Artists, Contemporary art, Digital art

Joanie Lemercier – A question of perception

Joanie Lemercier is a French visual artist based in Bristol (UK) who created and run the visual label AntiVJ until 2013. Clearly stepping away from standard setups and techniques, Lemercier presents unique light performances and installations that challenge the audience by creating optical illusions that question one’s perception of space. Taking visuals away from the restrictions of flat rectangular screens, he transforms flat surfaces, sculptures or buildings into hypnotizing canvasses to create immersive site-specific experiences.

In his light canvases’ body of work, precise light beams pass over an array of rectangular structures printed on a flat surface. Darkness and illumination alternates to create an immersive threedimensional experience transforming our sense of space. As Edward Rothstein wrote in the NY Times in 2011 in an article called “When Pictures Leap to Other Screens”, there really is a thrill to these experiments. You are amazed at the technology while being entranced by the effects. Moving images, though the familiar substance of experience, have only been created in recent centuries. They seem more real than still images, but are more artificial in themselves, even unsettling; they resemble experience but seem divorced from it, even supplanting it. And while a still image proclaims permanence, a moving image is evanescent. Whatever the medium, it also has unusual power to affect perceptions and inspire amazement”.

In his light sculptures, Lemercier pushes the experience to another level, bringing a physical aspect to his three-dimensional sculpture-screens. He approaches sculpture as a volume in continuous transformation rather than a static mass, thereby making reality strangely unreal. For this purpose two layers are overlapped. On the one hand the physical layer- the object itself- controls the real space and shapes the volumetric base that serves as a support for the second level, a virtual projected layer of light that allows to control transformation and sequentiality.

AntiVJ was initiated by a group of European-based artists whose work is focused on the use of projected light using various techniques such as video-mapping, tracking and stereoscopy to create holographic illusions. Over the last few years, Lemercier and AntiVJ’s artists have been working on all kinds of projects, from large scale mapping projections (the Old Port’s metallic conveyor’s tower at Montreal’s Mutek festival; in Songdo, South Korea’s futuristic city-proon the 25m high baroque organ of the Cathedral of Breda) to installation work (the Light Sculpture installation series showcased at Club Transmediale ’07, Geneva’s Contemporary Art Center ’08 and New York’s Empac festival ’10) to space/stage scenographic and audiovisual collaborations (developing tools to produce and control in real-time 3D stereoscopic content for French retro-futurist electronic band Principle of Geometry).


FUJI (不死)
Drawing, projection, sound. 2014
“Fuji” is part of Lemercier‘s ongoing artwork series on volcanoes. It combines a large scale hand drawn landscape depicting the Fujiyama,
augmented by a layer of projected light. The abstract narratives are inspired by the legend of Kaguya Hime, a folk-tale from the 10th-century
and a key element in Japanese culture. It gives an imaginary and poetic vision of this story in an immersive environment.
The piece was premièred at the projection mapping exhibition in Takamatsu, in the art islands district of Japan.

Visuals: Joanie Lemercier
Music: Paul Jebanasam
Production: Juliette Bibasse