Briefly describe the work you do.
I’m an artist from Montreal working audiovisual performance/installation, composition and Vjing. As an audiovisual artist, I create music and video that coexist in the same project. As a Vj, I create visual for electronic music event, where I play my video loop live, in relation with the beat of a Dj. As a music composer, I tend to only use sample in order to create abstract or beat music. I’m interested in (clear) digital manipulation, formalism, sound/light relationship and concrete/abstract coexistence. I presented my creation in events and festival around the world since 2011.
Tell us a little about your background and how that influences you as an artist.
Born on a farm in a little village in the east of Quebec, nature have always been a huge part of me. But, at the same time, I always knew that I was a city boy, being inspired by contemporary art since I’m a kid, especially when it comes to urban/edgy/interesting stuff. I use and explore image, movie and electronic music softwares since high school. I studied journalism in college, which help me to understand the world we live in a little better. Then I studied electroacoustic composition at the Université de Montréal, where I started creation. However, pure electroacoustic music is definitely not for me; I need clear and intelligible elements in my work, and I feel that this type of music, in is pure form, belong to the past. Harmony or clear rhythm doesn’t make music less actual; what is needed today, in my opinion, is the exploration of these notions with strong creativity that digital possibilities make possible. Therefore, I decided to go in another direction as an artist and a student; instead to study to become an electroacoustic composer, I took classes implying music, cinema and graphic design to become an audiovisual artist, trying to connect a little bit more with people and give my own perception of esthetic in media art and electronic music.
The concept of the “artist studio” has a broad range of meanings, especially in contemporary practice. The idea of the artist toiling away alone in a room may not necessarily reflect what many artists do from day to day anymore. Describe your studio practice and how it differs from (or is the same as) traditional notions of “being in the studio.”
I actually enjoy working alone, its help me to understand what I am doing. I did a lot of collaboration in the past, especially with contemporary dancers, but right now I feel the need to just confront myself with my own vision of thing.
What unique roles do you see yourself as the artist playing that you may not have envisioned yourself in when you first started making art?
As far as new media/digital art goes, I feel that it’s essential that artists explore digital possibilities in a personal way. I’m not interested to see what a computer can do, but what a human can do with a computer; or how the personality of an artist can be translated into this particular art form. I also believe that artists of today must question the legacy of post-war artists. If Fontain of Marcel Duchamp is definitely an amazing work of art, it is because of its political, historical and cultural contexts. What can we do today? I think there is a need for transparency, honesty; therefore, I want my digital manipulations to be clear, unlike insidious mass media manipulation (magazine cover, political statement, commercial cinema…) which is based on (unhealthy) illusion.
When do you find is the best time of day to make art? Do you have time set aside every day, every week or do you just work whenever you can?
I don’t have a specific time to create, but I work on my art almost everyday, in order to keep my work and process alive.
How has your work changed in the last five years? How is it the same?
It did change drastically actually. I started with a purely abstract esthetic, probably cause it’s what I learn in school, trough my electroacoustic composition degree; bring a sound and/or video file to an another form of life, like my work Réfraction (2011), where I transform paint into dust. Even thought I truly enjoy this kind of aesthetic, most of the time, I feel kinda lost, in what Michaël Lachance would call flou médiatique (media blur). Especially when it come to electroacoustic music, without any kind of visual support, in the dark. Like I said earlier, I’m inspired to make digital manipulation obvious and intelligible now, like my audiovisual project Dichotomie_live version (2014), where abstract elements coexist with landscapes of Iceland and Canada.
Are there people such as family, friends, writers, philosophers or even pop icons that have had an impact on the work you do?
Ryoichi Kurokuwa, Naum Gabo, Picasso, Sébastien Lacomblez, Nicolas Bernier and the Vjs in Montreal are my favorite artists. They do their own thing, have their own signature and they explore new media art thought its right perspective; by being creative, which is for me synonym of honesty and even braveness. For music, Bjork, Flying Lotus, Four Tet, M.I.A., Bonobo, Timbaland, Clark, Efterklang, Flubba, Thom York solo work to name a few. I also love when rhythm is explored under different perspectives, outside typical 4/4.
If you had an occupation outside of being an artist, what would that be and why?
Hum. Well probably journalism, since I’m a very curious kid and that I have studied this profession.
Since winning the SAT’s Bourse Euterke (Montreal) contest as an emerging VJ in 2011, audiovisual artist and vj Hugues Clément has further refined his very singular, dichotomy-dismantling approach through performances at MUTEK (CA), Igloofest (CA), Circle of light/Moscow light festival (RU), FICFA/Moncton (CA), LPM (Eindhoven (NL) edition) and showcased works in Beijing (CN), Brussels (BE), Paris (FR), Seattle (US), Buenos Aires (AR) and Madrid (ES), among others. Informed by studies in electroacoustic (University of Montreal) and compositional work for contemporary dance, Clément comes at creation with scrupulous artistic deliberations; by audiovisual performance, composition, VJing and installation, he attempts to capture today, questioning digital manipulation, formalism, and relationship between audio/visual , creativity/technology and public/art of today. He won the 1st place for the Crystal Interface, international audiovisual contest held by Mutek and Elektra (EM15 festival) held at the museum of contemporary art of Montreal (MACM) in 2014.
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.