SIMONE MICHELIN, THE THICKNESS OF THE VIRTUAL

Paulo Herkenhoff, essay fragments, 2010

Michelin's epistemological approach claims that technological means cannot remain a Plato's cave blinded by anticipated obsolescence in the face of the accelerated time of communications in globalization – communicability and freedom are intertwined. Michelin's production extracts the possible degree of transparency of the gaze amidst the opacity of the power of contemporary communication. The artist avoids the truisms of the state of technology as art's legitimizing reason for diving into experimental risks. Hence, it produces anti-Platonic works that invest in a kind of crisis in the practical usefulness of its means, as it summons the cognitive gaze of the spectator. In this context, Michelin's phenomenology of the technological range is more focused on the development of the critical perception of the receiver, rather than on the contemplation of the technological sublime. It invests in technological literacy for poiesis. Its technologies are counter-euphoric, as they appear on the horizon for certifying silences and uncertainties. They thus become an instrument of a skeptical episteme.

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For Simone Michelin, the updated navigation between advanced technologies is the conquest of new spaces and fields of speech for daydreams and poetic discourses. In it, there would be, as proposed by Gaston Bachelard's phenomenology, a material will, which, in her case, is technological-digital. She is among those for whom communication technologies do not behave in the work of art as a neutral mirror in which the artist, spectator or the collective can produce a mere automatic reflection of themselves. Michelin sees in this a procedural hypothesis of subjectivation. However, much of video art takes “the viewer as an ego” – a paraphrase by Merleau-Ponty. Michelin's corpus maps the body, as in the examples of 12 hours of work by the Constituent Assembly, The spirit of Rio and Qualia. The playfulness of The spirit of Rio is the critical construction of the delusion itself, not its mere psychiatric diagnosis. Her work avoids the idea of the psychoanalytic mirror – and even the voice of the analyst – in the social order that can invert critical consciousness into narcissism. Michelin's work, like the cinematic images of Ana Maria Maiolino, Sonia Andrade, Leticia Parente and Lenora de Barros, proposes itself as a field of action in existential territories that traverse the body. Sometimes, the work reflects on what the subject was and is today.

ART IN ITS RADICAL PERSPECTIVE

Arlindo Machado, essay fragment, 2010

Simone Michelin's work is part of a new field of significant practices that some call technological poetics and that encompasses all the experiences of intersection between art, science and technology. In recent years, we have seen the multiplication of festivals, meetings, exhibitions and cultural centers dedicated exclusively to experiences that take place at this point of intersection all over the world. In fact, more and more, artists use the computer to build their images, their music, their texts, their environments; video is now an almost inevitable presence in any installation; the interactive incorporation of the audience's responses has become a norm in any artistic proposal that intends to be updated and in tune with the current stage of culture. Technological poetics lost the marginal and almost underground character they had at first, to quickly become the new hegemonic forms of artistic production.  

But Michelin's stance differs significantly from that taken by most artists with regard to the appropriation of new technologies. Unlike the latter, Michelin seems to reject with due emphasis the apologetic discourses on technology, discourses that glorify the benefits of scientific progress, promote consumerism, if not direct marketing of industrial products, which tend to take shape in most of the international events dedicated to the relationship between art, science and technology. Michelin's work goes in a different direction, in a direction that can be characterized as critical, problematizing and divergent. In a country like Brazil, geographically displaced in relation to technology-producing countries and where access to technological goods is still selective and discriminatory, a serious confrontation with new technologies must necessarily reflect this displacement and this difference, and this is what marks Michelin's work. It is a work of corrosive irony and a deconstructive will in relation to the mechanisms of power and control of technological society. In this sense, this work recalls the work of our great computer art artist, Waldemar Cordeiro, who never failed to include social commentary.