Interview: Luigi Honorat

Interview: Luigi Honorat

Started in June 2017, Luigi Honorat 's Intangible series retains some of the limitations of physical sculpture as it deploys itself within a particular space, using one type of material at a time. The collection presents four retrospective artworks, studies of the same theme, exploring different variations and showing how the 3D rendered work could be turned into physical sculptures. Intangible series is an ongoing study exploring the possibilitiesof procedural modeling and animation.

Coinciding with the launch of the remastered work in the series we talked Luigi Honorat about his inspirations, recent projects and his thoughts on the future of digital art.

View Intangible VIII and Intangible VII, that is recently launched on Sedition.

You studied sculpture at Musashino Art University (MAU) in Tokyo. Could you please tell us about the impact of your sculptural practice on your digital practice?

Luigi Honorat: Before studying in Japan, my approach to digital work was very technical. One of the reasons for that was that I didn’t believe I could learn to draw or sculpt. I naively thought that there were people who could draw and people who couldn’t, that you can’t really learn those things. A lot of those prejudices came from my education, and I was compensating for that with learning a lot of technical stuff instead of learning basic skills. 

During my studies at MAU, I spent the first two years learning about materials. At MAU it goes something like, cardboard, wood, clay, stone, plastic, iron, bronze, mixed media and so on, 2 or 3 months at a time. Then from the 3rd year on, you are able to work with whatever material you want. Understanding those materials, even the ones I might never use again was very important for me. In the end, I think it’s those simple things (the basics of drawing, sculpting and materials) that had the biggest impact on my digital work. It stopped being about software and hardware. 

There is an apparent connection between some of your sculptural works such as L’homme qui marche or Structures and your works in the Intangible series. As an artist, creating works in both physical and digital world, how does the synergy between them inspire you? Is there any aspect of this relationship that you’d like to challenge yourself in?

Luigi Honorat: Those works were made back in university, first designed in 3D and then remade in those materials. In a way, I wish I could make works from the Intangible series the same way and turn them into sculpture, that was the initial idea. This said, a criticism that I often heard when I was making them was that if I didn't already know exactly the end result beforehand it didn't make much sense to make them. That it is craft, or design, not sculpture, - that kind of thinking. That sculpture is first a confrontation with a material, and that you need to rethink, reassess, as you are working that material. While I kind of ignored that criticism back then, I now tend to agree with it more and more. It doesn’t translate so easily from digital to physical. If I started a sculpture based on the series today, I would use it as sketchbook, as inspirations, not as something to be remade. 

Could you talk a bit about your approach and the principles of your creative process?

Luigi Honorat: Sculpture leads in the sense that it brings the limitations and the rules. One difficult thing for me with 3D in general is that you can almost do anything you want. Any scale, any form, no gravity, no weight, no structure, you can put the camera anywhere with whatever lens you want, the same for the lights and so on. Then you can make it anything you want, a still, a video, a VR or AR experience or a 3D print. This is so amazing and so intimidating at the same time. You are so free that you can get lost so easily. So, the limitations are here to give me a framework to work with. Using that same room, that same light, that same scale makes it easier to focus on what is interesting to me with that series, which is experimenting with forms and trying out ideas. 

Intangible IV, Luigi Honorat

Intangible VIII, Luigi Honorat

You have recently started to launch the remastered works from the Intangible series on Sedition, starting with the launch of Intangible VIII. Could you tell us about the making of the remastered version?

Luigi Honorat: Once the limits are set, it’s all about experimenting, I was trying to do one per day, with a few hours, trying out one simple idea at a time. They don’t have narrative concepts or a metaphoric – at least from my view, my approach is more like a sketchbook. 

Intangible IX was made in 4K and 16/9 but the series before that was HD and square, it started as a sketchbook published on Instagram. I’ve been wanting to remaster them for a long time, but all the files and software versions were a mess, it made the process very difficult. I finally took the time to do the “files archeology” work and the remasters were soon done, all of them from I to VIII. 

