DEMO49 Julien Dajez – Divergent Iterations, The Complicity and Aporia of Diversion

June 2024

Materializing the Transformation of Research Through the Creative Process

Conceived as a semi-accompanied journey linking five stations in a 185 m² space, the installation traces the progress of my research-creation in experimental media. Initially focused on enriching the audiovisual experience, this process has followed an evolutionary trajectory, transforming both the research and the approaches explored. My work in residence bears witness to this evolution.


A Trans-media Journey Through the Narrative and Technical Structures of an Audiovisual Work

This research-creation project explores open-ended avenues, opening new horizons for the creative flow of a film and its trans-media dimension. This term refers to the variation of a narrative through its dispersal from one medium to another. By engaging the media translation of work as a creative dynamic that fosters the emergence of embodied knowledge, I seek to promote a deep perception of the media work and a critical appreciation of contemporary narrative dynamics. This is achieved by integrating interdisciplinary practices that contaminate and transform each other.

In particular, this approach focuses on re-articulating the relationships between narrative, materials and human and non-human experience, where sensory interactions act as components of an expanded “text”.

Laboratory artwork: the In(de)finite as a Device for Methodological Reinvention

The raw material of the device, the motion picture Les Ondes Grises is an in(de)finite work in progress, in perpetual transfiguration. The film acts as a central pivot for a series of dispersal designed to metamorphose the cinematographic intention into a living texture, a fluid, talkative, malleable and reactive matrix of poetic research.

This approach extends the literary concept of intertextuality beyond the cinematographic writings of screenplay, dialogue, and film credits to encompass the narrativity of media materials. This expression allows me to interweave digital approaches with practices from other performative, vocal, and scriptural traditions, integrating them as textual and media extensions of film. With its various permutations, the work of cinema oscillates between subtle variations and radical divergences.

These fluctuations transform the experimental room into a space of exploration and movement, characterized by a dynamic interplay between different forms of expression.

Texts, Textures, Textiles, Textus: Media Alliterations, Scenographic Assonances and Critical Resonances

Here’s a still from the residency: the tour is staged in two distinct sequences. The first part opens on a television, in an airlock, where the screen reveals a feverish, grainy material that flows like a horizontal hourglass in a liminal space between image and sound. The grainy dissolution of the cinematographic image heralds future operations and the distillation of the boundaries between media.

This prologue, the fruit of a collaboration with Hervé Zénouda, who composed the piano piece Déclinaison pour une gamme par ton, serves as an antechamber before entering behind the velvet curtains of Hexagram. Here, two powerful video projections face each other, animating a sculptural complex of translucent sails. These sails unfurl like breathing walls, tracing shifting boundaries in space, an apparatus I use as a prism of dislocation and narrative redeployment traversed by the creative flow of Ondes Grises.

At every turn, the projection of the film’s variations is revealed in the multiplicity of its dimensions. The work constantly diffracts its own contours through the arrangement of organza veils animated by the oscillating breath of the fans, creating a play of shimmers, moirés, undulations and transparencies in perpetual metamorphosis.

This invitation to a trans-media journey continues with the arrival in a discussion zone, a dialogical space dedicated to critical exchange and shared reflection. A meeting and exhibition station at the end of the wanderings, this section provides access to my practice notebook and to the research writings deconstructed by ChatGPT.

At the very end of the tour, as a silent echo to the bursts of words and sounds superimposed by the rest of the installation, I exhibit the final fragments of the “mothership”, the central narrative (Jenkins, 2006), recycled paper fibres fragmented by laser burning of photograms from the film.

In staging the translation of Ondes Grises into new techniques, the proliferation of media served as a thread connecting the different media: audiovisual waves, the tangible matter of sails and paper, and architectural space. Between aporia and complicity, the media narratives vary, dislocate and rearrange themselves along the way, attempting to elicit from the work a social and physical materiality that offers points of rupture and continuity in the exploration of narrative dynamics.

