DIYsect is s documentary series 'about the DIY Biology & Biology-Art intersection' and it is rather good.

Baltimore's Underground Science Space (BUGSS), Nurit Bar-Shai's bacteria sculpture (top middle), and Nikki Romanello in her studio in Red Hook (bottom right)

In Summer 2013, filmmaker Benjamin Welmond and artist-biologist Mary Maggic Tsang traveled across the U.S. and Canada to meet the biohackers, artists, synthetic biologists, writers and curators and talk with them about the possibilities, challenges and dilemmas brought forward by biotechnology. The result is a portrait of DIY biotech hack and biotech art by the very people who are directly involved in it.

The authors of the series write:
Our goal is to discuss the way biotechnology is changing our society: What are its political, social, and even philosophical implications? What happens when manipulating life becomes as simple as writing a line of code? And more importantly, what does this mean for average citizens and their future?

I only discovered the existence of the episodes a few days ago (thanks Adam Zaretsky!) The films are short and sharp. They are released as soon as they have been edited. For free. On vimeo. Let's go!

The first episode of the web-series, Learning in Public is of course the introductory one. The directors interview members of the DIY biology movement as well as artists such as Steve Kurtz from the Critical Art Ensemble, Claire Pentecost, and subRosa.
The image/sound synchro is a bit wonky (at least when i watched it) but don't let that discourage you from watching the episode.

DIYSECT Episode 1: Learning in Public

Episode 2: Bioterror & Bioerror gets political. It starts with the FBI bioterrorism case against Steve Kurtz and then goes on to reflect the FBI's change of tactics. Realizing its errors, the FBI is now reaching out to the DIY BIO community 'for mutual education.'

DIYSECT Episode 2: Bioterror & Bioerror

Things are gettng tricky with episode 3. Fear of the Unknown which should be out on vimeo today!

The episode delves into the discussions surrounding synthetic biology. On the one hand, a project like the Kickstarter-funded Glowing Plant is creating controversy by bringing synthetic biology to the consumer market in the form of a plant that glows in the dark. Its developers' rhetoric is fairly unconvincing (at least as far as i am concerned.) On the other hand, the technology watchdog group ETC. Its members fear the lack of regulation (the plant doesn't require any form of approval in the U.S. since it is not food) and the potentially damaging impact that the release of the plant might have on the environment. Somewhere in the middle is artist Adam Zaretsky who has long used his provocative performances to try and raise a broader debate about what is ethical or not in the field of synthetic biology. There's this great moment in the film when he explains that we don't really know what we are doing and that we need to stop and think before we 'fuck up our world' beyond human control.

On a side note, i believe we need to see more of Zaretsky's provocations and reflections here in Europe, so let's help him fund his next trip to the old continent.

Image on the homepage: Critical Art Ensemble in Halle/Saale, Germany performing "Radiation Burn: A Temporary Monument to Public Safety", October 15th 2010.

Adam Basanta, The sound of empty space

If you happen to be in Montreal this week, drop by the Galerie B-312 where composer and sound artist Adam Basanta has installed a series of works that play with self-generating microphone feedback. Each of the 3 works in the gallery examines, in its own witty and transparent way, the idea of sound as a mutable product of interdependent networks of physical, cultural and economic relations.

Amplifying and aestheticizing the acoustic inactivity between technological "inputs" and "outputs" - stand-ins for their corporeal correlates, the ear and mouth - the notion of a causal sound producing object is challenged, and questions are posed as to the status of the ʻamplifiedʼ. By building flawed technological systems and nullifying their intended potential for communication, the ear is turned towards the empty space between components; to the unique configurations of each amplifying assemblage.

Adam Basanta, The loudest sound in the room experienced very quietly

Adam Basanta, The loudest sound in the room experienced very quietly

In The loudest sound in the room experienced very quietly, a feedback loop between microphone, PA system amplifier, and speaker cone is enclosed within a soundproof aquarium. The sound level within the enclosure reaches an ear-damaging 120dB, approximately the loudness of a car horn at close distance.

Pirouette further explores the notion of amplification systems as self-generating sound producers. A microphone rotates slowly and triggers a tuned feedback melody as it comes nearer to one of the seven speaker cones. It takes nine full rotations of the microphone to reveal a skeletal version of the main theme from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet.

