Interview The AIRimages Collective

AIRimages ist ein Künstlerkollektiv bestehend aus 3 Mitgliedern –  Bettina John (Fashion-Designerin), Jaime Lene (Fotograf) und Sébastien Freuler (Graphik-und Motion Designer). Im Interview erzählen sie über ihre interaktiven öffentlichen Arbeiten mit Schwerpunkt auf das Materialisieren von Konzepten.

artpjf: What is your definition of “AIRimages“?

Bettina John | Co-founder of AIRimages: AIRimages is a form of art making that doesn’t limit itself to the object and the materialisation of concepts. It is a process-led way of working that is concerned with more than just the results. The process embraces the inclusion of unpredictable events rather than just realizing what was.

“AIRimages ist eine Kunstform bei der es nicht hauptsächlich um die Produktion von Objekten geht und um das Materialisieren von Konzepten. AIRimages arbeiten prozeßhaft und nicht nur ergebnisorientiert. Der Prozess ist darauf eingestellt unbekannte Größen mit einzubeziehen.”

Jaime Leme | Co-founder of AIRimages: I think the term ‘AIRimages’ represents the fact that we work with the raw material we find around us in everyday life, things that are “in the air”, at the streets and around our daily routine. The pictures and projects we create are interactive and depend on the participation of the public that happen to be at the environment we choose to perform in.
Another reason to be called AIRimages is because of the over saturated amount of ‘images’ around us: outdoors, magazines, internet, TV, cinema… Images are so present in our visual perception of reality that one can say that they merge with reality. Images are surrounding us everywhere, like air.

“Acho que este nome representa o fato de trabalharmos com o que esta ao nosso redor no dia-a-dia, “coisas que estão no ar “, nas ruas, na rotina. As fotos e eventos que produzimos são interativos e dependem da participação do público em algum ponto da cidade.
A outra definição se deve ao fato das imagens veiculadas pela midia estarem ao nosso redor em outdoors, revistas, tv e internet constantemente, de maneira que elas se fundem com a realidade. As imagens estão em todo lugar, até no ar …”

Sebastien Freuler | Co-founder of AIRimages: AIRimages brings together a wide range of contemporary visual languages. It questions, deconstructs, reconstructs and recontextualises them. It is an interdisciplinary and multicultural process of art making, which constantly focuses and compares two visual worlds; the images produced by the controlled environments of the mass media and the images made in spontaneous and uncalculated environments.

“AIRimages réuni un grand nombre de langages visuels contemporains. Le movement questionne, deconstruit, reconstruit et recontextualise ces langages. C’est un processus de création d’art qui est interdisciplinaire et multiculturel. AIRimages prête l’attention et compare constamment ces deux mondes visuels; un monde d’images produites dans l’environnement des médias et un monde d’images crées d’une façon spontanée et improvisée.”

artpjf: How do you interact in an art collective? Does each one of you have a specific role and know exactly what his function is or is there someone who is a type of leader?

Bettina John | Co-founder of AIRimages: Everybody has their role, yet the areas are almost seamless. Everyone of us is also interested in what the other is working on, observing and then having influence on its realisation. Conceptually we work together one hundred percent but everybody gives a slightly different input and perspective on the subject. A constant exchange is ideal so everybody knows what the other is trying to do.

“Jeder hat seine Rolle und dennoch sind die Übergänge fließend. Jeder von uns ist auch an der Disziplin des Anderen interessiert und wirkt in deren Umsetzung mit. Konzeptionell arbeiten wir alle zusammen aber Jeder bringt einen anderen Aspekt in die Diskussion. Ein ständiger Austausch ist ideal sodass jeder weiß was der Andere für Ziele verfolgt mit dem was er macht.”

Jaime Leme | Co-founder of AIRimages: We don’t like the idea of having a hierarchy; it’s better to leave as much space for new ideas as possible. When we collaborate with a new artist, we prefer not to suggest how they should participate, instead we would like them to tell us what they would like to do. Then we sit and discuss possible ideas to accommodate everyone’s wishes. To collaborate with professionalism from a variety of different disciplines (photography, fashion and multimedia) helps to create the initial directions to get started, but as always this workflow is subject to change at any stage.

