30 December 2007

Make a move

Yesterday I moved house... again, after 2 months. A friend of mine who was helping me asked if it hadn't been too difficult to pack all the boxes, - I answered that I was used to it as I have been moving a lot in the past years - and then, I recalled where I lived. So, if I make the count, in 10 years, I lived in a dozen of different places, not including the many times I used my parents' home for transitions, boyfriends' hangouts or short work-related stays in different countries.
So those were my addresses for the past 10 years:
- rue de l'Adjudant Réau, Paris 20e (for 1 and a half year)
- rue Condorcet, Villejuif (for 6 months)
- café Weidinger, Lerchenfelder gürtel, Vienna 15 (1 month and then 7 months)
- Liechtensteinstr, Vienna 9 (3 months)
- rue de Beaune, Paris 7e (5 months)
- rue Juliette Dodu, Paris 10e (5 months)
- St James' Wood, Dublin 8 (1 year)
- Blackhall Place, Dublin 7 (15 months)
- Eblana Villas, Dublin 2 (1 and a half month)
- rue Tiquetonne, Paris 2e (5 months)
- rue du Faubourg Poissonnière, Paris 10e (for 1 and half year)
- rue Albert Camus, Paris 10e (2 months)
and now... rue Parmentier, Montreuil - for a beautiful new adventure!

09 December 2007

33 and 1/3

Last day, I was walking home and I was thinking about being 33 soon, and what to do for my birthday. And then my mind wandered around the number 33, as I remembered the George Harrison album called Thirty-Three and 1/3. That's probably as I made that connection that I understood what I wanted for my birthday: music in the forms of LPs. So, I sent an email to my friends asking them to send or bring with them an LP of a band or an artist that have been important in their lives. And during my birthday party, I would play a song from the album of their choices.
Today, I also noticed that Harrison released 33 and 1/3 in 1976, he was 33 then... I probably knew about that fact when I was 14 or something but then I was probably not very sensitive to it, until now.. like an LP, what comes around goes around.
My favorite song from this album is undoubtedly Crackerbox Palace.

03 December 2007

Quel est donc ce froid que l'on sent en toi?

Months ago, I had thought of blogging about this video. And then I forgot. And then last week, I remembered.
It's one of the most famous French-produced music video, when the genre blossomed in the mid-eighties. Since 1985, "Marcia Baïla" by les Rita Mitsouko is a song that have made people danced wild in most home parties - it's a bit like Billie Jean, in that it never fails to get people on the dance-floor even when everybody is lingering on in the kitchen, trying to re-invent the world in conversations. It's "the" party song, full of life, of energy, of freedom and yet, it talks about... death and cancer (of the dancer Marcia Moretto). It's probably also one of 1st example in France when the success of a song is not only due to the lyrics and the music but also to the video. Directed by a young creative talent at the time, Philippe Gautier, it soon became the reference. He incorporated influences from other art disciplines: dance (flamenco and modern jazz), painting and performance. 8 graphic artists were involved (Richard Beaudemont, Nina Childress, Jeff Gravis, Anne-Iris Guyonnet, Ricardo Mosner, Sam Ringer, Xavier Veilhan, William Wilson). And of course, costumes were designed by newcomers Jean-Paul Gaultier and Thierry Mugler. When the music TV channel, TV6 started to broadcast in 1986, it was one of the most popular videos. And every time I watch it now, I see myself as a kid in front of the TV, dancing to it, trying to follow the surreal movements of singer Catherine Ringer. My mum regards the song as one of her favorite, ever. In regards to music, it was also very different from the usual french pop, actually I'm not even sure there was anything such as french pop... Les Rita Mitsouko managed to bring to a bewildered mass audience a concentrate of indie and pop from the UK and the States.
We have the music video as a trace of that time as it truly epitomizes the eighties extravaganza in France, and let's not forget the simple pleasure of watching and listening to it. It still is in every way modern.
Fred Chichin, the composer and guitar player, half of les Rita Mitsouko, died last week of cancer at 53. I love his George Harrison look-and-feel in the video.

27 November 2007

Truth or Dare

Yesterday, at the New Industrial World Forum, taking place at the Centre Pompidou, I attended the talk of Florence Devouard, president of the Wikimedia Foundation, in charge of managing and running Wikipedia.
The relationship between a tool, its aesthetics and the content created never seemed more obvious to me than when I heard her describe the many stakes of Wikipedia. As the service has been under the harsh fire of many critics for years, notably in the academic and media fields, the discourse of its representant was expectedly defensive. And I did agree with most of her arguments, it's hard to stand against Wikipedia when it's been so useful, simple to access and so open on the collective knowledge.
But one of her points was strongly worrying. As she described what was for her a great aspect of the tool - the openness on languages and cultures of the world (as in not everybody speaks English, Spanish and French and live in the Western world) - she supported her reasoning by saying that indeed every subject has many truths and that Wikipedia allows them all to be voiced. And then that's when it stroke me that the design of the Wikipedia tool and service was indeed supporting in its core that assertion. So in order to make her point, she used a specific example, underlying how Wikipedia can be used to offer a balance of views on a given subject, in particular when for instance French people have a say more easily than African people. In substance her quote was "I look forward to reading African francophones expressing themselves on Wikipedia, for instance on subjects like feminine circumcision and western Sahara" (implying that their opinions would be different than those of the French). Now with the 1st problem with this statement: there's an insinuation here that a point of view on a subject is submitted to nationality or ethnic belonging. Well, if all French people or all the African francophones would think one way and agree on everything, that'd be some piece of news! But more seriously, the way she phrased her reasoning could be easily understood that she meant that as a French person, I would voice arguments against feminine circumcision while an African person would advocate for it. Fortunately, we know it's not that binary.
The second subtext is even more problematic: one would tend to think that any opinion can be said on a subject - in itself, a reasonable point - and that they're all worthy and even necessary. Indeed, in the name of freedom of expression, and a currently trendy relativism, all "truths" are equal, all points of view are valuable and they all worth a space of expression. This is for me where the danger is. I don't believe you can wipe out historical context, experience and critical analysis.
Ironically, I think a part of the academic world, in order to play it very 2.0, is trying to get back in the race of demagogy: the recent invitation of the Balliol College of Oxford University made to the negationist David Irving, many times condemned in Germany and Austria, in a debate on the limits of freedom of expression is very revealing in that matter.
No, there aren't always many truths. It's not a science dissertation, where you could keep on questioning even that aluminium is a metal. I believe in making sense as you write an essay, and somewhat educating your audience towards an awareness of oneself as a human being responsible for others and for the ecosystem he's part of.
It's funny that in a forum addressing the "digitalization of design" in the light of the new uses of technology, the organizers didn't plan a time for questions from the audience, which in a way was an interesting echo to another of Florence Devouard's observation, that it's very frustrating for active Internet users if they're in a situation where they can't give a feedback (to what they read in the media for instance). So I went to find her at the end of the session to exchange thoughts on what seemed to me a big issue. She was quite receptive in general - a lot of people came to talk to her, sometimes passionately, about other things. I waited for my turn and exposed the problem I saw in her talk, we talked a bit and I like to think that she realized that some of her phrasing was inappropriate. Wikipedia has many great challenges, at the level of its ambitions. She told me for instance that one of the current problem she was facing was that in some articles, edits by women were systematically rejected by the male users. Now, how do you solve that?

25 November 2007

Dorkbot #7

The next Dorkbot Paris is taking place the 1st and 2nd of december, during the festival Les Mondes Hors Pistes" (Worlds off tracks) which celebrates the 10 years of the tv show "Tracks" from Arte and it's taking place in the fashion designer Agnès b. gallery space.

Our program proposes various workshops, installations, and performances:

** Workshops **

- Mouse and keyboard hacking, by Jean-Baptiste Labrune and Vincent Roudaut

- CCTV cameras hacking by Karl Otto Von Oertzen and Alexandre Berthier

- Switch on, switch off, by Joëlle Bitton and Julien Dorra
Discovering the basic principles of interaction.

