FILE SOLO 2017
LAWRENCE MALSTAF – The poetics of immersion
From July 22 to September 18
Ministry of Culture presents
Banco do Brasil presents and sponsors
Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB) – São Paulo
Over its 18 years, FILE has aimed to show the influence of modern technology on the arts, which began with aesthetic investigations which exploited the new phenomenon of the internet to produce web art and net art, hypertext and hypermedia, all from the perspective of interactivity and non-linearity. During the first decade of this century, it was rare to encounter events which exhibited these aesthetic expressions and the emergence of FILE, the Electronic Language International Festival, emerged very much as a result. In an explosion of creativity, a new post-avant-garde revival was seen, for a new world had emerged: the virtual world.
From the beginning, the FILE festival has been part of this world. During those first ten years, new modalities appeared and disappeared in the intense and organic dynamic cadence typical of the new technologies, one moment a novelty, the next, obsolete. Forms such as web art, robotic art, browser art, computer art, sound art, digital art, panoramas, VRML, interactive cinema and so on came together in interactive installations. They had to respond to the question of the exhibition space and the interaction of the public with the works using technological devices. This resulted in the public becoming more involved in the work.
We can now say that technology art has reached the age of majority. Its aesthetics and artistic values are changing in parallel to those of contemporary art. It stands out not only in dealing with the new, but, above all, in its innovation, in the convergence between technological creativity and artistic creativity.
FILE’s exhibitions have always been collective, as one of the festival’s commitments has been to show, in addition to the works, the diversity of expression that technological art permits, through the inclusion in the festival of animations and electronic games – both of which have been experiencing rapid change as the result of technological innovation. Collective exhibitions are important as they give us a wide-ranging view of what is happening in a specific moment in time in different countries, through the poetic development of each artist.
Over the last 18 years, some artists have produced a body of works which consistently and cohesively explore innovation and creativity through technology. Now, FILE can realistically consider the possibility of an individual show, with the introduction of a new exhibition form as part of the festival, which we call FILE SOLO.
FILE SOLO exhibits a group of works from a single artist, exploring the creative possibilities of the interdisciplinary and technological relationship. For our first FILE SOLO, which is on show only at the CCBBSP venue, we have chosen the Belgian artist Lawrence Malstaf. His work is situated on the border between the visual arts and theater. He creates installations and performances which draw their inspiration from the physical and the technological.
Lawrence gives each visitor the opportunity for an individual experience, as they visit sensory and immersive rooms, helping them become a co-actor in the work.
Paula Perissinotto e Ricardo Barreto
FILE Founders and Organizers
A couple of vibrating chairs are slowly moving and turning randomly through the space. They seem to search and reject each other with soft humming sounds. When a visitor passes by or sits down, the chairs hesitate and then carefully try out different patterns. The patterns are not designed; it is a self-organizing system where new compositions and new behavior arises spontaneously through the duration of the installation.
A dark room with a large vibrating mirror deforms the reflection of the visitor (the installation is to be visited individually). At first, the vibrations are so subtle that you might wonder if it is your own eyes that are having trouble to focus. But gradually it becomes more obvious that the mirror is actually moving and mutating the mirror image into a Francis Bacon portrait. Yet the visual impression is so real that some people feel the urge to check if their body is actually decomposing or not. In the end, the body evaporates and disappears.
Styrofoam particles are blown around in a big transparent PVC cylinder by 5 strong fans. Visitors can take place one by one on the armchair in the middle of the whirlpool or observe from the outside. On the chair, in the eye of the storm it is calm and safe. Spectacular at first sight, this installation turns out to mesmerize as a kind of meditation machine. One can follow the seemingly cyclic patterns, focus on the different layers of 3D pixels or listen to its waterfall sound. One could call it a training device, challenging the visitor to stay centered and find peace in a fast-changing environment. After a while the space seems to expand and one’s sense of time deludes.
Two large, transparent plastic sheets and a device that gradually sucks the air out from between them leave the body (in this case, the artist himself) vacuum-packed and vertically suspended. The transparent tube inserted between the two surfaces allows the person inside the installation to regulate the flow of air. As a result of the increasing pressure between the plastic sheets, the surface of the packed body gradually freezes into multiple micro-folds. For the duration of the performance, the person inside moves slowly and changes positions, which vary from an almost embryonic position to one resembling a crucified body.
A layer of water is contained by two sheets of glass. Two motors tilt the glass disc at barely visible angles. A large air bubble slowly changes shape and moves around in the water. It tries to find a new equilibrium under a map of the arctic ice that is printed on top of the glass. A spotlight circles around the installation like a sun. It projects a rotating shadow including motion patterns of the water that are not visible in the original disc.
Two conveyor belts of about 13-meter-long are set up next to each other and running in opposite directions. People can lay down on them to be transported very slowly. Hidden under the surface an invisible mechanism produces a subtle yet intense tactile experience for the spine. Halfway the trajectory, the visitors are confronted with 2 horizontal mirrors moving up and down above them.
The work of Lawrence Malstaf (1972, Bruges, Belgium) is situated on the borderline between the visual and the theatrical. He develops installation and performance art with a strong focus on movement, coincidence, order and chaos, and immersive sensorial rooms for individual visitors. He also creates larger mobile environments dealing with space and orientation, often using the visitor as a co-actor. His projects involve physics and technology as a point of departure or inspiration and as a means for activating installations.
Lawrence Malstaf has received several international awards in the field of art and new technology. He is also renowned as an innovative scenographer in the dance and theatre world.