“Nós não gostamos da idéia de hierarquia. Damos mais ênfase a deixar espaço para a troca de novas idéias sobre como sera realizado um projeto. O fato de termos estudado areas criativas que se complementam, ( como fotografia, fashion design, animação e multimedia) ajuda a estabelecer as diretrizes do que vamos fazer, mas estamos abertos a trocar as funções e experimentar algo novo. Quando recebemos artistas convidados para desenvolver um projeto, mais importatnte do que darmos tarefas para os participantes é fazer com que eles próprios se posicionem sobre como querem colaborar. Daí temos um tempo para nos reunirmos e discutir melhor como cada um deve agir. Desse modo evitamos estar insatisfeitos com alguma tarefa e se torna mais interessante as possibilidades.”

Sebastien Freuler | Co-founder of AIRimages: We are all specialised in different domains of image making: photography, fashion, graphic design, performance, film and animation; yet we also share and exchange our knowledge wit each other and feed our different perspectives into each project. There is no real leader so things are lead by spontaneous ideas and impulses that are then developed collectively. Our projects are a constantly considered as work in progress and can evolve into something different from one moment to the next.

“Nous sommes tous spécialistes dans différents domaines de la créations d’images: photographie, mode, graphisme, performance, film et animation; mais en même temps nous échangeons chacun nos savoirs et nourrissons nos projets de nos différents point de vues. Il n’y a pas vraiment de chef de projet, donc les idées se développent de manière spontanée suivant les impulsions puis ensuite elles sont ces idées sont développées collectivement. Nos projets sont constamment considérés comme travaux en cours car on peut à tout moments y remettre un nouveau grain de sable.”

artpjf: A lot of your projects are of a participatory nature. What are the positive and negative aspects when working with different people that intervene in your projects?

Bettina John | Co-founder of AIRimages: The more minds think about something, the more accomplished and interesting it becomes. As ideas bounce back and forth they become stronger and more mature . Sometimes that can be confusing and we have to abandon an individuals idea in favor of a collaborative process, even if there are precious to them. That doesn’t always work but most of the times we are actually happy with how the ideas have developed.

“Je mehr Köpfe über etwas nachdenken desto überlegter ist die Arbeit und damit spannender. In diesem Prozess, bei dem die Ideen ständiger Hinterfragung unterliegen, gedeihen und reifen sie. Manchmal kann das zu Verwirrung führen. Es ist nicht immer einfach nicht das letzte Wort mit seiner Idee haben zu wollen und nicht immer einfach zuzulassen, wie sich die Idee verändert. Immer funktioniert das nicht, aber meistens sind wir doch glücklich mit der Weiterentwicklung der Ideen.”

Jaime Leme | Co-founder of AIRimages: Our project is participatory in two different ways: first and foremost we collaborate with other artists to organize an event. Then, the public joins us and participates during the event.
The positive aspect is the possibility to work with artists of different creative backgrounds, as this opens the possibility of learning different ways of seeing art and images. The negative point is that sometimes it’s not that easy to channel different participants into one main idea, but in that case it’s important to learn from one’s mistakes…

“Nosso projeto é participatório sob dois aspectos: primeiro quanto aos artistas que fazem parte da produção. Depois quanto ao publico presente que convidamos para interagir conosco. Nos dois casos, o ponto positivo é podermos conversar e expor idéias de maneira livre e ludica rapidamente. Funciona quase como um workshop. Não vejo nenhum ponto negativo, sempre há algo para se aprender.O ideal é que em algum momento nossa interação produza uma espécie de “performance improvisada pelo publico “em publico”. Se conseguimos quebrar a rotina e trasformar o momento em um acontecimento coletivo, consiguimos atingir nosso objetivo.”

Sebastien Freuler | Co-founder of AIRimages: The positive aspect of working with large collaborative groups is that there is a constant renewal and flow of ideas. The only negative point is that it can get hard to harness the outcome of this vibrant flux of ideas. It is really about balancing outside ideas with the original concept, to make sure the latter is not totally lost.

