Until March 3rd Brussels’ Joye Gallery will be exhibiting the works of French artist Pierre Besson, master of illusion. His sculptures, along with his artificially constructed and meticulously fabricated images, are based on everyday objects, particularly bits of computers. Putting computer carcasses into new settings and playing with perspectives with no small amount of skill, he gives new life, recreating them in the guise of far-fetched, futuristic buildings, blending aspects of architecture, sculpture and photography. We sit down with the artist to thrash out today’s technologic excess, the beauty of everyday things and Brian Eno.
Can you tell me a bit about the pieces in this exhibition? How long did it take you to make them?
All the pieces are recent ones that I made between 2008 and 2011, with one exception: there is a piece from the beginning of my ‘adventure’ that is 10 years old. This exhibition mostly shows my images, but also some of my sculptures. I started out as a sculptor, actually. And my images are not pure photographs. Some are light boxes with caoutchouc added, almost becoming objects.
What’s the idea behind the exhibition? Is your art a criticism of how technology rules our lives?
I create fictional universes, informatic universes, with the help of computer carcasses. I am fascinated by them. I wouldn’t say that I’m a critic of the technological progress. But I am fascinated with the concept of dehumanization. Computers have become a very important part of our lives. They are like brains. You can install your own memory on them, in a way. I guess my attitude towards them is rather ambiguous. Sometimes it leaves the impression that I am a technology critic, but that’s not really true. Also, I try not to be didactic with my art, I prefer to let the viewer interpret my work the way he wants. The question is asked a lot and it actually embarrasses me a bit each time.
Your images seem very dehumanized though.
I am fascinated with the so-called ‘non-lieu’, places that are not real places, that are of a transitional quality, like parkings or airports. It’s true that I never show people, and that’s a choice of course. For some reason I am drawn to deserts, empty places.
How has your art developed over the years?
I don’t look back much, but when I do I see differences and changes as well as constants throughout my work. For example, my treatment of objects inspired by Duchamp or the use of metallic carcasses. Years ago I worked with car carcasses. I empty the piece and reinject my personal vision. For example, I once made a sculpture out of a car piece that looked like a belly or a butt, but not like the original object anymore.
Did you always know you’d be in artist?
I knew at a very young age what I wanted to do and was very determined to get it. I think I was 14 or 15.
Where did this artistic determination come from, did you grow up in an artist family?
Not at all. I don’t know where this urge came from. It was just inside me. I didn’t grow up in very stimulating surroundings.
What influences and inspires you?
I don’t think there are any direct influences. Sometimes, when I’m finished with something, I think ‘Oh, maybe it was inspired by this or that’. But not consciously. Music plays an important role. Some say there are sounds present in my images, and I like that thought. Personally, I like the minimalistic side of Brian Eno. I listen to a lot of electronic and ambient music. One of my sculptures is named “Dark Star”, after a song by Harold Budd. I also have a strong to affinity to architecture and like to play with perspectives.
What’s your working process like?
I start out with a little plastic piece, look at it, let it intrigue me, and then I decide what to do with it, from which angle or perspective I want to show it. For example I reproduce objects that fascinate me and give them a new life. The black sculpture displayed here, many people associate it with a piano, but it’s not. The interpretation is open. What counts is the mental projection. The ‘look’ at things is important. I always start out and get inspired by just looking at certain objects. When I know what to do with it I take a picture of it, eliminate certain details, then put them in a scene, choose the perspective, and combine them with photos of a location for instance. There’s work with photoshop involved and then there’s also the creation of the final object, like putting it in a light box etc. I never get up in the morning and ask myself: What will I do today? Inspiration just happens. I look at things I like, not at this Coca Cola can, for example.