- Recycling audio tapes by Harold Schellinx

** Objects and installations **

Works by Claudia Mannigel, Emmanuel Ferrand, Stéfane Perraud, Armel Barraud, David Steinberg, Dana Gordon, Jean-Baptiste Labrune and LLND

** Performances **

- Bobby vs Predator by Benjamin Cadon

- Travelling (alternative dadaist version) by Joëlle Bitton and David Krutten

- Improvisation by Otso Lahdeoja

24 November 2007

Back to basics

Users can't believe it's free.. the interface design is sleek and elegant, the game is an all time winner, the use is convenient: it's Quinn alias Tetris on your Mac machine.

23 November 2007

Striking!

Today marked the end of the strike, the subway runs pretty much as usual, nobody is complaining anymore. It's as if nothing happened. During the last 10 days, the TV news kept on showing us how unhappy people were that they couldn't go to work and how angry they were that a minority would go on strike to keep their privileges, namely an early retirement.
Contrary to common beliefs, a long strike like this one is pretty unusual in France. The last one of a similar importance was in december 1995, 12 years ago. It lasted 3 weeks and ended just in time for the Christmas shopping. Because if there's something that French people love to do more than to go to work is to go shopping. I was last Saturday at the Galeries Lafayette gourmet, full as ever, at the heart of strike period and somewhat people managed to come all the way down there, with all the nearby subway and train lines down, and there were no TV cameras to show that the strike was after all not so constraining for the French economy.
I can understand the arguments of the train workers, they're right - why would they want to keep doing after 50 such a tedious job? And also, I can understand that in the configuration of our economy maintaining early retirements is not really possible anymore. So why not using this opportunity to question the relationship to work itself? With the current president "work more to earn more" Sarkozy, the notion of work as the ultimate modern value is statufied. But the real revolution is to be able to choose a job that makes you happy or at least that you wouldn't want to leave "early" in your career or that maybe is not getting you at the end of the day to burn your life with alcohol, and anti-depressants and cocaine. The leaders of the economy are exploiting the need for people to get a job that will at least sustain basic expenses - all they care for is to make sure they are profitable, and that in a nice convenient loop, they can spend the small money they earn in a desperate gesture cynically called "pouvoir d'achat" (consuming power) which is the only power they will ever feel in their life: because when you've been spending your day feeling "you're nothing" at work, all you can do is buy and buy more at your turn to feel "you're something".
This actually puts the act of consumption at the heart of the next revolution, between ecological, political and economical awareness: what you buy, how you buy it, where you buy it, why, etc... More and more, I'm interested in alternative theories like "décroissance" or "degrowth". It's fascinating because it puts the problem upside down and for that only, I like it.
And finally, as it was the case in 1995, this strike was very valuable if only for one thing: rediscovering the relationship to the city, to the ways you move in it, to the ways you get from one point to another, and to time (for instance, instead of making sure I want the shortest time spent between the place where I am and where I should be, I have to think of what I'm going to do in the time that I wait - mainly walk - and through what part of the cities).

11 November 2007

"The biggest twat in Manchester...

being played by the second biggest twat in Manchester” is what Peter Hook, New Order’s bassist, said, commenting on Steve Coogan’s casting as Tony Wilson in 24-hour Party People. Claire told me yesterday Wilson had died last summer - news travel very fast nowadays... It came up as we were wondering how it was possible the Happy Mondays survived from all the drug intake - they played this week at Festival des Inrocks in Paris. I remember when I saw them by chance like 15 or 16 years ago at a signing in the Champs-Elysée Virgin Megastore, I didn't have money to buy their records then but I had a George Harrison tape with me which all the band members signed, incredulous and amused at the object. Soon after, I got the "Pills, thrills and bellyaches" CD for free, as I called Barclay, the french label distributor, and told them I wanted to make a review for a school magazine we were editing in our high-school. Lisa, Cécile, Sophie L. and Sophie F. and I called the magazine "Fulbert" - we made 2 editions in total, wrote articles with hidden names and it had a little success of its own. Tony Wilson's death makes me think about the current music industry and how it is so far away from the way he dealt with his own label, Factory or the bands he helped (Joy Division, New Order, Happy Mondays) plus all the DJ's he put forward at the Hacienda, the club he opened as a way "to give back to the people". He was maybe a twat indeed, and a desastrous money manager but he made more things for the music than all the current label managers will ever dream to do, just out of passion and pleasure. If all the music industry is interested in at the moment is to find how to keep on cashing on all the rights that are being lost to downloading, then it's for sure going to die. But I'm not convinced it's a wrong thing after all.


05 November 2007

Photos from Japan and Scotland

This year I mainly traveled to Scotland and Japan.
Here are selected pictures of those two trips.
"You got the look" shows digital color pictures from Scotland, my vision of the RockNess festival that took place last June near Inverness (I still have a folder of black and white pictures I took with my Contax throughout my stay earlier this year but I didn't have the time to make a proper selection - will take care of that soon).
"Summer stroke" is a look at the first part of my stay in Japan with hints at beach time in Kamakura, a beautiful day-walk in Fushimi-Inari temple in Kyoto with Julie and a short visit to Manabe-Jima.
"Looking for the shadow" shows the last days I spent in Japan between Takayama in the mountains and saying goodbye to friends in Tokyo.
For those 3 sets, I used the flash automated gallery from Photoshop CS3 for a change, it's quite a time-saver, but probably less satisfying because I couldn't really annotate the pictures as I usually do.

--Joëlle

20 October 2007

Music for the global warming

Radioz is a small online community of friends who are each publishing every now and then a music playlist, powered by the friendly Zanorg radio system, that can be added to any website. For his 11th playlist, David invited me to participate and share the tracks selection.

To celebrate the sweet and savoury flavours of the autumn season, we prepared a 17-tracks playlist that follow on from each other, as one track answers the temptations of the previous one. The first proposal is mine, then David's reply provokes a chain reaction...

You can listen to the songs separately or - even better - as one track (mixed more or less as in a radio station) by selecting "Mix radioz 11" at the end of the tracklisting (it takes a bit longer to load).

The playlist is available as you pick "David" (1st name on the list) from the radioz homepage.

Enjoy!



--Joëlle.

15 October 2007

Call for project - Dorkbot Paris / festival Tracks

Our next Dorkbot Paris event will take place the 1st and 2nd of December during the festival "Get off the Tracks", for the 10 years' birthday of Arte tv show "Tracks", in partnership with Agnes B. and happening at the designer's exhibition space in Paris.

During those 2 days, we will organize small workshops and exhibit various works related to electronic arts, recycling and techno-hacking.

If you want to participate and propose workshops, objects to exhibit, etc.., contact us as soon as possible and send us an email at dorkbotparis (at) dorkbot.org with your detailed proposal.

Side note : each participant should provide his own material.

Looking forward to hear from you..

The Dorkbot Paris team.

26 September 2007

Portrait, Instored

My work is featured in the magazine SVM MAC this month, on a 4-page focus, including a portrait written after interview by the journalist Laurence Beauvais, and 3 pages of visuals. In addition, the visual that served as a basis for the "Abstract" exhibition's flyer opens the creative section of the magazine in a full page. I'm rather pleased about this opportunity of publicity. The portrait is nicely written, almost too flattering actually and it's not easy to project myself onto it, yet it shan't come in the way of my rejoicing. I expect the interview to be available online next month.



24 September 2007

Portrait, Restored

A new look and feel for my online portfolio: the content is restructured around a denser information architecture and the colors are darker. I thought that after almost 3 years since I first designed it, it needed some face lift like when you redo the painting in your house. It also makes better sense that way in my current job hunting strategy, the efficiency of which I'll report about later...

19 September 2007

Hidden practices

In a city, you don't have many opportunities to do private things in a public environment, sometimes your only option is... public toilets... (especially I guess, when your home is not so private or when you actually don't have a home).
The in-between-ness team stroke again: as I was reading their call for participation, a scene from "Prick up your ears" came to mind... Or also, just yesterday, David described to me the state of the public toilets at the Gare du Nord, run by a company called ironically "Mister Clean", as they couldn't be dirtier, with a special touch: serynges all over.

Good call.

--Joëlle.


***

A Public Inconvenience
The 3rd workshop in the in-between-ness series.