“Les points positifs apportées par la collaboration avec de nombreuses personnes, c’est qu’il y’a constamment un renouvellement d’idées. Le seul point négatif c’est qu’il est parfois difficile de acquérir un résultat clair à cause du flux débordant d’idées. C’est un jeu d’équilibre: d’un côté il faut laisser rentrer les idées extérieures et d’un autre, il faut assurer que le concept original n’est pas complétement perdu.”

artpjf: „A visual discussion on Pop“ is a selection from one of a series of photographic projects that is underway. What does this project consist of and would you define yourself as pop?

Bettina John | Co-founder of AIRimages: We are not pop at all and that was a reason for us to discuss what pop is and what one has to know to do the „POPtalk“. A lot of artists are not very immersed in pop culture yet they are made into pop. With our work it’s rather difficult since we have successfully defied all categories. Sometimes that is a problem since the industry only works in categorizations. You’re either art or fashion or fine art photography or performance art or theatre and so on.

“Ich würde uns keinesfalls im Bereich Popkutlur verorten, was ein Hauptgrund für uns war uns mit dieser mal etwas zu beschäftigen und sie besser zu verstehen. Wir wollen wissen, was es braucht, um mitreden zu können. Viele Künstler haben wenig am Hut mit Popkultur und werden denoch, wenn populär genug zu Popkultur gemacht. Mit unserer Arbeit ist das nicht so einfach, weil es schwierig ist sie zu kategorisieren, eine wichtige Vorraussetzung, um etwas konsumierbar zu machen. Man ist entweder im Bereich Kunst, Mode, Kunstfotografie, performancekunst usw. zu verorten. Befindet man sich irgendwo dazwischen kann man leicht übersehen werden.”

Jaime Leme | Co-founder of AIRimages: This project consists in a series of interactive techniques to engage the participants to reenact their favorite pop icons. What we want to raise are questions like:
How does media changed our perception of reality?
Are we influenced by Pop icon’s images in our lifestyle?
If so, is that good or bad?
I think that the idea of POP is to create an image that is recognizable by a lot of people at the same time. I think this is an interesting aspect of contemporary culture but what I don’t really like about it is that normally the image is manipulated to trick us and generally another idea is concealed behind the image itself.

“Questões como: como a midia em geral mudou nossa percepção da realidade? As imagens veiculadas pela midia resultam em alguma mudança em nossa vida no moddo como agimos? Isso é bom ou ruim? Estas questões estão sepre presentes em nossos projetos, portanto quando incorporamos um novo tema, nós tentamos exlorar aspectos dessas mesma questões sob certo ponto de vista, como POP art. As mesmas questões poderiam ser respondidas sobre oponto de vista do jornalismo, do Mercado de trabalho, sobre questões sociais…”
“Acho que a idéia de ser pop é querer que sua imagem seja reconhecida facilmente por muitas pessoas ao mesmo tempo. Sob o aspecto de comunicação visual, acho isto muito interessante porque se torna uma verdade manipulavel ! Não me considero uma pessoa pop, acredito mais no relacionamento real ao virtual. Mas acho interessante entender como este processo é usado, de certa maneira me ajuda a entender minha própria maneira de ser e o que penso da realidade.”

Sebastien Freuler | Co-founder of AIRimages: We do not follow a particular category of contemporary art but instead try to understand ‘categories’ and situate ourselves in opposition to them.

“Nous ne cherchons pas à rentrer dans une catégorie d’art contemporain, mais nous cherchons plutôt à comprendre ses categories et à y faire oppostion.”

artpjf: Your website has an exceptional style. In what way is Airimages reflected in some of the sentences like „Information is emptiness“ ! or ‚Do you not want to escape the myth sometimes‘ or ‚We proclaim the end of images…. BASTARDS‘?

Bettina John | Co-founder of AIRimage: These expressions play exactly along these lines so as not to belong to categories that are just surface and are just there to catch people’s attention. But that does not mean there is anything behind it. They are just a package. ‚We proclaim the end of images‘ is the assumption that our extensive consumption of images will lead to their end and redundancy. They are becoming a facade with no depth. If you look at most of fashion photography; behind it there is just one intention: to sell a product. There is no real event.

