O Louis Bec is definitely a multi-faceted personality. We can say that this kind of scientist who combines classical with positive studies, a biologist researcher, specializing in studies of the marine world, an artist and surveyor of artistic expression in the French Ministry of Culture for the programs of Fine Arts, he is a rare example of analytical and synthetic thinking, who does not hesitate to expand his thought and research.
A restless, organizational spirit, open to anything new. Our meeting at the Apollonia Forum entitled "Mobilité artistique aux pays Sud Est de l' Europe" (2002) gave me the opportunity to have a conversation with a person whose ethos, logic and humanity shape his personality and his way of life.
"... After a trip in Strasbourg, I came back very stressed, I was both troubled and excited by the conflicts of the Balkan artists who were there; I did not know how to meet the expectation to exist as an artist in a place that is important, doesn't form part of the nomenklatura of the world; in contrast, artists who come from other countries can form part of this elite, but as they try to become international, they deny the idea of a local identity.
Not to be Albanian when you're Albanian, not to be Slovakian when you're Slovakian, not to be Kosovar when you're Kosovar, is the doubt that the artists have to face; we're familiar with this problem, but another problem we came up with is the artworks presented to the art specialists, which were very repetitive. The only way of recognizing this kind of work is as a sign of their will to exists, without having the means to exist.
So when I returned to Avignon, I wrote a text where I stress that there are at least two ways to view artistic commitment and quality: either we just visit artistic workshops, or we say that the artist belongs to this animate kind too and therefore we classify his work in the inventive expansion of the universe, which is ultimately the greatest evolution. We also can talk about exaltation, the passage from the electric sea waves to the earth. Some scientists define this moment as the basic moment in evolution: thousands of species, whose structure and behavior was based on buoyancy, started to develop a relationship of exchange with space, in various ways, such as breathing, food, etc. Therefore, they use this moment to categorize all the possible strategies of development, and subsequently move on to a different internal organization.
At the same time there is the theory that at some moment the earth was destroyed by 80 percent so every living organism -including ourselves- comes from this 20 percent. This introduces an element of relativeness to reality.
Back to artistic production and object creation, it is important to ask ourselves: what is this mediocre practice that makes a species talk and produce concepts? How do we organize the birth of techniques and the problems of representation? This makes history relative, it makes it anthropological. It raises questions on the origin of life and the origin of art.
From this point we have reached another point where we look at art as a result. We talk about the origins of art in prehistory, about a genetic modification of the human kind that allowed to be asked questions such as what happened around 4000 BC, when a species that lived along with the Neanderthals destroyed the Neanderthals, a blind genocide of mankind which produced culture a little later. What's the meaning of our ability to rethink the art through a sociological perspective?
Now, regarding the issue of exchange, which is the main concern of Apollonia: if we consider the ideal situation of exchange, the problem of cultural exchange seems to be even more serious than the artistic exchanges. I think that the discussion on modern art is difficult and complex because there was virtually no real theoretical basis; moreover, when we're in such a vast area of human activity, we can not isolate artistic activity from other kind of activities. This means that culture is an expression of groups in a given time, which indicates how we individually and collectively feel about our way of life, our sources of inspiration, our desires. Every act of participation in any team is participating in culture. We should be careful when referring to this subject because it might underline the differences among our lives. There is, for example, African and Oceanic culture: What does this mean? Does this cover aspects that we find it difficult to talk about? Ιt is something complex and daunting because, in the end, it emphasizes the sovereignty of the Western world. As is the case in America, Italy, France.
The question of artistic exchanges is relevant to this kind of sovereignty. We cannot transfer and define the limits of just one part of culture that's being expressed. There are groups of people, like in theater, forming research groups, artists, anthropologists, ethnologists, filmmakers, that had planned a specific project, but with our helped managed to create a different project; it is an approach which allows in-depth exchanges. I have worked with Indian physicists, and after hours of debate and a conference we realized that we all agree on something -that an atom is an atom- but when talked about the definition of the atom and what it represents we found out that there were differences. They share the same language with us, but filter it through a different ideological basis and thought. I think that this is revealing"
When asked about the "Avignon numerique" program, a project animated and instigated by him, when Avignon was the Cultural Capital of Europe, Louis Bec, talks with the same teenage enthusiasm about how the innovative program was organized. In the event «Le vivant et l 'artificiel» a series of scientific, artistic and technological activities projected the case of a absolute vivant and absolute artificiel.
n Numerical Avignon, in 1994, he worked on new technologies and future-oriented programs, initially within the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, and then he proposed the creation of a technology-oriented city. Intrinsically bound to the social-cultural centers that employed image and sound communication means, he created a "popular" technology university in 2000. It was a difficult task, if we consider that each fortnight were forty meetings with people debating on subjects like what is a technological dead end within a city, what the administrative problems associated with technological communication are today, what kind of legal issues emerge in relation to democracy. Through technology labs, new artists and technicians worked on issues such as writing, hypertext, technology, digital image, video, robotics.
Afterwards, they sought to bring together two generations, the elderly and the young, who were residents of the city -that visualized their future within this city. Another group of artists and scholars focused on body and technology, manufacturing objects. The idea was that there are artists with interesting projects and scientists conducting research but on the other hand the population should have relevant knowledge and be able to communicate this knowledge. So they focused on the highly imaginative and creative activities, to find out what is expression and how it can be achieved. A difficult and complex experience, especially when it interferes with the local administration policy, that has an extreme way of dealing with the issue of immigrants.
Having an in-depth knowledge of contemporary art, he has developed a critical stance, due to the "easy" way that a number of artists create. What he seeks in art is an intrinsic relationship between expression and knowledge. ask myself the art to have a seamless relationship between expression and knowledge. He says that it's no use making art objects, just in the name of the freedom of expression, or in the name of emotion and knowledge. As for the role of institutions in the arts he thinks that they should be subject to discussion and revision.
Joseph Beuys, Coyote: I Like America and America Likes Me, 1974
As for the relationship between biology and art, he sets an example, through an ethnological study that he conducted. He analyzes Beuys' performance with the coyote. The aim was to establish a two-way communication between the artist and another living organism, because so far there had only been a one-way communication. The animal wasn't just a representation in painting or sculpture, but it exchanged communication codes with Beuys. The attack he received by the coyote is not an attack against the artist, but an attack on a skin; therefore, without knowing, it gave a different meaning in the communication between different creatures and their behavior. Like Kounellis, who in his "Horses" he introduced another public, the animals, which can't be accepted as an art public by our culture. Of course here is also the issue of genetic manipulation and whether we can accept it as a work of art.
As far as research on living organisms is concerned, he says that he is in favor of developing a theoretical thought regarding the birth of technology. The first major debate on electricity, is a discussion on the physiology. This makes one realize that there's a direct relationship between biology and technology. All discussions about technology focus on outsourcing. In contrast, Bec focuses on the time when living organisms are removed from the water space, away from the magnetic fields, the vibration mode, the orientation and the openness of information that it offers. Air offered a different type of elasticity, along with the water. Mutilation, according to Bec, is an element of technology that has a biological origin. He believes that whereas we make a research on how life is, we don't research how life could be. To sum up, he adds that whereas we talk about different cultures, we completely ignore how they live and think. So, how is it possible to talk and communicate effectively with different cultures?