Subterranean, ceramic-tiled bathrooms, plastic temporary urinals or
compact, metallic washrooms in transit spaces; public toilets are an
often-overlooked space in our urban environment. Technologies designed
for the city often try to abstract away from the inconvenient
necessities which our bodies require; or, when they are designed
explicitly for public toilets, the focus is on supporting the cultural
values of hygiene and privacy. What do we miss by ignoring the fact
that public toilets are also the site for a variety of social
practices?

'A Public Inconvenience' will explore the experience and affect of
public toilets in an urban environment, in this case Amsterdam.
Through observation and engagement we will consider how public toilets
are shaped by, and themselves shape, cultural practices, values, and
attitudes. And further, how this essential part of the urban fabric
contributes to the everyday experience we have of our cities.

'A Public Inconvenience' is the third in a series of workshops
exploring in-between-ness in urban environments. That is, the places
and times that are often on the periphery of everyday life - the
journey to work or the time spent queuing in a shop.

To be considered for participation, researchers and practitioners are
invited to send us a compelling public toilet story (see The Stories
section of the website for inspiration), an optional toilet
photograph, a brief biography, and a short rationale outlining your
interest in the workshop. This document should not exceed two pages.

Submissions:
Send to karen.martin (at) ucl.ac.uk by 21st September 2007
Acceptance Notification is 28th September 2007

Further Information:
http://www.inbetweeness.org/apublicinconvenience/

Place and Time:
26th & 27th October 2007
Waag Society, Amsterdam

Organisers:
Arianna Bassoli (The London School of Economics)
Johanna Brewer (University of California, Irvine)
Karen Martin (Bartlett School of Graduate Studies)
Valentina Nisi (Fattoria Mediale)
Martine Posthuma de Boer (Fattoria Mediale)

***

24 August 2007

Exhibition

The opening of "Abstract" took place just about 3 weeks ago. It was an incredibly rewarding moment.
First of all because I thought it would never happen. Again a couple of days before I was still getting crazy over Windows Vista, then Windows XP trying to make the pure-data program work. From Paris, Vincent would try to understand why it wasn't working on the Japanese PC while it was rolling on his machine. But with the time difference and the distance, it was taking a lifetime and if it wasn't for Carson's precious debugging help, I would have sunken deeper than the sunken ship in my sorrow.
It was also rewarding because all the people who attended the opening praised the work and I felt quite happy that they got the intention in the piece without any particular explanation.
In particular, I remember Ikuko, that I met that evening who came by chance at the gallery, not knowing what was going on and wrote me an email later telling me that the installation gave her the opportunity to take the time to face herself and her life and get "subtle reminiscent feelings, recollecting memory from childhood, school days, travel etc.."

Izumi, the curator of gallery éf, also got a beautiful idea: she invited Ouchi, a Japanese chef to present her summer sweets to be served with tea, in the gallery space. So people would sit on the carpet where the projection was happening and proceed to an informal tea ceremony. I managed to taste some of the confectioneries she made and got from that a delicious food experience.

All together, I felt people were very at ease with the experience, taking the time to enjoy it and to discover its different layers. My initial intention related to time length and expectation felt clearly embraced. And along the way, as it always happen, I noticed that people put emotions in it or other intentions that I didn't foresee.
Izumi keeps on letting me know how it's been going and for 3 weeks, swell and beyond.

I already named the people who helped me for this piece in a previous post - yet I feel the need to mention again some people whose support was an amazing gift: the team of gallery éf, Izumi and her mother, her aunt, her brother and Takeshi who, among others, managed to get Sanyo to lend a videoprojector; Carson who made a computer from his lab at the University of Tokyo available for the duration of installation and hosted me at his home in Tokyo; Julie who came with me to Japan, to make some shootings for her own project but who took the time to stand by me in the darkest hours, always up for some good laughs; and of course, David who I met everyday on Skype so I could share with him all the emotions of this profound experience and who at a distance provided me with his comforting and uplifiting presence.
As well, just before my departure, during the last Dorkbot Paris, Stéfane offered Vincent and I the space needed and all kind of materials to test the piece one last time and Jean-Baptiste who was around helped us on more than one occasion.
And I also forgot to mention last time another Jean-Baptiste (Verguin) whose feedback I always enjoy.

The installation is on in Tokyo for another week. It will also be exhibited in France, at the Nuits de l'Ososphère in Strasbourg at the end of the month of September.
I'm currently editing a short video for demo but in the meantime, here are some pictures. More of them are available at the gallery éf website, in the Abstract project section, along with an interview Takeshi made of me, with unusual questions...





-- Joelle.

21 August 2007

Vibrations

Last week, during one of my last night in Tokyo, I felt an earthquake. For the 1st time in my life.
It woke me up, and I must admit, very gently.
A couple of weeks before, Yoshiko had explained to me how to acknowledge the dangerous potential of an earthquake. Turns out, there are 2 successive types of movements: an horizontal one followed by vertical one.
If the horizontal one goes on for few seconds, it means the earthquake is not happening where you are and you can feel safe, because the vertical movement won't be very strong - indeed, it's the vertical one that is dangerous..
If the horizontal movement lasts for a very very short time, then the vertical one will be longer and it means: get under a table.
The same night an earthquake hit Peru, one hit Japan, north of Tokyo, near Sendai, 7.2 on the Richter scale. It didn't cause any victims.
At that moment, it was maybe 4 or 5 am, I was laying on my futon bed and as soon as I felt the horizontal earthquake, I knew what to expect, the vertical movement lasted maybe 3-4 seconds, and then, nothing and then again, a quick horizontal afershock. All together maybe 10 or 15 seconds of an incredible physical sensation that I had never felt before. It was an intense experience, actually very enjoyable, maybe because I was asleep, maybe because I was lying on a futon, hence very close to the floor. I can't describe exactly what my body felt but I was surprised to discover there were unfamiliar types of physical sensations. I felt naive and excited at the same time.

-- Joelle.

16 August 2007

Contrast

Yesterday, I had the 4 film rolls I made in Japan processed and digitized on cd-rom. It's always a bit disappointing to check out the result of digitized film photography. it's clearly not meant to be scanned, or maybe it shouldn't be done in an automatic process, but then here we talk about a different kind of costs.
Before I take the time to put a larger selection online, I picked a sample of pictures to illustrate the different moments of my journey.

Kamakura beach



Fushimiinari temple, Kyoto



Tomoko and I in Pontocho, Kyoto - photo taken by Julie



Namba district, Osaka



Santora youth hostel beach, Manabe - Jima



Hida Folk Village



Interior of a house, Sogen-ji temple, Takayama



Hirayu Onsen



--Joëlle

15 August 2007

In a sentimental mood

Maybe it's because I just finished "The Fortress of solitude" by Jonathan Lethem, maybe it's because my journey is coming to an end soon as I'm back to Tokyo, a couple of days before taking the plane to Paris, maybe it's because of all the intense emotions I've experienced in the past 3 weeks, maybe it's because it's in the nature of the travel - a mixture of cinematographic images, clichés of nostalgic dreams and physical exiled exhaustions - but I can't help my melancholy.
Whether my mind is set in 70s Brooklyn, NY where a friendship between a white kid and a black kid seems to have to be doomed, or in nowadays Tokyo, Japan, where I'm floating in a transitional reality, I get a glimpse of the beauty of love, and of kindness, made out of past and present bonds.

--Joelle.

13 August 2007

Mastercard and life adjustements

Osaka is like a giant Shibuya - except people are essentially looking for fun, not for commuting.
My first impression when I visited last year is confirmed: young japanase people with a twist and bleached hair come to party in Osaka.
You could think it's therefore not the place to go when visiting Japan - well, it's actually so friendly, and crazy and smooth that the town makes a pleasant stop on your way to the south or back to Tokyo.
I hadn't planned to go back there but I don't regret it came up in my adjustable travelling plans. I could stay at the Hotel Chuo I mentioned in that blog before: it makes your life easy at around 15 euros a night for a private room, connected to a high-speed internet access that your laptop has been craving for, and 2 subway stops from the liveliest district. I also appreciated the one night-break that was the western-styliness of that room. It made a big contrast with my stay in Kyoto where I traded comfort, privacy and air-condition for a bargain that came along with mosquitoes, tropical heat, and... travellers. But then it was just for 3 nights and it meant more pocket money for shopping. Some times in life, you gotta know what you want.
My first plan was to leave Kyoto to head north for the Noto-Hanto peninsula. But then that's just the day when somebody somewhere decided I couldn't withdraw money until the day after. My plans were set back for a day, so Noto-Hanto was out of the picture as I wouldn't get the time to enjoy it properly. I rearranged my plans by way of Osaka, and headed south instead, to the Inland Sea.
Manabe-Jima is the name of the island where I arrived with the ferry, the only gaijin, to discover a small paradise, with the nicest people, and a beautiful beach almost to myself.

