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written for the exhibition catalogue: if then else

Generally, the term "art" is narrowly associated with the medium it is realised, we speak of painting, sculpture, video art, etc. Over time, these different media transformed and developed their own terminology and subjects. Consequently, art develops within a particular system of signs which as praxis is based on its own references and its own history. It, therefore, has its own semiotics which today confronts the notion of signification through the binomial of language and code. LAb[au] addresses this relationship through the concept of “transcoding”.

The term "transcoding" originates from the digital field and more precisely from the conversion of one digital format to another. Each time a digital text is “saved”, it is encoded as binary data, according to a code, and when opened, this binary data is decoded to appear on the screen as readable symbols, the one of information. The formats, therefore, contain specific instructions, and metadata, which specify how binary data is converted into information understandable to us. For example, a sound file is only different from a text file except in its metadata as, in fact, both are made of nothing but zeros and ones. It is therefore possible to convert a text into a sound or a visual file by transcoding its binary data into another format. Each medium can therefore be converted - "transcoded" - into another. Computers then have two layers of representation on which they operate. The first one is that of calculation, a computation which is a binary machine code. The second is the list of the types of files which introduce the cultural layer.

Behind this, apparently insignificant operation hides two fundamental issues - the taxonomy of conventional media, which were previously clearly defined by their materiality, and the transfer of signs from one medium to another. Photography for example will deal with resolution and compressions and drawing with generative and automated processes… Accordingly, LAb[au] researches the logic of binary language, codes and the functioning of the machine to explore coherent forms in the production of drawings, paintings and other artworks. This leads to the question of how the signs and logic of traditional means of expression enter new digital forms and likewise how the latter influence in turn the former. - In other words: LAb|au] researches how we can draw, paint, and write with the tools of today and how we can think colour, matter and form in the digital age.

In the project deepBlue, the encoding of colour into binary data and the direct decoding of this data into alphanumeric symbols produce a new relationship between colour and text. Here, "reading the colour" happens without any form of analogy since the binary data that constitutes both text and colour is identical. The work equally subscribes to the tradition of conceptual art and concrete poetry, questioning the interaction between image and text through the scope of semiotics which in this case includes digital information.

In the project pi, the transcoding of the infinite number series of "pi" into letters of the alphabet and the possible, accidental formation of words create an auto-poetic machine. Faced with a digital system transcribing numbers into letters deprived of any obvious meaning, the spectator witnesses a flow of words, playing on the idea of attempting to decipher the number pi, the universal number as if trying to decipher the universe.

Such transcoding between two systems of signification is the basis of the installation origamiSemaphore. The project is based on the transcription of all possible combinations of the permutation of 5 semaphores into binary, which then creates the geometric patterns of a tapestry made with the Jacquard weaving technique. In this case, the link between an anthropomorphic communication system - the semaphore - and the one of weaving produces visual patterns that operate like a lexical indexation of combinations as well as a formal rule, in both cases following the binary logic that unites them.

In these works, “transcoding” investigates the translatability of data, codes and signs from one medium and/or means of expression into another while considering the context of their reception. It, therefore, constitutes a new field of artistic experimentation in which digital technology is not considered merely as a tool but as the structure/framework of language and an artistic praxis.
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