I was invited by the organisation LittleVanGogh for their residency project in 2018.
It was going to be a challenge to adjust to new working spaces and produce Artwork in such a short amount of time but I thought it would offer a good opportunity to explore the New forest area and really concentrate on an Art project without distractions.
My works draw inspiration from the digital culture of today and our sometime uncomfortable relationship with technology. I am interested in the ways we rely more and more on technology to record and survey our environment and how this over reliance is possibly misplaced. Through the numeric lens, spaces, object, people are analysed in the same manner, reduced to data sets that can be disassemble and reassembled at will.
Last year I worked on a project with the forest heritage department and I produced a series of digital art works inspired by the geology, the streams and the flora of the area to create rich multilayered images based from LIDAR captures (used to survey geology of the new forest and analyse what lays underneath vegetation) I explore the possibilities digital tools offer us to create alternative realities and virtual simulations that ultimately allow us to further our knowledge. How does the virtual world affect our real, physical experience? What consequences will the digitalisation of our experiences bring?
I wanted to illustrate this fractured vision of Nature that we sometimes have… The tessellated technique I use on these works to echo the kaleidoscope view we have of the world often through the use of digital technology. Our perception becomes compressed and pixelated, often in constant motion, it seems incomplete yet it has a certain beauty too. I also arch back to painterly techniques used by the Vorticist and the Futurists… Similar use of dynamic strokes of colour can be found in my work….
In Parallel to this studio practice I produced a series of photos inspired by my walks in the new forest.
“J Masson: To Infinity and Beyond“ by Chloë Adams (curator at LVG )
Described as ‘unapologetically experimental’, artist Julien Masson is something of a mad scientist of the art world. Passionate about blurring the lines between science, technology and the arts Julien’s work explores three-dimensional printing, LIDAR scanning and computer programming to name but a few of the technologies he uses to make his work.
“I know a lot of scientists who are frustrated artists- I’m an artist who is a frustrated scientist,” he laughs as he explains a recent project with a plant biologist at Bath University as part of ‘Visions of Science’. This exhibition sees artists and scientists across different departments brought together in celebration of collaboration. “I’m in awe of scientists,” he continues, “I think they’re the ones who are going to save the world and I want to contribute.”
Julien is from France originally and set out to study fine art in Paris before making the move across the Channel to Bournemouth to study Computer Animation. Having raised eyebrows on a regular basis by bringing charcoal drawings and radical artistic ideas into the animation studio, it became clear to him that the Computer Graphics industry wasn’t going to suit him. This foundation however has undeniably influenced his work and coupled with his exploratory nature has seen him experiment with a number of unlikely and interesting medium.
“I’m willing to try anything. All these different strands feed off each other and I will never settle for one- that’s difficult for people sometimes.” And he’s right of course, often we like artists to be consistent in their approach; it makes their work easier to relate to, quicker to understand and more accessible. That doesn’t seem to matter to Julien; for him the process of making remains the most important thing, something that can easily be forgotten by many in the name of perfection.
Julien is a character full of contrast- on the one hand he is relaxed and incredibly easy going whilst simultaneously, palpably brimming with creative energy. “Art is a way of life and a muscle,” he explains, “and for me it’s about momentum.” Julien seems to have an infinite number of ideas buzzing around in his head at any given time but what’s exciting about him as an artist is that he appears to have an equally infinite drive with which to execute them. “It’s like a compulsion, sometimes I wake at 4am and now is the time.”
On a recent project Julien used LIDAR scans of the New Forest to inform his work. LIDAR in this case is laser technology that scans the landscape from an airborne drone, building up a picture of the surface of the earth. “I’m keen to explore the digitisation of the landscape,” Julien explains, “Farmers are becoming scientists and technicians to get better at farming; we are experiencing nature in a digital way- it’s both a good and bad thing.”
Julien is an exciting artist, his trajectory a testament to his inquisitive and adventurous spirit. Who knows which idea will be the next to come to the surface but one thing we can be sure of is that there will be plenty more where it came from.