Sabrina Ratté is a Paris-based video artist working with analog technologies, such as video synthesizers and video feedback, mixed with 3D animation techniques to create mesmerising and morphing video spaces. Her work includes single-channel videos, installations, sculptures, live performances and prints. From utopian architecture to painterly textures, she investigates the ambiguous line between the virtual and the physical realm.
Several days before the presentation of Machine For Living in Amsterdam, we contacted Sabrina to talk about her work and this new installation project. Machine For Living is part of the audiovisual concert evening FIBER x The Rest Is Noise on January 5 at the Muziekgebouw in Amsterdam.
It’s great to collaborate at the start of this new year, as FIBER has been following your work for quite some time. We’re curious to hear more about your artistic process. How would you describe your own work? From which fascination does it grow into reality?
Sabrina: If I had to do a general description of my work, I would say that I sculpt the electronic signal and manipulate it digitally in order to create virtual environments inspired by utopian architecture, and the tension between the virtual and the physical realm. I am fascinated by the infinite possibilities of video as a medium, in terms of its diffusion as well as its intrinsic characteristics. My work has been shown as projections, installations, sculptures, prints and live performances in projects where I explore the textures, shapes and color palettes emerging from digital and analog technologies. Each project always represents an important step in the evolution of my work, as I constantly integrate new techniques and different approaches that have a direct influence on my aesthetic.
We’re honoured to present a first version of Machines For Living in Amsterdam. This installation environment was realised within a residency in France and translates the brutalist architecture of the new suburban towns of Paris into a morphing media architecture. How did this ‘translation’ take place? Can you share something about the artistic process and your steps of capturing and translating these environments?
Machine For Living is a project about the new towns (villes nouvelles) around Paris. Most of these cities were built in the 60s and the 70s and reflect the architects vision of an utopian city. Time has shown that these grandiose ideas have not turned out so well when confronted with reality. This tension between utopia and dystopia as well as the unique aesthetic of these architectures have motivated this project.
My process consisted in visiting all of the new towns, drifting in these environments for many hours and documenting them thoroughly. I then selected some pictures and I incorporated video synthesizer textures in some of the architectural features, such as windows, doors, etc. These “video collages” were then mapped virtually onto 3D structures built in Cinema 4D. The mix of all these techniques creates an eerie effect, between photographs and surreal 3D environments, with the intention of reflecting the idea of utopia confronted with reality.
You’re both active as an video/installation artist and live performer, also within the duo Le Révélateur. In what way do these two outputs influence each other?
My work has been deeply inspired by music for many years, and Le Révélateur was a way to approach video in this context. To work with music in a live setting taught me to bring rhythm, pace, and to edit my images in order to create a coherent language through time. This said, I have a very different approache when I make a video installations versus live performances; my videos tend to be more formal and minimalist, where in live settings I mix many layers of videos to get more psychedelic. Both approaches are necessary to me, and they definitely feed each other in the end.
Working at the intersection of analog and digital techniques, what is for you a challenging and inspiring domain/technique to explore in 2018?
Recently, I started to be inspired by the idea of materializing the video signals into painterly textures; I create these video loops meant to be displayed as paintings. I am also working on integrating my videos into sculptures. To create objects is a real challenge to me, and I want to focus more on that aspect in 2018.