Turning electricity into art is not for the weak of skill – Alexandre Burton and Julien Roy manage it with precision and consideration, merging original music and media arts with technologies of their own devising. Under the moniker artificiel, they interrogate technology, art and art practices, music and performance without losing sight of aesthetics or emotional resonance.
Electroacoustic artist, coder and programmer, Alexandre Burton builds unique digital instruments from both hardware and software. Also electroacoustically trained, Julien Roy is a flexible master of production in the high-tech art realms he co-creates. They strive to keep the technology they use transparent in its functions on stage or in gallery spaces. Artificiel's first installation, condemned_bulbes (2003), turned 1000W incandescent light bulbs into an audible and controllable electric-acoustic chorus; their high-voltage POWEr project (commissioned for MUTEK 2009) turned an audio-modulated Tesla coil into an audiovisual protagonist.
A MUTEK commission, Three Pieces With Titles relies on a new, souped-up, extreme real-time, audiovisual instrument that merges cameras, synthesizers, acoustic instruments, computers, and video projectors. The “three pieces” refer to three distinct movements: the image controls the sound (photographs trigger a camera plus a computer system linked to audio); the sound controls the image (an instrument triggers a camera plus computer system linked to photographs); and the sound is the image is the sound (colour turns into sound, acoustic vibration changes the colour and vice-versa).
The audience is encouraged to move in close to the multiple loudspeakers and video screens, experience everything the artists do, and contribute to the breakdown of performance hierarchies and vectors of control — and lose themselves in the infinite abyss of the space-time slippage of "re-re-recorded" video projections and sound.