In the third work in the series, Vessel, the naturally resonant acoustic properties of a large glass jar are amplified, creating a feedback monody by varying the distance between speaker and microphone.

How could i resist the temptation to interview an artist who can not only turn the usually unpleasant microphone feedback into beautiful artifacts but whose past projects also include a performance in which he played Music for Lamps.

Adam Basanta, Pirouette

Adam Basanta, Pirouette

Hi Adam! Could you give more details about Pirouette? How does it work exactly?

In Pirouette, a microphone standing on a raised platform spins slowly, hovering over 7 suspended speaker cones. As the microphone hovers over each speaker, it enables a feedback loop: the microphone "hears" the speaker amplifying the microphone, and on and on until we hear microphone feedback or Larsen tones.

Usually, this type of feedback would be very loud. But in Pirouette, the feedback is tuned and controlled by computer algorithms to create a slowly evolving feedback melody. A custom made software is inserted between the microphone and speakers, filtering out all but a very narrow range of audible frequencies. The frequencies which are allowed to "pass through" the filter are the ones that end up feeding back. In this way, I was able to create a very precise sequence of tonal pitches - the main theme from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet - using feedback.

As well, the computer algorithms control the overall volume and amplitude envelope of each feedback note. As the microphone hovers over a particular speaker, the gain of the channel is adjusted based on how loud the particular feedback note is: if it gets too loud, the computer brings down the gain while if it is too quiet, the computer will compensate the gain and make it a little louder.

Adam Basanta, The loudest sound in the room experienced very quietly

The description of The Sound of Empty Space talks about 'building flawed technological systems'. Can you talk about these flaws? What makes them interesting and how did you exploit their potential?

Well, the flaws are found in the ways I use or rearrange elements of commercial sound technologies. Pointing a microphone directly at a speaker is a basic error, the first thing you learn to avoid if you are working with amplified sound in whatever context. It is a flawed use of the equipment, in the sense that normally you would want the system to amplify something "worthwhile" (a musician, a speech etc). When feedback occurs, it makes the entire sound reinforecement system useless, because it is at its very basis a method to communicate information, and feedback nullifies this potential; it 'jams' the system, it is noise, it doesn't allow "sanctioned" sounds to be amplified.

So why do this in the first place? Well, I've been involved in making music in different contexts since I was about 12. As much as this is a fun thing to be involved in, I've come to realize that it is a huge industry - I like to call it the industry of 'self expression' - complete with industry magazines, blogs, and allegiances to this company or the other and whichever 'lifestyle' they are selling. I really dislike "gear-culture", but at the same time these are still very much my artistic tools, both personally and culturally: just like a folk singer has a guitar, I have microphones and amplifiers and speakers.

So in a way, arranging these elements in a flawed way - in a way that goes against the original commercial intent of the object - is my way of remaining creative with tools that are in many ways designed in a way which often limits creativity. I try to do this in a very non-antagonistic way: I'm not really interested in a grand rebellious gesture, but more in a gentler form of perversion. I am trying to make something beautiful, something that people can get lost listening to, out of this flaw or error.

At the same time, the more I think about feedback and the more I work with it as sonic material, the more I find it fascinating conceptually. It is an emergent phenomena, in that it relies on the configuration of microphone, speaker and acoustic environment. It reveals aural dimensions of architecture to which we don't have easy (visual) access to. There is no real "causal" element in the feedback chain - all the components are "passive" sort to speak - you can't really say that the speaker is producing the sound more than the microphone is. And in a sense, this is a really beautiful and powerful metaphor for listening in general: perceiving the sound of a guitar or a bird or your lover's voice has as much to do with one's own physiological or psychophysical attributes (for instance, the length of the auditory canal), one's intention (am I hearing or listening?), and the general context in which the sound is produced.

Adam Basanta, Vessel

Adam Basanta, Vessel

You are a composer and sound artist. Yet, your installation have obvious aesthetically qualities. Could you talk to us about the visual aspect of your work? Is it important to you? Does it complement the sound work?

