DEMO12 Brice Ammar-Khodja – Sensitive membranes

November 2021

Walking through three research-creation projects

In this DEMO, Brice Ammar-Khodja [student member, Concordia] presents three research-creation projects that explore the concept of screen-membranes through different “dispositifs“: Breath.am (2019), Fossilation (2021), and Blob Detection (2021). Not only connected to their environment and the public but also sensitive to them, these works engage relations pertaining to material science, data physicalization, and sensory studies directly linked to socio-political and environmental issues. By investigating different materialities in motion (living, organic, computational) linked with the discreet signals of their surroundings, this video, presented as part of the Hexagram Network Garden at the Ars Electronica 2021 festival, aims to discuss new ways of reconstructing the interconnections between milieus, human and more-than-human agents, and the built environment.

Credits : Brice Ammar-Khodja. Narrated by Jean-Louis Cassarino.

The three projects:

  • Breath.am (2019)
    A performative installation by Brice Ammar-Khodja and VH SOUND.

    Immersed into the heart of the restaurant-gallery Dalan Art Gallery in Erevan (Armenia), Breath.am is an interactive installation composed of three happenings and an exhibition. Inspired by the “legendary Armenian hospitality,” this installation invites the public to an improvised dialogue. As participants drink, eat, and debate the Armenian “art of living,” wired electronic sensors crawling across the table monitor and collect real-time data on breathing (alcohol concentration in the air, voice pitch) and movement (agitation, vibration). The environment responds to the actions of each participant: light distortions appear on the table, different soundscapes emerge from the acoustic membranes, and artifacts on the table slowly move throughout the dinner. Not only an observer but also a participant, the table wants to communicate with the public and intervene in the debate, sometimes disturbing and sometimes stimulating one’s speech.

    The exhibition space is transformed into an experimental laboratory activated by the merging of the audience and the artists. The performance seeks to collect, produce and archive different aspects of Armenian culture, whose transmission remains through traditional orality.

    Creation and Production team

    • Coordination: Brice Ammar-Khodja
    • Design, production and computing: Brice Ammar-Khodja
    • Interactive sound design: VH SOUND
    • Performative music: Alexander Hakobyan et VH SOUND
    Acknowledgments

    • Breath.am was supported by Atelier Mondial (CH) and Kulturdialog Armenien (AR).
    • The performative installation was exhibited at the Dalan Art Gallery as part of the Second International Print Biennale Yerevan 2019.

    Crédits photo : Brice Ammar-Khodja

  • Fossilation (2021)
    A collective project carried out by Brice Ammar-Khodja, Alexandra Bachmayer [student-member, Concordia], Samuel Bianchini [collaborator member, EnsadLab Paris], Marie-Pier Boucher [collaborator member, University of Toronto], Didier Bouchon, Maria Chekhanovich [student-member, Concordia], Matthew Halpenny [student-member, Université de Montréal], Alice Jarry [co-investigator member, Concordia], Raphaëlle Kerbrat, Annie Leuridan, Vanessa Mardirossian [student-member, Concordia], Asa Perlman, Philippe Vandal [student-member, Concordia], Lucile Vareilles.

    A large bioplastic membrane hovers above the ground like a film strip. Its colour is animated by the fluctuating lights and cables stretching out towards the ceiling. Rather than being the result of shooting an image, these motifs result from a slow form-taking process: the imprint of an actual electronic display device. Like a fossil from our own era, the components printed onto matter slowly disapear. The membrane and its sensors are connected to the pipes of Centre Pompidou and convert the fluxes of the building into electricity. The unstable light thus reacts to interferences originating from the capturing of the space’s residual energies and enhance an ecosystem in which the image is composed with the space.

    Creation and Production team

    • Coordination: Alice Jarry (Design and Computation Arts, dir. Milieux Speculative Life Biolab), Samuel Bianchini (EnsadLab, dir. Reflective Interaction and Chair in Arts and Sciences), Marie-Pier Boucher (iSchool de l’Université de Toronto Missauga.)
    • Experimenting and making the bioplastic membrane: Alexandra Bachmayer, Maria Chekhanovich, Vanessa Mardirossian with the collaboration of Brice Ammar-Khodja.
    • Capturing the residual energy: Brice Ammar-Khodja, Didier Bouchon, Matthew Halpenny, Raphaëlle Kerbrat, Asa Perlman, Philippe Vandal
    • Light design: Annie Leuridan with the collaboration of Louise Rustan
    • Computer programming: Didier Bouchon
    • Overseeing production of the work and its spatial installation: Lucile Vareilles
    • Technical support for production and/or editing: Théo Chauvirey, Corentin Loubet, Joséphine Mas, Simon Paugoy.

    Acknowledgments

    This project, combining design, art, techno sciences, and media studies, is co-developed as part of an international collaboration between three research-creation teams (Concordia University, Montreal; EnsadLab – the École nationale supérieure des Arts Décoratifs laboratory – Université PSL; University of Toronto Mississauga). The project, co-directed by Alice Jarry (Concordia University), Marie-Pier Boucher (University of Toronto Mississauga), and Samuel Bianchini (EnsadLab / Reflective Interaction and Chair in Arts and Sciences), received support from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), the Chair in Arts and Sciences of the École polytechnique, the École des Arts Décoratifs – PSL, the Daniel and Nina Carasso Foundation, Hexagram – international network of research-creation in art, culture, and technology, and Concordia University’s Milieux Institute for art, culture, and technology. The project was developped for the “Matières d’image” exhibit as part of the 2021 Hors Pistes Festival, curated by Géraldine Gomez.

    Crédits photo : Samuel Bianchini et Brice Ammar-Khodja

  • Blob Detection (2021)
    Artwork and experimentations by Brice Ammar-Khodja

    Crédits photo : Brice Ammar-Khodja

Biography

Brice Ammar-Khodja is an artist, graphic designer and PhD student based in Montreal and Paris.
He examines the “active” potential of urban waste materials through a low-tech approach. Examining the socio-environmental and political issues between the immateriality of information and its sensory representations, he is interested in the interactive potential of the material to increase the sensory perceptions of public environments. In this regard, he wishes to strengthen the sensory relationships between citizens and their living environments.

He is currently pursuing a co-directed thesis between Concordia University – Montreal (individualized program) and EnsAD, EnsadLab – Paris (Reflexive Interaction research group, SACRe program). He is a member of the Speculative Life Research Cluster (Milieux Institute), the Centre for Sensory Studies and the Canada Excellence Research Chair in Smart, Sustainable and Resilient Communities and Cities. Brice is a member of the international research-creation network Hexagram.

Co-director of the typography magazine Pied de Mouche, Brice Ammar-Khodja creates workshops and educational tools for the general public.

His work has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, MUTEK, Centre Pompidou, Biennale internationale du Design, Cité internationale des Arts, V2_Institut des médias instables, Musée historique de la Ville de Strasbourg.