The lecture started with inserts from the performance Flesh, under live sound control by Franck and live video control by the video artist next to him. Franck explained that this piece was inspired by a traffic accident he had twenty years ago, and that his main concept was to extend a moment of a car hitting a water surface, and to prolong it using audio and visual effects.
He moved on to present inserts from his other works - Chronostasis, which he did in cooperation with the video artist Antoine Schmitt, which relied on live audio-visual, and where improvisation represented one of the key elements. The audience had an opportunity to see a new piece, Forest, which, like most of his works, deals with synaesthesia, while creating an experience through simultaneous sound and visual effects, and performers on stage.
Franck talked about his shows at music festivals and concerts. He presented music he listens to, and which inspires him, as well as some movies he would like to recommend: 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), Blade Runner (1982), and Rabbits (2002). He explained that his aim is to create live performances, as well as to improvise and constantly explore, through cooperation with various artists he has been working with on different projects for years. After the lecture, he showed the stage prepared for Flesh and the sound and video equipment.
After the performance Flesh in Belgrade Drama Theatre, we talked with Franck about his impressions from Bitef, and about challenges and plans.
Hello Frank, nice to meet you. How are you feeling about last night performance?
- Good. We enjoyed it a lot, the audience was quite good. I play live so it’s important for me to see if people are quiet, are they listening, and my impression last night was quite good.
Are you excited about tonight?
- I hope it will be as good as it was yesterday, to knock on wood, but it should be.
You talked about your performances at music festivals, I was wondering about that, that’s very specific, where you play music live at the dance festival. Can you tell me a bit more about that?
- When I do concerts, when I am on stage, most of the time I do it with video, with video artist, so most of the time the audience is hidden, it’s a bit contemplative. But sometimes, a few times, and more and more recently, I’m invited to play solo where the function of my music is to have people dancing. That’s something else for me. I come more from the experimental scene, contemporary music scene, abstract music, but in the past fifteen years I started mixing this abstract music with beats, and I’m doing it more and more. Now I have a repertoire with only beats, so that’s why I’m invited on some occasions to play in clubs. I do it live on the music festivals, and I like it, it’s different. It’s something new, and as I get older, when I get this experience, I enjoy it. I’m always used to trust new experience.
How does it feel playing live in front of all that people dancing?
- I like it. It’s so different from what you saw yesterday, it has a completely different function. The music has to be adapted, and it’s very challenging, as doing theatre performance is very challenging too, but it’s another challenge, I think. I’m quite lucky to be able to have both experiences.
What do you consider your biggest challenge in your work, generally, so far?
- I don’t know. I think the biggest challenge is to make good pieces, with no weakness inside, to make the full experience. Doing art is a challenge all the time.
You also said that you work with a lot of collaborators, like costume designer, dramaturge, video artist and others. How do you coordinate all of them together to make the piece work so perfectly in tune?
- I have worked with these people for quite a while now, for almost ten years. Every two years, there is a new collaborator coming. The costume designer is new, and for the next performance, I’m going to have the new dancer and the new singer, a countertenor singer. So, slowly I have new collaborations, but otherwise I think it’s the same for all the performing artists - when the crew is good, you should not replace it. And we learn together, we like each other. I like their proposals, I like their work, so it would be a shame not to experiment more with that.
I would like to ask you about the set design for the Flesh, we have seen the frontal transparent screen and it’s very interesting how it all fits together
- Set design is really by me. What I do when I imagine this, I really imagine it for the video, because I know Kurt, the video artist, is able to do that and he likes to work with multiple projections. In two other performances we already used the transparent screen, so we are always looking for different way to project moving images and to make the stage almost moving, or with no bottom, or with this illusion effects. It’s quite simple. With every new project, we try to push forward this idea of exploring the walls, the possibility of perspective, and all these things.
The image is projected at the same time on all four screens and yet there is no shadow. How do you do that with lights?
- It’s a secret, I can’t share it. (laughter) No, it’s very simple. It’s just a projector, and the rear projection is used for the video. But also, the video work is amazing.
We know you have one next project coming up. I’m wondering if you have any long-term plan, what your goal is.
- On Monday, I’m premiering a new work. We have already premiered it, but it was only with the professional audience. Because with the pandemic everything was disturbed. This is the new project Forest, and now I’m already working on something, it will be premiered probably in 2023. This is something different, with singer, and again a video artist. I’m working on this, and I’m also going to premier new visual concert in Berlin at the end of November. Plus, I have a lot of different projects, from music to live performance, and video performance. But it’s not the same timing. To produce this kind of performance it takes two years. Live concert would be six months, maybe a year, so it doesn’t take the same amount of time.
Thank you for a wonderful performance and this interview. I hope you would enjoy performance tonight.