Although my training is in sound and music, and I was never really involved in visual art, the visual aspect of these works is critical for me. As opposed to sound, which evolves in time, visual impressions are immediate, so it is really the way to get people curious about the work. With that in mind, I try to use a visual vocabulary that creates a mix of transparency and mystery. Transparency in the sense that I present my materials - microphones, speakers, amplifiers, cables - in a very matter of fact way: here they are, here is how they are connected together. At the same time, some elements are hidden - often, this involves the computer - and so even though we see these recognizable materials there is a sense of mystery or surprise with regard to the qualities of the sounds, or exactly how they are being produced.

With this exhibition in particular, I've been very interested in combining visual and sonic materials in a way that creates an intertwined web of references, and in this way create richer listening situation. The use of microphones, speakers and public address amplifiers - objects that embody communication and sound reproduction technologies - are obvious examples of this. Subtler references include Vessel's resemblance to an "impossible bottle / ship in a bottle", as well as Pirouette's visual reference to a rotating music-box ballerina coupled with the aural reference to Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Even small details, such as the use of 7 speakers in Pirouette, reference the 7 tone scale in Western harmony.

Of course, not all of these will be picked up by visitors, and the works can be enjoyed on a "purely aural" level (if that even exists). But to me this is the biggest impetus to create sound art (as a separate practice from concert music): the potential to combine visual references, conceptual ideas, and sonic material (in all its richness and wordless intoxication) in order to create some sort of hybrid listening experience.

Adam Basanta, Julian Stein, Invisible Lines

We live in a very visual society. And sound art is often reduced to just music. I also often find that art journalists, bloggers and critics (apart from those who specialize in sound art of course) are a bit at loss when it comes to writing about sound art.

Do you feel that sound artists have a disadvantage compared to visual artists?

I suppose so. It certainly is a more marginal practice in terms of number of practitioners and institutions, and general 'visibility'. Of course, it also has less commercial potential because it tends to subvert the idea of an art object in favour of an in-situ experience. At the same time, I feel people respond strongly to sound art for precisely these reasons, so I suppose there are two sides to the coin.

Adam Basanta, Julian Stein, Max Stein, Music for Lamps

Adam Basanta, Julian Stein, Max Stein, Music for Lamps

Any other upcoming exhibition, research or project you could share with us?

At the moment, I am hard at work writing some new chamber music pieces for instruments and live electronics, to be performed by Montreal-based ensembles Magnitude6 and Architek Percussion. In terms of sound art installations, I'm continuing to develop some of the threads evident in The sound of empty space, although with some subtle variations. In June, I will create a site-specific feedback installation for the Centre for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, NM, which will explore ideas of feedback as indicator of physical acoustic space in a very large spatial setting. This fall I will be in residency at Titanik Gallery in Turku, Finland, where I will work towards a new exhibition at the Gallery in the end of October 2015, which will examine relationships between instruments of mass communication, the materiality of communication signals, and subjectivities of listening.

Thanks Adam!

The sound of empty space is at the Galerie B-312 in Montreal until 21 March 2015.
Music for Lamps will be playing at MATA Festival at The Kitchen in New York on 15th April.

I'm drowning in really good books this year. Unsurprisingly, half of them are photography books. And because i'm short on time and these publications deserve a review, i'm going to take the lazy road: a sweeping and speedy overview of 5 of my favourite photo books of the moment. In one post.

Here we go...

Gina Glover, Windmill, Prairie Farm, Near Williston, North Dakota, USA

Gina Glover, Garrison Dam Intake System, Lake Sakakawea, North Dakota, USA

0cape Exhibition Jessica_Rayner_Conversion WEB-615x410.jpg
Jessica Rayner, Conversion


The Metabolic Landscape. Perception, Practice and The Energy Transition, by Gina Glover, Geof Rayner and Jessica Rayner.

The Earth is a living organism. Our escalating energy demands are interfering with the carbon and nitrogen cycles and altered the metabolic balance of the planet. Authored by two photographers and a scientist, the book uses images and essays to investigate the landscape in relationship to sources & sites of energy, energy extraction, energy use and climate control.

Gina Glover's work exploits atmospheric weather and ambient lighting conditions to draw attention to such energetic places and artefacts as coalfields in the Arctic, nuclear installations in France and hydraulic fracturing sites in the USA; Jessica Rayner observes how theories of the sun have varied according to the symbolic or scientific precepts of the day, drawing comparison between manufacturing, properties of the sun and changing theories of energy; and Geof Rayner constructs an accompanying textual narrative which shows how the energy transition has profound evolutionary consequences, not only for external nature, but how we see and interpret the landscape.

