DEMO6 Jules Deslandes – Reenacting Archives of Performance Art as Artists’ Game

June 2021

Reenacting Archives of Performance Art as Artists’ Game is a research-creation that explores strategies of artistic reenactment of performance archives (Caronia 2009) remediated by video game technologies for artistic purposes (Sharp 2015).

Jules Deslandes’ project is grounded in the digital humanities (Berry 2012), a set of studies that focus on new modalities of transmission and digitization of knowledge. More specifically he associates with remix cultures (Navas 2015), which (re)combine, manipulate, copy or cite original works that are still identifiable within a new work (Bolter 2019, p.84; Burdick 2012; Guertin 2016; Manovich 2007, 2008; Navas 2012, 2015, p.44; Parikka 2012, p.145; Weiss 2010, 2013). Among the different practices of remixing, there is one that is particularly appropriate for this project: reenactment, which unfolds in three stages: act, enact and reenact (Allen, 2009). Deslandes’ performative methodology makes use of a comparative parodic analysis of performance that proposes a free, partial and referential reinterpretation of an archive by drawing on the similarities and divergences that emerge between the two (Caronia 2009). Rather than reinterpreting them through performance, Deslandes chooses the approach of the Artists’ Games (Sharp 2015), which are as much a part of the aesthetic and conceptual world of contemporary art as that of the video game. As such, these games promote a critical interpretation of both the archive and the video game medium.

This DEMO presents the prototypes of three works in progress: Potentiels saut vides (2020-2021), a digital simulation of Yves Klein’s Le saut dans le vide (1960), Et si Shoot (2020-2021), a digital reenactment of Chris Burden’s Shoot (1971), and Plank 3 ++ (2021), an interactive reenactment of Charles Ray’s Plank Pieces 1 & 2 (1973)

Potentiels sauts vides reflects on the subterfuge of Klein’s performance, which never took place and whose archive is a photomontage. The work is a pseudo-random digital simulation in a modeled environment visually similar to that of the original archive. It is thus in parodic continuity with the latter.

Et si Shoot is inspired by the photographic and video archives of Shoot, an extreme and minimalist performance in which Burden is the target of his collaborator who misses and shoots him in the arm. In Deslandes’ shooting game, the participant is invited to take control of a virtual firearm, which implies assuming the consequences of harming someone.

In Plank Pieces 1 & 2, a portrait photographic work, Ray is mysteriously held to a wall by a wooden board in two different positions. Is this a performance, a sculpture or a just photograph? Because the archive does not give us access to the process that leads to the creation of the work, Plank 3 ++ is an interactive reenactment that proposes to integrate this process in the role of a studio assistant who manipulates the wooden board with superhuman strength. This game gives us the opportunity to reinterpret, or even reinvent the original work with a new composition.

This DEMO was presented as part of the lunch meetings Sur_Exposition, co-organized by UQAC – École NAD, Laboratoire MIMESIS and Hexagram. SUR_Exposition presents works and initiatives on modalities of artistic creation, dissemination, and mediation through the new virtual and immersive spaces.


Jules Deslandes is an artist who orients his practice around the expressive use of game engines, 3D animation, digital technologies and electronics. Coming from an artistic education mainly revolving around traditional mediums more specifically painting, he made a shift towards digital arts at the end of his Bachelor’s degree. Nevertheless, the knowledge acquired around drawing, painting, sculpture and different art theories still guides his practice. His attraction to digital media comes mainly from its world building and interactive possibilities. Among the recurring concepts of his practice are the representation of the body, reuse, remix and agency. A certain humor emerges from his production. He is also co-founder of an alternative performance space in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve called GHAM & DAFE. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree at UQAC-NAD in digital design under the supervision of Yan Breuleux and Louis-Philippe Rondeau.

Photo credits : All images are from Jules Deslandes.
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