Is the Intangible series currently a work in progress? Are there specific concepts, materials, or ideas that you would like to experiment in future related to the series?

Luigi Honorat: I’m thinking about doing a new one, maybe once the remasters are done, but for it to make sense, I think it should be done in more or less the same condition as the rest, meaning it should be done in a row, one a day for a month or near that rhythm. I hope I will find the inspiration and the time to do it at some point. Remastering them one by one gave me a lot of ideas I’d like to try, and some I’d like to revisit. I’m also interested in bringing some of it to AR and VR. 

Human figures, their construction and deconstruction in geometric forms are one of the recurring subjects in your works. Is there any other subject/concept you want to explore in your future works?

Luigi Honorat: While remastering it I noticed how it got quite abstract and slowly went towards more and more figurative tests. It made me want to go back to those abstract forms actually, while bringing the figurative ones to longer pieces, collaborating with dancers for example, I feel like that’s where they really start to make sense. 

Who/what inspires you?

Luigi Honorat: There is a lot, it’s hard to know where to start. Recently I’ve been thinking about my early inspirations and an important one was Loic Zimmermann. I think I first encountered his work around 2006, and I’ve been following it since then. He is an artist and a film director. What interested and inspired me is how he constantly evolved, how he constantly jumped from one medium to another. He did illustrations, 3D, tattoos, photography, documentaries, films, VFX and so on. This kind of freedom is inspiring and motivating, I feel like I need more of it. 

An artist that has been especially important for starting the intangible series was Zach Lieberman, with this article in particular: I don’t think I would have gone with the daily approach if not for this article. In term of rhythm, it’s the complete opposite of what I was used to. Sculpture, like bronze works, took weeks, something months. This change of rhythm was very inspiring, I got back to those longer work when I started to make some music videos. I want to continue to alternate between the two. 

One very important video artwork for me is Odani Motohiko’s Inferno installation. You are surrounded by 4 videos of a waterfall; the ceiling and the roof are mirrors making the waterfall infinite below and above you. I think I saw it in 2011, it was the first time I experienced something like that and it’s still one of my favorite video installations for its impact and simplicity. The whole solo exhibition, called Phantom Limb was amazing. I’ve been wanting to work at that scale, I hope I can work on this type of installation one day, something more immersive than what I currently do. 

Could you talk about your future projects? What ideas or concepts are you looking forward to exploring in your future projects?

Luigi Honorat: I’m hoping to work on more collaborations, working on Naufrage, which was the first music video I did, was an amazing experience mainly for the collaborative aspect. Being able to work with a musician and a dancer, each of us working on our own part but still being able to inspire one another. And being able to work with new technologies like motion capture. Those are bigger projects but it’s something I want to explore more, collaborating with musicians, dancers, cinematographer, photographer, etc., and working with more types of data also. Working collaboratively makes a lot of sense when working with digital tools. And like I said before, I want to work on installations, having more control on how the work is displayed and experienced. 

What excites and concerns you about the future of art in the digital environments? 

Luigi Honorat: The lists are long! What I love of course it’s how easy it became to connect and collaborate, how the possibilities have been growing recently with technologies like scanning, printing, motion capture, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. The tools we have are great and a lot of it is affordable. The diversity of formats we can use is amazing for artists, even though there aren’t all equally easy to distribute and share. 

But on the flip side, everything is becoming digital to the point where it’s easy to get sick of it, it’s not just the art, it’s everything. With covid, the social distancing, the lockdowns, the zoom meeting, the online teaching, etc., it pushed a lot of facets of our lives towards these all-digital approaches. 

With digital art, the rate and rhythm of production can be very high, techniques like procedural modeling, programming, machine learning, makes it easy to produce tons of outputs if we want to. This, coupled with how social media works, makes it possible for digital art to completely take over these spaces. It’s important to be conscious of that and to proactively search artists, designers, writers, etc. If we don’t do that, the algorithms do it for us.

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Luigi Honorat
Luigi Honorat
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