Co-founder of online gallery Bubblebyte.org Rhys Coren goes i-N conversation with digital artist Nicolas Sassoon.
Bubblebyte.org celebrates its first birthday with a physical exhibition of all the artists who have had solo shows on the site so far. Titled ‘PRIMO ANNIVERSARIO’, the exhibition opened on Friday night at the artist-led gallery space The Sunday Painter in Peckham, London. A wealth of work previously experienced online is realised in this IRL (in real life) gallery context, commanding projectors, monitors, DVD players, cables, speakers, amps etc. In keeping with the spirit of things, The Sunday Painter came up with the idea of giving their website – normally used in a fairly traditional way to archive shows and contain information on future projects – completely over to a digital artwork. This is where Nicolas Sassoon’s TIDES came in, now literally swamping the site with a wave of Flash animation, leaving what was on the site before submerged under a digital flood.
RC: Who are you? How old are you? What do you do? Where are you from? Where do you live? And what football team do you support?
NS: My name is Nicolas Sassoon. I’m 30 years old. I make a lot of animated gifs that I publish online. I also make prints, videos, projections and installations. I’m from France and I currently live in Vancouver BC Canada. I support Lille Olympique Sporting Club, Olympique de Marseille, and the Vancouver White Caps.
RC: bubblebyte.org, the online gallery where you had your solo show TIDES, is one year old this month. To celebrate, we’ve decided to take work from each artist we gave a solo show and present their work in a physical space. The digital becomes physical. How do you feel about your work transcending from the screen to a room?
NS: Firstly, congratulations for the one year anniversary of bubblebyte. It’s exciting to see that several online shows have been the premise for this physical show. I really like that celebration aspect, I’m glad to show something in these conditions too. I just wish I could be there myself!
RC: But the whole show has a backwardness about it. All these digital works, in order to exist off a computer screen, need so much equipment! How do you think your work will differ in this real life context?
NS: Most of the time my work online is experienced at home, on a laptop or a desktop computer. There is something very comfortable, intimate and immersive about that type of context. Generally when I install a work in a space I try to create similar or equivalent conditions.
RC: So what techniques should we employ to help create a sense of intimacy when we show your work?
NS: It depends on the work and the space. A large scale projection is one option as I like to create immersive environments. They always seem more intimate to me.
RC: OK, we’ll project it big then! Who would win in a fight between the internet and a gallery?
NS: I don’t know… they both lose? What do you think?
RC: I’d like to think a gallery could still win in a fight. We don’t want a Master Control Program style scenario like in Tron, or Terminator or something, with computers taking over completely. As part of PRIMO ANNIVERSARIO, The Sunday Painter has given over their entire site, which they used to document the work they did in their gallery, to one of your digital works. Do you ever worry that one of your digital artworks could one day turn it around, take over your site and be your master?
NS: It’s probably too late for me to worry about that. Technology is already an overwhelming environment in my life and I’m pretty happy about it. I think my work is an attempt to learn how to live better with that environment, and what to make out of it. My work is definitely the ruler of my daily life.
RC: Can you give us a brief introduction to the TIDES piece occupying the site?
NS: I made TIDES while I was back in my hometown Biarritz in France for holidays. It’s a seaside resort on the Atlantic Coast where I spend a lot of time doing nothing, just observing. I was curious to see if some of my memories from there could translate as animations and exist online for a little while. All the TIDES animations are about water movements at the surface of the ocean, similar to the one up on the Sunday Painter website.
RC: What’s next for you?
NS: Right now I’m creating a production studio here in Vancouver. It’s called Island Pavilion. It will produce limited edition artworks from artists who are very active online and very prolific when it comes to image-making with computers. Official launch is scheduled for March 2012. Apart from that, I’m trying to work more on site-specific installations.One should happen in Mexico City, another one close to New York, and maybe one here in Vancouver.
RC: When a tree falls in the forest and there is no one there to hear it, does it make a noise? If a GIF gets scrolled past on a web browser, does it continue to animate?
NS: I like to think that they never stop animating. Gifs online are like ghosts; they float around without being specifically somewhere. Most of the time you don’t really know where they come from and where they end up. It’s hard for me to tell the degree of reality of a gif, or if it belongs to some kind of story, or fiction. That’s what I love about them.
RC: Thanks, Nicolas. brb.
Text: Rhys Coren