Published by Black Dog Publishing and available on amazon USA and UK.

Untitled, from Some Things are Quieter than Others

Untitled, from Some Things are Quieter than Others

Untitled, from Some Things are Quieter than Others


Next is Some Things are Quieter than Other by a young Polish photographer called Jacek Fota.

Fota made several trips to the U.S.A. between 2012 and 2013, consciously avoiding the mega cities and landscapes we are already too familiar with. Instead, he turned his lens to the 'peripheries of civilisation' and condensed his personal experience of the big country into a small travel diary.

His photos show the U.S. but on a less grandiloquent, less cliché and more mundane angle than we might be used to. His images look effortless, they are both dream-like and very real, very down to earth.

This way to get the book.

Canadian Arctic, 2013. LAB 1 Royal Canadian air force short range radar installation, north warning system, Cape Kakiviak, Torngat Mountains, Labrador. Photograph: Donovan Wylie

Photo HFA

Over a year ago, i saw Donovan Wylie: Vision as Power at the Imperial Warm Museum in London. The photo exhibition brought together five geographical locations that are interconnected through the apparatus of military surveillance.

Steidl has collected into one slipcase three of these photo series. British Watchtowers (2007) studies the surveillance architecture built at the height of The Troubles. The network of watchtowers and observation posts was erected by the British army to control cross-border smuggling and paramilitary attacks but also to maintain an intimidating presence. The watchtowers were dismantled between 2005 and 2007, as part of the Northern Ireland Peace Process. As Whyle documented their final days in the countryside, British troops were deploying to Afghanistan, taking with them elements of these Northern Ireland watchtowers.

The second book, Outposts (2011), charts NATO observation posts in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. Built on natural promontories, the outposts offer a fascinating parallel with the British Watchtower, as both networks ensured oppression and control in the name of a "war" against terrorists.

The last book in the set, North Warning System looks at a radar station that is surveying a less clearly defined threat. The extreme environment of the Canadian Arctic is home to cyber radar stations unmanned and operated electronically to detect any presence seeking out lucrative natural resources along Canada's Arctic frontier made more fragile by global warming and the new routes though the Northwest Passage it enabled.

Happy Famous Artists beat me to the review.

Donovan Wylie: The Tower Series is available on amazon USA and UK.

PALERMO, SICILY, ITALY, 20-10-2010: ruins in the old part of town. During the American invasion in WWII nearly 40.000 people lost their homes. Instead of restoring them, the local politician, together with the mafia capos planned a speculative plan that kept the old ruins from being rebuilt. Instead, thousands of new concrete blocks were built in all the Golden Valley, surrounding Palermo

Jerez, Spain: This newly built suburb illustrates everything that went wrong in Spain: rapid growth based on seemingly limitless borrowing, which produced a glut of houses and office space that nobody wants © Carlos Spottorno

Athens, Greece. Hundreds of massive archaeological ruins at the Acropolis are piled here and there, around the restorers' provisional offices. The weight of history is just too heavy for the southern European countries. © Carlos Spottorno

0construction3-08-30 at 11.10.28.jpg
Carboneras, Almeria, Spain: Hotel "El Algarrobico" was built in a protected Natural Park with the complicity of local authorities. Popular activism and pressure from Greenpeace stopped the project. But after a decade of litigation, it has not yet been demolished © Carlos Spottorno

Gela, Italy: Saro Spataro is a Sicilian-born Argentinian. He sells "madonnine" at the side of the road. He makes them with clay and black concrete. © Carlos Spottorno



The term "PIGS" was coined by the financial press as a shorthand for Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain . Never doubting the suitability of reducing over 100 million people to a bunch of clichés, the neoconservatives and the mainstream media quickly adopted the acronym.

Photographer Carlos Spottorno attempted to portrays "Portugal, Italy, Greece and Spain through the eyes of the economists". The parody starts right with the design of the Pigs: the book cover is modeled on the front page of The Economist, and even the back page of the publication features a fake advertisement for WTF Bank.

Spottorno's photographs show European countries squeezed between a glorious past and far less glamorous contemporary realities.

Published by Phree and RM Verlag in 2013. The PIGS are on amazon USA and UK.


