Julien Prévieux: Pinch-to-Zoom
November 22, 2018 – January 20, 2019
Art Sonje Center 3F
Julien Prévieux: Pinch-to-Zoom
Julien Prévieux is interested in the eﬀects that developments in industry and technology have had on the movements of the human body in the modern era, using videos, drawing, installations, and performances to comment on the diﬀerent workings of society that choreograph our everyday use of the body. Based on his research into bodily movements – sometimes patented – that have been devised for the eﬃcient use of technology, as well as information that he has collected on the human body to study methods of recording movement for its application, this exhibition reveals how the body, technology, and production are interlinked today, while showcasing the artist’s diﬀerent attempts to transfer those workings into art.
Positioned at the entrance, the video Rolls (1998) shows a performance developed by the artist when he was attending art school. The video shows him traveling from his home and back, rolling along the ground the whole way. This sort of literal physical confrontation is an approach that can be seen in many of Prévieux’s works since. Emerging out of his doubts and questions about politics, the economy, and societal phenomena, his work follows an approach of tacking the phenomenon head on. For his Lettres de non-motivation, the artist responded to job advertisements in newspapers and magazines between 2000 and 2007 by sending his own letters rejecting the positions in place of job applications. The rejection letters numbered over a thousand in all, with the artist variously criticizing everything from the language choice in the advertisements to the companies’ policies; in some cases, he actually received a reply. Laying bare the reality of contemporary labor and employment, the letters were not only presented in art exhibitions but also triggered a variety of social discussions and debates.1
What Shall We Do Next? (Sequence #1) is an animated video made up of patented physical gestures gathered by the artists between 2007 and 2011. As electronic devices have developed, the commands used to operate them have been replaced with simple physical movements. These natural user interfaces, which recognize users’ natural movements and use them to exchange information, are treated as important technology by the companies that produce electronics, and some of the movements have been patented. Numerous patents have also been registered for technologies that have yet to appear or be marketed – representing the “movements we will be making someday,” as well as a kind of “future within the present.” Working with dancers, the artist has developed a video essay using these patented movements as his “score” (What Shall We Do Next? (Sequence #2) (2014)), along with various other video and performance works that show the irony of an individual’s body and movements – regarded as the most personal of things – being tied to technological development, private property, and unpaid labor.
The exhibition’s centerpiece is Patterns of Life (2015), a video work for which the artist recorded and analyzed bodily movements since the 19th century to trace the lineage of their use in capitalist industry and technology and transform it into choreography for dancers from the Paris Opera. While diﬀerent reasons exist for these records, the goals were chieﬂy industrial, with the aim of increasing the eﬃciency of the working body or analyze the patterns of the consuming body. This video essay ties in with a workshop on visual tracking device recording that is being organized for the exhibition with six students from Seoul-area art universities, which is used as the basis for a wall-sized Anthology of Gazes (2015-2018), and the work Speed-Portrait (2015), a stone sculpture based on data reﬂecting changes in speed in the artist’s movements over the course of a week.
Rather than adopting a sci-ﬁ approach, Prévieux interrogates technology in its most analog form – in terms of its relationship with the human body, an aspect that remains constantly present with technology. Sometimes these manifests through his adopting a handicraft approach to achieve something that could be solved simply through technology; other times, it is expressed through attempts to achieve a nadir of eﬃciency. The artist has staged a workshop in which police oﬃcer’s hand-drew Voronoi diagrams (mainly used to determine the geographical distribution of crimes) rather than using a computer, and attempted a primitive form of “hacking” that involved sneaking a glimpse of writing on the wall through the window at the Google oﬃces and then using it to make a drawing. Through his work, he physically takes on the productivity and eﬃciency that have become norms of modern society, asking us to ponder once again the technology-based activities that are increasingly seen as natural. With the question “What shall we do next?” we are left with a choice between passivity and activity. Will we accept the future movements assigned to us? Or we will decide the next new form of movement on our own?
1: French businesses have invited the artist to give talks, and his work has been used as material for psychological counseling with job seekers. Lettres de non-motivation has been published in Korean translation under the title Ipsa Geobuseo (Employment Rejection Letters) and is available for reading in the center’s ﬁrst-ﬂoor lobby.
About the Artist
Born in 1974 in Grenoble, France, Julien Prévieux is involved in a variety of installation, video, and performance work based on his research into a broad range of contemporary topics including the use of technology, intellectual industry, and the functioning of the economy. In 2014, he was awarded the prestigious Marcel Duchamp Prize, an honor given to contemporary artists in France. He has held solo exhibitions at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Marseille (2018), Blackwood Gallery in Toronto (2017), and the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2014). His work Lettres de non-motivation, in which he uses rejection letters he wrote in response to job postings at over 1,000 companies in a seven-year period to show the disconnect from reality in the advertisements’ language, has been published in Korean translation as Ipsa Geobuseo(KL Publishing, 2016).
2018.11.21 (Wed), 6pm
Artist Talk: Julien Prévieux
2018.11.21 (Wed), 4pm
Art Sonje Project Space (1F)