement park. The article also echoes Rem Koolhaas' book Delirious New York in which I discovered that an attraction was a rather interesting object at the crossroad between installation, pop culture and innovation.

I was just missing the artistic 'Freaks' side that you could find in a fun fairs but not in an amusement parks. Then I simply asked myself about the kind of environment I would have liked to evolved after art school and the idea of working exclusively in the digital art world was freaking me out. It felt like a ghetto that lacked the recognition from the art world and refused to embrace its popular side.

That was in 2005 and now the situation has changed a little: people are more tech-savvy thanks to the smartphone in the pocket, they are also more comfortable with the idea of ​​interacting. But when I created Eniarof, my idea was to decompartmentalize digital creation as much as possible and to disinhibit it while mixing it with other forms of interaction, with the public but without a computer. I thought it needed ​​different degrees of public interaction. So in general people go through an arcade with a new breed of interaction then they'd venture to slip on a jumpsuit made out of tyre to play 'pogo bumper car' or wear a wig to play HardRock simply by shaking their head. That's how Eniarof was born.

One Life Remains, Slam Of The Arcade Age. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Eniarof Aix 2013 photo by Manuel Braun

How did it grow from a student project to a village fair slash high tech geek festival that counts 13 editions?

I've always been bad at promoting Eniarof. If you search online, you'll need to fish for information. Nonetheless, whenever I had the opportunity to present the project, I found that people were seduced by the concept. Soon enough we received proposals from festivals or cultural structures that were willing to welcome us just through word of mouth. I did not want to confine the project to a repetitive formula that would be presented each year at the same place. When I launched the project I was talking about a 'downloadable' funfair and I imagined a system of fair that would be easily duplicable. A bit like Dorkbot or Maker Faire. In the end, Eniarof did not go in that direction and I think that ultimately what we managed produce with our Eniarofer group is a kind of family and festive cohesion even though we meet only once or twice per year but the public knows us and returns because Eniarof's atmosphere cannot easily be compared to anything else.

Then there must have been a small evolution over the past few years because even the City of Poitiers called us to organize Eniarof 12 in a space of Blossac Park in connection with their Christmas fair. Eniarof is quite a polymorph party that comes with an array of representations and organizations that vary depending on the context. The Eniarof we ran in Aix-en-Provence or in Slovenia in collaboration with organizations that trust us have turned into real residence laboratories to build over a short period of time (2 to 3 weeks) what were essentially new attractions. In other Eniarof, you get 50% new attractions and 50% attractions that are already running with success and that guarantee a good atmosphere.

Arcade Backpack (UCLA) @Eniarof, ESAAix with the Eniarof Fanfare next to the town center of Aix. Photo Daan de Lange

Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

There is an ENIAROF dogma, however, the event is still in the hands of a lot of improvisation, DIY, freedom, and collective efforts. So i suspect that things might not always run smoothly. What have you learnt over the editions of ENIAROF?

The main objective of the Dogmeniarof is to set the tone and give an idea of ​​the spirit of Eniarof but in reality we hardly ever fully comply with the rules of Dogmeniarof.

What works, what doesn't?

We could say that, in general, what does not work anymore in an edition of Eniarof is something that used to work well. For example, this year, we have a sound fencing game that met with such success that on the first night someone ripped the device cable from the wall. Which is great and proves that an attraction works when you do not even have to explain people how to play with it.

Monsieur Moo, Brouette Tuning. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Alexandre Saunier, Helmetron. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Douglas Edric Stanley

I'm curious about some of the projects shown during the last ENIAROF in Aix-en-Provence. In particular: the Wheelbarrow (Brouette tuning), Helmetron, and Arcade Concrete. Could you tell us a few words about these works?

Brouette Tuning first appeared in 2007 during the Eniarof in Slovenia. We've since presented it at 4 or 5 editions of Eniarof. This is a piece by Maxime Berthou aka Mr. Moo. It embodies in an object what Enairof is: pimped recycling, a touch of technology, mobility and lots of fun. The wheelbarrow is our best way to attract people. Just go out in the street with it and people wonder what's this UFO.

Helmetron was created by Alexandre Saunier and piloted as an Eniarof trio with Douglas Edric Stanley and me.

