Aesthetic Algorithms

Wednesday, November 18, 2015
Aesthetic Algorithms

Born in Paris in 1968 Pascal Haudressy is distinguished among his contemporaries for his inventive artistic approach. For which he has pioneered a new image format that forensically focuses on the nature of movement, materiality and immateriality. Exploring transformative mutations of our world in which biological entities coexist with virtual life-forms, Haudressy is inspired by his ancestral ties to Uzbekistan. Which forms an engaging link in his work between the distant past and the unforeseeable future.

Aesthetic Algorithms

Born in Paris in 1968 Pascal Haudressy is distinguished among his contemporaries for his inventive artistic approach. For which he has pioneered a new image format that forensically focuses on the nature of movement, materiality and immateriality. Exploring transformative mutations of our world in which biological entities coexist with virtual life-forms, Haudressy is inspired by his ancestral ties to Uzbekistan. Which forms an engaging link in his work between the distant past and the unforeseeable future. As the artist visually profits from the calculated qualities of science and the alchemy of myth, from the Orient and Occident. Borrowing from the traditions of Samarkand Art, native to the Uzbek people, Haudressy has conceived of his own ornamental styled art, in which everything appears as static as it is vibrant. And the composed motifs give birth to a generative series of images that endlessly reconfigure themselves. Which proves a constant characteristic of his own work. From 1992 to 2004 Haudressy worked as a cultural project manager for UNESCO; where he was responsible for a series of major international artistic events. 

And it was during that period that he launched the Flags of Tolerance project, which he carried out in collaboration with six eminent artists; including American’s Robert Rauschenberg, Gordon-Matta Clarke, and Austrian Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Haudressy has exhibited internationally, including FENZI Gallery, Brussels, 2014; K11 Art Space, Shanghai, 2014; Louise Alexander Gallery, Sardinia, 2008-14; and previously at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2011, among others. His works has also been acquired as part of public and private collections, including FRAC Nord Pas de Calais, Dunkirk; Musée de Cambrai, Biedermann Museum, Donaueschingen; Borusan Museum and Arter, Istanbul; and Compagnie de Phalsbourg, Paris. Pascal Haudressy is represented by Louise Alexander Gallery, Sardinia, and lives and works in Paris, France.

Rajesh Punj: For an audience less familiar with your work, can you begin by explaining and exploring the principles of your practice?

Pascal Haudressy: My work explores the blank space between different mediums ; painting, sculpture and video. For me my practice and research reflects the changes in our systems of representation that are less and less limited, and more contained by determined spaces with a clear territoriality.

RP: The first work of yours I saw was a digital loop of Heart 2009, in which the intrinsic shape of a heart appears forensically illuminated, as it throbs beneath a viral shell. What was the intention of that work?

PH: In that series somewhere we will meet again that includes Heart, I actually pushed the calculating system of the computer to its limits ; to its point of failure. With this system of ‘noises’ I push new technologies to their breaking point, or moment of collapse; and then tear them apart and reshape them so that I can rework them using a more classic artistic vocabulary. In other words I deregulate the computers system to generate a new material, random and animated, as a new tool for drawing. The noise generated reflects the incapacity  to achieve the goal that has been set. The representation of a beating heart in this case. The subtle line between failure and success, chaos and order, is what interests me greatly.

Pascal Haudressy. Saint François (2015). 71,8 x 124,2 cm. Screen, video, digital loop. Limited edition: 5.

RP: Your being born in Paris whilst having cultural ties to Uzbekistan, how significant is the ‘Orient and Occident’ to you in your work?

PH: My work often tries to create a link between the distant past and the unforeseable future, and I try to integrate them into the calculating qualities of science and the alchemy of myth, from the Orient and Occident. From memory I can recall a blue silk bedspread and an Uzbek tapestry decorated my childhood bedroom, where sometimes I allowed myself to be drawn to the play of the fabric, light and shimmer.

RP: Going back can you explain the significance of the Flags of Tolerance Project; (for which you worked with Robert Rauschenberg and Gordon-Matta Clarke among others)?

PH: I really began my own artistic career in 2008, after having spent twelve years working for UNESCO, creating and developing art projects. The flags of tolerance project is the first project that I did for the organisation. The idea was to celebrate tolerance worldwide and I had asked six different artists from different countries and regions of the world, to contribute a painting or a drawing to the project. These contributions were edited as a set of six flags that were shown in over sixty capitals all over the world at the same time. It was quite a symbol of tolerance to have these different visions reflecting various cultural backgrounds, raised together in so many different cultural contexts. And as you rightly point out among the artists that contributed to the project were Gordon-Matta Clarke, Friedensreich Hundertwasser and Robert Rauschenberg.

RP: With all of the digital works, are you dealing more with technology and technique, than you are concerned with animating the visual motifs?

PH: Even if I incorporate new technologies, I work these materials into a work in a classic way; whereby each composition, detail, colour and shape requires a great deal of attention. Though I believe what motivates my work is not so much animation or new technologies, but about how to create a link between different mediums; painting, sculpture, video or light. And of a link between materiality and immateriality, a painting and the photons of a projection for example, or a sculpture and its shadow on a painting. Apart from this special edition of the heart for sedition, which is presented as follows; a screen where the video is integrated into a pictorial space. What interests me is of creating a dialogue and blank space between these two mediums.

RP: And what of the way the works are displayed? With Dyptique 2009 are you acting as anthropologist as much as an artist?