I'll always have time for war photography. And since i enjoyed the exhibition Conflict, Time, Photography so much, i had to get my greedy hands on the catalogue of the show. The show (and thus the catalogue as well) looks at over 150 years of conflict around the world, since the invention of photography. Instead of organizing the photos according to themes, geographical area or chronology, the curator orchestrated them according to the length of time that elapsed between the conflict and the moment the photographs were taken. The result is fascinating. You start with images taken almost straight after a disaster occurred and as you proceed, the duration between image and event grows into days, weeks, months, years and decades. One of the last series was shot almost 100 years after the start of WWI. Chloe Dewe Mathews photographed some of the exact spots where British, French and Belgian soldiers were executed for cowardice and desertion between 1914 and 1918.

I'd definitely recommend the book if you can't make it on time to see the show.
Conflict, Time, Photography was edited by Simon Baker, the curator of the exhibition. It is available on amazon USA and UK.

During the last edition of the GAMERZ festival, i discovered the existence of the Copie Copains Club (Copy Companion Club), a community of artists who copy each other. To become a member of the club, you either copy a fellow artist or you are copied by them. It's that easy!

Copie Copains Club aims to highlight the art of copying in the Post-Internet era. Today, the works and their representations circulating on the web become themselves available materials, ready to be replayed by other artists. At a time when production companies and governments toil to outlaw copying, CCC aims to be a space where everyone can freely enjoy the copying: a playground where contemporary artists or geeks designers of all generations and all countries can question their relation to intellectual property and their own creation.

Copie Copains Club is a cheerful, provocative project. More importantly, it offers the art community an informal space to discuss copyright, creativity, plagiarism, fair use of existing images and other issues that the art world has long been debating over but that internet culture has reinvigorated.

It is also interesting to note that the initiative comes from France, a country where copyright infringement laws are particularly stringent.

Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Joëlle Bitton, Weather Desktop Project. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

.... inspired by Olafur Eliasson's The Weather Project

Copie Copains Club started as a platform and a licence but the experiment was given the opportunity to take on a physical presence when GAMERZ invited the artists behind CCC to curate an exhibition based on the works that follow the CCC rules. Some of the 'copies' merely put an humorous spin on the original, others added depth and an extra layer of reflection.

I talked to artists/curators Emilie Brout, Caroline Delieutraz & Maxime Marion about the CCC experience:

(The artists answered me in french. Just scroll down to read the original text.)

Hi, Caroline, Emilie and Maxime! I like the name Copie Copains Club. It's cheerful and melodic. Why did you chose this name? What did you want to convey with it?

We wanted a meaningful, funny and that sounded good. The CCC is a club of friends who copy each other. Like the project, it is "cute" but also a bit provocative, in particular because it includes the term copy, even if we're actually talking more about détournements, remixes and tributes. The acronym "CCC" is rich in references, and "CCC license" is a direct spin on the Creative Commons license.

Why did you start this project? I remember Maxime telling me in Aix-en-Provence about the situation of p2p exchange in France. So is there a political motivation behind the CCC?

There is of course a political motivation, especially in a country like France where the right to intellectual property is particularly strict. Add to that laws such as HADOPI and a long tradition in which the artist is both protected but also hindered in its practice. The artist is not necessarily a victim of the copy, it feeds on it. The CCC is intended to dramatize a little bit this issue, attacking the copyright idea collectively with a smile and some nice nuances. But we also wanted to create a playground, a space for exchange and dialogue that uses artworks as a go-between.

Djeff, Super Google Clouds. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Djeff, Super Google Clouds. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

... inspired by Cory Arcangel's Super Mario Clouds

Many people like to repeat Picasso's quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal." Nonetheless, copying still has a bad rep' in society of course but also in the art world. Why do you think there is still a lot of stigma in art against copying?

Copying in creation is a very old question, and it is surprising to see that it is still raised in a society where ownership and piracy are completely mainstream (who has never used one of the first images popping up on a Google search without even wondering where it came from?) What remains sensitive, is the personal relationship that each artist has with their creation, their own "originality". Many artists are still afraid of being dispossessed, yet each work, inspired or not by another one, matters for the personality that the artist will inject into it. The CCC is also a place where you can show without any embarrassment works that look a bit too much like other works (whether they were produced before or after), a place where everyone and no one can be called a copycat.