A few words of explanation from the author:
This is a light and sound instrument for computer. A bit like Isaac Asimov's Visi-sonor in the Foundations series except that here, the computer is the interpreter. In the end, we are immersed in the very heart of the computer and in its data stream, we are bathed in the files it reads and converts into light and sounds. It's 'glitch', it's hardcore, it looks a bit like a digital machine dream, it's a bit like Tron but without Disney's special effects.

Alexandre Saunier, Helmetron. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Two of my favourite anecdotes:

A guy took off the helmet and asked me:
" - What's the color inside the helmet?"
" - There's only orange, it's the only light I'm sending at the moment"
" - Oh, right, I was wondering cuz I've seen some green, blue, white and orange."

And then there was this girl who was shaking and trembling from time to time, I was afraid she was epileptic. When she took off the helmet she told me that she felt like she had tiny animals, insect-like, that were walking on her.

Otherwise what is interesting is that the reaction of people is always different, depending on their physiology / nervous system, some see circles, other see fractals, colors, etc.
What attracted me to his work is its Clockwork Orange 2.0 side which I think very few people would have enjoyed in another context. Here, however, we had people queuing to scan the mazes of the computer. This is one of the reason for Eniarof success: we take the public on board by mixing borderline and conceptual things in many different experiences and the public completely indulges.

Antonin Fourneau and Manuel Braun, Arcade Concrete. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Arcade Concrete is a project I developed with Manuel Braun with whom I've done several pieces (Patch&ko, Eggregor8, MadNes, Domoludens, spongegame ... ) which often revolve around the idea that the game interface can be sculpture material like any other and this sculpture material involves specific mechanisms and forms related to the gameplay of the software. It's as if every video game could get a materialization of its physical interface other than the standardized one and this materialization would involve a re-reading of its gameplay.

The context of the game offers an interesting space to observe our behavior. The halls of game arcades in the '80s and '90s used to play the role of physical and community space of video games. Arcades then disappeared in favor of 'in-house' games. And finally the video game is back in the urban space thanks to mobile devices. Arcade Concrete questions the place of video games in urban space. Playing on your iPhone in the underground is not the same as standing in front of a terminal and playing in front of everyone. There is now a terminal that sits at the entrance to the Art School of Aix-en-Provence and it became a space for discussion. Our objective is to multiply performances by casting terminals all over the world. A bit like Invader pasting mosaics, we will try and optimize the placement of a terminal and we will write down a user manual in the Eniarof book.

Antonin Fourneau and Manuel Braun, Eggregor, 8 players are 1 pacman and try to play together. Photo decept.org

Antonin Fourneau and Manuel Braun, Eggregor. Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

And if you had to chose 5 projects shown at ENIAROF over the years, which ones would they be?

We have quite a few projects that have become "best playable" and that got more exposure such as:

Hyper Olympic by Djeff Regottaz and Loic Horellou where you play a remake of Track & Field with a very physical interface. It has now become a staple of festivals and it makes for a great atmosphere.

The Hyper Olympic Party - Parizon@dream - Gaïté Lyrique - June 9, 2012 - Dekalko

Eggregor8 by Manuel Braun and myself where 8 people play Pacman at the same time, as if 8 people were using the same joystick.

What's funny is that in 2010 there was a video game exhibition at the Centre Pompidou and most of the works invited were Eniarof pieces but they didn't even realize that the pieces were connected.

We could call it the BeaubourgNiarof.

There's also a work called "A battre" which Raphael Isdant created during the second edition of Eniarof in Aix-en-Provence. That one traveled a lot too.

Raphael Isdant, A BATTRE

There are also works that are either more unexpected or more specific to Eniarof Aix-en-Provence.

Such as Pogo Tamponneuse, a fighting ring where you need to put on a suit made of tyre in order to face your opponent. Video soon!

Or the Fucking Machine battle which was a bit borderline and totally surrealist.


Eniarof Aix 2013. Photo by Manuel Braun

Eniarof has a dogma that mentions that ENIAROF has to take place in the proximity of an Emmaüs. Could you tell us why?

Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg's Dogme 95 often refers to economy of means. When I mounted Eniarof, my goal was to avoid going overboard with projects that swallow too much money simply because I could see that there was no budget for young artists. At the time, I was often hanging out in Emmaus where I saw many materials that Emmaus did not necessarily know what to do with. In addition, it is often nice to recycle, it gives you the feeling of having done something ecological.