-- Joelle.

31 July 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Stereotypes

The spoiler is not to let you know whether Harry Potter lives or dies. By now, you probably know it anyway.
No, the real spoiler is to let you know that the last book from the series is not going to try to change anything to the morals imparted on our dear children.
Because JK Rowling and many other people really believes that for something to ends well, it means that we should be married with our teenage sweethearts, have children with them, still be best friend with our childhood best friends and have a secured job, the perfect idealized life - before you get hit in the head with tough life - , sometimes a quest known as the bourgeoisie dream.
I wondered the same question as a Slate reviewer who put it nicely in those terms: "Did we really go through all this just to see Harry, Ron, and Hermione take up residence on a cul-de-sac?"
Or rather, did Harry Potter and his friends risk their lives non-stop for 7 years and did so many lovable characters die along the way so that the remaining living ones could just meet on sundays to have brunch all together for the men to talk about Quidditch while the women would talk about babies? Ok, a bit caricatural on my part but the epilogue really gave me this impression.
Maybe Voldemort won after all. His death allowed Harry to live a really cool life: fair, white and square.

--Joelle.

17 July 2007

Abstract

The exhibition date of the installation Abstract on which I worked for the past year is getting close.
I'm flying next Thursday to Japan with Julie to set it up at Gallery EF so we can open on the 2nd of August.
Stressful and exciting are the 2 words that have been taking turns in my mind lately. I've been thinking about this project since late 2004/early 2005. It took me then 1 and a half years to find the financial resources to get started and then almost another one to develop the 1st version. So now it's a mix of pleasure and frustration.

On top of the help from the Dicream, I got the most precious collaborations from those talented one: Vincent Roudaut who did all the programming, Ailadi Cortelletti who made beautiful drawings and Rupert Huber who did the music.
And while I'm at it, I might as well list all the people who helped me along the way - with a computer or a tripod or a videocamera or a flat or a workplace or advices, contacts, ideas, travelling company.... very Cool people...
Carson Reynolds, Yoshiko Sakuma, Julie Morel, Yugo Minomo, Raphaël Meyer, David Krutten, Philippe Moya Lazaro, Jo Kazuhiro, Tomoko Hayashi, Naomi Hamaguchi and Daï, Alvaro Cassinelli, Dominick Chen, Matt Karau, Stefan Agamanolis, Jocelyne Quélo and la Maison Pop, Christophe Leclerq and Paul Girard and le CITU, Vincent Rioux and Confluences, Izumi and Takeshi Yamaguchi at Gallery Ef.

If you're in Tokyo in August, please come have a look.



--Joëlle

06 July 2007

For Sale

Last time I went to Japan, I brought back with me beautiful deco objects, that I found either in Tokyo or in Kyoto.
I'm travelling there again in 3 weeks to exhibit an installation.
I will also shop again for striking singular objects and I decided this time to take orders in advance to see if I can make a revenue out of my numerous trips around the world.
Here's a sample of different objects I got last time from amazing handcrafters: very thin porcelain hand-painted sake glass, ceramic cups designed after flower shapes, sake set, glass bottles, worked-metal plates and utensils, dyed textiles to hang on walls or use in the kitchen, genmaicha or hojicha teas... To give you an idea, prices varied for these between 10 euros and 100 euros.
If you're interested in details, let me know: joelle |at| superficiel.org













--Joëlle

18 June 2007

Daft Punk at Rock Ness 2007

It was as good as you'd imagine it would be... No, wait... better!




--Joëlle

17 June 2007

Superdrugs

In England, it's fun to shop, even at the pharmacy. Mainly because of the packaging of products: lots of nice colours combinations, attractive layouts, great fonts, texts that talk to you (the customer) as a friend ("pop by anytime at our headquarters"), etc...
I had to bring back few samples.

Poppets are yummy chocolate sweets filled with toffee (the yummiest), mint cream, raisins or orange cream first launched in 1937 and they underwent a major lifting last year. I just noticed them so I guess the new marketing plan works well.



Other candy temptations are sugar-free Hotlix's lollipop with a cricket twist.. I guess, they're surfing on Edible's wave that I wrote about in this blog a couple of years ago ("The last culinary territory to conquest"). I came across the lollipops as they were given away during the Go-North festival, a rock/folk music festival taking place in Inverness this year. I'm not sure I got the obvious link between the 2 themes. Maybe as a hommage to rock bands from the fifties and sixties who bore insect names like the Beatles?



More sugar: I like the straightforwardness of this one.



A candy look-and-feel but very medical: anti-travel sickness tablets. The packaging makes you want to ride again and again so you get to take one of their pills and feel so happy to be traveling.



Finally, I've always been attracted to designs that use the famous eye-doctor test board. I know it's a classic but in this case, it's very appropriate. Also, it's the best design ever I've seen for a contact lens solution. And it's made by a chain and they usually don't put so much effort into their own product packages, so it's something to acknowledge.



-- Joëlle.

01 June 2007

Beatles Moments

What is a Beatles moment?
It's when something said, sung, played, shouted, staged (etc..) in a Beatles song catches the attention and sticks in the memory. For instance, one of my favorite is in the "A Day in the Life" bridge, the "ha, ha, ha" groan after Paul says "I noticed I was late" and then few lines later the way he pronounces "Found my way uptairs and had a SMOKE, and somebody SPOKE and I went into a dream". I heard the song, what?, hundreds of time, and I still get the chill when I catch those moments.
Apparently, I'm not the only one. I discovered this blog post through Le Monde website and its part 2. The writer made a .mp3 for a selection of these moments. He followed what seems like an exciting musicology seminar called "The Music of the Beatles", run by Pr. Gass at IU Music School who likes to think in terms of "Beatle moments".
I share many of his favorites and it gave me the opportunity to listen to the outputs with a spotlight on because isolated from the rest of the song. It's a different way to notice the extraordinary quality of all the elements that got into place in their compositions, from voice, to guitar, to intro, drums, transitions, pronunciations, etc..
Killer moments for me: When Paul says "Limousine" in "Your never give me your money", it breaks my heart. And the Marathonpacks blogger is right, his "You and I have memories, longer than the road that stretches out ahead" in "Two of Us" addressed to John is a tearjecker. Also, the way John sings in a chain the verses of "Across the Universe" without taking a moment of breath, the "Tum-Tum" of Ringo in "Every Little Things", the guitar intro of "I've Just Seen A Face", the "IRRRam in love with you" of George in "Do you want to know in secret?" with his delicious L'pool accent, not even 20 years old and still nervously mimicking somewhat John but clearly learning fast to be himself...
Today, Sgt Pepper's is 40. Which is why many articles are spreading around of course to write about how it's overestimated, underestimated, the Peter Blake's album cover, the LSD, the 1st concept album like it was planned to be so and what not: too many clichés to actually learn anything interesting.
I just remember that 20 years ago today, Sgt Pepper's was 20. And I was 12. This is about when I got seriously hooked up on the band. I have in mind a great documentary I saw on TV around then that I was lucky to tape on VHS: "It was twenty years ago today", a pertinent and definitive analysis of the album - and its repercussions, offering a take on each song. Many people who worked on the album, including no less than George Harrison and Paul McCartney, talk about it. But also, we hear comments by notorious contemporary audience. In particular, watch for Allen Ginsberg's analysis of "She's Leaving Home".

