The IOWA Review Web (University of Iowa), march-april 2002
"WITH THEIR STORIES OR WITHOUT"
Nicolas Clauss was born in Paris
in 1968 and lives there still. He is a painter who stopped "traditional"
painting to use multimedia and the internet as a canvas. His recent work
is displayed on the site
Jean-Jacques Birgé is a sound
designer and a music composer. He is also a film director; his film, "The
Sniper, Sarajevo a Street under Siege" received a British Academy
Nicolas Clauss: I began painting in an abstract way. Then I started using objects on the canvas and working more and more with the texture and matter, including pumice powder and sand. Then I found that I could use not only objects -- like brushes or clothes -- but photographs as objects.
Objects took more and more space into my paintings
Digital and Web-based art came on my way quite naturally, then, following these experiences: it allows me to figure the viewer into the work. It allows me to bring the experience of and "ideal" installation to the users.
NC: For me, words and language are only objects like other objects -- with their stories or without. Sometimes I just use words as a plastic form (as in "Mechanical Brushes" ); sometimes I use words I found without knowing much about the context for the words. In these cases, I'm paying homage to someone else's words.... in a very magic-like, irrational way.
In "Dervish Flowers," the background pictures are photos from an installation I made. The words there were writen by a man who spent a lot of his life in a mental institute. Some friends who bought his house gave me many objects and letters of his. I've made several paintings out of them and I like to put a few words of his on the net pieces I do.... I like the idea of giving a second life to something from him, even though he was a total stranger to me.
TS: You collaborate a lot-- as many New Media artists seem to. Can you talk about that process, especially working with sound artists?
NC: I had been painting alone for 14 years. Now I do works with others, but I continue doing works alone and I need that -- in my mind I'm still a painter and a painter is alone. But I have plenty of time, too, for shared works as well. I mostly work with Jean-Jacques Birgé. Working with a sound artist like Jean-Jacques is a great opportunity for me... I start doing a work first and then he will appropriate the work to make music and suggest interactive possibilities. I will then revise and we go back and forth...
TS: Most of your pieces are done in Shockwave. Is there a reason why you like Shockwave and don't use, say, Flash?
NC: Why Shockwave?
I began using it after I saw the CDROM
I use Flash to make my dancers, but I don't program with it. I quite dislike the vectorial look of Flash. The current Flash trend on the Web is quite a bad thing, I think: too many Flash clones.
TS: Last question: many of your pieces deal in some way with "dance." You even have a piece inspired by the Bjork "dance" movie... why dance?
NC: It happened that I discovered dance late. But when I did, I was interested in trying to give "the dance" feeling through "the mouse." To make people feel the sensuality of dance... on screen. But, finally, as you might guess, I use dancers as objects, too.
TS: Thanks, Nicolas.