Adelin Schweitzer and deletere labs in Marseille premiered their mixed-reality narrative #Alphaloop at BigTorrent, opening the 73rd Avignon Festival.
Interview and editing by Ewen Chardronnet, transcription by Maxence Grugier
Makery interviewed Adelin Schweitzer, instigator of deletere, and Damien Sorrentino, president of the organization, at Couvent Levat, their new home in the Belle de Mai neighborhood of Marseille. The entire team was busy preparing for the Technomancie 2 festival (October 12-13, 2019) and developing #Alphaloop, which they are presenting this summer at BigTorrent (read our report) during the 73rd Avignon Festival and Chalon Dans La Rue in France.
Adelin, can you talk about how you started deletere? Do you see it more as a laboratory or a collective?
Adelin Schweitzer: Deletere, both the idea and the name, go back to my student days, when I was in my third year of art school in Aix-en-Provence, and for the first time, I set up my own website. I was looking for a name, thinking about what technology evoked for me, and I found this adjective to illustrate my ideas. Later deletere gradually evolved into a collective, from 2011 to 2013, but from 2011 I considered it a laboratory.
At the time I was working with Cédric Lachasse and Naoyuki Tanaka, who had just started developing the A-Reality project. As an artist, I had never known any other form of collaboration than this type of chaotic prototyping and fabrication workshop. The fablab, even before it was called that, had always been my way of working, empirically. From 2011 to 2013, we experimented. In 2013, we submitted projects to Marseille-Provence European Capital of Culture. In 2015, we had to leave the Cité des Arts de la Rue where I had my studio, but we had the opportunity to start a new project in a temporary space set up by Juxtapoz and Karine Terlizzi in a former private Catholic school on Fongate street consisting of a park and old classrooms. I jumped on it. Then we established the studio’s first team: Naoyuki Tanaka, Renaud Verset and myself, along with Grégoire Lauvin, at large.
Venomous Master by Naoyuki Tanaka:
What were your activities at the time?
Adelin: Naoyuki Tanaka did cross-platform programming, HTML coding and the first steps toward resuming his work as a performer. Grégoire Lauvin did research, electronics and work for other artists. And I was just starting to explore VR 360. There was also Giulia Galzini, in charge of producing my projects, who helped to develop the organization into a more horizontal operation, with real sharing of a common project. For example, projects such as A-Reality could never have been done without Cédric and Nao, because they go beyond my own artistic world. I write with them, through them, it becomes collective writing. I was already convinced that whatever you give to the collective will always come back to you.
Can you talk about “Les Dronards”?
Adelin: Les Dronards is a collective that started in Vitrolles in 2013. I was invited by Emmanuel Verges’s Office [cooperative for digital innovation] to do the art direction of “Vitrolles Échangeur” [the program presented by the city of Vitrolles for Marseille-Provence 2013]. Like other artists, my role was to inhabit the city center. Thanks to a commercial lease downtown, I was able to move my studio there and bring along all my machines. Among them was a little robot built like a space rover, which I had used for a performance with my acolyte at the time, Aurélien Durand. Before that, Jules the robot was part of the large-format version of HolyVj. We sent Jules out into the streets, with his little wheels, his camera, and a walkie-talkie attached, and we dialogued with people. So Les Dronards came about a bit by chance: I got a kick out of the remote-control car, creating a tool just for fun. I had already put cameras on a skateboard, in motion, so I knew it interested me.
Les Dronards, trailer:
The school adventure ended in late 2016. Then there were six months where, for the first time in my life, I had no studio. Then I did a production for the Marseille History Museum and Zinc for the first edition of their Chroniques Biennale [Le Voyage Panoramique, Itération n°3]. We installed it without even knowing the basic characters of #Alphaloop. Then Karine from Juxtapoz called me to say she was in discussion with the city of Marseille to occupy a new space, a former convent [nun victims of Sacré Coeur de Jésus], which included 3 hectares of land in the district of Belle de Mai. We jumped on the opportunity to move into the nuns’ old barn, a beautiful two-story space, and then spent one-and-a-half months renovating.
It was 2017, and inside this new space we started to think about the structure of the collective. We needed a more dedicated office. At the time, I saw that Lucien Gaudion was looking for a studio space. He was with Gaëtan Parseihian. We met, they took the top floor. Lucien told me that he met Damien Sorrentino, who might be interested in taking on the role of president.