Another thing that surprised me in the dogma is that the barman is paid as much as an artist. Why do you think it is important that every participant receives the same fee?

At the beginning of my career as an artist I was horrified to see that a festival was paying the guard or the bartender more than they were paying me. I wondered what was the future for us if artists were forced to sell themselves off just to get some exposure. Add to that that during this festival my work ended up being destroyed. Fortunately, the trend has now reversed for me, but it used to be a bit of a rule to remind me that I don't sell off artists the way i was sold off.

The Book of Eniarof

What is next for ENIAROF?

We're working on a book.
We have a call for donations on KissKissBankBank.

We are also in touch with people on the other side of the Atlantic and the Mediterranean to make other editions of Eniarof over there but nothing's confirmed so I won't speculate too much.

Thank you Antonin!

If you want to see more images of Eniarof, check out:
Antonin's flickr set.
Daan de Lange flickr set.
The very staged HEAD Media Design flickr set.

Eniarof Aix 2013 photo by Manuel Braun

Eniarof Aix 2013 photo by Manuel Braun

If after this long interview you're still wondering what Eniarof is, this video might enlighten you:


and now for ze frenchy version:

What is the story of ENIAROF?

J'était étudiant à l'Ecole d'art d'Aix-en-Provence lorsque j'ai démarré Eniarof.
L'idée du projet a commencé à germer en 2004 lorsque j'ai participé à l'exposition "Power" à Villette Numérique avec le Collectif Téléférique :

La pièce collaborative "Fan" du collectif regroupée déjà pas mal de piste de création collaborative que je voulais mener à l'avenir. Puis à la même époque nous avions des soulèvement intermittent en France. Avec le scandale des employés des Parc d'Attractions (mickey, Minie et autres) travaillant à l'année mais considéré comme des intermittents, j'ai eu l'occasion de lire un article sur la disparition du modèle de Fête Foraine d'avant au profit d'un business modèle plus proche du parc d'attraction. L'article faisait aussi écho au livre New York Délire de Rem Koolhas dans lequel j'ai pu découvrir qu'une attraction était un objet assez intéressant entre installation, culture pop et innovation.

Il me manquait juste le côté Freaks artistique que l'on trouve dans un fête foraine mais peu dans un parc d'attraction. Je me suis ensuite simplement demandé dans quel milieu j'aimerai évolué après l'école d'art et la vision d'oeuvrer seulement dans le milieu art numérique me faisait flipper. J'avais la sensation d'un milieu ghetto en manque de reconnaissance du milieu de l'art et ne voulant pas embrassé son côté populaire.

C'était en 2005 et maintenant la donne a un peu changé les gens sont plus numérisés avec des smartphones dans la poche et plus à l'aise avec l'idée d'interaction. Mais à l'époque au moment où je fonde Eniarof mon idée était de décloisonner un maximum la création numérique et la décomplexer tout en la mélangeant avec d'autres formes d'interaction avec le public et sans ordinateur. Je pensais qu'il fallait apporter différents degrés d'interactions au public pour le décomplexer. Ainsi en général les gens passe par une salle de jeux vidéo revisités avec des formes d'interactions qu'ils connaissent pour ensuite oser s'aventurer à enfiler une combinaison en pneu pour faire du pogo tamponeuse ou encore enfiler une perruque pour jouer du HardRock simplement en secouant la tête. Ainsi Eniarof est né.

How did it grow from a student project to a village fair slash high tech geek festival that counts 13 editions?

J'ai toujours assez mal communiqué sur Eniarof il n'y a qu'a regarder sur le Net il faut partir à la pêche aux information. Cependant à chaque fois que j'ai eu l'occasion de présenter le projet les gens ont accroché au concept. Donc assez vite on a eu des propositions de festivals ou structures qui voulaient nous accueillir simplement grâce au bouche à oreille ils ont entendu parlé du projet. Je ne voulais pas enfermer le projet dans un projet récurent qui serai présenté chaque année au même endroit. A l'époque où j'ai lancé le projet Je parlais d'une fête foraine téléchargeable j'imaginais un système de fête duplicable facilement. Un peu à l'image des Dorkbot ou Maker Faire. Mais eniarof n'a pas vraiment pris cette direction et je crois que finalement ce que nous arrivons à produire avec notre bande d'Eniarofer c'est une sorte de cohésion familiale et festive même si on ne se retrouve que 1 ou 2 fois par an le retour du public qui nous connait est que l'ambiance dans un Eniarof et difficilement comparable à autre chose.

