Page 28


ANARCHIVE Anne-Marie Duguet may be a discreet lady, but she is a key player in the French and international new media art world. After her (forced) retirement from the university, she is now one of the primary theorists of video ("Vidéo: la mémoire au poing", Hachette - Collection l'Échappée Belle, 1981) and electronic arts (as they were called before digital media). © PHOTO R.R.

Anarchive collection, there are several exhibitions that I would like to do fairly soon, as well as two books that I have been working on for a while now. It’s already a lot—too much, no doubt.

Do you think that digital art, or new media art, receives enough support in France?

Fujiko Nakaya & Anne-Marie Duguet.

Before everyone else, she entered the digital age while following the studies, works, exhibitions and careers of countless pioneering new media artists. She was also the thinking head (along with artist JeanLouis Boissier) of the Artifice(s) festival, which from 1990 to 1996 brought Seine Saint-Denis up to speed with the future of art. All along, Duguet has ignored both geographical and professional boundaries. She has worked on every front, and for the past 13 years, she has even become a publisher, as the figurehead of the transmedia collection Anarchive. After the Spaniard Muntadas, the Frenchman Kuntzel, the Canadian Snow, the Swissman Otth, it’s the turn of Japanese artist Nakaya (who just made hjhjhj this summer, a publicly commissioned work for Lille 3000) to sign the latest "Anarchive" opus: Fog ñ∂ Brouillard. Anne-Marie Duguet talks about new media art, the "Anarchive" adventure and volume #5, which spotlights Fujika Nakaya, the magician who sculpts fog.

You’re retired from the university, but you seem just as active. Why, and what are your next challenges? “Retirement” from research means nothing to me. There are so many artworks and fields of knowledge that excite my curiosity, so many different approaches to relate to one another in order to refine what we know. Besides continuing the

28 - digitalarti #12

I think it gets more support in France than in other countries. There are grants, even if there are never enough, exhibition venues are opening little by little, and especially, media courses are now common in art schools and universities. Maybe soon the use of technology in artworks, to which the label of “digital art” (I really dislike this term) vaguely refers, will become familiar enough that it won’t be in a separate category, as was the case with video. There will only be projects that require specific funding, which can vary in size according to the complexity of the technology involved.

From video to artists such as Maurice Benayoun, Grégory Chatonsky and Samuel Bianchini, you have witnessed artists appropriate new media at lightning speed. How do you see this relationship between artists and technology developing? As these technologies become more familiar and more common in everyday life to a greater number of people, I believe that these relationships will mature, audiences will become more demanding, and these artworks will no longer rely solely on technical surprise and spectacle to be recognized. I am not against surprise or spectacle when they are based on ideas. The spectacle of technique can also be a critical idea. I’m thinking of Nam June Paik, that wonderful techno-idiot.

You are an exhibition curator (especially of "Artifice(s)", a pioneering new media art show in France), a theorist on the beginnings of video… and now a publisher, too? I never intended to become a publisher.

I’m a publisher by default, almost by chance, because I couldn’t find any publisher who was audacious, or shall we say oblivious, enough to accompany me on this adventure. Becoming the publisher myself was the only way to be autonomous and ensure the collection’s survival. But now I find that it’s a really interesting job; I wish I were more competent.

What was the original idea behind "Anarchive"? From the beginning, the idea was to constitute a memory of the artist’s work as a whole through multiple archival documents, and to encourage the artist to make original multimedia pieces, in particular which explored interfaces, beyond a simple database.

Did the creation of "Anarchive" reflect a state of urgency in media arts? Yes, the project began when I was teaching and writing about video and new media. I constantly faced the problem of lacking documents in order to talk about the creative process and the artwork itself. By traveling a lot, I was lucky to experience firsthand works such as installations, but how could I communicate, describe and analyze these pieces without referring to them visually? This is when I realized how much artists’ archives were lacking, photos were often of poor quality when they existed at all, preliminary sketches were partially lost, etc. I felt that we urgently needed to take advantage of the artist’s presence to translate their living memory into another type of memory. It’s still urgent, but younger artists tend to think about preserving and promoting the artwork as they are creating it. They have a website, they document their work, they save the data as they go along. This wasn’t the case, at least systematically, for many artists until the 1990s.

Five publications in 13 years… The adventure continues but seems quite labor-intensive! Not 13 years, 18 years!! We started working seriously on the project with Antoni Muntadas in January 1995. “Labor” may have a negative connation, but yes, each project is the result of a long “labor”, subject to all sorts of vicissitudes, unknowns, where we must constantly adjust various preoccupations and work schedules… And then it’s hard to know when to stop searching for archives…

How do you select the artists who are “collected” by "Anarchive"? It’s the artworks that draw me to the artist, as a whole, an attitude toward art and creativity whose memeory I believe is necessary to preserve.

Digitalarti Mag #12 (English)  
Digitalarti Mag #12 (English)  

36 pages of digital arts featuring: interview of Grégory Chatonsky - Fred Forest exhibition at Centre des arts d'Enghien - Digital arts in p...