-- Joëlle

30 May 2007

My true nature

When I was a kid, like many other kids of my generation, I watched Japanese anime on TV. Names like Candy, Goldorak and Albator are common references in France. And one of the reasons is that many of those anime were co-produced between France and Japan. We were not really the Sesame Street culture.
There was one particular anime that stood out among dozens of them. I was 8 or 9 and hooked to the end (actually I never got to watch the very last episode). It bore the most exciting title: "Les Mystérieuses Cités d'Or" (The Mysterious Cities of Gold) and with a mix of history, poetry and science-fiction, it tells the most exciting story - In 1532, Esteban, an orphan believed to have the power to call the Sun (he would be the "son of the sun"), leaves Spain at 12 to follow an intriguing sailor and adventurer, Mendoza, to the New World to look for his father. On the road, he befriends two kids his age: first, Zia, an Inca and then Tao, the last descendant of the Mu empire. In Peru, they travel on the path of the cities of gold while trying to escape the pursuit of the Conquistadors who believe they are the keys to immense treasures.
I'm pretty much convinced that this anime triggered most of my life callings: traveling, history and politics.
Maybe I'm being simplistic but I can't remember before that time this intense need I had pretty early to expand my horizons widely, and this awareness of the links, bridges and breaks between civilizations and of the wastes and damages a conquering people could provoke upon a defeated one.

Admire the construction of the opening credits, a sort of Powers-of-Ten that builds up the excitation to a dramatic resolution carried by the song.
The first seconds and the narrator's voice still have quite the same commanding effects on me.



--Joëlle

16 May 2007

Dorkbot #4

It's already the 4th one and somewhat since my first post about it in January, I managed to skip mentioning it in this blog.
Yet, it's been exciting in general to see people from different backgrounds come together and it's been a real pleasure in particular to work with Jocelyne, David, Stefane, Jean-Baptiste, Vincent, Maurin and other people around this event. We got a lot of feedback from people interested to get involved in such a community bridger for Paris and around.
The Dorkbot Paris website give some accounts of each event: #1 in Ars Longa, #2 at La Pêche, #3 at Mains d'Oeuvre. #4 will take place at Confluences. Jean-Baptiste documented the first 2 with pictures, there's a video of Emmanuel of the 3rd and more pictures of Dorkbot Paris on Flickr.

Here's the program for #4 at Confluences:

Thursday the 24th of May from 7 to 9pm
Confluences - 190 bd de Charonne, 75020 Paris
(métro Alexandre Dumas)

- Larsen magnétique, by Vincent Bondet
- Dessin animé en temps réel, by Renaud Chabrier
- House Of Natural Fiber, by Vincensius ‘venzha’ Christiawan
- Monkey_Party, DVD interactif et générateur vidéo aléatoire, by Projectsinge
- Opendork (for whoever wants to show something)

In collaboration with CC Network festival, we're also planning 2 workshops around the same time:

- Initiation aux studios modulaires logiciels, with Jere, Elektrokami and Kro
24th, 25th and 26th of May at Ars Longa - 67, avenue Parmentier, 75011 Paris
Inscriptions : 01 43 55 47 71 - eric.genissel [at] seeusoon.net
Free entrance

- Circuit bending, with, among others, David Steinberg and Emmanuel Ferrand
25th of May at Confluences - 190 bd de Charonne, 75020 Paris
Inscriptions : 01 40 24 16 34 - vincent.rioux [at] confluences.net
Free entrance (bring your toys or instruments to modify)


Dorkbot Paris #5 will take place the next 20th of June at Ars Longa.
Of course, if you'd like to show something for this session or another one, let us know!


--Joëlle

10 May 2007

Some photos and then some more

Last fall and last winter, I traveled to Japan and to Israel, along with small trips here and there.
It took me some time to develop the pictures, select them, put them online. Now it's done.
I hope you'll enjoy the 3 different sets, without music this time. I invite you to set your own mood and let me know what fit well according to you.
The first set, In the garden of light and dark, follows some of my paths into the Japanese gardens I went to film for my Abstract project.
The second set, Faces and shadows, introduces you to some of the incredible people I met in Japan, along with faces of strangers I just glanced at.
The third set, Color me good, starts in the Sinaï where I went to spend holidays with Bertrand and Martin and back in Israel where the Mitzpe Ramon crater and the Dead Sea offered strange colors to catch.
All pictures were taken with my Contax T2, except for the pictures taken in Normandy from the last set that were shot with my Lomo camera.

Finally, I chose to use my Flickr account to only host the pictures I take with my camera phone. It's not always significant but I find some of the results interesting, especially the ones with light effects.

--Joëlle

08 May 2007

Passages between Montreuil and Forres

The Passages Installation developed at Media Lab Europe in the Human Connectedness group will be exhibited from the 9th to the 16th of May 2007 between La Maison Pop in Montreuil (France) and the Distance Lab in Forres (Scotland).
Passages is a public space installation that aims to connect intimately people in different cities. This installation presents the random passer-by with a moving and transiting experience where he/she has to engage the entire body to uncover the possibilities of a relationship with a stranger.
More info on the project
More info on the exhibition (in French)

At this occasion, a conference between myself and Wolk Ka, artistic director of Res Publica, digital Performance art Company will take place at the Maison Pop on Friday the 11th of May at 8pm.
We will discuss the new types of relationships emerging from the mediation of technologies.

Looking forward to see you there.

--Joëlle.

And Now... For Something Completely Different

So now that we have our own Bush/Berlusconi/Aznar mix, we can finally concentrate on not repenting ourselves, on being healthy and in shape, on being beautiful, on learning strictly market-useful knowledge, on having high morals, and on respecting the law and order. I'm so excited to join the world where I will know the difference between the good and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly, the true and the wrong. I personally can't wait.
Also, I can't wait to work more to earn more. I'm surely not working enough because I don't earn a lot of money. Really I need to understand how to do it. I mean I work about 7 days a week, and I wake-up turning on my computer. And I also go to sleep with it. Well, of course, I know it doesn't count when my computer plays music or a movie. But really I try to keep the distractions as occasional as possible. I know what I'll do. I'll stop going on vacations and I'll stop meeting up my friends for drinks or for dinners. I'll stop going to exhibitions where there's anyway only ugly art exhibited, and I'll stop taking singing lessons because we all know I can't do a business out of it. Shall I keep yoga though? I was advised by my new president that sport is good for me. But wait, if I have to work more, when will I find the time? Maybe I should sleep less too and stop making love 'cos well, it's time taken away from my computer. It'll be hard to explain to my boyfriend that I can't see him as often because of my work but I'm sure he'll understand. And if not, well, that's OK cos I have my work to hang out with.
I'm so glad I don't have children because I'd have to explain to them why I have to stop spending time with them because I have to work more to earn more.
I'm convinced now: I want to live to work. That's my goal for my life. To live to work. Isn't there a more beautiful purpose, a stronger accomplishment, a higher ambition than that? To work, to make money? No certainly there can't be.
Thanks Mr Sarkozy to have taught me the real values of life.

--Joëlle

05 May 2007

It's Now or Never - Second Act

People get tensed around here. I have a hard time focusing on my work, my life. We're all floating. Even at my yoga class, we had to talk about it. Sunday, we'll know. And we'll be able to resume our lives. In what world... we don't know yet.
That people can vote for Sarkozy I really don't get.
I don't get how they can vote for someone who wrote the French publication foreword for Gianfranco Fini's book.
I don't get how they can vote for someone who wrote in his program "Work is Freedom" when we know what it refers to.
I don't get how they can vote for someone who said we have to make the difference between the beautiful and the ugly - he'll have to tell me what "beautiful" means exactly.
I don't get how they can vote for someone who spent months dragging the extreme right-wing voters.
I don't get how they can vote for someone who offers to work more to earn more when we know it's not a question of working more but of working better.
These are just a handful of reasons. Most other ones lie in the Socialist party program. You have to hear and see her defending it. She's tough. She's righteous. From education and research to environmental issues and employment, what she proposes is a breath of fresh air, a strong vision for our future. She clearly stated that our task is to build our society based on innovation and knowledge. I'ts ambitious, it's long-term, it's broad. None of Sarkozy's little scheme to reduce whatever big corporations can save out of nothing. Ségolène Royal is defending a creative and imaginative enterprise. Sarkozy is all about same ol', same ol' recipe we already know about that is a perfect plan for failure. The danger there is that more than failure we'll have to bear 5 years of retrograd politics that we'll take us back way behind where we are now, which is already so fragile.
Should there be any doubt, just wonder about the political achievement you care for the most and imagine it being taken away from you. Nothing should ever be taken for granted, especially in politics.

