Nicolas Maigret, 2017-18 artist in residence

Published on October 12, 2017

The UCL artist in residence for the 2017-18 Louvain Year of Digital Worlds is Nicolas Maigret, a French digital artist who for 15 years has developed an experimental electronic sound and imaging technique.

Mr Maigret is interested in digital devices: artificial intelligence, algorithms, digitally connected objects, etc. He tries to make tangible the realities hidden in the interstices between technologies. ‘With the switch to digital, there’s alienation between what’s operative in these objects and what’s visible from the outside. As an artist – though it could be a theorist’s work – I like making people see and experience the inner workings.’ Thus Mr Maigret ponders these objects, how they affect our daily lives, what we think they do, what they do without our knowing…He can sometimes be very critical, for example in his Disnovation project (disnovation.org), which he initiated, or the Art of Failure collective (http://artoffailure.free.fr), which he co-founded, or The Pirate Book, which he co-wrote witha Roszkowska.

Exploring the mysterious inner processes of digital technology

Within this exercise of ‘making visible’ is a genuine desire to impart knowledge. If he doesn’t take digital technology for granted, if he questions it, if he reveals what technologies change in our lives, it’s so that the general public can ‘understand’, ‘appropriate them’, and ‘draw meaning’. This desire for accessibility will structure his seminar for UCL students. Through reflection, which will sometimes be spurred by scientists, and practical learning by doing, he hopes ‘to give students the keys to knowledge’. Student works will be tangible translations of this exploration of the mysterious inner processes of technologies, using what’s to hand – as with Aram Bartholl (1) who created sculptures by using captcha (2) or Erica Scourti (3) who wrote poetry by using her smartphone’s texting suggestions.

In the end, the students themselves will become popularisers of the knowledge they acquire during the seminar. Mr Maigret sees the artist in residence seminar as ‘a group laboratory in which I’ll place myself, like the students, in a situation of learning, doubt, exploration. There won’t be one side that imparts knowledge and another that tries to learn, internalise and test it. I want to get away from that learning model. Instead, together we’re going to try to draw meaning and produce experiences and forms.’

In close collaboration with TRANSCULTURES

[1] http://www.datenform.de/areyouhumaneng.html

[2] The series of letters or numbers that you have to type to prove to a website that you’re not a robot.

[3] https://vimeo.com/133554414