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DEBATES 2011 - Intellectual property - Artists' voice: technological innovations and art evolution

The Forum d’Avignon interviewed 25 international artists to prepare the debate on intellectual property.

To which extend have technology change the way you create? 

Paul ANDREU, architect

Omnipresent computing is the main innovation:

- A lot of images, not always very useful but that the « Communication », often linked with misunderstanding, makes necessary.
- The ability to control complex projects, but that pushes to an academism of complication
- At the stage of construction, the real advantage of not being subjected to repetition of identical elements.
At the end, it is closed to the law of audiovisual: more the means of productions progress, more the creation declines.


Jean Jacques ANNAUD, film director

Digital format has not changed my life. It allows you to shoot more without dealing with the cost of the film, like amateur photographers who take 400 photos instead of 3 for the communion of their little cousin. Digital allows also reducing light or even doing without any light for night scenes.

However the tsunami of free download radically has transformed the segment of film in which I made my life. 60 per cent of the repayment of my movies came from DVD sales over the past ten or twenty years that followed its release. Then, I can do two types of movies: making immediate consumption movies for teenagers or movies of my heart for 40 per 100 of the cost.


Nabil AYOUCH, film director 

They have not only made it evolve but have even completely changed it. Thanks to special effects, anything is possible today. With the democratization of filming/editing tools, anyone can become a director and make a movie. This means that a movie can be born anywhere, be created with very few resources and distributed instantly around the world through new windows offered by the Internet. More than ever, the difference won’t be on technical performance, but on the originality of the idea and how it will be dealt with it.




Philippe CLAUDEL, film  director

My debt is huge towards technology and in particular  laptop. Without which I would not be able to write a single line: the use of laptop has liberated my imagination. It feeds it and makes it work. In a way it is my outer and inexhaustible brain. Regarding my activities as a filmmaker, I shot my two movies with digital technology, by integrating its specificities, its new possibilities and limits. I am fascinated by new tools of production and reading of the image, and have no nostalgia for the film stock. 




Jean Pierre et Luc DARDENNE, film directors

The real change will be the use of the camera Alexa with its new sensors in our next movie. So we can answer to that question after our next filming. 





Wim DELVOYE, artist

Technology changed everything and emancipated me as an artist. But at the same time, it also made me more dependent on other people. Technology obliges me to collaborate with specialists and I also have to be interested in more different subject matters. However, thanks to technology my works are more diversified and more ambitious. We are always as ambitious as the technology we use. Thanks to technology I can also be my own agent. And it also changed the relationship between the periphery and the centrum. I live in the suburbs of Ghent but thanks to the internet that artists can be both local and global. 




Laurence EQUILBEY, conductor, musical director of Accentus

A recent experiment to answer to you: I have recently developed an electronic tuning fork, to supplant the old tuning fork with two branches. This new tuning fork can give any pitch, in any mode, tempered or not, you can also use it blindly. The technical possibilities of the singers are considerably expanded; access to micro-intervals is possible, while it was once reserved to electronic. I ordered and created works that use the potential of this machine. As for me, it's a real revolution.




 Jochen GERZ, artist

Technology is a contemporary term. It proves the fact that whenever something is created it is the child of its time. Technology therefore means that we live, as the people before us, at a given time and that since that moment is unique so also are its productions, including art. Art is perhaps the most radical expression of the acknowledgement that nothing can ever repeat itself. If technology is the term describing continuity as a continuity of change, in another time the equivalent contemporary term could very well have been tradition. 



JUL, cartoonist

I belong to the minority of comic cartoonists of my generation who do not use a computer to make their drawings, especially for the color that I do with a brush, quite similar to the 13th century. However, the work of cartoonist has been upset by the new means of transmission, portable scanner, wifi, phone, allowing you to send documents usable by all the media in a record time, and then to work from a hammock in Honolulu.



Radu MIHAILEANU, film director and writer

Now all the screenwriters write on computers, using some software for writing and layout (not me). The great thing is that we "edit" by writing, changing scenes, shortening, etc., what we did before with scissors and glue. Then, we write estimates and financing plans on appropriate software, which saves us an infinite time. The same goes for work plans, budget positions, etc. More and more shootings are carried out today with digital cameras. Even if this has not exactly reached the quality of 35mm, digital provides solutions in light, filming flexibility, in terms of cost, calibration possibilities. All films are currently digitally edited; we do not cut when editing the film. It is the same regarding the sound, whether dialogue or music, with exceptional quality. Finally, more and more films are shown in digital, and reach movie theaters of the world by the Internet or by satellite. This has made savings, operational flexibility, but also dangers, threatening diversity.



 Christopher MILES, film director 

Technology has revolutionized the manufacturing of filming - not the structuring or scripting of ideas, but the actual making of the images and sounds and their subsequent projection in a cinema. On the left I am standing by a large 35mm Panavision 35mm camera, the latest in film technology in 1976. However the idea of mechanical pins dragging a strip of celluloid in a stop start motion past a lens at 24 frames a second has not changed in principal since les Freres Lumières.  But with the invention of the video camera on the right (a Sony EX3) which takes a memory chip card instead of film today, there are no moving mechanics. This certainly makes for a much lighter and more portable camera, as even with a zoom lens the Sony weighs under a quarter of the Panavision with film and a similar lens, and at $60,000, is a quarter the price. Both cameras with their results shown from a jpeg2000 DCP (Digital Cinema package) on a large screen would be of a similar quality. This lightness speeds up the shooting process, and enables film makers to film where and how and in what light they wish, and under almost any circumstances today. Film itself is expensive and heavy, 1,000 ft reel as shown in the photo of the magazine on the Panavision camera, lasts only about 11 minutes and by the time it has been developed and printed will cost about $850. Whereas the best memory card will cost about half that for 80 minutes of screen time.... and you can use the card again!  (11 minutes of 35mm film weighs 5.2 kgs whereas 80 minutes on a memory card weighs 3 grams!) Even as I write this improvements are being made, and the latest Arri Alexa camera can even imitate the flicker of a film camera, but why anyone wants to go back to the 1890's and les frères Lumière intrigues me - nostalgie de la griffe peut-être?