“Diese Worte sind eine Reaktion auf genau die oben angesprochenen Kategorisierungen, die einzig dafür da sind um Aufmerksamkeit zu bekommen.
„Wir rufen das Ende des Bildes aus” ist die Annahme, dass unser übermäßiger Konsum von Bildern zu deren Ende führen wird. Bilder sind nur noch Fassade ohne tieferen Sinn. Schaut man sich den Grossteil der Modefotografie an, sieht man nur Oberfläche und die Absicht zu verkaufen. Mit unseren interaktiven and partizipativen Performances laden wir ein sich mit Bildern im spielerischen Sinne und vor allem erlebnisorientierten Sinn auseinanderzusetzen und im Idealfall die Sprache der Bilder in der heutigen Medienwelt besser zu verstehen.”

Jaime Leme | Co-founder of AIRimages: I think it reflects our irony towards the manipulation of images published by the media !

“Acho que estas frases são um ironia quanto a manipulação que a media produz `as suas imagens, manipulações normalmente relacionadas ao consumo por traz da mensagem.”

Sebastien Freuler | Co-founder of AIRimages: Our website is an essential piece of the existence of AIRimages, it has to portray our philosophy and how this relates to the language of the web and at the same time portray us as individuals. The first page acts as a portal reflecting our commons thoughts. For me the sentences found on the page act as a device plunging people into the mindset of AIRimages. They are words that provoke and conjure up thoughts.

“Notre site web est une pièce essentielle pour l’existence de AIRimages, c’est une platform qui sert à refléternotre philosophy de travail et comment cela s’accord avec le langage du web. Ce site nous démontre comme individus et comme collaborateurs. Le portail d’entrée met en avant nos pensées collectives. Pour moi les phrases que l’on trouve sur cette page agissent comme un outil pour plonger l’utilisateur dans la mentalité de AIRimages. Ce sont des mots provocateurs pour évoquer des pensées.”


artpjf: What projects do you have in store for the future?

Bettina John | Co-founder of AIRimages: We have just finished a performance at the Roundhouse where we looked into our celebrity culture; this performance involved much advanced planning. It is still the idea of pop and identity that concerns us. At the moment we are speaking to old and very old people about their past and their role models and ways of entertaining themselves. We hope to get some answers to where the future of the image lies.

“Wir hatten gerade einen Auftritt im Londoner Roundhouse. Die Arbeit, die wir dort präsentierten (VipTalk), thematisiert unsere heutige Vipkultur und den damit verbunden Hype von Stars. Wir beschäftigen uns immernoch mit Identität und damit im Zusammenhang stehend der Popkultur. Im Moment stehen wir gerade in regen Kontakt mit alten und sehr alten Leuten, die sich einmal wöchentlich in einem Zentrum für Ältere (DAGE) in Deptford, London, treffen und sprechen mit diesen über deren Vorbilder und wie sie damals zur Unterhaltung gefunden haben. Damit hoffen wir, Antworten auf die Frage, wo die Zukunft des Bildes liegt zu finden.”

Jaime Leme | Co-founder of AIRimages: Our last project, was in an old peoples home, it was quite an interesting experience. It would be great to develop this into a longer collaboration, maybe create events with interactions between old and young people.

“É dificil prever pois cada projeto que fazemos vem da reação imediata dos resultados da ultima apresentação que fizemos. Atualmente estamos dsenvolvendo o mesmo projeto dos personagens pop com idosos, e isto tem sido uma experiencia muito interessante. Devido a reação positiva que obtivimos, seria ótimo podermos produzir um evento onde os idosos interajem com jovens na produção das imagens…”

Sebastien Freuler | Co-founder of AIRimages: We still need to explore different platforms for our work. We are currently working on a documentary on AIRimages that we hope to release by the end of the year and we are also starting to work alongside curators to see how we can present our multiple projects.

“Nous aimerions commencer à explorer différents supports. Nous sommes entrain de travailler sur un documentaire sur AIRimages que nous espérons finir à la fin de cette année, puis nous avons commencer à collaborer avec des conservateurs pour voir comment nous pouvons presenter nos multiples projets.”

The AIRimages Collective
Website:
www.airimages.org/bettina_john
www.airimages.org/jaime_leme
www.airimages.org/sebastien_freuler

Blog:
www.airimagestalk.blogspot.com

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