Ensuite il y eu une petite évolution ces dernières année car lors du Eniarof 12 c'est carrément la Ville de Poitiers qui a fait appel à nous pour occuper un espace du Parc de Blossac dans la continuité de leur fête foraine de Noël. Eniarof est une fête assez polymorph qui a un tas de représentation et organisation différentes selon le contexte où nous sommes. Les Eniarof que nous avons mené à Aix-en-provence ou en Slovénie dans des structures qui nous font confiance étaient l'occasion de vrai laboratoires de résidence pour quasiment construire en un temps court (2 à 3 semaines) essentiellement de nouvelles attractions. Dans les autres Eniarof c'est un 50/50 de nouveautés et d'attractions qui roulent déjà bien et garantissent la bonne ambiance.

There is an ENIAROF dogma, however, the event is still in the hands of a lot of improvisation, DIY, freedom, and collective efforts. So i suspect that things might not always run smoothly. What have you learnt over the editions of ENIAROF?

Le DogmeNiarof est surtout là pour donner le ton et une idée de l'esprit dans lequel se déroule un Eniarof après effectivement on est très rarement dans le respect intégral des règles du dogmeniarof. (je vais te donner un lien URL du dogme on est en train de refaire le site)

What works, what doesn't?

On dit en général que ce qui ne marche plus lors d'un Eniarof est quelque chose qui a bien marché. Par exemple cette année on un jeu d'escrime sonore qui a super bien marché. Tellement que dés le 1° soir quelqu'un a arraché le dispositif de câble du mur. Ce qui est génial et prouve qu'une attraction marche c'est quand on n'a même pas à expliquer aux gens comment jouer avec notre attraction.

I'm curious about some of the projects shown during the last ENIAROF in Aix-en-Provence. In particular: the Wheelbarrow (Brouette tuning), Helmetron, and Arcade Concrete. Could you tell us a few words about these works?

Brouette Tuning est apparue en 2007 pour le Eniarof en SLovénie et fût présenté à 4 ou 5 Eniarof depuis. C'est une pièce de Maxime Berthou aka Monsieur Moo. C'est un symbole concentré en un objet de ce qu'est Enairof : de la récupération pimpée, un zeste de technologie, de la mobilité et beaucoup de fun. La brouette c'est notre meilleur moyen pour attirer du monde. Il suffit de sortir dans la rue avec et les gens ce demandent c'est quoi cette ovni.

Helmetron est une création de Alexandre Saunier qui a quasiment drivé Eniarof en trio avec Douglas Edric Stanley et moi.
Quelque mot de l'auteur pour quelques explications :
C'est un instrument lumineux et sonore pour ordinateur. Un peu comme le luminophone d'Isaac Asimov dans le cycle des fondations mais ici c'est l'ordinateur qui est l'interprète. Au final on plonge dans au coeur meme de l'ordi et on vit ses flux de données, on est stimulé au fil de ses fichiers qu'il lit et qu'il transforme en lumière et en sons. C'est glitch, c'est hardcore, ca fait un peu pensé à une dream machine numérique, c'est un peu comme Tron mais sans les effets spéciaux à la Disney.

Pour les anecdotes, mes deux préféré:

-> un mec a enlevé le casque et m'a dit
"Y'a quoi comme couleur dans le casque?"
"y'a que du orange, c'est tout ce que j'envoie comme lumière pour le moment"
"Ah. j'me demandais, perso j'ai vu du vert, du bleu, du blanc et du orange."

-> y'a une nana qui avait des secouses/frémissements de temps en temps, j'ai eu peur qu'elle soit épileptyque d'ailleurs^^
quand elle a enlevé le casque elle m'a dit qu'elle avait l'impression d'avoir des petits animaux, genre insectes, qui se baladait sur elle.

