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15 November 2011

Collaboration with russian artist Olga Kisseleva

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Crossworlds installation at Berlin Haus der Kultur, 2008
An interactive tag is generated by a computer in real time. It encodes a political message picked from a set of messages from the former soviet union, or from the USA, depending on the current evolution of the Dow Jones index.


In 2007 I created an art-science duet with with russian artist Olga Kisseleva. Our first common work was part of the CrossWorlds installation, which was exhibited at Berlin House of World Cultures in spring 2008. CrossWorlds decodes the various political messages that were consciously encoded in this building by architects and manufacturers (the so-called building propaganda). It helps visitors translating the subliminal (aka encoded) information in textual form in real time by means of electronic tags called semacodes. This tags can be decoded by a mobile phone while the visitor is going through the exhibition.

The interactive installation makes use of a set of messages of political propaganda from both the former soviet union, and the USA. The interactive tag is generated by a computer program in real time. The encoded content, namely the propaganda messages, depends on the information gathered from the internet. Here we chose to make use of the real-time evolution of the Dow Jones index in New-York. Any increase in this index would result in a higher probability for a sovietic message to be encoded, whereas a decrease would favor US messages. Here we sort of "twist" the main usage of electronic tags, namely that of advertising by directing the consumer to the website of a compagny. At a result we blur the border between advertisement and political slogans, since the visitor is not supposed to know in advance whether she will be led to the advertising website of a compagny, or read a political message.

This interactive tag was shown at the Hypothesis Verification exhibition held at Laboratory Art & Science, Moscow, and curated by Daria Parkhomenko.

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Snapshot of interactive tag encoding soviet message "each day we live happier"
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Tag electronique interactif, "Hypothesis verification", Laboratoria Art & Science, Moscow, 2010.


Landstream displays the electromagnetic flux produced by digital communication technologies, in a sensitive way. These are made up of all the invisible signals which cross us (the so-called "stream"), and of which we are, most of the time, completely unaware. A program measures the flux present inside some given space, and transforms the data into visual information which generates a new kind of abstract landscape. Landstream makes us aware of the increasing electromagnetic pollution around us, caused in particular by the multiplication of waves in our environment.

Landstream was exhibited in many places in 2007, including Netherlands Media Art Institut, Amsterdam.

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It’s Time

Our lastest work is called "It’s Time" and revolves about the perception of time and the phantasy of every modern citizen to control its flow.

When the visitor enters the room, she lays her hand on a tablet equipped with a biometric sensor that measures her degree of stress and anxiety. In front of her there is a huge clock-radio that displays the current time but time will flow more or less rapidly depending on the information gathered by the sensor. When the visitor is stressed and frenzy, time slightly accelerate by a couple of seconds, whereas a visitor in a relaxed state will infer a slightly slower time pace for twenty seconds or so (time can even stop for a short while for very chilled-out visitors). This is made such that a cool visitor will be given more time to experience its blissful state, while a frentic visitor will experience a growing frustration.

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It’s Time
LichtRouten festival, Germany. 2010.

At the end of the day there is a time shift between the time given by the installation and the "official" time of Paris meridian. This shift is the expression of the "addition" of all emotional stresses left behind by the visitors of the installation. Whether positive or negative, it also expresse the average citizen’s battle against time --- and thus, against others, since time takes is legitimacy from the will and consentment of every citizen to accept it as the "ruler" of modern life.

In addition to this, the clock-radio also displays contextual sentences like "Hurry up", "Breathe!", "Slow down" or "Time for a nap" (depending on the emotional state of the visitor). Here I imagined a new way of telling time, one that would directly convey time-related information at an emotional level instead of the usual "logical" way. There is a dazzling paradox here, inasmuch as we witness a world where more and more common rules and laws are governed by rigorous, science-supported processes, but the average citizen manage them at a more and more emotional level.

"It’s Time" has been shown at the following exhibition:

  • 1st Ural Industrial Biennial, Ekaterinburg, Russia, 2010.
  • LichtRouten festival, Ludenscheid, Germany. 2010.
  • Rurart center for contemporary art, Poitiers, France. 2010.

It is currently visible at Louvre-Lens Museum, in the Pavillon de Verre, until octobre 2013.

There is a publication in preparation on this work.

Related publications

Kisseleva, S. Reynal, CrossWorlds : de la théorie des codes correcteurs d’erreur à la manipulation politique, Plastik #01. Revue du Centre d’Etude et de Recherche en Arts Plastiques (CERAP) de l’Université Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. (2010)