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About Inside The Black Box


At the 10th anniversary of the incredible L.E.V. festival in Gijon, Spain, Yro & Sati presented Inside the Black Box, an unusual performance on the new medias stage.  At the same time narrative and experimental, we follow the cosmic journey of a black cube in space.  Erwan, Yro, how did it all start?

Erwan Raguenes (SATI): With Jesse Lucas from our duo SATI, we met Yro for the first time at the Active Layer festival in Creil in 2007 (organised by Julien Appert, also a visual artist).  We were presenting our concert A/V « React ».  At that time we felt the effervescence around what was called « Audio/Video performance », which consisted of an unbreakable link between image and sound.  Yro invited us to a residence at Pixels Transversaux, a creative laboratory for these new forms that he had created at the Generale en Manufacture in the Paris region.  For his part, he was working on audio-visual experimentations (the beginning of his rostrum-camera device), and we decided to do a first public improvisation at the end of the week in residence.  It could be considered the start of Inside the Black Box, we played the music, and he created the video from the manipulation of objects live in front of a camera.

Yro: Around the Pixels Transversaux I created the Visionsonic Festival.  The programming was dedicated to hybrid forms, improvised or experimental, with modern writing, narrative or abstract.  Pixels Transversaux was the workspace, Visionsonic was the meeting space between the public and this emerging scene of artists: Incite/ (Germany), Transforma (Germany), Otolab (Italy), Sculpture (England), Gangpol and Mit (France), Synchronator (Holland), RKO (France) to name but a few… In 2010, with SATI, we created the collective Avoka in order to crystalize all these energies around some artists, and to produce and diffuse our creations.  Inside the Black Box is the first creation of the collective.



All through Inside the Black Box we can feel this proliferation of ideas and experimentation.  The performance is a mix of animated films in 3D, the manipulation of objects in front of the cameras and the interpretation of a dark electronic music perfectly connected to the black and white images.  We marvel at the flight of a bird animated live on stage or before a luminous sculpture reacting to the music, creating a sort of space-time door.

Yro: The project was derived from research into new cinematic writing by diverting the codes and tools of traditional cinema whilst incorporating interactive and improvised devices.  The sequences in 3D sit along side the moiré, a « gravity box » (a camera, fixed in relation to a box containing balls, films a scene that appears to be filmed in weightlessness), or also a film stop motion created on stage with the help of 8 breakdowns of movement, creating the flight of a bird.  We make the magic and poetry with bits of paper, some balls, some milk and light.

Erwan Raguenes (SATI): After the first version in 2008, we wanted to link the devices of audio-visual interaction and the objects created by Yro.  The real objects filmed on stage influenced the style used later in the 3D creation made by Jesse Lucas (the second half of the duo SATI).  It’s all about the true to and fro between the analogical and the digital, as much on stage as in the creative work done beforehand.  The music was also created with a mix of vintage analogical synthesizers and more modern machines.  Inside the black box is a tribute to the beginnings of cinema and electronic music.



From the first moments of the show, we are transported into the odyssey of the « black box » that cleaves the stars before landing on a white planet.  We do a lot of back and forth between the screen and you on stage, to try and unlock the mysteries of the creation of images and the musical score. 

Unlike many new media projects, we feel your wish to tell us a story and to be accessible to a wide public.  Why did you want to connect all these pictures that could have been simple abstract experimentations?

Erwan Raguenes (SATI): At that time, with SATI, Jesse and I were writing our first show for a young audience, The Odyssey of Rick the Cube.  Yro was experimenting with the manipulation of objects and the three of us wrote this journey of a black cube.  We wanted the public to follow a path whilst entering into a story abstract enough for us have the space for experimentation and improvisation.  Originally the three of us were on stage but for scheduling reasons Jesse is no longer on stage with us.

 Yro: The creation of ITBB is a story all on it’s own.  The project had at least 4 totally different versions.  This project was like a laboratory for us (work on lighting and scenography research, musical forms).  Between today’s version and the first presented in 2008, or the one presented at Scopitone 7 years ago, there’s nothing left.  It’s a project of our youth with its share of attempts. We learnt a lot with this project and we still have the pleasure of being invited to present it today.


You exchange looks during the whole performance.  Erwan, whilst interpreting the music, watches the screen and reacts musically to what’s happening.  Yro, in his manipulations seems to respond to the music.

 Erwan Raguenes (SATI): The connexion between us is primordial.  The show is very written; the scenes have a precise order.  But in this writing, there are spaces of visual and sound improvisations.  Yro manipulates a large number of objects and I interpret most of the music on synthesizers and machines.

Yro:  It’s in these spaces of freedom that we find the pleasure of being on stage.  It’s this fragility, this imperfection that allows us to embark the public on this black and white, oscillating, vintage adventure.



Inside the black box was created nearly 7 years ago, have you done any other projects together since?

 Yro:  With Erwan, we worked together on another project, Triangles Irascibles that developed this research on new cinematic writing.  By manipulating photographs (family archives and original photos), I tackle my relationship to family and death.  Erwan composed the sound track of this experience.  Erwan and Jesse have since done the second part of the adventures of Rick: Rick the cube and the Mystery of Weather whilst still playing their duo SATI.

Erwan Raguenes (SATI): The three of us have also collaborated on interactive installations that mix analogical and digital technologies such as the Dyskograf, a graphic disk reader that has been presented at a large number of festivals!

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Translation of the article that appeared in the Spanish magazine TENMAG :