Using a Joué to play with lights
1024architecture is a Parisian creation studio that makes original structures augmented with light, somewhere between artistic and architectural installations. MIDI controllers are often used to pilot the behavior of light in their projects, and that opens numerous possible applications and collaborations with Joué. We sat down with Pier Schneider, one of the founders of 1024.
“One of the things we love about the Joué is that it’s halfway between a controller and a musical instrument.”
What is 1024 exactly? An artistic architecture studio…?
Actually, we aren’t an architecture studio. My associate, François Wunschel, and I are both trained architects and “artists by deformation”, as we like to say. We create artistic installations that combine architecture, design and digital art. 1024 is a production company for artistic installations, which produces the projects François and I conceive.
And you mainly create ephemeral structures?
Yes and no. We like to work with various timeframes. For example, the Vortex at Darwin, in Bordeaux, is a permanent installation [it’s a wooden structure animated with strips of LED lights, built by 1024 between two buildings of Bordeaux’s famous “ecosystem” that gathers office spaces, restaurants, shops and cultural venues]. We can work for the duration of a show, for artists on tour such as Etienne de Crécy, just as much as on buildings, like the restaurant on l’Île Seguin, near Paris, which stayed there for four years. In every case, we inject a visual and luminous dimension to our projects.
When and how did you first hear about Joué?
Philippe Barre, the founder of Darwin, introduced us very naturally since Joué has its headquarters there. And we immediately started talking intensively about the possible applications and interactions between the Joué, our projects and the software that pilots them.
You were already using MIDI controllers for your light installations?
Sure, we use all types of MIDI controllers, even PlayStation joysticks: they’re a great tool, very ergonomic and fun, in particular to pilot the Vortex, the BOOM-Box and other projects we interact with live during DJ sets. The Vortex was conceived as an instrument to visualize the electrical consumption of the buildings at Darwin, but for specific events, we can also take command and pilot it in real time with various controllers and software, including a piece of software we developed and sell: MadMapper. Creating software is a big part of what we do, which means there are lots of possibilities for collaborations between our work and what Joué does. They developed a controller, and so did we, only theirs is hardware, ours is software. We have become very close, we exchange about lots of common issues we have.
Controlling light and video projections on architectural structures, that’s the heart of what do you, then?
Our work combines scenography, visuals and sound with computer science, namely the software that enables us to bring everything together: space/image and sound. Early on, we started creating simple programs for our projects and we thought it would be good to take things one step further by creating our own video and light mapping software and controller. We play live like musicians, only except of creating sound, we create notes of light, so to speak. One of the things we love about the Joué is that it’s halfway between a controller and a musical instrument.
So you could imagine controlling your installations using a Joué?
Yes, with any MIDI controller actually, but our interest for Joué is huge because it’s an amazing tool and it has great potential for us. We’re talking to the team at Joué to develop new pads that would be specific to the needs of a light and video controller [whereas the Joué was developed for music]. We for example would need sliders and cursors with visual markers. We’re pushing them in that direction, and they seem to be listening…
What advantages do you see in Joué as a light and video controller?
What’s great about their controller is the fact of using silicon pads that are easy and cheap to manufacture. So you could easily imagine making prototypes of specific pads for certain of our projects for example. Having that in mind, I sketched a prototype of a pad that would be specifically designed for the Vortex.
“The tactile relation to the controller, its ergonomics and sensuality, those are fundamental aspects for us.”
Does all this open up possibilities you perhaps wouldn’t have thought of without the Joué?
Absolutely. It’s a whole different relation, new possibilities, new ways of interacting… There are so many avenues to explore. What we’re interested in is the fact of creating installations and then physically interacting with them, and with the Joué, in addition to the possibility of creating specific pads, there is the quality of the silicon they’re made of: it’s super smooth, almost sensual. The contact with the object is a fundamental element, and Joué does amazing work in that respect.
The Joué is also an object that prides itself with carefully crafted design and high quality materials; you must be in tune with that…
Yes, that’s one of the things that bring us together, the will to make durable, elegant and well-conceived products. Lots of little MIDI controllers are made of plastic and break after three shows… Durability is very important to us, as well as touch, because we’re very sensitive to the physicality of things. I also really like the fun and accessible side of the Joué, it really makes you want to play with it. In the world of visual arts, we’re always stunned at how VJs spend the entire evening riveted to their computer screen instead of being connected to what’s happening in the room. To us, the computer is irrelevant: what we want to look at is the result. What matters is the relation you have to the work, and that relation goes through the controller, therefore its ergonomics and sensuality are fundamental aspects for us.
Interview by Patrick Haour