Interview with Joanie Lemercier – ANTIVJ

Lara Sedbon conducts an email interview with Joanie Lemercier of ANTIVJ for the LISA blog.

LS: Let’s start with a few questions about process.  How much code do you incorporate into your work?

JL: Actually we use more and more code / custom software in the production of our work.
Firstly because we’re doing more technically challenging projects, and no software can really handle our needs, so we have to build our own tools. But it was the same when we started doing architectural projection in 2006/07 and no tools or documentation were available. We had no choice but to do it ourselves.
On the artistic side as well, we’ve explored many different tools or software that are usually used by graphic designers or architects, and again they have their limits.  We sometimes have ideas that cannot be achieved with existing tools, so we need to create new ones.
And on the other hand, the technical possibilities offered by the tools we developed in house sometimes will guide the way we approach a project or the type of content that will be used.

LS: Technically, what does it consist of?

JL: We use custom software for different uses:
* Video mapping onto architecture: we need more flexibility here.  When we started we had really heavy constraints, the projectors had to be hired/set-up twice, calibration had to be extremely precise with no flexibility / margin error, some of the production was really hard work and technical.
Now we are getting very close to being able to turn up somewhere and present a piece without worrying about any of these constraints.
* Creative content: we’re also developing tools for content production, to do things that are just not possible in any other way. It obviously depends on the type of project, but in certain cases we are also aiming at doing all content production in real-time, and escape endless rendering hours/days.
* We’re also exploring other fields, such as 3D scanning, tracking, future human-computer interfaces and data visualization.

LS: Where/how did you develop your software expertise? (self-taught, school, apprentice etc.)

JL: Simon Geilfus and myself are the two programmers on the label, and we’ve learned pretty much everything we know online, especially from the open source community (Processing, openFrameworks, Cinder, vvvv). Today we’re trying to give a little back, by teaching in schools, doing workshops in festivals.

LS: Is there one person responsible for the technical part of your work?

JL: All artists on the label have their own skills and expertise (video projection, streaming, content production, structure design, coding, real-time tools…)
I Joanie Lemercier tend to deal with mapping/streaming. As far as soft development is concerned Simon and I benefit from the work of the whole community, and get inspiration from pioneers such as Robert Hodgins, Marius Watz, Sanch or more recently Memo Akten, Kyle Mcdonald

LS: Let’s talk about collaboration.  Who does what on your group projects?

JL: It’s different on each project, depending on the inspiration of each artist, and their will to do either solo or collaborative projects, with sometimes up to 6 or 7 people working on the same project. We work in a very organic way.  We can all do a bit of 3D, photography, graphic design; and we really like swapping roles, and experimenting with new things.

LS: How do you divide up the tasks; is it by area of expertise or by interest?

JL: As opposed to commercial companies, we want to make sure we are not aiming at “finding the most efficient team” to produce “standardized pieces”, so our main focus is to provide the artists the best possible conditions for their work, and as much freedom as possible. 
Each project is different, and we are definitely focusing on interest first, rather than any other element. We are very lucky to be in a position where we have never been asked to do anything else but ANTIVJ. This is probably due to the fact that from the start we believed strongly in trying to do something original/personal that could touch people.

LS: Are you like band members, do you fight and threaten to break up? Have you ever come close to breaking up?

JL: We decided to develop AntiVJ as a visual label, rather than a collective, because we believe this can be a great platform, to develop either solo projects, collective projects and external collaborations as well, a bit like music labels do.

LS: What are the issues that divide you? Are they around artistic vision or something else?

JL: It’s usually about the font we are about use on the site or flyers, or the tone of one color, so nothing too serious. 🙂

LS: How do you stay together when it gets difficult?

JL: We all work as freelancers as well as for the label, and we also have our own side projects. It’s a great way to limit the pressure and make sure we don’t have to rely only on the label to make a living.

LS: Are all the people involved in a piece of art considered as authors?

JL: Yes of course.
On certain projects someone might be taking the lead (like Romain Tardy directing “Déshérence“, or myself for the piece on Nantes’s castle at Scopitone). In that case where required other artists will help him produce certain things and create his idea.

LS: How do you sign your pieces?

JL: The label presents a project that is directed by an artist, and produced with a team.
ie: AntiVJ presents, “Le Bestiaire“, a project by Romain Tardy. Visuals by Romain Tardy, Joanie Lemercier. Music Thomas Vaquié. Produced by Nicolas Boritch.

Light Sculpture v3, by Yannick Jacquet, Joanie Lemercier, Olivier Ratsi, Romain Tardy. Mapping festival 2008

Light Sculpture v3, by Yannick Jacquet, Joanie Lemercier, Olivier Ratsi, Romain Tardy. Mapping festival 2008

LS: Now I’d like to ask about choice of projects.  How do you choose what projects to work on?

JL: We feel very lucky because we get lots of inquiries through the Internet, so we can just choose the most interesting and inspiring proposals. We are also approaching people for very specific projects.

LS: What are some of your favorite projects?

JL: It might sound silly but it usually is the next one. It might not last forever (I hope it will) but for the past 3 years we have had access to more and more exciting projects, festivals, architectures, so we are always really excited about upcoming projects. Having new tools and software opens new possibilities each time.
I am really looking forward to the new version our collaboration with Murcof, we are preparing the show for 3D projections, and also dome projections. We are working on proposals for large-scale performance onto architecture, and this is becoming insanely motivating. A large-scale installation at Nuits Sonores festival in Lyon, France. A new project with projection and illustration by Yannick Jacquet (Legoman) at Mapping festival in Geneva… and some new collaborations we can’t just quite talk about yet!

LS: What inspires you?

JL: Other artists’ work: painters, designers, coders, filmmakers, musicians, and architects. It is difficult to talk for everyone, as all artists have different influences, but we share an interest for simple, refined, minimal forms of Art.

Light Canvas by Joanie Lemercier. Grand Palais, Paris, 2009

Light Canvas by Joanie Lemercier. Grand Palais, Paris, 2009

LS: Who is doing great things right now that are new and wonderful? (Besides you of course!)

JL: I really enjoy Abstract birds work, and I’m looking forward to meet them soon, I liked Nosaj Thing visuals by Fair enough, I’m a massive fan of the work of our friends 1024 architecture, and looking forward to see the new comers from the creative coding scene.

LS: And finally, the future.  Where can you see this art form headed in five or ten years?

JL: It is almost impossible to guess how things are going to evolve. 
I think video projection and visual art installations are going to get bigger and bigger in festivals, as people are bored to watch a DJ behind a laptop), and there will be many opportunities in stage design, interactive art, and in the whole creative field. I guess creative coding will continue to get more recognition and will ultimately be considered as an Art form, architectural projections is getting very mainstream/commercial and feels already overused in advertising, which is a real shame as there has not been much experiments/personal things.

LS: What are your personal artistic goals for that time frame?

JL: Personally, I just want to keep doing what I like.

Joanie Lemercier, ANTIVJ visual artist

The title photo is of  Eyjafjallajokull by Joanie Lemercier. Empac, NY state, 2010