Into the future, in an endless countdown. Waiting for opening exhibition we interviewed the artist Julian Charrière, to talk about present, past, future and the (hypothetical?) end of the world.
Who are you?
Good question! I guess the whole point of life is trying to find that out, but for the sake of an introduction let’s just say that I am Julian Charrière, a half French, half Swiss artist, based in Berlin since 2006. But who I am, does not only have to do with me, but also with the people I work with. For example, in the last years I have developed a strong professional and personal bond with Julius von Bismarck with whom I have collaborated repeated times. On the other hand I’m also part of a collective called NUMEN with artists with whom not only do I work, but I also share a studio with. So, yeah, every work involves working with different people and underlies different working processes; my persona constantly shifting and adapting to these circumstances.
What are you working at, at the moment?
I am currently working on my first sound piece, titled “On the edge”. The piece is based on various countdown extracts from science-fiction movies and real, historical science events; representations of technological progress both real and fake.The footage, taken from different sources from NASA, US army footage and film, is a self-generative piece with no beginning or end, an infinite loop of expectation for a moment that will never come, the space between progress and regress. It has proven to be a real challenge, precisely because of the fact that I have never worked with this medium before, but I am confident on how it is developing and confident of the people that are helping me to produce this work.
How did the idea came out?
I have been interested in the idea of the cyclical nature of history for quite some time now. On the other hand, I am fascinated by the correlation between fiction and science, and the way in which they recurrently influence and push each other creating a sort of information loop. I am trying to portray this notion of endless progress. Something that I believe to be an overwhelming feeling nowadays, as we are no longer able to grasp the ever expanding and rapidly changing field of reality anymore. I decided I wanted to use sound for this installation, in order to create a space with no escape and where one would be forced to physically experience this feeling of infinite uncertainty.
Do you work a lot with science?
I work with many things and wouldn’t necessarily say that I work with science but I am very interested in the processes hidden behind scientific knowledge production and the methodology used to arrive to these ideas. In the end, science is only a tool used to describe reality. At the same time, with reality changing so rapidly through technological advances, I find it interesting to understand how our perception of the reality has actually changed reality itself, and the role of science in this new relationship. Simultaneously, I´m trying to reach deep into history, scrutinizing the past to discover what will come next. A sort of archeologist, trying to look into the past to understand the future, whilst reflecting this onto the present; something that poses a challenge precisely because it lies between both. I think that trying to find this in between is probably the biggest input in my work. This relationship is many times evident through the mere materials employed, reason why I try to see materials that are related to emerging concepts of the future and past. The material becomes a time capsule, a sort of hard-drive.
Do you think there are still discoveries that has to be made?
Discoveries are made everyday! Being 28 years old, I am very interested in the technological and social changes yet to come and the way which these will influence each other, creating a loop of never ending resonance between both concepts.I think that every generation has felt part of a turning point in history but the speed of development today has rapidly increased due to accelerated technological developments; changes that are occurring at such a rapid speed, to the point that it becomes impossible to understand or grasp the actual present.
So future for you is not an illusion that we inherited from the Sixties…
No. I don’t think so. Our present is very much a post-Sixties era. And although I do believe that we inherited the social construct ideals of this time, technology has developed too fast. So maybe, somehow, it is the gap between the utopian baggage that we still carry an the over-technologized world today what is actually the problem.This produces a feeling of nostalgia for the past; the dissatisfaction and tension caused by not being able to reflect upon our present because the tools are no longer appropriate to describe this new reality. This makes it difficult to create our own utopia, our own future.
So we have to discover our new tools?
Well, we probably have to discover our Sixties!
How much is your work related to newspapers, to the present?
Maybe not newspapers, but like I mentioned before, I am constantly trying to be aware of what is happening in many fields to understand the impact that my practice could have in the development of these real situations. In my research, I´m trying to find topics that are relevant not only for me but also for others. The pieces that I make as a result are a way of mixing my feelings and perceptions towards these situations, while trying to bridge ideas from different people through them. An artist should be aware of the world that he´s living in. In the end it is his role to communicate through creation, proposing for the future by commenting on the present by reflecting on the now.
In which way do ruins influence our contemporary imaginary?
I am working a lot with this idea, also in an archeological way. Archeology is always about the past, about something which is hidden. We always have – at least in the western society, that I am familiar with– this need of digging into history, of going deeper and deeper, as a way to understand what is happening now, without realizing the dangers of being then trapped in that same hole. It s a bit like walking backward in a forward direction, looking back.
What I’m trying to do is to use these tools and these mechanisms within my own work by also understanding memory through its collectiveness and how this influences people. Drill cores and icebergs interest me because they are examples of static memory. These materials act as memory boxes that you can open and read. On the other hand, I’m also interested in the way that our human constructions of reality is always reinventing itself through memory. Every time that you look back into the past, what you’re looking at has already changed because you are looking at it. So, memory is something related to both time and chronology, whilst bonded through material. Human memory is something proactive, constantly reinventing itself all the time.
How would the end of the world look like?
I don’t have an answer to this question because I don’t believe that the world will end, the only thing that may end is our idea of the end of the world. We live in an anthropocentric world: the end of the world it´s a problem that only exists for us, because it is our existence in the world what is actually put to the test. The world will go on, maybe with or without us and this would not necessarily be a bad thing.
[Cover image: Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck, Clockwork, 2014, Mixed Media, Installation view OBEN, Wien. Photo: OBEN, Wien]
Julian Charrière and Julius von Bismarck, Clockwork, 2014, Mixed Media, Installation view OBEN, Vienna. Photo: OBEN, Vienna