Tell us a bit about the work you do…
I’m a sound and visual artist, working with data sources and sound analysis through art installations, design and live performances. But I’m both an artist and a programmer/engineer, currently teaching ‘Digital Art Approaches’ at École Supérieure d’Art et de Design Marseille-Méditerannée.
My main research uses sound visualization, data sets, sonification and physical approaches of the sound in order to push our own limit of the perceptions, trying every time to feel the sound as a tangible matter and designing visuals as pure and raw stimuli for our eyes.
Where did your relationship with light begin?
As soon as I discovered new ways of creating interactions between sound and visuals, I began to dig lighting. I use a very minimalistic approach to visual design, almost always in black & white, and I became interested very early by stroboscopic effects generated by projected visuals.
Then I started to play with DMX and LEDS, not as ‘yet more screens’ but more as a way to irradiate the audience and space, and to play with the overall atmosphere.
I never understood why the guy making the sound at a gig wasn’t also the one making the visual and light atmosphere, as I feel that together they are both so intertwined.
How did you start upon exploring the interaction between light and sound?
I think I’m maybe synesthetic. When I hear a sound, I feel it like a shape, a color or other visual stimuli like brightness or contrast. It works the same in the opposite way.
As an artist, I want to express myself and make the others watch the world through my eyes and hear it through my ears. This is why I’m always performing live by using sound and visuals. Both are always related. I consider sound and visual as the same matter: each one probably felt a bit differently, but there are vibrations, frequencies and energy at the same time…
I’m always trying to make visuals and light vary according to the audio content itself. It can now be done quite easily with our over-powered laptops. Sometimes it involves complex analysis using algorithms like Fast-Fourier-Transform to extract the frequency spectrum of the sound atmosphere content in real-time in order to be able to know if the current sound heard is low, or high pitched, or more or less bright. Other times, it involves other algorithms that try to represent the sound through numerical values like noisiness, centroid location (the global and medium frequency of the recorded sound) or more cryptic concepts.
Basically, the overall idea is about appreciating the content in real-time, and to generate or alter visuals related to this content.
What is it about light as a medium that fascinates you so much?
Light, considered as a basic blinking flash, is very interesting. It can produce special effects for humans. But the really fascinating thing about light is its ability to change the atmosphere of spaces. Considering a constant space, with objects, with people, if you change the light (brightness, orientation, color temperature, blinking frequency especially), you change everything. For me, light is the most important factor related to mood, feelings and thoughts; sometimes even more than the sound.
I can work with very contrasted elements and very soft too, very constant or changing subtly, playing with the color temperature, making additional synthesis… We have a lot of expression room by playing with light.
Read the second part of our chat with Julien here.
In the meantime you can keep up with Julien’s work on his website , or you can be updated directly by following his Facebook page .