Olivier Ratsi is a French artist based in Paris. Initially graphic designer for electronic music events, Olivier Ratsi later took a leading role in the development of video Mapping in France.
His installations disturb our senses and disrupt our spatio-temporal references… Discover the interview of this fascinating artist, whose work is inspired by quantum mechanics!
How would you describe digital art?
“I see digital as a tool and I use this tool to experiment my ideas. My artistic practice is very much linked to this digital tool. The qualification of digital art is not a question I ask myself as such.
In my opinion, making art is just a process by which an artist who wishes to express himself will use the tools at his disposal and at the disposal of his time. It could have been through painting, but in this case it is the digital tools that qualify the work of art as digital! Digital art will use the digital tools that are ultimately all today’s tools, except for the paper and pencil.”
What made you decide to do digital art? What motivates you to explore new media?
“What drives me about digital art is the excitement of exploring new media and being able to continue to express myself on a daily basis. I first did VJing, which is real-time visual performance in synchronization with electronic music. I met a lot of people in that environment, and we launched the AntiVJ Label with many artists such as Joanie Lemercier, Romain Tardy or Yannick Jacquet. It was in 2007, at a time when we wanted to go further, when mapping didn’t exist. We started out as VJs at parties, projecting live visuals using projectors. And then we wanted to get out of that frame…
We wanted to project images on volumes, on more complex shapes. Mapping didn’t exist, and that’s why we developed some of our skills together to come up with mapping! That’s how we made ourselves known: by creating mapping, by diverting our tools from their usual use, by learning to use them in a new way.
Current technologies have allowed us to do mapping in real time, to draw on software and to be able to broadcast in real time. We worked on many mapping projects together, representative of the beginning of my career. Then we worked on audiovisual installations, and I left the Label in 2016 to develop my personal approach.“
What are your tools as a digital artist? What is your technique?
“I have always been interested in exploring our perception of space, trying to decode a whole mass of information about space and time, while inscribing temporality.
In mapping, you can create anamorphoses, which means that you have to be in a precise place to see the deformation of a building. This technique, which was a disadvantage in mapping, has finally become a strength in my creative technique. I diverted the phenomenon of anamorphosis to question our space and our environment. It became the centre of my work. I use it very often in my work which revolves around the perception of space.”
“I use 3D Software to implement my installations. I also use laser tools to acquire space. In my work, I really switch from the real world to software and vice versa. Technology also allows me to simplify processes. Processes are then simplified and fewer trades are required to set up an installation. Before, I would have needed dozens of trades to complete a project: digital tools make my task easier and allow me to complete it in a small team. That’s how I see the digital tool, as a simplification of processes, which allows me to obtain a result with a simplification of costs and a controlled result! “
What is your background? Did you follow a specific training?
“I studied plastic arts, and I specialized in graphic design. Regarding digital technology, I learned a lot about software on my own. I would say that my training has been extremely beneficial for me to be in contact with the artistic ecosystem and to rise on this level. Then today, with a little curiosity and motivation, the internet really helps you to access a lot of information.”
What is your source of inspiration?
“I have a deep admiration for people who want to change the world, especially when it comes to the question of how our world works. Great physicists, great scientists inspire me. Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Tesla, Einstein, Bohrs, Faraday… so many physicists whose theories fascinate me.
I like the idea of visually illustrating certain theories of science and quantum mechanics. That’s what inspires me and makes me want to create.
My work is very related to space. I am fascinated by Einstein’s conception of space-time. He was the first to understand the relationship between space and time and my work is intrinsically linked to his discoveries… He is probably the person who inspires me the most.“
About IN PARALLEL
“It’s an installation with red light tubes. It is composed of 6 luminous tubes somewhat similar to red neon lights. They are suspended above a basin of water. The tubes are staggered in space and when the spectator is on a defined point, the tubes are parallel in space. When the spectator turns around, everything is disordered and when the spectator is positioned on the point of anamorphosis, the tubes are parallel. It is in fact the reflection of the tubes that reflects a different image of reality.
The reflection of the water seeks to contradict the truthfulness of what the viewer sees, about the real tubes. The basin does not reflect the true image of the tubes and thus allows us to doubt the real image that the spectator can see.
The inside of the red neon lights is made of LEDs and during the design, I used 3D software to position these elements in space.“