S. Aubry & S. Bourg, One shot date painting. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Arnaud Cohen, More Human Than Human. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

How was CCC received by artists whose work had been copied? Did they all feel flattered or did the copies create discontent? Did you find for example that artists who are used to working in tech/digital/new media contexts react differently from artists who are working with more 'traditional' media and ideas?

For an active member of the CCC, being copied is a great honor, it means that someone took the time to reflect on, study, question your work ... The 4th rule of CCC requires you to notify the original author of the fact that they have been copied with a message like this: "Hello, you have been copied with such project, unless you specify otherwise you are now a member of the club and are now free to copy whoever you want". This friendly approach may explain why there has ultimately never been any problem nor removal request. Regardless of age or discipline, the project was generally well received, even by the most recognized artists. And if there is no reaction, we assume that "Silence is consent." This is what the club advocates: we first copy, then we inform, which is subtly different from the standard practice.

How is the CCC database growing? Do you get regular submissions?

Everyone is free to participate and join the club as long as they follow the rules of the manifesto. Such as copying only living artists (Rule 2), or to copy a "buddy" if this is a first copy (Rule 1). The buddy list (nearly a hundred to date) continues to grow steadily. The more the merrier :)

Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Grégoire Lauvin, Brrrr! Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

CCC 'got physical' for the last edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence. How did you select the artists who were exhibited? Did you commission some works or did you only chose from the works already available on the CCC database?

Artists and projects were selected directly from the website, but some were still at the idea stage. For example, Brrrr! by Gregory Lauvin existed only in the form of sketches, and the Gamerz exhibited made it possible to produce it. As this was the first physical CCC exhibition, we selected pieces which references were easily recognizable, this facilitated the reading of the overall project.

However, each of these copies had their own relationship to the original work, have very different approaches: distant reference, resonance between personal experience and the one of the referent artist, purely formal détournement, criticism, etc. We were also pleased with the way the works became autonomous, conversed with each other and raised new issues, such as the relationship between "real" and "virtual", transhumanism ...

And do you otherwise work with the notion of copy culture in your own practice?

The concept of appropriation is fully integrated within our respective practices, so that this is not even a claim or a militant act as was the case for artists of previous generations (Sherry Levine, Christian Marclay, etc.) This is a medium like any other, and it happens to be ours. So we very often use the media produced by other people, we focus on their history, on the why and how they were produced, the people they were intended to reach, the paths they traveled and the way to reassemble them in order to produce new forms. This has naturally led us to reflect on issues related to intellectual property.

Thanks Caroline, Emilie and Maxime!

Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Annabelle Ameline, Où est Raymond? Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Emmanuel Laflamme, Survival of the Fittest. Photo Luce Moreau for GAMERZ

Réponses en français:

I like the name Copie Copains Club. It's cheerful and melodic. Why did you chose this name? What did you want to convey with it?

Nous voulions un nom explicite, drôle et qui sonnait bien. Le CCC est un club de copains qui se copient. A l'image du projet, il est "mignon" mais un brin provocateur notamment par l'utilisation du terme copie, même s'il s'agit en réalité plus de détournements, de remixes ou d'hommages. L'acronyme "CCC" est riche en références, et la "licence CCC" est une variation directe de la licence Creative Commons.

Why did you start this project? I remember Maxime telling me in Aix-en-Provence about the situation of p2p exchange in France. So is there a political motivation behind the CCC?

Il y a bien sûr une motivation politique, notamment en France où le droit à la propriété intellectuelle est particulièrement lourd, en plus de lois telles que Hadopi et d'une longue tradition où l'artiste est à la fois protégé mais aussi entravé dans sa pratique. L'artiste n'est pas forcément une victime de la copie, il s'en nourrit, le CCC a pour but de dédramatiser un peu cette question, en attaquant l'idée de copyright collectivement, avec le sourire et de jolis dégradés. Mais nous avions aussi envie de créer un terrain de jeu, un espace d'échange et de dialogue par oeuvres interposées.

Many people like to repeat Picasso's quote "Good artists copy, great artists steal. " Nonetheless, copying still has a bad rep' in society of course but also in the art world. Why do you think there is still a lot of stigma in art against copying?