Digital has also greatly altered the facility of editing films, and ALL post-production work. Especially in the fields of 'computer imagery' where now everything is possible, and even pink pigs can fly. Also you can no longer see the ‘joins on the screen' anymore; as one could see them not so long ago when these visual effects were manipulated by a film laboratory and not a computer.


Christine ORBAN, novelist

I have written ten novels manually, four or five times each. The rewrite was a sort of sieve that allowed me to "filter" repetitions, to check rhythm, punctuation. .. Fringues published in 2002 is my first novel written on a computer as well as the nine others that will follow. I do not know if my writing has changed, but for me it was much easier, funnier to use a computer. I was free to print my pages when I wanted to read them, I did not need an intermediary, a secretary to give a "clean" version to my editor. The relationship with my novels could remain secret until the end. The computer became almost a "living" companion... when it was down, the novel was interrupted the time of repairing, even if it doesn’t stop me, of course, to take notes, write some passages that deserves a different intimacy with a pencil and an eraser. For example, the first draft of the Pays de l’absence was entirely written in a notebook Clairefontaine, perhaps because of the subject. Internet is a huge time saver for research. I find myself abandoning my Larousse to do my research on Google. 



 ORLAN, artist

I never start from technology or materials, but from the concept, the project works, then I seek the most appropriate technological solution. During the seventh surgical operation-performance in New York in 1993, before the Internet, I managed with the videophone, satellite TV, fax ... to implement my concept of "omnipresence" (live video streaming of the operation from New York in my gallery Sandra Gering, to France at the Pompidou Centre and the Canada at the Marshall McLuhan Centre). I was responding in live to questions that the audience asked me during the operation. With the Internet and Skype it is now much easier to achieve.




Jean-Marie PERIER, photographer

Any innovation seems essential. It must be learned, even if we do not use it.  I got the desire to work from cameras and computers. It is curious to notice that it is the technicians and industrialists that invent the artists and not the opposite. In 1962, when Nikon brought out the reflex camera, he invented thousands of artists thanks to his machine. As for Steve Jobs, I do not even talk about it... 



PLANTU, cartoonist

Obviously it is the Internet that changed the way of working for editorial cartoonists. And since 2006, different types of pressures have been very well organized to impress the cartoonist but also ... to impress their editors in chief, who, since, think twice before publishing. Since 2006, many of these lobbies from the three major religions skillfully use the internet and know the different ways to influence the freedom of thought. More briefly: they frighten people. In 2008 we have seen how, in 24 hours, Sine, one of the cartoonists from Charlie Hebdo, has been fired for anti-Semitism when he wrote a sentence, certainly clumsy, but which was not the reincarnation of Goebbels. But the lobbies were so powerful that even the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo, who were against the unfair dismissal of Sine, have hardly dared to defend their colleague. The steamroller of manipulators worked well. In another area, I had problems because of a drawing I made about condoms: one could see in my drawing Jesus Christ throwing condoms as if it was the "feeding the multitude» of the Gospel. In only one day, Le Monde has received 3,000 emails that have saturated the server.  The fundamentalists of the three religions are equipped. Despite their speeches so-called antiquated, they are fully aware of new technologies. Moreover, even if the Internet is an amazing tool and appealing for cartoonist who send their drawings via email or Facebook, the Web is used by the media as a global market in which one can take images and photos for cheap . It now turns against the cartoonists: in the United States, there are companies (unions such as Cartoonists and Writers) who sell drawings at a reduced price: another advantage for the cautious editor: he or her pinches drawings disturbing no one, plus he or her does not need to put up with a cartoonist who is sometimes difficult to control. And if it is still too complicated, the editor in chief will download a picture for free on a website.



Marjane SATRAPI, director and author

Technological tools are certainly used to work faster. There is no doubt. But to think that the machine can replace the man or that it can lead to creativity is an obsolete idea. For me my computer is as important as my pencil sharpener or my eraser but much less than my paper and my pencil. 






Kjetil Tredal THORSEN, architect

Digital tools significantly change both creative processes and results. Real time sharing of information to project partners, 3D tools and parametric planning, provide the possibility to be experimental and at the same time be mathematically in control of the creation.   




Barthélémy TOGUO, artist

When I arrived in France in 1993, I discovered, at the Arts School of Grenoble, information technology, it was a shortcut to give a different aesthetic to my work directly through Photoshop, I could change as I wish pictures that I made with a simple camera, the field of creation becomes huge, the combination of sound, image and movement is easier, simpler, and I save time. 




 TOTONHO, artist

Technology is progress. But progress without sustainability can be fatal for the planet. Being an artist, born and raised in the countryside, I have a very strong connection with mother earth. In my work, I want to show the beauty of the world I knew until I was fourteen years old, and moved to the city. The globalized world has given us real time access to everything that is happening on the planet, and the Internet has expanded my vision. Today I also show the dark side of progress in my work. 


 Natacha WOLINSKI, writer

By facilitating the work, the computer tends precisely to make forget that writing is a laborious and exhausting profession. This is a great tool, without which I could not do, and it is an illusion. Before his advent, when we go through many stages of handwriting, erasures, and the typescript itself corrected and crossed out, the least of my neurotic writings would not let me immediately think I was an author. The imperfections of the text, revealing the work in progress pushed to modesty. Today, the facilities of the copy-cut-paste allow the weaker script to take smooth aspect and finished where often there is still everything to do...