T.O.C. by Lucien Gaudion:
Damien Sorrentino: When Adelin met me, I had been teaching sound, installation, sculpture and philosophy for the past 10 years at Ecole Supérieure d’Arts Plastiques in Monaco. Adelin came at a time in my life when I was leaving the countryside to return to Marseille, where I was making a film on Russian geology with Nicolas Gerber. When I came back from shooting and met Adelin, one of my students was doing an internship in his studio. Adelin asked if I wanted to get involved. I was interested in working again with a team on a collective project, especially given the experimental aspect with deletere, pooling equipment and knowledge. The space was wild and it was cool to have a contact in this city. Since then we have been trying to invent what this organization could be in the future, as it’s always mutating. It’s a TAZ [temporary autonomous zone].
So deletere evolves like a real laboratory, guided by multiple directions and inspirations?
Adelin: We’re still trying to find the context that will enable us to produce a common work. Between the first and the second Technomancie, we agreed on the fact that, more than an event, a festival, a pretext to invite people who share our artistic values, deletere is also a meta-artwork, a space for creating together for the clique of six that we represent.
Damien: The laboratory’s vocation is to help everyone in the production of their research, outside the context of an exhibition.
Adelin: One of our longer-term objectives is to be able to operate on a budget that allows us to build funds for independent productions. This is already the case, but up till now, I was the one feeding the kitty. The goal is for me to withdraw individual contributions and that we bring a common energy to produce a proper economy so that, for example, tomorrow if Damien has an idea to prototype something, we can have the funds to support it. It’s not especially innovative. La folie numérique [at La Villette in Paris] does it, and other organizations operate that way. The difference is that we have no people working specifically on it. We are above all artists.
How is your working relationship with Juxtapoz, in terms of management, administration, etc.?
Adelin: The Juxtapoz team has been exemplary in their management. It’s quite clear that their business model is the “Cité d’artistes” (artist village). They don’t pay rent, the city of Marseille gives them the keys, the Cité d’artistes pays the bills. When they rent out a space to us, they use the money to cover the overhead for their very small team.
Damien: Yes, everything is very well managed. We’re located in a sensitive neighborhood of Marseille, and there has been no problem. Ever since we proved ourselves with Technomancie last year, there has been a relationship of trust between our two organizations.
1st Technomancie festival in 2018:
So that’s the managment side of things. What about philosophy, politics?
Damien: In terms of economics, right away we put education on the table, because I was there, and it was also about politics. With our administrator, Clémence Doutre, who died suddenly last December, we were dreaming of implementing educational strategies like the “survival handbook” (intellectual self-defense against rampant innovation, etc.) and digital cultures in general. We were shocked by Clémence’s death, but we’re getting back on our feet little by little. Currently the team is working on a complete learning strategy at different levels for different audiences.
Adelin: For some time now, the lab has been taking interns. We realized that the presence of new energy in research creates new dynamics. This is really good for us. Personally, I see a lot of workshops offering training on the technical aspect, or the artistic aspect, or the social aspect, but very few projects that bring these three aspects together in the same workshop. Taking an artistic practice in the field of digital media and deconstructing it within a workshop structured around amateur art practice and awareness seems to us to be a more original approach than learning to reduce the digital divide or to set up your own website.
Damien: We feel it’s best to maximize the entropy of knowledge by collaborating with different organizations.
What do you mean by “entropy of knowledge”?
Damien: Entropy as in the perfect form of organization. The idea is to increase each person’s knowledge and make it accessible to others, either through workshops and talks or through publications and exhibitions.
How do you see the future of deletere ?
Damien: We plan to pool all the stuff we developed in experimental instrument-making, in XR, in interface and interaction. We’re thinking about creating a knowledge-sharing platform to synthesize all that…
So what’s next ?
Adelin: In July we’re hosting a party to support the Technomancie festival, with Seconde Nature and Zinc as our main partners. Before that Damien and Florent Colautti are doing a residency for their electromechanical Instrumentarium project. Gaëtan is presenting his Brane Project acousmonium at Loge à Ponard in the Haut Jura regional park. As for me, I’m starting the tour of #Alphaloop, which was also invited to be part of Bipolar Production’s BigTorrent traveling exhibition. In terms of distribution, I’m associated with Merryl Messaoudi from Crossed Lab.
In autumn we’ll wrap up a rather special #Alphaloop residency in Novi Sad, Serbia, with the Serbian collective Karkatag from Belgrade, who work with machinery, performance, protocol theater. I want to invite them to augment #Alphaloop, blow it up with them, elaborate a project that will live up to Novi Sad when it becomes European Capital of Culture in 2021.
#ALPHALOOP – Art direction: Adelin Schweitzer – Writing and acting: Fred Sechet and Adelin Schweitzer – Visual artist: NAO – Composer: Lucien Gaudion – Technical support: Gaëtan Parseihian – Dramaturgy: Pina Wood.
More about deletere