Arts &
  Arts Culture Analysis  
Vol. 5, No. 3, 2006
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Robert J. Lewis
  Senior Editor
Mark Goldfarb
  Contributing Editors
Bernard Dubé
Diane Gordon
Dan Stefik
Robert Rotondo
Marissa Consiglieri de Chackal
  Music Editors
Emanuel Pordes
Serge Gamache
  Arts Editor
Lydia Schrufer
Mady Bourdage
Emanuel Pordes
  Past Artists
  Armand Vaillancourt
Les Cosgrove
Gustavo Sigal
Guy Benson
Eric Bertrand
Lyne Bastien
Kapal Harnal
Nguyen Tai
Magdalena Magiera
Charles Malinksy
Marc Fortier
Bernard Dubé
Remigio Valdes de Hoyos
Mylène Gervais
Christina Coleman
Laura Hollick
Louise Jalbert
Rosemary Scanlon
Alex Waterhouse-Hayward


by Lydia Schrufer


Ultralab™ is a group of French artists that formed in 2000 and has since become a singular entity unto itself. Through vivid imagination and the use of very diverse mediums and inspiration (film, drawing, long term research of documentaries, photographs, texts, synthetic images and computing programs) the group penetrates and explores the boundaries that separate the virtual world and reality.


The group Ultralab™ has created a complex fictional world, Ultracity, which is composed of different elements combined together and hidden away in the heart of Gomipark -- a network of the future, a complex virtual world that is heavily protected against the use of the most toxic poisons, TMM. In addition, there is Diorama III, a peaceful semi-urban zone thrown into turmoil by the mysterious crash landing of an unknown but deadly aircraft that controls itself and leaves in its wake a trail of destruction and wars.


Diorama III comes in the form of various fragmented multimedia installations that work together to produce an exciting representation of war in our rich and peaceful countries. It is achieved through a mixture of models, video films, sketches, all of which serve as a virtual interactive zone.

LYDIA SCHRUFER: Tell us about yourselves? Who are you, how it all began, where you’re all from?

©UltralabULTRALAB: The core of the group consists of P. Nicolas Ledoux, Frédéric Bartolotti and Gosia Galas. Frédéric was born in 1965 in Belfort (France) and now works in Paris. Fascinated by the enterprise culture and the thoughtlessness of multinational companies, he expresses his interest in this subject through texts and images, under the brand name of TRD and the name Red Dozer. He’s been with the Ultralab™ trio since 2000.

Nicolas was born in Strasbourg, and like Bartolotti was a member of Labomatic and Bulldozer. He has degrees in Art and Architecture from the Sorbonne and won the FRAC prize for the best art work to represent the end of the 20th century -- a series of 20 photographs. His work includes subjects such as Urbanist Utopia, architecture, drawing, painting, photography and collage and experiments in sound.

Gosia was born in Poland and lives and works between Paris and Gdynia. She joined Ultralab™ in late 2005. Her art is comprised of mostly drawings, where she creates minimalist work in black and white. Her drawings were chosen for the 2005-06 poster advertisements by the Théâtre Nanterre-Amandiers.

Also regularly working for Ultralab™ are Olivier Körner (since 2002), Jean-Luc Lemaire (since 2000) and Olivier Lebrun (since 2000). Pascal Béjean and Carine Le Malet look after administration and PR.

LYDIA SCHRUFER: Does the group share an art philosophy?

ULTRALAB: The fact that we work in a group conforms already with a certain, specific type of art. We like to think of ourselves as a group with a variable geometry: we meet and work with a great range of people who specialize in areas associated with our projects, such as other designers, musicians -- music plays an important role in our art -- painters or anyone who is specialized to help us in areas where we can’t do it all ourselves. The group is therefore constantly changing.

Myself (Ledoux) and Frédéric see ourselves more as directors who use an approach that is post cinematic; we create work that recounts stories, and to complete them we call upon people who are specialized to work with a variety of mediums. As to the philosophy of our art, it must remain balanced, or divided equally between the importance of the creation of the form of our art, and in making clear the message we want it to deliver. We make a point of staying away from work that could become typical of the group. However, one theme that informs much of our productions is the play between reality and fiction, especially when talking about society.


An example of this is found in our latest exhibition, Diorama III, which is not about war itself, but the representation of war as achieved through the mediums of video games and films that are of course fictional but very engrossing for the younger generation. So we present a country at a time of peace that we submit to a representation of a war (through media war, video games, documentaries) which finally aims at preparing us for war itself. But the young people who have had the misfortune to have been involved in war will discover that what we are delivering to them has nothing to do with the reality of war, but only with its representation, so they leave feeling lost and deceived. The whole project has been created from fictional images we have mined from material that already exists, and part of what we do is recycle it, which conforms to our notion of representing the boundaries between fiction and reality.©Ultralab©Ultralab

For those who find our work too complicated, we reply that the world is intensely complex and so we must approach it with complex tools, which inevitably results in complex projects, but they are never complicated!

LYDIA SCHRUFER: Has forming Ultralab™ been a positive experience? What is the biggest benefit of forming such an association?

ULTRALAB: We share the same conceptions of art and inclination to work together. Moreover, being surrounding by others gives us the necessary drive to work with greater diligence vis à vis our individual work which in turn leads to better art and greater production.

LYDIA SCHRUFER: Are there disadvantages in the group concept?

ULTRALAB: There are some: the art world, in general, isn’t disposed to the group idea, and concerning the art market, it is often difficult to talk to artists and to understand their work without identifying the people who have worked with them -- in the background. One could say that journalists are less interested in the works of artists than in their personal lives as well and suspect the group might be hiding behind an agenda. To better inform the mistrustful and misinformed public, we have attached TM, ®, and other copyright signs to the names of our exhibitions and to Ultralab™.


LYDIA SCHRUFER: How closely are you involved with each other? Do you work in close proximity or do you merely exhibit together?

ULTRALAB: We truly work as a group. Sometimes we organize exhibitions for other artists under the name Ultralab™. Most importantly, working closely as we do, our ideas are always up for debate, and we have the good fortune of always being able to speak openly about them.

LYDIA SCHRUFER: Who and what are you most influenced by?

ULTRALAB: Music is very important in our work, as well as cinema and literature, in particular science fiction authors: Philip K. Dick, Malcolm Lowry and even William Gibson, who write about things we are very interested in.

LYDIA SCHRUFER: What are your projects for the future?

ULTRALAB: In the near future we want to make an extension of Diorama III, either in the form of a short film or a series of graphic images. We have accumulated an enormous amount of material which we haven’t managed to use in its entirety. Following this, we have to finally concern ourselves with the realities of communication and marketing of Ultralab™. We are now collaborating with a number of VJ’s (Video Jockeys). Long term, we are planning to make a full length film. Our absolute dream is to create a video game, which would conceptualize our pre-occupation with the idea of interfacing with audiences.


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