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WE_CODE_EXPO > IF : Interview of Jesse Lucas

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C.B. : Jesse Lucas is part of this new generation of self-taught and multidisciplinary artists who, with a disconcerting ease, mixes music, video, 3D animation, programming,… He has acquired certain notoriety with, notably, The Odyssey of Rick the Cube (with Erwan Raguenes) and the performances of the duet SATI, mixing electronic music and video projection.  In between, he also works on interactive installations within the Avoka association.

His new realisation « IF » is the first part of the exhibition WE CODE EXPO which presents a series of works around the apprenticeship of programming.  Jesse, tell us more about this new challenge.

JESSE LUCAS : IF is the first work created for the exhibition “We Code Expo”. It’s a graphic, playful and educational exhibition, which aims to promote the publics awareness of computer programming.  The name « IF » comes from one of the basic commands in all of the programming languages.  It is the notion of choice. 

Using a series of control buttons, this installation makes it possible to create a picture made of lines and circles, like a constellation.  When the user prints his or her picture on the terminal a series of commands (the code), which gave life to the digital creation, is shown.

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C.B. : For the initiation of children (and adults) into programming, some tools made by engineers already exist, notably Scratch from MIT and also Hopscotch (on ipad).  How does your artist’s vision change this approach whilst responding to today’s issues?

J.L. : These tools are excellent, and do make it possible to discover the code when youre very young.  Nevertheless, its often necessary to use a computer (or a digital tablet).  This exhibition offers another gateway; it invites attention through the format and staging of the terminals.  Each terminal is a creative, interactive object inspired by the code.  It offers an alternative way to understand programming logic.  Thats why I hope it will attract children as well as their grandparents.

The more our world becomes digital, the more those who master programming will have power.  I dont think that we have to make everyone a programmer but as an artist in the digital era it seems necessary to me to offer an original way to understand this universe that remains obscure for many people.

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C.B. : With the Dyskograf (created with Erwan Raguenes and Yro), you already offered the public the possibility to create their own piece of music with a few strokes of a pen on a terminal that looked like a vinyl record player.  In your view, where is the publics’place with this type of work?

J.L. : Central? Its virtually obvious in my view.  I love imagining a device with the public in mind.  Some artists prefer not to worry too much so that they can be free in their choice.  But for me, its an opportunity to find the meeting point between my desire and that of the public.  On top of that, these devices are creative, artistic objects in their own right.  Without the public to give them life they have no meaning.  Some devices enable the creation of a fleeting work and some leave the public free to keep a trace of their passing, such as the Dyskograf discs.

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C.B. : The participation aspect doesn’t stop at the public, I read that you’ve thrown out an appeal for contributions from artists, places, schools…So are you short of ideas?

J.L. : No, of course not!  But its above all a project that invites collaboration, something we have a strong wish for, to discover how other artists can propose their vision of code in the framework of We Code Expo.  I think this project offers an interesting framework for working with several sensitivities and at the same time create a coherent final project.

We have also worked with the engineering school ISEN in Brest on this first terminal.  And we’re going to continue to put this type of partnership into place in the future.  We’re also starting to present the current devices in the media libraries to see the reactions of the public and adjust their functions.  Don’t hesitate to contact us if you wish to participate in this project!

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“If” will be presented for the first time the 17 October at the Maintenant Festival in Rennes.

Interview made by Caroline Baquin

Plus d’infos sur WE CODE EXPO here