Equipment Implementation and Experience Credits

The preparation begins with an architectural plan to map out immersion and engagement zones. A flexible modular infrastructure, designed with the assistance of Stéphane Gladyszewski and realized with Laeticia Philantrope, allows for variations in the arrangement of sails and the creation of interaction stations, where visitors can actively influence scenic elements. This facilitates real-time adjustments and adaptations, offering an evolving experience.

In terms of control, the device, developed on TouchDesigner with the invaluable help of Étienne Monténégro, synchronizes two video projectors, four video streams, three audio streams and three PAR LEDs. This creates a dynamic environment in which visual and audio elements move in and out of sync.

The cinematography by Hraïr Hratchian and Martin Archambault enriches the audiovisual narrative of the research-creation process, illuminating the uncertainties, the discussions, and the methodological and experiential dynamics.

Prototyping an Experimental Cinema Space

Physical engagement led to an exploration of gestures, negotiating the relationship between the translucence of textile surfaces and moving video projections, superimposing, bending and modulating their tension. By manipulating the video projectors, adjusting distances, and selecting veils according to their weave, these interactions transformed materials and bodies into instruments for investigating diffraction phenomena. This approach exploits ripples of light interfering with semitransparent veils to create sophisticated optical patterns and animated pseudo-holography.

By strategically positioning the fans to modulate the participants’ experience and the animation of the veils, a tactile, visual, and reactive dynamic was created, achieving a key goal of redefining the cinematic experience through the interweaving of sensory and material interactions.

Functioning simultaneously as a screening room for Ondes Grises, a film studio documenting the process, and an experimental laboratory, this space has come to embody an autopoietic device where scenarios emerge from the interactions between media materials and participants. Collaborators, visitors, and creators are all invited to become active agents of an ever-changing ontology. The sails, oscillating under the influence of air currents, become screen and membrane, surface and depth, revealing the fluidity and evolution of the creative process. In this way, media scenography, enriched by ethnographic research with cameras and drawings, seeks to embody the fluidity between “texts” and disciplines.

Bourdaa, M. (2012). Le Transmédia: entre narration augmentée et logiques immersives [online].

Derrida, J. (1967). De la grammatologie. Les Éditions de Minuit.

Genette, G. (1982). Palimpsestes : La littérature au second degré. Seuil.

Jenkis, H (2006) Convergence culture. Where old and new media collide, NYU Press, 2006.

McLuhan, M. (1968). Pour comprendre les médias : Les prolongements technologiques de l’homme (J. Paré, Trad.). Mame/Seuil.

Zenouda, H. (2020), Micrologies N°1. Optical sound


Julien Dajez [student member, UQAM] uses audiovisual media as a means of opening up to other practices. At the intersection of critical approach and methodological experimentation, he develops strategies that put aesthetic and narrative norms in tension by exploring the fluidity between the disciplines of experimental research and the creative flow of media work. Julien Dajez has received several awards for his audiovisual creations, including an Honorary Mention at Ars Electronica for Ū-Man (Non-Humain), which won Best Soundtrack at CST/SACEM, the Synthesys IV Award, and a Pixel/Ina Award at Imagina for Biozoo, which was presented at Siggraph’s Electronic Theater and won Best Video Paint Design at the International Monitor Awards. As a director and art director for fashion and advertising, he has worked with brands such as Dior, Cartier, Garnier and Première Vision, produced the video set design for Mylène Farmer’s Mylénium Tour, created the graphic design for the TF1 (France) TV news show, produced TV dressing commas for MTV Europe and Nicktoons in New York.

Acknowledgements

Julien Dajez would like to thank the Hexagram network and its co-director Sofian Audry, as well as Martin Archambault, Max Boutin, Stéphane Gladyszewski, Hraïr Hratchian, Stefan Sao Nelet, Laeticia Philantrope, Jason Pomrenski, Etienne Sanche, Hervé Zénouda, Nadia Seraiocco, and Frédéric Maheux for their inspiring workshop on ChatGPT. He also expresses his gratitude to Hugo Dalphond, professor at the École supérieure de théâtre de l’UQAM, and to Louis-Claude Paquin, director of his research-creation at the École des médias de l’UQAM.

Cette publication est également disponible en : Français (French)