PH: I am neither an anthropologist neither a sociologist. I try to find a symbiotic relationship between thought and material, between an idea and its realization, almost like an ecosystem whose purpose is founded on the relationship of different interdependent elements and their imbrication. It is an approach that is both conceptual and physical. Although, artist, scientific, anthropologist, even though they are different practices, they do not seem antagonist at all. In their developmental states these disciplines attempt to explain reality. A reality for which in all cases there is no definitive answer. Nevertheless what interests me is not the long list of bio-technical-socio-economic changes of which we are observers and occasionally actors, but their impact on the way we perceive the world and ourselves.

Pascal Haudressy. Between the lignes (2015). Horizontal version dimension: 130 x 300 cm. Vertical version dimension : 210 x 167 cm. Steel, laser cutting, paint, video projection, numeric loop.

RP: How do you explain your interest in ‘the nature of movement, materiality and immateriality’ in your work?  

PH: You could also add between what is visible, suggested, revealed, permanent, fluctuating. A long list of what has been considered as symmetrical opposites. I see a shift in our systems of representation and in the way we perceive ourselves and our environment, which is less and less defined by delimited spaces or concepts. Before the second half of the twentieth century it was the idea of production that was dominant, then the system of objects, a defined and limited space that characterised the occidental world. Nowadays we define concepts and perceive reality, our environment more and more through spaces that combine what seemed not so long ago opposite, and to some extend incompatible. We intellectually proceed with a system of ‘collage’, one layer on top of another, where the idea is more about emersion, and of an intimate mixture of different systems, elements, or layers.

RP: There appears to be something of matter and anti-matter, (of negative and positive) in a work like Choice 2013, how do you explain that?

PH: I would see more a dialogue, a variation, than an opposition between antinomic elements. If matter is at one end and antimatter at the other, I am more interested in exploring the blank space between them than their direct opposition.

RP: From the Crossed series, was Choice 2013 born of some of the original concerns that are visually evident in Raven 2012? Where you appear to have referenced the real, in two and three dimensions. 

PH: The idea is to create a representative and emotional space that lies in two and three dimensions that borrows from both, and nevertheless is autonomous. Working simultaneously on these different dimensions contributes to creating a new perception of their territoriality, and at the same time questions it. 

Pascal Haudressy. Triptyque (2009). 130 x 250 cm. Screen, video and plexiglass, digital loop. Limited edition: 5.

RP: Are you dealing in aesthetics or algorithms in a work like Frame 2013?

PH: The algorithms used correspond to the structure of elementary bricks of crystal that can also be seen as constructive of how reality appears to us. The motif was discovered through an intuitive approach by the Arabian artists that designed the motifs of the Alhambra, (Andalusia, Spain). Four years ago an Israeli chemist discovered the relationship between elementary crystal bricks and those motifs; (Dan Shechtman) won the Nobel Prize of Chemistry for that discovery.

RP: Of your sculptures Shock 2012 is as disturbing as it appears comical. What is happening to your concrete figure?

PH: The perception that we have of our environment and of ourselves is drastically changing due to the dematerialisation, virtualisation, medical progress, genetics, nano-technologies. I am interested by the relation of our mind to our body. For me virtual spaces ask this question in a new and very radical way.

RP: There is something almost science fiction about a figure’s head having disappeared entirely from the rest of the body? And does such a sculpture prove more poignant now, with the exacerbated violence in the Middle East, and of regular beheadings?

PH: I am not really interested in the speculative aspect of science fiction but more in processes that operate changes in the way we live, perceive ourselves and others. This sculpture I believe is more about human posture, and of the mind and the body, in relation to a period of time, than linked to events from recent history.

Pascal Haudressy. Choise  (2014). 89 x 146 cm. Mixed techniques, oil painting on canvas, resin sculpture, video projection, numeric loop. Limited edition: 5.

RP: With your iconic Step works, were you creating permanent sculptures of the anatomy of molecular beauty? Or are you celebrating elementally order?  

PH: For four billion years the earth knew no biological life. Then amino acids appeared, the first elements of life, and the origins of DNA. Completely upsetting the system and changing the face of the stellar object. I see that appearance of life as an anomaly, or an error in an inanimate system. My work talks about this fundamental split. For more than 3000 years this tipping point was attributed to a creator represented in the form of anthropomorphic sculptures.

RP: Do you envisage your work moving more towards abstraction in order to capture the sensation and sentiment of motion more effectively? Or are the works never entirely about one thing?

PH: The separation between figuration and abstraction in the perspective of our contemporary knowledge is very subjective and probably depends on the point of view of the observer, or at what scale the subject is perceived. In the series that you mentioned before somewhere we will meet the organs are composed by fluctuating geometric figures. The starting point of which is probably abstraction but it leads to a more figurative representation.

RP: What are you reading and working on at the moment?

PH: I am currently alternating between two books, depending on my mood. An essay by Victor Hugo on the work of William Shakespeare, and a more scientific book about codes in nature. Concerning work, I alternate at the moment between researching for ‘somewhere we will meet again’ that incorporates the heart in a pictorial space, and the series ‘somehow we met before’ that uses the same formal principles; noise, video and painting, but more expansively. In the latter work, subjects are archetypal, as temporal figures of our psyche, as we find them in the works of historical artists such as (Michelangelo) Caravaggio. To be more precise I am currently studying his 1579 painting ‘Narcissus’, and of the blank space between mind and materiality.

Rajesh Punj, February 2015

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