--Joëlle.

23 April 2007

Superficiel at the Elysee! Vote for Superficiel!

A new piece is on Superficiel: Aurélia presents a diaporama music video of her "night at the Elysée" during the Nuit Blanche 2006. Eyes Need Sugar, Open House and Guys and Dolls joined their forces to set-up a special clubbing night at the Elysée Montmartre for the event and asked Raphaël and I to think of a visual installation, at the crossroads between interactive art and VJing.
We worked-out a VJing program in 3 parts: classic VJing with Isadora with material we created or hijacked specifically for the occasion (from TV shows), an interactive part with SMS sent by the audience and a compilation of our Superficiel work on DVD (the DVD would run during our breaks cos we were on stage from midnight to 7am). It was a long, long, long night. But I must say super exciting as well.
We also designed a singular videoprojection setting: a 10m screen split in 2 was set behind us, 2 lateral screens would be at the immediate sides of the crowd next to the stage, and further, on each side on the club there would be 3 ceiling projections. Our 2 computers were sharing half of all the projections but in a assymetrical way, which gave a pretty nice immersive sensation for the clubbers.
Aurélia's work sets a very personal and intimate mood in a hysterical public event - it makes this 1m27s video quite a contrasting experience.




--Joëlle

20 April 2007

It's Now or Never

Since about 2 weeks, French people were able to see official campaign posters next to schools, our voting places for one day (this Sunday).
The only poster among the 12 out there that really stands out is Ségolène Royal's. It has a very simple, yet effective design: her picture is in white and black, and her slogan "Le changement: Ségolène Royal" is written in white on a red background.
The 1st time I saw it, one name popped into my mind: Barbara Kruger.
The aesthical similarity is almost too strong not to be done in purpose. And honestly, that only gives more points to my favorite candidate. This poster is clearly a statement, refering directly to a feminist and strongly political-minded artist and opting for radical design in general is quite a bold and modern move.
We'll know the results of the 1st round on Sunday. Hoping for the best...







--Joëlle

09 April 2007

Bad trip

Until a couple of days ago, I thought that if there was one single reason why I wouldn't vote for Nicolas Sarkozy (the right wing candidate) at the next presidential elections, it would be because of his total lack of concern for the fight against AIDS.
But now, I have one that tops even that. In a recent interview given to Michel Onfray in Philosophie Magazine, he linked pedophilia and genes. A pedophile would thus be determined at his birth. This theory is directly in connection with 19th century discourses of "born-criminals" that would lead to eugenists theories, later justifying concepts such as the "purity of race", notably in national-socialism. I'm not even sure Sarkozy realizes this connection and that probably what's worse about this. For the 1st time, I think he's not trying to act demagogic by saying whatever people want to hear. This time, he expresses what he truly believes in and that's the scariest thing of all.
He added as well that suicidal teenagers must have also predispositions in their genes: "Il y a mille deux cents ou mille trois cents jeunes qui se suicident en France chaque année, ce n'est pas parce que leurs parents s'en sont mal occupés ! Mais parce que, génétiquement, ils avaient une fragilité, une douleur préalable. " In English: "There are 1200 or 1300 young people that kill themselves in France every year, it's not because their parents didn't take good care of them! But because, genetically, they had a frailty, a prior pain".
Seriously, this guy scares me so much. He has no scientific knowledge whatsoever. How can he be toping the polls for the election? With his other recent positions on linking "national identity and immigration" in a possible ministry was he elected president, on stating the "positiveness" of colonisation, on diminishing the role of acts of repentance regarding past misdeeds of the French state (for instance during the Vichy regime), Sarkozy has proven his incompetence, his anxiety-factor in the society and his denial of what's been achieved before him.
But it's not against him that I'm going to vote for Ségolène Royal, it's because she represents everything he's not. A clear, bright, generous and open-minded leader.
I'm worried that the scenario of 2002 will repeat itself. Some studies tend to acknowledge the risk of having Sarkozy facing LePen (the extreme-right wing candidate) in the second round. This time, I won't go and vote for the right wing. I'm not sure what I'd do. I'd be demonstrating and then what? The void? France cut in 2? Strikes everywhere? Upraisals? Nothing?
Act-Up Paris, an organization fighting against AIDS, is known for their radical, sometimes violent posters. For a sec here I thought this one was a bit over the top. The second after, I knew they were right. This poster was out on the streets few days before the publication of Sarkozy's disturbing thoughts on the "immense part of the innate". The latter makes it even more appropriate. In substance it says: "Nicolas Sarkozy, 2007 - 2012 [the presidential term], We [HIV-positive] won't survive it [because of his unequal and discriminatory health politics]. Neither will you".



If you understand french, a radio interview by Bernard-Henri Lévy on France Inter given this evening is very much worth your ears. He comments Sarkozy's last outings but also a general impression of reactionary tendencies in France nowadays (see for instance the former French prime minister Raymond Barre's high praise of Maurice Papon, found guilty of crimes against humanity for his service during the Vichy regime).

-- Joëlle

08 April 2007

Blast from the past

Some time ago, at the Pop-In, where I hadn't been in forever, I stumbled upon an old friend that I lost track with, Laurent, and as I was saying to his friends yesterday evening at a BBQ he was doing at his place, he's the first person who got me familiar with the world of computer post-ataris and with the Internet. It was in 1996, I bought my 1st PC with him - he asked the seller to put a 2go hard-disk in it and the seller went "wow, that's a lot!". And he also helped me get Internet access and an email account: "manray@hol.fr". I was doing my master thesis and I needed a computer to type it but also to get in touch with the Guyanese diaspora, as I needed to interview them. Obviously, I had found my media and a meaning to my life.
Yesterday, Laurent gave me some news of an old friend, Wilfried and his myspace address. I haven't seen Wilfried in years as well and to hear him first through his songs is a moving experience. Also just because his songs are softly beautiful.
Wilfried* is an angel made for music.

Le Ping Pong



-- Joëlle.

05 April 2007

History for sale

Last week, I was reading some free evening newspaper distributed in the subway (Direct Soir, dated from the 27th of March).
There, I came across an interview of Flavia Prodi, wife of Romano Prodi, the actual Italian Prime Minister. They are currently publishing a book written together. In her interview, she was expressing that she would have liked the "Christian roots" of Europe to be mentioned in the European Constitution. This was a wish shared by many Christian-Democrats and other political parties around Europe.
To me, this is a brilliant example of how history - in this case European history - is used as a contemporary political tool. Confronted with the fear of "external" influences overthrowing the christian white predominance in Europe, political leaders feel the need to remind us all of where this continent is coming from.
I don't mean to doubt Mrs Prodi knowledge of history but I gotta say this concept of "Christian roots" is a big piece of joke. Flash news to her: the "Christian roots" are dissolved in many, many, many roots. You could probably locate them more in the countries around the Mediterranean Sea, between the actual Greece, Turkey and North Africa, where the Greeks spread the influence of their political and economic systems. It's probably in the Roman Empire - later split with the Byzantine Empire - which casted a wide net from the British Isles to Egypt, that an "idea" of Europe emerged, consolidated by a system of roads, population circulation and... army. When Roman emperors embraced christianism, paganism was still predominant, notably in Barbaric tribes in what is now France and Germany, and it stayed that way long after the decline of the Western Roman Empire.
In the Middle-Ages, with Maures and Jews in Spain among others, and the various schisms in christianity, there was never a Europe that stood as a Christian whole even with the (failed or shortly successful) attempts of unity under Charlemagne or Charles Quint. If anything, Christiadom, with the the crusades and the later hatred between the different doctrines, led to more wars and destruction than any other predominance. Claiming a "Christian root" nowadays is directly refering to the idea of "christianitas", a time when Popes would define a Christian Europe to better arm population against those-who-were-not-christians. A dangerous idea to play with...
The construction of the European Union as we know it was engineered by a French-German political post-war analysis. The 1st agreements were economic, never religious.
Some sense a "clash of civilisations" coming - the truth is multiethnicity was the only real paradigm of Europe, the continent that kept being crossed by thousands of cultures and people bringing the best and the worse of their civilisations. And that's how it goes, it's just not the end of it. And that what's exciting.
Side note: that's also the reasoning behind the legitimacy of Turkey to be included in Europe. You can't be seriously ruling out the land of Constantinople, heart of the other half of the Roman Empire.