La copie dans la création est une question très ancienne, et il est étonnant de voir qu'elle est encore sensible dans une société où l'appropriation et le piratage sont complètement banalisés (qui n'a pas déjà utilisé l'une des premières images renvoyées par Google sans se demander d'où elle provenait ?). Ce qui reste sensible, c'est le rapport personnel que chaque artiste entretient avec sa création, sa propre "originalité". De nombreux artistes craignent ainsi encore de se faire déposséder, or chaque oeuvre, inspirée ou non d'une autre, compte surtout pour la personnalité que l'artiste va y injecter. Le CCC est donc aussi un lieu où l'on peut montrer sans gêne des oeuvres qui ressemblent un peu trop à d'autres (qu'elles aient été produites avant ou après), un lieu où tout le monde et personne ne peut être traité de copieur.

How was CCC received by artists whose work had been copied? Did they all feel flattered or did the copies create discontent? Did you find for example that artists who are used to working in tech/digital/new media contexts react differently from artists who are working with more 'traditional' media and ideas?

Pour un membre actif du CCC, être copié est un grand honneur, cela signifie que quelqu'un a pris du temps pour se pencher sur son travail, l'étudier, le questionner... La règle 4 du CCC impose de notifier l'auteur original du fait qu'il ait été copié, avec un message du type : "Bonjour, vous avez été copié avec tel projet, et sauf mention contraire de votre part vous êtes à présent membre du club et êtes libre de copier qui vous souhaitez à votre tour". Cette approche sympathique explique peut-être qu'il n'y ait finalement jamais eu le moindre problème ni aucune demande de retrait. Indifféremment de l'âge ou de la discipline, le projet est généralement bien reçu, même par les artistes les plus reconnus. Et s'il n'y aucune réaction, nous partons du principe que "qui ne dit mot consent". C'est ce que revendique le Club : on copie d'abord, on informe ensuite, ce qui est subtilement différent de la pratique courante.

How is the CCC database growing? Do you get regular submissions?

Chacun est libre de participer et de devenir membre du club tant qu'il respecte les règles du manifeste, comme le fait de ne copier que des artistes vivants (règle 2), ou de copier forcément un "copain" s'il s'agit d'une première copie (règle 1). La liste de copains (près d'une centaine à ce jour) continue de s'allonger régulièrement. Plus on est de fous plus on rit :)

CCC 'got physical' for the last edition of the GAMERZ festival in Aix-en-Provence. How did you select the artists who were exhibited? Did you commission some works or did you only chose from the works already available on the CCC database?

Les artistes et projets ont été directement sélectionnés sur le site, mais certains n'étaient alors qu'à l'état d'idée. Brrrr! de Grégoire Lauvin par exemple existait uniquement sous forme de croquis, et l'exposition soutenue par le festival Gamerz a permis de la produire. Comme il s'agissait de la première exposition physique du CCC, nous avons choisi des pièces dont la référence était assez reconnaissable, pour faciliter la lecture du projet global. Mais ces copies, ayant toutes un rapport différent à leur original, présentent des approches très variées : référence lointaine, résonance entre son expérience personnelle et celle de l'artiste référent, détournement purement formel, critique, etc. Nous avons également été ravis de la manière dont les oeuvres, alors devenues autonomes, dialoguaient entre elles et soulevaient de nouvelles problématiques, telles que le rapport entre "réel" et "virtuel", le transhumanisme...

And do you otherwise work with the notion of copy culture in your own practice?

L'appropriation est une notion complètement intégrée dans nos pratiques respectives, si bien qu'il ne s'agit même plus d'un acte revendiqué ou militant comme cela pouvait l'être pour des artistes des générations précédentes (Sherry Levine, Christian Marclay...) : c'est un médium comme un autre, simplement c'est le nôtre. Nous avons donc recours extrêmement souvent à l'emploi de médias produits par d'autres personnes, en nous intéressant à leur histoire, pourquoi et comment ils ont été produits, à qui ils sont destinés, quels chemins ils parcourent et comment les réassembler pour produire de nouvelles formes. Nous avons donc été naturellement amenés à réfléchir aux questions liées à la propriété intellectuelle.

Merci Caroline, Emilie et Maxime!

Previously: The 10th edition of GAMERZ. From dancing trash bag to dichotomic perception + Hold On, when a joystick manipulates Hollywood.


