How is born your collaboration?

We were both interested in the same notions: immersive media, technology’s manipulation and estrangement of time, using media to reimagine urban space. Also, we both have extensive backgrounds designing and building immersive technological experiences, whether on the desktop or in physical space. This project is the convergence of the graphical interface with the physical world–where graphical, sonic, urban and responsive notions combine into a synaesthetic and contemplative experience.

How many times did you show this project and where was it? What is different from the munich presentation by instance?

La Villette marks the world premiere of this particular project. As it moves from city to city, it will be adapted for the different contexts and environments.

How have you taken in account the venue (grande halle de la villette) in the creation of the piece ? How has it influenced you ?

Absolutely. Chronopolis is to some extent site-specific. La grande Halle brings us treamendous vertical space, therefore we propose a very large projection. Furthermore, in Villette Numerique we like to think of Chronopolis as part of the whole event where it becomes a clock that is given more context thanks to the other installations-a kind of perpetual motion machine or Foucault pendulum for the computational age.

In chronopolis, the day’s symbol is a bit negative, what is the meaning?

Like all systems including cities, Chronopolis responds to an ecological order. Decay is one of the processes of life, one of the manifestations of time. Since the day is the longest time unit in our mechanism, it makes sense that decay would happen at the end of all the seconds, the minutes and hours of the day.

How digital can alterate our perceptions ?

Every discovery or innovation alters our perception of reality. In order to understand the impact on perception, we look at an earlier technology: the invention of the railway which completely reinvented our perception of space and location. There is a dislocation of the body–and a view of the world through a frame-a window. Between now and then, perception and notions of perspective have once again completely been reinvented. Digital tools, digital publishing, digital archiving, digital interfaces, etc as experienced on the desktop are reducing time, space and knowledge into a flattened view of the world. That view is in fact nothing more than an info sphere that sits as a parallel world above the physical world.

Do you like the idea that as visitors interact with chronopolis they enter in a game ? a city game ?

The mediated city is certainly package as a game–the ultimate one being Las Vegas. Chronopolis is iconinc like a game but we also hope that visitors will experience a new form of contemplation, that of time literally passing under their feet.

Do you think that perception as a mean of knowledge is better than intellect?
It depends how old you are. Perception feeds the intellect which then feeds knowledge. With time the intellect does filter and structure perception and therefore it also filters and structures knowledge. If we believe that a superior form of knowledge can be acheived without any kind of codification then perception needs to bypass the intellect.

The notion of real time in your work ?

It is the crux of the project .
REAL TIME: time of experience = time of computation

Could you explain what is chronopolis time ?

Chronopolis time is a space in which all things and events are reorganized around new structures. It is a space of mechanized efficiency in which the “city” exists independently from natural cycles such as day and year cycles. There is both an accelaration and decelaration of flows: the seconds (and capitals) go faster but the days (and the decay) goes slower.

Do you think that with digital technologies we could invent a new notion of time ? (not influenced by capitalism, consumerism….)

The digital realm may be redefining time in the same way that the medieval city redefined time. In both instances we have experienced a physical shift from one time-space to another. We have moved from an agrarian order of time to an urban order of time and finally to an electronic order. In each case, our direct, lived experience of time has been further and further distanced and mediated.

France : the country of digital creation?

France has very rich artistic, intellectual and scientific traditions, what we normally think of as the foundational components of digital creation. Yet sensuality and poetic expression also play a vital role in everyday French culture as well as things like fashion, gastronomy, sociality in public space. The daunting challenge is how to make immanent these traditions in the realm of the digital.

Your definition of digital creation ?

Anything that is done with 0s and 1s. Keeping in mind that the digital is only one facet of computation.

To your point of view, what is the future of digital creation, what are your expectations ?

We are seeing the increasing fusing of computation into the everyday fabric of living, whether it is the mobile phone you carry that links you to the world’s wirelesss networks or the clothing you wear that one day may respond to touch like your skin now does. The aesthetic possibilities seem endless. The question is will this pervasiveness, this ubiquity of technology result in new experiences, new ethical, political and moral constructs or will it result in our eventual destruction and annihilation.
There is no question that technology will change the way we live on the planet-the question is what will we do it, how will we shape it and how will it shape us.

Your three favorite websites ?

We do not have favorite web sites, but here are links that we consider important for various reasons:

What are your litterature and philosophy influences ?

Influences, inspirations and motivations are infinite and deep; a plenum. It doesn’t do justice to name one or two over a thousand others. However there is one quote from Andrei Tarkovsky that we both find useful for our work: “The purpose of art is to prepare oneself for death. To plow and harrow the soul, ultimately rending it capable of good.”


Eric Adigard Chris Salter 2002/Interview Isabelle Arvers