An interview with Francois Vogel

Francois Vogel is a multidisciplinary artist with a special focus on computer and photographic arts. Based in Paris, the artist creates surreal scenes which flip what we know as reality on its head. 

"Please tell us a bit about you"

I am a French artist creating Photography, short films and installations. My work is about capturing Images from reality and distorting them to create something new. I like to film real things and show the footage with a shifted perspective to question the truth in the things we see. 

"When, and how, did you get started creating digital art?"

My first visual experiment with digital art was made with an Atari 520 ST computer. I used it to program Julia fractals animations. One image was rendering during the night that I would shoot in the morning using my parent’s Super 8 camera. The result was a kind of abstract psychedelic video that I played with the track Time by Pink Floyd. This was in 1986! 

"You began scientific studies at the start of your career and your work now heavily involves technology. How does having a scientific mind impact the art you create?"

I am not really using intricate technologies, however I do have a scientific way of approaching things and basic maths is always in the back of my mind when creating. 

I am also fascinated by the concepts revealed by cosmology. For instance, considering time as a dimension is mind blowing and science gives us the key to understand and see the world differently! One example is that we know the earth rotates around the sun, however our visual viewpoint appears as though the sun is rotating around earth. We know that what we see is wrong and the reality requires a shift in our brains. This is the kind of shift I am exploring in my work. How can see see from another perspective? 

"What role does comedy play in your work?"

It's funny you ask this question, it's not one I normally get! 

At the moment, I am doing a lot of aesthetically home made looking cinematography and when you see these kinds of scenes, the acting feels far from predominant. But it is of course, still acting and intentionally humorous. The weird part is that neither the actor nor the director sees the result because the idea comes together in the editing.

Typically in films, the audience is not supposed to think about the camera, but my work is more Baroque in that the audience is completely aware of the camera and I want my subjects to have some dialogue with the viewer. 

"Having an interest in many mediums from writing, to photography, to film. How do you approach a concept or idea?"

I am more of a visual person than a story teller. I don't think I'm good at telling stories, and so for me, the writing is most stimulating when I am playing with words in the same way I am playing with perspective in my films. 

When I approach creating, I like the tree metaphor which Paul Klee explains: the artist is the tree trunk whilst the roots are the inspiration and the branches are the outcome. Therefore looking for the right roots is the way to getting the best branches! There is no secret for that so I like to walk to free the mind and explore ideas. 

"I was so passionate about the reflection in the back of my spoon too because I loved the way the entire world could be seen in a tiny object."

"The slit scan series amongst others is very surrealist. Why create heavily distorted images?"

 I've always been fascinated by distortions. I was so passionate about the reflection in the back of my spoon too because I loved the way the entire world could be seen in a tiny object. This manifested later when I started using pinhole cameras. With pinhole photography, light goes directly from the real world to the image, through the air and without a lens. It's almost magical. Pinhole cameras can also distort the image by twisting, folding, altering  the photographic paper in the box. Later I discovered how to do this digitally with slit scanning. A bit like cosmology, when time and space are linked together it can be distorted, I love it! 

"What is the future of art?"

I have no idea. I hope that the future of art will be humble.

I hope art will look more like a poem than a skyscraper. Something that can last in our memories without destroying the nature or exploiting workers. A song is the best example of humble art. It can last forever, it can give you emotion just by the thought of it. Art becoming humble. That's my hope!

"Thank you, Francois."

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