Maotik (Mathieu Le Sourd) is a digital artist of immersive environments that play the intersection of art, science, and technology. His collaborations as a Factory Berlin Artist in Residence created a new role at CODE.
Maotik (Mathieu Le Sourd) is a French multimedia artist known for his immersive symphonies. His art installations have been featured at festivals like Mutek, Live Cinema in Rio, Signal Festival in Prague, the British Film Institute in London, and ARS Electronica in Linz. Accolades aside, Maotik creates architectural sculptures and metaphoric representation of setting, where his talent for playing with natural components are accentuated by transcendent sound.
As an Artist in Residence at Factory Berlin, Maotik takes on the creative code in full force. In constant collaboration with other creative technologists, he has generated an orchestra of visualizations challenging perception, while evolving within the Factory Berlin ecosystem to a new role. As the newest lecturer at CODE University of Applied Sciences, Maotik now teaches his research on the intersection between art, science, and technology. Together with his students, Maotik hopes to inspire a new understanding and generation of creatives.
How do you describe what you do?
I’ve always considered myself a digital artist. I explore different languages and the best way to communicate emotions in real-time, which is the most effective way for me to navigate a system. I like to change content while I perform, or let the audience interact and create their own visual responses. My works are audiovisual sculptures with strong architectural components. I program a computer system to a certain logic, but it has to be flexible – to improvise and adapt to new possibilities in science and sculpture. Even a screen can take hybrid forms and transpose into a space.
How does the environment affect your work?
The environment is the first element, followed by acoustics or music, then content. For example, when I did FLOW in Deep Space at ARS Electronica I got inspired by the environment and decided to work on the horizon since I grew up by the seaside. I would watch the weather hit the scenery throughout the day. As a generative artist, I do not work with anything pre-rendered or predefined since things are changing in real-time. In this situation, space truly inspired the generated outcome.
Concepts are the start of every project. Part of that includes seeing how it relates to the environment and natural phenomena. Besides looking at compositions and color palettes, music becomes a powerful medium, especially inaudible tones, like low frequencies. They are something that can vibrate into your personal orbit. I am very interested in cell expansion.
How do you work?
I work with musicians and use their frequencies to manipulate data into various waveforms with different textures and 3D components. However, the input can be anything – the flow of water, electricity – and you decide how to manipulate it. It’s very similar to a modular synthesizer, but I change the links so that an aspect is unpredictable. It’s a mastery of showing the unpredictable and understanding the impact of the accidental.
I don’t like perfection and my artwork contains a lot of randomness, so each algorithm accounts for that. For instance, say you have a kick drum and it activates a strobe – people would get bored quickly, so I relate the kick drum to other parameters and combine those with other new parameters. The iterations are limitless and each experience becomes unique. The goal is to never have the perfect image twice. This is really an obsession of mine.
What is it like to teach at CODE University of Applied Sciences?
I’ve taught workshops for the past five years and I enjoy the practice of transferring knowledge. There is a special feedback loop in education that’s rewarding. When you do design, the motive is very different, there’s another incentive. Sometimes it’s just a paycheck. With education comes curiosity, individual expression, experimentation, influence, and inspiration. Lecturing on my subject matter isn’t easy because it’s so new and it’s in evolution. Therefore, we have to learn through application rather than a standard education method or academic curriculum, which matches with CODE’s educational model.
How could someone get more involved in this field?
It is really hard to do what I do, although it is much more accessible than five – maybe even three – years ago. That’s only because it is constantly changing and it’s more and more complicated. There used to be only a few people with C++ or Java skills and now there are programs for people to program without even knowing a line of code. To learn more you have to be curious, be open-minded, and stay dedicated. You have to get inspired, start, and focus on your skills.
As society continues to embed internet culture, modes of expression will continue to turn more technological. We already see these facets in digital identities, which challenge constructs of our personal digital and analog selves. Maotik’s symphonies move us to interact with these overlaps and construct connective tissues, so we can be more sensitive, vulnerable, and accountable towards each other. Maotik’s own evolution within Berlin’s creative and tech community demonstrates how important connecting and building networks can be for collaboration.
With the addition of another role, he’ll also have more impact. Maotik has the opportunity to work together and collaborate with eager minds on how to encode environments of expression. Together, they’ll explore ways to build an infrastructure that supports practical and thoughtful development beyond the touchscreen – accidents and chaos included.