Sinon ce qui est intéressant c'est que la réaction des gens est toujours différente et dépend de leur physiologie/système nerveux, certain voients des cercles, des fractales, des couleurs...

www.alexandresaunier.com .
Ce qui m'a séduit dans sa pièce est le côté Orange Mécanique 2.0 auxquels je pense peu de gens auraient adhéré dans un autre contexte mais là on avait une queue de gens qui voulaient scanner les méandres de l'ordinateur. C'est une de nos réussite dans Eniarof en mélangeant des choses à la fois borderline et conceptuel on arrive à embarquer le public dans plein d'expériences différentes et il s'y livre avec plaisir.

Arcade Concrete

C'est un projet que j'ai réalisé avec Manuel Braun avec qui j'ai réalisé plusieurs pièces (Patch&ko, Eggregor8, MadNes, Domoludens, spongegame...) qui tournent souvent autour de l'idée que l'interface de jeu peut être un matériaux de sculpture comme un autre qui implique des mécanismes et formes particulières liées au gameplay du software. Un peu comme si chaque jeu vidéo pouvait avoir une matérialisation de son interface physique autre que standardisé et qui impliquerai une relecture de son gameplay. Le contexte du jeu est un bel espace d'observation de nos comportements. les salles de bornes d'arcades dans les années 80-90 jouaient pour nous ce rôle d'espace physique et communautaire du jeu vidéo. Les salles d'arcades ont ensuite disparu au profit des jeu en salon. Et finalement le jeu vidéo est revenu dans l'urbain au travers des dispositif mobiles. Arcade Concrete est un questionnement sur la place du jeu vidéo dans l'espace urbain. Ce n'est pas la même chose de jouer sur son iphone dans le metro que de s'afficher devant tout le monde debout entrain de jouer devant une borne. Il y a maintenant une borne qui trône à l'entrée de l'école d'Art d'Aix-en-provence et c'est devenu un lieu de discussion. Notre idée est de multiplier les performances en coulant des bornes un peu partout dans le monde. Un peu à la Invaders qui pose ses mosaïques nous on va chercher à optimiser la pose d'une borne et on va rédiger un mode d'emploie dans le livre Eniarof.

And if you had to chose 5 projects shown at ENIAROF over the years, which ones would they be?

On a pas mal de projets qui sont devenu des "best playable" et les plus exposés comme :
hyperolympic de Djeff Regottaz et Loic Horellou où vous jouez à un remake de track'n field avec une interface de jeu très physique qui est devenu maintenant un incontournable des festivals pour mettre la grosse ambiance.

The Hyper Olympic Party - Parizon@dream - Gaïté Lyrique - June 9, 2012 - Dekalko

et Eggregor8 de Manuel Braun et moi où vous jouez à Pacman mais à 8 en même temps comme si vous étiez 8 sur la même manette

C'est drôle d'ailleurs car il y a eu en 2010 une exposition dans l'espace 13-16 du centre Pompidou sur le jeu vidéo et ils ont invité essentiellement des pièces Eniarof sans même se rendre compte qu'il y avait un lien entre nous.

On pourrait appeler ça le BeaubourgNiarof

Il y a aussi la pièce "A battre" de Raphael Isdant qu'il avait créé lors du deuxième Eniarof à Aix-en-Provence et qui depuis à aussi beaucoup tourné

Raphael Isdant, A BATTRE

ensuite in y a des pièces plus inattendus ou très spécifique à Eniarof Aix-en-provence

comme Pogo Tamponeuse un ring de combat où vous devez enfiler une combinaison en pneu pour affronter votre adversaire.
vidéo prochainement

ou encore combat de Fucking Machine qui était border line et complètement surréaliste.


The dogma mentions that ENIAROF has to take place in the proximity of an Emmaüs. Could you tell us why?

Dans le dogme93 de Lars von trier et Thomas Vinterberg il est souvent question d'une économie de moyen. Mon but quand j'ai monté Eniarof était de ne pas tomber dans l'excès des projets qui engloutissent trop d'argent car tout simplement je voyais bien qu'il n'y avait pas de budget pour les jeunes artistes. Je traînais souvent à l'époque dans les Emmaus et je voyais qu'il y avait beaucoup de matériaux dont les Emmaus ne savaient pas forcément quoi faire. En plus c'est souvent agréable de recycler un objet on a l'impression d'avoir fait un acte écolo.