--Joëlle.

03 April 2007

Could It Be Magic?

It's about when you discover that a major disco hit is in fact written by Chopin by way of Barry Manilow..
Chopin, already behind Gainsbourg's Lemon Incest, is definitely the 1st pop artist.
If you listen to his Prelude in C minor and get the lyrics from Could it be magic?, you can just sing over it - it's impressive.
And that's how you make a hit (and money) without much difficulty: Know your classics! (Also so that it doesn't take you 15 years to make the connections).

--Joëlle.

24 March 2007

They won't take it with them

This video was shot on Tuesday, the 20th of March in Paris between the rue Rampal and rue du Général Lassalle in the 19th district of Paris. It was around 6pm, as parents were picking-up kids from the nearby elementary school. A Chinese grandfather who was going to pick-up his grandchildren in other nearby schools was detained in a café for an hour on the account that he was a "sans-papiers"/illegal immigrant and then arrested (according to the police prefecture, the police was in the café in the first place because they were looking for unlicensed weapons). When the police proceeded to his arrest, although the person wasn't violent, they used unnecessary force in front of parents and their kids and it prompted the crowd to stop the police from taking him away.
This video shows people trying to stop the police car in which they placed the grandfather to drive away. The only way the police managed to leave the scene in the end was to throw tear gas at people (their children got some too).
The day after, the head of the school was taken into custody for 7 hours for "affront".
Earlier in the week, an Asian woman was also briefly arrested as she was picking-up her niece in another nearby elementary school before people surrounding the scene prompted the police to release her.
Apparently, 9 illegal immigrants were arrested in that week near schools. And this, in spite of an instruction of the Ministry of Interior dating from last September to not proceed to arrests inside or in the proximity of schools (similar commitments had been taken from the Police prefecture last summer).
It reminds me of an event dating from the last 30th of January when the police waited for "sans-papiers" to come to a "Restos du coeur" food distribution on the Place de la République in Paris and started to arrest them based on their look ("visibly aliens").
And so the police is using baits: schools, Restos du coeur... what's next? Hospitals? Places that immigrants can't avoid and that are essentials to their lives? To use baits to make raids just shows how low, how degraded, how mediocre and how impotent the police is. What a way to set an example and to make things better in our society.
Side note: At the beginning of the video, you see a policeman asking the woman shooting the scene with the camera for a press card and telling her not to get policemen on the video. Personally, I don't know where it is written that you can't use a camera if you're not a journalist???
More info (in French) in an article in Le Monde + on the RESF website (Réseau Education Sans Frontières).

20 March 2007

Greek History by Hollywood by The Guardian

An hilarious (watch for Okla-Homer) A-Z account of how Hollywood pictures Greek history, probably extrapolating what we could be said about the depiction of Roman history as well.
More seriously, since cinema is about clichés and about a narrative basis we inherited from Aristotle and that mythology and Ancient History (is it how you call it in english? in french, we say Histoire Antique) have been serving the key plots of most tragedy playwriters from Eschylus to Shakespeare to Racine to Anouilh, it shouldn't be a surprise that Hollywood keeps the tradition high. Although, probably without the same benefits.
Once, the Spartans got me the highest grade of my Ancient History class in university at the main semester exam (="partiel" in french) and they hence got my wonderful professor, Daniel Nony, quite proud. Also, I so enjoyed to expose their decline in some lecture I gave before that. Now, they're gonna provide me with good cinematic entertainment... I hope. Frank Miller vs Daniel Nony.. that should be good match, or not. I know Nony won already with his lasting impression on me - I still remember almost 14 years later his definitive sentence: "the secret of pedagogy is the art of repetition".

--Joëlle.

09 March 2007

The last important message from Seth Cohen

As the O.C wrapped-up, I think we can all agree that the one thing we can keep from the last season is the otar-saving-plan awareness - I mean it's too cute, isn't it?

07 March 2007

New Look

The Superficiel blog's archives went raw html code for some reason so as I looked inside the template to get the problem, I decided to change it altogether and republish the blog with an airier, bolder look, until we move to another blog editor.
Also, it's been some time that we're thinking of giving the entire Superficiel site a new look, if not a new navigation system.
For a while, we thought the homepage could actually be the blog itself but that would be like giving in to the fashion.
We're aware the Superficiel content access mode was never super-intuitive, although the idea behind it was the quickest possible access to an art piece - and I think that it was right to try that way when we started but after nearly 7 years of existence, it might be time to change without betraying the original ideas: most of the content at the surface (no hierarchy, no menu depth or no more than 2 clicks to get where you want to go), a new homepage each time there's a new feature and a sense of minimal/raw design to let the interactive features be the meat of the experience. We agreed though that a bit of contextualization of the works put in words wouldn't harm anyone. Since there's a great diversity of works displayed, and we refuse to put them in a scale of value, maybe it's a good idea for each to tell the user its story or the incitment behind it.

In 7 years of experience, Superficiel saw the world of the net-art evolve and each original member had their interests shift: Enrico got seriously deep into typography for the best of this art, Ulf perfected his brilliant designer's skills to make it look like it's spreading soft butter on a delicious toast, Raphael went over to Ivrea to discover himself's an interaction designer with a starred destiny in Berlin. As for me, between Nofrontiere, Hyptique and the Media Lab, I opened my eyes to the world of "(to infinity...and )beyond-the-screen". So I guess the net-art raison d'être was a bit overlooked in the last years. Thankfully, we got many guests who fed the site some of the nicest bones to munch on.
Actually, I guess Superficiel was never about net-art but rather about making a statement about the creative process: we would indeed show net-art works but also works that are in general feeding our constant quest for experiences.

The new look is in its progress: stay tuned on the blog to hear about the change!

--Joëlle

23 February 2007

The New King of Scotland

Live from Forres, Scotland

Reporting the launch of Distance Lab, in a beautiful location, east of Inverness, in a very eco-friendly building, close to the hippie utopic community of Findhorn, and a 7-miles sand beach facing the North Sea, blessed with a micro-climate that makes it the sunniest place in Scotland...
I'm really moved by this achievement of Stefan who within 2 years of Media Lab Europe's closure managed to set up a new research lab, backed by a consequent budget, to give the HC group's past research some echo to go on faster, better, stronger in the future.
It's nice to be here at the moment it happens, and to spend some time with Matt, Andrea who are settling down here and Stefan of course.
Here's the email Stefan just sent around. Please pass it to the people who might be interested!

"Subject: Launch of Distance Lab

Dear colleagues,

I am writing to spread the word about the launch of Distance Lab, a new digital media research institute based in the beautiful and culturally-rich north of Scotland.

The mission of Distance Lab is to invent new technologies and experiences that challenge the way we think about distance and help overcome its disadvantages in learning, health care, relationships, culture, and other areas.

Many of you will remember me from my involvement in Media Lab Europe in Dublin, where I headed a research group named Human Connectedness. My hope is that Distance Lab will expand on many of the themes from this group as it develops a similar demo-based culture full of talented engineers, designers, and artists from all over the world.

We are now recruiting RAs and interns on a rolling basis. We are also looking to build links with potential sponsors, clients, and collaborators. Please forward this message to anyone you think might be interested !

All information is on the Distance Lab web site:
http://www.distancelab.org

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s t e f a n agamanolis
Chief Executive
Distance Lab"

Long live the new lab!

--Joëlle

18 February 2007

Anticipation

You know you're addicted to the Beatles when... you build a whole artwork around their songs.
One of the projects I have listed under the name "one day", or "on standby", or "when i have time", or "soon", or "when this is finished" (you know the drill) is a project based on Beatles songs, some sort of Beatles storytelling engine.
I came across one day this wonderful lyrics machine that allows you to browse all their songs with words or phrases that appear in them. For instance, there are exactly 92 songs where the word "love" is cited from (A) "A Day in the Life" to (Y) "You've got to hide your love away".
A useful tool for... addicts...
Well, I don't know if the director Julie Taymor ever knew of this site but she certainly beat me to transform an idea into a completed work. I much anticipate her musical "Across the Universe" starring the beautiful Evan Rachel Wood as a character named Lucy (no kiddin'). The trailer sheds a new light on the song "Hey Jude" with a rage I wouldn't have expected it to drive in me.