Stacked rooms. Performance

Make+ is a Shanghai-based programme that stimulates collaborations between creativity, technology and science. Its main motivation is to 'make ideas happen'.

The recipe is quite simple: an individual comes with an idea, a team forms around it, mentors join in and guide the team along the way. At the end of the process, the idea is made reality. Participants come with all types of backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. They can be fashion designers, hardware engineers or painters.

The experimental and not-for-profit organisation also organizes educational workshops, talks and exhibitions that further encourage exchanges and raise public awareness about the kind of creativity that emerges when people from different professions meet and share ideas.

I met Sophia Lin, the Director of Make+, a few weeks ago. We were both giving a talk at the same moment at the latest edition of the Lift Conference in Geneva. Sophia is also the co-founder of Basement 6 Collective, a studio and community space located in an old bunker and dedicated to promoting the arts in Shanghai.

Since i missed Sophia's presentation in Switzerland, i thought that the best way to catch up with the activities of Make+ would be to interview her:

2014 Science Hack Day

Hi Sophia! How big is Make+? How many people are working on the program?

Make+ is supported by volunteers only. We have roughly 9 core volunteers, and 30+ volunteers who help out whenever it's needed.

The 2014 Make+ team

The Make+ program encourages cross-disciplinary collaboration. How do you make these cross-disciplinary collaborations happen? Is it by acting as a go-between? By making resources available? etc.

We do a lot of things to encourage these collaborations happen. We host events where professionals and students from different professions can meet and collaborate, we act as a resource database for those who need to reach the other end. We have also started a research project on methods of crossover collaboration.

Are there like-minded people, institutions organizations in Shanghai and in the rest of China? Who does Make+ collaborate with? Who are its allies?

We are seeing more and more institutions especially the universities opening their doors to these kind of experiments by having collaborative courses and programs. Make+ collaborates with art museums, galleries, makerspaces, libraries, hardware companies and foundations.

DIY biotech workshop. "Painting Class with E. Coli"

Workshop Painting with Bacteria

You told me in a previous conversation that Make+ doesn't have its own space. So how do you manage to organize meetings, workshops, exhibitions?

We usually host our events in our partners' spaces. We work hard.

And apart from having your own space, what are the biggest challenges that the program encounters?

Having a steady funding is our biggest challenge. Our currently method is to offset our cost by charging the event. But in reality, the income usually only pays for the materials and instructor, but never the organizers.

You also told me that you work with artists who might have a fairly classical view on art and with science & tech people who are not so used to working with artists. What makes these two worlds dialogue and collaborate? And does their perspective on their own discipline change after one of your Make+ events?

Yes, this is a very challenging problem. People have to really WANT to collaborate with the others to make it work. We learned from our experience that a forged relationship without a strong motive is hardworking and tiring. However, the participants who have had a successful collaborations often goes on to try more.

Saoirse Higgins, Overview. Video still-user with headpiece and balloon above. The Bund, 20th July 2013.

Ji Jiaqing, Firefly

Berni War, Vincent Harkiewicz and Brad Jester, Aaaiiirrr (Open Source Air Filter)

Kami, DT Robot at 2013 TedxTheBund

Could you give us some examples of projects developed during Make+ workshops?

In 2013, our creative camp incubate a fresh team that consists of designers, artists and engineer. They do not know each other at the beginning, and have never collaborate with other discipline before. After some very challenging weeks, they built a "emotion" room that responded to people's brainwave. The room would try to make you angry if you are calm, and try to calm you down if you are agitated. The team members became best friend and went on to collaborate on many projects.

Last year in 2014, we incubate a long-term not for profit project, where artists, designers and scientists would lead people to research trips to China's old villages to see if there anything they can help with.

Installation built by one of the teams of the 2013 creative camp. The audience was wearing a brainwave detector. If you are angry, the ambient light turns blue or green, if you are calm, the light turns red

What's next for Make+?

In 2015, apart from our regular programming and incubator programs, we have started a long-term research project on methods for a successful crossover collaborations. We feel that we need to learn from the successful teams and projects around the world about how to initiate a successful collaborations.

Stacked rooms. Performance by Moyo

Stacked rooms. Performance by Olaf Hochherz

Nicolas Maigret, Clement Renaud and Lionel Radission, The Ether Mashup

Thanks Sophia!

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