Another thing that surprised me int he dogma is that the barman is paid as much as an artist. Why do you think it is important that every participant receives the same fee?

Au début de ma carrière d'artiste j'étais horrifié de voir que le vigile ou le barman était mieux payé que moi sur un festival. Je me demandais quel avenir pour nous artiste si on était obligé de se brader juste pour s'exposer. En plus dans ce festival ma pièce s'est en plus faite détruire à la fin. La tendance c'est heureusement inversé pour moi mais c'était un peu une règle pour me rappeler à moi même si je dois inviter des artistes que je ne les brades pas come on m'avait bradé moi.

What is next for ENIAROF?

on a un livre en cours de réalisation
d'ailleurs on a un appel au don ... J'ai pas encore l'URL du KissKiss

et on a eu pas mal de bon contact pour réaliser d'autres Eniarof d'ailleurs de l'autre côté de l'Atlantique et au bord de la Méditerranée mais encore rien de validé donc je ne m'avancerai pas trop.

Merci Antonin!

The new episode of #A.I.L - artists in laboratories, the weekly radio programme about art and science i present on ResonanceFM, London's favourite radio art station, is aired this Wednesday afternoon at 4pm.

0X&Y credit Benjamin Ealovega.jpg
X &Y. Image Benjamin Ealovega for the Science Museum

Today's guests are not the usual suspects as they are scientists using art to explore and communicate mathematics. Marcus du Sautoy is the Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science and Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. Victoria Gould is a mathematician and actress.

Marcus and Victoria have just spent several days and evenings at the Science Museum in London to perform X &Y, a theater show that use mathematics, humour and theatre to navigate the known and unknown reaches of our world and ultimately to approach some of the biggest philosophical and scientific questions we might encounter: where did the universe come from, does time have an end, is there something on the other side?

I saw one of the last London performances fearing everything would fly high above my head (math classes are far far away from my mind now) but the whole show is incredibly accessible, whether you're a child or a retired professor of physics. I'm neither of those and i found X&Y surprisingly entertaining. I even enjoyed the language of equations and laughed. About mathematics! In the process, i learnt that zero is a relatively new number and that there are many sorts of infinity.

If you've missed the shows, you might want to head to the Science Festival in Manchester. I know i might. The programme is very tempting: an exhibition about contemporary architecture in Antarctica, retro computing events, a talk about the application of quantum physics on communication technology, a presentation about controlling brains from the outside, etc. And a series of X&Y performances from October 30th to November 3rd.

0X&Y credit Benjamin Ealovega (1).jpg
X &Y. Image Benjamin Ealovega for the Science Museum

0X&Y credit Benjamin Ealovega (3).jpg
X &Y. Image Benjamin Ealovega for the Science Museum

The radio show will be aired this Wednesday 23rd of October at 16:00, London time. Early risers can catch the repeat next Tuesday at 6.30 am. If you don't live in London, you can listen to the online stream or wait till we upload the episodes on soundcloud.

Last weekend i was in Leiden, a short train trip away from Amsterdam, for the opening of an exhibition of the winning projects of the third edition of the Designers & Artists 4 Genomics Award.

The DA4GA give artists the opportunity to develop ambitious projects in cooperation with life science institutions carrying out research into the genetic makeup of people, animals, plants and microorganisms.

Charlotte donating skin to Christine Mummery's laboratory in front of an audience at the Theatrum Anatomicum at the Waag Society in Amsterdam. Photos by James Read and Arne Kuilman

0WAAG © James Read-0428.jpg
Charlotte donating blood to Christine Mummery's laboratory in front of an audience at the Theatrum Anatomicum at the Waag Society in Amsterdam. Photos by James Read

One of the recipients of the award is Charlotte Jarvis who used her own body to demystify the processes and challenge the prejudices and misunderstandings that surround stem cell technology.

Ergo Sum started as a performance at the WAAG Society in Amsterdam. In front of the public, the artist donated parts of her body to stem cell research. Blood, skin and urine samples were taken and sent to the stem cell research laboratory at The Leiden University Medical Centre iPSC Core Facility headed by Prof. Dr. Christine Mummery.