Maybe I should get to work on this exercice de style of mine... after this other project is done, oh and also there's this one I should finish first... Ah well, I have a lifetime if front of me.

-- Joëlle.

02 February 2007

Kindergarten

While TV is hit every season with new shows that turn people into drug addicts, spending nights watching episodes one after the other of Prison Break, Desperate Housewives, Grey's Anatomy and the likes of them, I'm having at the moment a semi-retro crave over Buffy, the Vampire Slayer. The guilty one there is a book that Julie gave me: "Fighting the Forces: What's at stake in Buffy, The Vampire Slayer".


The book is a collection of articles in diverse categories such as Politics, Religion, Desire and Sexuality. The most interesting one I read so far talks about language and the use of "Speech Act as a Weapon" or how each character defined by his speech deals with the violent yet familiar reality of their universe. So, I got to watch again the show on DVD - this time, following the episodes rather than getting one by chance every now and then. And it does make a better sense to me of the narratives and the parallel between coming of age and the violence of the process, always tempered by what you gain from it: friendship which builds a new family, love which brings a new meaning to sexuality and desire and fun which helps in getting a sense of control of your life.
Also, just in the idea of shaping narratives and getting the audience to identify with the story, watching Buffy is very formative. There's one episode in particular that is striking (season 2, 19): "I only have eyes for you". It's one of the greatest mise-en-abime that was given me to watch. A ghost reanacts with random people a lovers' dispute that ended in a murder/suicide. At the high point of the story, the ghost uses Buffy and Angel who have broken apart in a previous episode as Angel lost his soul and turned back into his former monster self. So here we have the two former lovers confronting each others' feelings at last - Buffy's sorrow over losing her boyfriend and Angel's frustration over not being able to give Buffy what she wants - as they are incorporated by the souls of the two other lovers who have gone through the same argument years before. At the same time, viewers can identify with Buffy and/or Angel relationship - where one lover cannot recognize anymore the other (he/she changed and became somebody else, a subject not to love anymore) and the other lover feels powerless in front of that gap. In this case, the original lovers, the new lovers Buffy and Angel, and the viewers can make sense all at once of the dynamic at play in this kind of situation and feel somehow relieved that there's a reasoning behind it. A sense of control is given back in a dramaturgy that couldn't be apprehended until then. Brilliant.

--Joëlle.

30 January 2007

Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon - Part 2

Once you got around the idea that your connections are used in a fun social game, what's the next step?
For Kevin Bacon, it's about further connecting people for a good cause. So he created SixDegrees.org where you can raise money for a cause you'd like to defend or where you can yourself donate money to celebrities' or "common people's" charity organisations.
The plus is a video where Kevin adresses you on the homepage and explains the whole concept in his cool way. His sexy voice makes you wanna give away all your money... I guess he knows what he's doing..

-- Joëlle.

18 January 2007

(Fashionably) Late

Within few days, I got to enter the two hippest clubs of Paris that have made some noise in the trendy papers of the capital for more or less 3 years, le Paris, Paris and le Baron. In both cases, it was my first time. Considering they've opened for some time, one could say I wasn't in a hurry to discover those places. Maybe it's the blasé side of me or the i'm-tired-to-go-clubbing-and-see-the-same-people-hear-the-same-music spirit that I've had lately, but indeed I was rather indifferent to the buzz - after all, 14 years of clubbing is maybe enough and even if I'd love to befriend Sofia Coppola and could seek her out every night at le Baron, I don't think I'm that motivated.
Yet, I jumped this last week on two occasions that presented themselves one after the other by chance and I found it ironic enough to make the effort. Both clubs are former private hostess clubs, hence the space is small and intimate - which is probably why the concept of clubbing like if you were "at home" surrounded by your friends got so popular. The entrance in both places is logically free - you don't pay at a friends party - but you have to be on a guest-list - like when you're invited by your pal Joey. This somehow has the advantage of getting you in without queuing - provided you don't get there at 2am of course when even guests have to stand in line because the room inside is so full and you still want people to be able to breathe. So it's a bit like if you'd set a party in your studio flat or restrict it to the living-room and 150 people would show up and they'd feel so comfy, you'd have them around until dawn. How could the other 150 people you invited have a chance to join in?
So, I went early to the Paris, Paris with Claire and Yann last Friday to hear the dj set of my pal Leo. Honestly, the place was rather welcoming and the music was plainly good. People were in for the dancin' and that was good news to me. The pretty boys that flocked the place weren't a bad thing to have either. I drank far too much but all in all, I had a good time.
Disappointing was le Baron, where I went on Tuesday night with David and Alex: too young a crowd, a rather mediocre band showcase, and this nauseating feeling of looking at the high-society on display with a touch here and there of foreigners convinced that there was no other place they could be seen at. You can add to that that the boys and girls were not attractive: in short, a simple disaster. But I'm willing to think it wasn't the right night, the right music.
It could also be the difference between a place located in the 1st district (bourgeois but central, hence crossed by a very diverse crowd, especially coming from surrounding popular areas like les Halles, les Grands-Boulevards and further areas in the 9th direct in line with Pigalle/Clichy) and a place located in the 16th district (ex-centered, psychologically too far too reach for most parisians except for the ones who actually live in the 16th, and who constitute a very special crowd, a mix of drug-addicts wealthy teenagers, ugly old men and their mistresses, rock-band-members-wannabes aristocrats and soon-to-be Sarkozy voters). Make your choice!

--Joëlle.

16 January 2007

And then there was Light!

Finally, we're launching the Dorkbot event in Paris. It was about time!
There are a lot of initiatives in France around electronic art and interaction design but we hardly know each other. It's like there's one network here, one network there, and no bridges between them.
I hope this event is a possible way to bring people together if only to put a face on a name that we're aware of.
So if you're in Paris on the 24th of January, come around... If not, there'll be surely other opportunities to join doing strange things with electricity. From then on, we'll probably do a Dorkbot event every 2 months or every month depending on the working forces.
In a next post, I'll try to list most of the actors involved around electronic art in France and their network to draw a map of what's going on in this lovely country.

--Joëlle

12 January 2007

New year, new life, new mac

12 years ago I went to the Sinai with Joachim, our relationship was ending. I had started another one few months before with Renaud with whom I was very much in love but I had planned long before a trip to Israel with Joachim so we decided to go anyway. The trip was quite colourful and lovely, it was my way to be in Israel without a family context. This winter I went back to the Sinai with my friends Bertrand and Martin. It was very different, we were almost the only people in the bedoui camp, the weather was windy in the day and cold at night but it was real vacations, like I didn't take in quite a long time. All we did was reading, sleeping, playing cards, eating and sunbathing when it was possible. We also spent time in the Negev desert, the Dead Sea and Jerusalem. Tel-Aviv was our base and I enjoyed the city from the inhabitant perspective, staying at Lior's place in this dodgy, hip, curious district of Florentin. Although I travelled to Israel few times within the last 12 years, I connected this trip directly to the one I took with Joachim because of the Sinai. A way to look at the past with much fondness, without any nostalgia, with tenderness for the girl I was at 20. I got random news from Ibrahim, the Sudanese guy who had a camp in Tarabin where I stayed but who is now in Cairo but has another camp during the summer, norther of Tarabin because it's not like what it used to be.
Now Paris again, where I feel more and more comfortable, and is now my base for sure after my plans for Berlin failed. But even then, because I feel more stable, I imagine new plans to work around the world. I have an exhibition to prepare for Tokyo next August and I hope to spend more time in Japan in 2008 if the application I made with Julie for the artist-in-residence Villa Kujoyama gets accepted.
As the new year begins, I get excited by the potential in front of me - before I left for my winter vacations, I thought that my professional life and my love life were set at least for some time. I had to resee things as both these clear horizons shifted to dark in a radical way. But the positive thing is that it doesn't get as exciting as much as when you have to start all over. Which is why, first thing first, I ordered a new Macintosh. I'm sure my flatmate is happier with that choice than if I had gotten a dog instead.

--Joelle.