For their first exhibition dedicated to a collective project, the Parisian artists Salomé Chatriot and Samuel Fasse, acronymed as S//, present W.S//, an exhibition focusing on digital performance, sensitive beings and virtual ecosystems. The exhibition functions both as an exhibition of Chatriot and Fasse’s individual works, alongside being an introduction to them as an artistic team, building a cohesive foundation for future exhibitions, events and workshops. After connecting online in 2018, since then both artists have worked collaboratively and in isolation from one another, only now branding themselves as a cohesive team.
The exhibition at Nicoletti Contemporary features three rooms displaying a series of sculptures, mul- timedia artworks and by-products of their artistic process. Each work includes embedded layers, transformed and influenced by both digital and physical journeys, reinterpreted and distorted from their original selves. There are a number of collab- orative works, alongside four individual works from each artist.
Root (R.1 – 3) is a work from Chatriot and Fasse which began life as a performative digital artwork, titled Synthetic Bodies. In the performance, several dancers and performers were acting as triggers, activating soft sound sculptural modules made from electronic textiles, tracking their movements andgenerating a number of 3 dimensional avatars in real time virtual worlds displayed on flat screen TVs. The avatars acted as their own digital being, created from their bodily movements, showcasing physical intimacy through digital movement. The first show- ing of Synthetic Bodies introduced their partnership as a collective-common mindset, Samuel and Salomé, with the use of tech enhanced tools. In the second iteration of the work, the performers body parts were covered by pieces of sculpted clay and the TVs were attached to sleek handcrafted steel poles, with their shapes mimicking the fluid actions of the original performer’s physical bodies, and their feet immersed in small pools of resin. Audience members were then non verbally invited to walk into and around the performers space through the flow- ing positioning of the poles.
For W.S//, the third time the work will be reinterpret- ed and exhibited, the piece has been transformed into a sculptural video installation without the use of physical performers. Instead, the original digital movements are displayed alone, on flat screen TVs and attached to the same handcrafted steel poles, covered with pieces of clay and resin, once again reconfiguring how these same materials were used in the previous performance. The viewer is confronted and invited into the intimate space created by the architectural intervention of the poles, functioning as stand ins for the original performers.
Fasse’s sculptural works displayed in the exhibition, Body (B 1 – 4) were created from the same steel poles, a non-literal reinterpretation from the per- formers’ tensions within their body movements, although instead of slick flat screen TVs, Fasse’s metal structures carry thermoformed wood sculptures covered with resin, hanging taught and stretched akin to the skin wrapped around the bones of a body. Here the sculptures continue to represent a phys- ical body, although rather than facilitating a digital representation we encounter an intensely physical one that draws attention to our own bodies fragility. However, the creation of the sculptures is anything but fragile. The wood is first vacuum formed, then the silicone is poured and fitted around the sculpture using 3D moulds and clamps, with the silicone material being forced into a skeleton like framework to create the synthetic skin, constrained within its creators cage. The moulds are then taken away, revealing the original shaped wood accompanied by coloured resin and hair follicles, transforming into a relic like form.
For the exhibition Chatriot chose to create and reverse engineer the bodies from the original collab- orative performance, creating wall based sculptural works titled Harlequin (H 1 – 4), positioned throughout the space at various heights. The works resemble huge ivory carapaces, made predominantly of resin. Attached to these monolithic objects are plexiglass prints depicting computer generated fluids, creating a sensual relationship between the glistening organ like shells and the irrigation systems residing within the human body. The prints are connected to the hardened resin with pop rivets and other metallic elements, referencing industrial machinery and assembly lines. Chatriot sees each component within the work as a different element or part of the anatomy of the living, unassembled and deconstructed, turning the usually invisible visible. Light is projected through the prints, continuing to illuminate the intricacies of these organism’s internal structures. Small metal armature like sculptures, resembling plants, are also connected to the bone shells. Presented in an intermediate state, these works contribute to and enhance the visual reinterpretation of the original performer’s bodies, slowly metamorphosing and mutating into eerie, vegetal like elements, referencing nymphosis; the transformation of an insect into a nymph.
The final works within the exhibition are a series of sculptures and textiles from both artists, evolutionary works that, again, have been created by reinterpreting and remixing previous elements and ideas. Three scarves have been produced by Fasse from 3D physical textile compositions, beginning life as 2D garments in the original Synthetic Bodies collaboration, reinterpreted from the original textile work into the 3D representation of the performer’s ecosystem. These were transformed into 3D dissolving digital forms by Chatriot, then printed onto plexiglass inspired by and utilising the digital real time imagery that was produced for the Synthetic Bodies digital performance. The performers first became avatars, trapped between the digital and physical world, and have now been returned, becoming physical objects. Both series’ have been twisted and transformed, journeying through various mediums and digital processes, becoming the collaborative work Symbiosis (S.1 – 3).
For Chatriot and Fasse W.S// is the beginning, the start of a collective project that, in the future, seeks to collaborate with fellow artists, designers and producers. As the title suggests, the artists see this as an opportunity to welcome others into their physical and digital worlds, presenting works reflecting on our fragile bodies and how essential machinery and digi- tal technology has become within our delicate lives.
Bob Bicknell-Knight (b. Suffolk, UK) is a London-based artist and curator. His work explores the divergent methods by which consumer capitalist culture perme- ates both online and offline society. Utopian, dystopian, automation, surveillance and digitisation of the self are some of the themes that arise through his critical examination of contemporary technologies.
Bicknell-Knight is also the founder and current director of the online contemporary art platform isthisit?
Bicknell-Knight has spoken on panel discussions and given artist talks at Tate Modern, London (2019), University of Cambridge, Cambridge (2019), Camber- well College of Arts, London (2019) and Goldsmiths, University of London, London (2018).