The scientists then transformed the samples into induced pluripotent stem cells, which in turn have been programmed to grow into cells with different functions such as heart, brain and vascular cells.

The whole process used the innovation which earned John Gurdon and Shinya Yamanaka a joint Nobel Prize last year. The two scientists are indeed behind the discovery that adult, specialised cells can be reprogrammed and turned back into embryo-like stem cells that can become virtually any cell type and thus develop into any tissue of the body.

The pluripotent stem cells offer an alternative to using embryonic stem cells, removing the ethical questions and controversies that surrounded the use of embryonic stem cells.

Brain cells grown from stem cells derived from Charlotte's skin

Charlotte Jarvis, Ergo Sum, 2013 (exhibition at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden.) Photo by James Read

But let's get back to Charlotte's stem cells. Copies are now kept by the university for scientists to use in their research. And because the cells can be stored for an unlimited period, they are immortal. The ones that are on view at the exhibition in Leiden right now have to be kept alive by a team of scientists who regularly visit the exhibition space to care for the cells.

The synthesized body parts (now brain, heart and blood cells) are kept in an incubator made especially by a company specialized in museum displays as traditional incubator don't have a window that would allow the public to have a peak inside. The cells are accompanied by videos, prints of email exchanges, photos and other items that document the whole story of the project.

Ergo Sum is a biological self-portrait; a second self; biologically and genetically 'Charlotte' although also 'alien' to her - as these cells have never actually been inside her body.

Charlotte Jarvis, Ergo Sum, 2013 (exhibition at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden.) Photo by James Read

Charlotte Jarvis, Ergo Sum, 2013 (exhibition at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden.) Photo by James Read

Charlotte Jarvis, Ergo Sum, 2013 (exhibition at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden.) Photo by James Read

You first idea was to donate your eggs for the project but the scientists told you this might not only be illegal but also unnecessary. Could you explain why the eggs were unsuitable for the experiment and what the lab used in the end?

In the first instance I was unable to donate an egg because of the birth control I take. I have a three monthly injection (the DEPPO) which works by stopping egg production. It can take a year for your body to start producing eggs again after stopping the DEPPO, so I would not have been able to produce an egg in time for the project.

However, there were also ethical reasons for not donating an egg. I believe fervently in the use of embryos for scientific research, as of course do the scientists I work with. They have to fight for the right to use embryos in their research and under no circumstances would I do anything to jeopardise that. The use of embryos for artistic purposes is a different moral question. I felt that it would have been wrong (and potentially damaging to the scientists working on the project) to confuse those two ethical questions by making an art project utilising the scientific method for making embryonic stem cells.

What we used instead was stem cells derived from adult tissue. These are called Induced Pluripotant Stem Cells (IPSCs) and it is this technology that won the Nobel Prize last year. I donated skin, blood and urine to the lab. The lab was then able (using this new and wonderous technology) to send those cells back to how they were when I was a foetus - to turn them back into the stem cells they had been roughly 29 years ago. You could call it cellular time travel! I find our ability to do this completely awe inspiring.

Scars from biopsy 11/03/13

Now that you've finally met your 'second self, your dopplegänger, do you feel you have some kind of connection to it?

Seeing my heart cells beating was a unique experience - especially the first time I saw it. There is something that feels distinctly 'alive' about the beating heart cells and something quite extraordinary about seeing part of your own heart beating and living outside your body. But in general I would say that I feel no more connected to my second self than I would any other self portrait. I do not feel that these parts of me are sacred in some way, or even that they really belong to me in anything other than the genetic sense. That is really the point of the project - to question how we build our identity as humans and how that might change in the future. This may sound obvious, but I have learnt that I am more than the sum of my parts; that just because something has my heart, my brain and my flowing blood it is not 'me' and it is not a human.

Thanks Charlotte!

Charlotte Jarvis, Ergo Sum, 2013 (exhibition at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden.) Photo by James Read

Charlotte Jarvis, Ergo Sum, 2013 (exhibition at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden.) Photo by James Read

Ergo Sum and the other winning projects of DA4GA are on view until 15 December at Raamsteeg2 in Leiden, in The Netherlands. Ergo Sum is funded by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative.

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