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Canariasmediafest 2004 catalogue (october 2004)

When 0 and 1 create life : Nicolas Clauss and Han Hoogerbrugge

by Angela Molina Director of Ciber@RT Bilbao Festival.

Since the moving image made its appearance at the end oi the nineteenth century, developments in the audiovisual field have been unstoppable, and, to a certain extent, unimaginable. Accompanied and powered by the appearance of new technologies, imaging has undergone a major expansion.

The 1990s, with the popularisation oi Internet as a medium of mass communication, was a paradigmatic moment, as all the schemas that had accompanied artistic discourse were modified by this new technology. Walter Benjamin made some early predictions in relation to cinema. He stated that each historic space has modified human existence and the form and the manner of sensorial perception. He makes us see that a new medium can create new expectations and alter acquired notions associated with tradition. Something of what Benjamin stated is in the works produced by multimedia artists. Exhibiting a work in a generalised manner and overriding traditional schemes in which the art world moves is today a reality made easier by the architecture of the net.

In a society where the most brutal form of neo-liberalism has finally triumphed, rapidly taking over communication-technology (which in neo-liberalist hands is the technology of incommunication) to create a single line of thought, the subject and his identity have entered into a crisis.

Faced with this situation, contemporary creators have taken over the media. They integrate chaos into their discourse through random, non-linear creations and produce their own spaces for creation, communication and exhibition, autonomously and independently. Faced with the market economy they reply with immaterial works that live in cyberspace and allow a direct, personal relationship with the user.

Digital technology has introduced new properties to the work of art: interactivity, ubiquity, processability, virtuality and inter-disciplinarity have given rise to totally original works and have extended imaging. Works created with ones and zeroes are proposals of meaning that change with each viewing.

Multimedia art obliges us to become involved; it is a perception of the work with conscience. We find ourselves facing a single medium which integrates different codes (video, audio, graphics, words, etc.) through the hypertext, which involves a process of re-semanticising and re-contextualising through which a new textual reality is formed. The hypertext includes non-linearity and frees the texts from psychological, sociological and historical determinisms, opening up an apparently infinite range of relationships.

The World Wide Web represents the most perfect application of the hypertext. A network that allows "horizontal connections" with other places and other minds by means of links. The user moves through a network of texts, which displaces the concept of centre and therefore the focus or organising principie of our experience. The hypertext is like life, full of diverging paths; it is the language of exploration, discovery and flexibility.

AII of these new properties have given rise to other hybrids that displace the very meaning of the terms with which we attempt to classify them: the medium becomes the content, the format becomes the niedium and the information becomes art.

The artistic work of Han Hoogerbrugge and Nicolas Clauss is therefore impossible to classify. They are artists who use 1s and 0s to create life.

Nicolas Clauss is a prolific and versatile artist. His work, full of nuances and different genres, travels from the most intimate spaces to social discourse. The origins of this author are found in the two dimensional space of painting, an influence that is obvious in all his work.

His inclusion in the timeless space of the web is a model of multimedia work. Twelve years in painting led him to the search for a new medium. His time at the ATI (Department of Arts and Imaging Technologies at Paris 8) opened up new possibilities for his discourse. But it was the CD Rom Machiavel by Jean-Jacques Birgé and in particular Alphabet by Birgé, Frédéric Durieu and Murielle Lefevre which put him on the right track. He discovered the Director programme and the bases of Lingo, as well as their possibilities for expression: the superposition of textures, video manipulation, sound, imaging and interactivity.

Attracted by the possibilities the web offers for collaborating, although without giving up the solitude of creation or losing his personal contribution, he regularly works with the composer Jean- Jacques Birgé, who has composed the music for the majority of his-work and with whom he founded the website Le ciel est Bleu.

In 2001 Clauss created his own website ( where all of his works are on display. He is a tireless worker and the sheer amount of works will surprise visitors to his website. He admits that the web provides him with contacts, helps with distribution and allows for a collaboration similar to cinematographic interactive co-writing.

The works of Nicolas Clauss mix contemporary dance, music, painting, flash animation, cinema and photography. He states, "my work is made by me and by the spectators" and "I supply the co-ordinates and induce the final effect obtained". All his work is effectively governed by interactivity. They are works in which a great sensitivity and a great commitment to rife stand out. In all his work the different media are subordinate to the behaviour of the piece and to the author's discourse. It is a hybridisation of disciplines and genres that create a universe of emotions, reinforced by the presence that the author gives to the music and the soundtrack of the piece.

Clauss depicts everything he imagines and sees. He enters into what is human and gives it voice. He uses the web to create a poetic machine from which he demands freedom.

There is nothing more interesting in this world than man; and the most interesting aspect of man is his inner life. And in the inner life the most mysterious aspect is the profound depths that are revealed to us in dreams.

E. Weilenmann

Han Hoogerbrugge starts from the comic and its representational form. The author's first work, Neurotica, was made as a comic strip in which be detailed the adventures and misadventures of his life as an artist during the mid 1990s. Later on, Hoogerbrugge adapted it for a series of digital animations which he added to
his personal web page. He first developed it as short Gif animations
and then he added interactivity with Flash software.

His visual style is schematic. and complex at the same time, suggestive and full of dynamism. While it was initially based on small interactive animations emphasising a single action, with time his work has changed, adding an increasingly larger narrative, as in his work in process "HOTEL".

Trying to appreciate or imagine the life of Han Hoogerbrugge through his work is not difficult; the artist takes his clothes off in front of us and shows himself to be irreverent. His work is auto- referential but introspection and extrospection live together in his website; it is the observation of self and external observation, the awareness of possible conflicts between personality and environment. Our neuroses in pure form, the stereotypes that shape and condition us, the collective subconscious. In short, the spirit of our age is dealt with by this author using irony and ingenuity.

His surrealist and incisive discourse makes us face up to social conventions and leads us to identification. Far from the rules of logic, his characters move in a chaotic world in which they struggle to survive.

The inner world of Han Hoogerbrugge is complex and intelligent. In his work the environment and human beings are explored and the subconscious comes to light. His comic strips form a theatre of pulsations that go right to our emotions. Alejandro Jodorowsky says it is easier for the subconscious to understand the langage of dreams than rational language; this is the territory in which the work of this author moves.

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