by Marco Pantaleoni, MA Fine Art student at Central Saint Martins
Marco Pantaleoni is a current MA Fine Art student at Central Saint Martins who was selected for this year’s Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) AER 2017: Domaine de Boisbuchet Residency. Here, he reports back on his residency experience.
Domaine de Boisbuchet is a French country estate where Alexander von Vegesack established a non-profit centre for design education; the architectural park features buildings by many international renowned architects such as Simón Vélez, Shigeru Ban, Brückner & Brückner, the futuristic Techstyle-Haus, installations by Alvaro Siza, Nikolay Polissky and Alexander Brodsky,
as well as a traditional Japanese guest house of 1864.
A month before the start of the residency, when deciding how to reach the Domaine De Boisbuchet from London, I chose on purpose to go by train, rather than flying and landing, suddenly, somewhere in the middle of France.
Although it took 10 hours to finally get to the place, I wanted to perceive the landscape running around me, appreciating the slow and clear change out of the window; from the busy London, through the dense city of Paris and finally to the quiet village of Poitiers, where I waited a few hours for the shuttle bus that took me to the domaine.
Had the chance to walk around and felt like an explorer, attentive to details and touched by the human scale and slow pace of that village in the countryside.
I was slowly getting ready to lose myself in nature, in a short while.
I arrived at Boisbuchet on a sunny Sunday evening.
I and the other participants to the workshop were warmly greeted by the staff and after leaving our luggage in the rooms, we walked through the field toward the beautiful mill, by the river, where welcome drinks were served.
I familiarised with the staff and the other participants, 14 people from all around the world and from different backgrounds.
The sun was about to set and the warm light filtered through the dense vegetation, creating long, clear traces on the grass.
That moment was emotional, I felt the power of nature and its strong influence on me; the pure air, the sound of the river, the warm light, everything seemed to be so untouched, and I found myself carefully moving around, as an unconscious sign of respect for nature.
After an abundant and healthy dinner, we all gathered around the bonfire, the only light in the darkness around us.
The next morning, we followed our kind guide who brought us around the domaine, visiting all the pavilions and installations built during previous workshops.
We visited the temporary exhibition of von Vegesack ‘s design collection and had the induction in the workshop, a beautiful and well-equipped space surrounded by nature.
AER residency allowed me to participate to two different workshops that took place at the Domaine De Boisbuchet in the following weeks: “Address The Site” by Inside Outside Studio (Petra Blaisse) and “Electro Nature” by Studio Drift, both from Netherland.
Although the approaches of the workshops were slightly different, both had a strong connection with the natural environment and I developed a few very interesting projects that could link each other and dynamically dialogue.
Address the site
Inside Outside Studio (NL) – June 25th – July 1st, 2017
The initial brief of the workshop was to rethink new ways of visually and physically connect the architectural pavilions and follies spread around the estate; creating movements, trajectories, points of observation, the aim was to create an awareness of the links between the human interventions in the landscape and the different natural sub-environment present at Boisbuchet.
The project was intended to be collaborative. We were 14 people: product and fashion designers, architects and landscape architects, artists, makers.
As we were left to ourselves that first day after the guided tour over the property, we realized that we needed to undertake “our own tour”: walking, climbing, fording, overcoming fences and finally getting lost way beyond the Boisbuchet boundaries: where were we?
As soon as the castle was out of sight and because of the clouded sky, we had no idea.
We then decided to create a clear straight line to give clarity and a sense of direction; to connect the various landscape conditions to one-another.
Through the analysis of the ancient plan drawing of the estate (drawn up by the French landscape architect Killian and dated 1864), satellite photographs and the existing physical model of the Boisbuchet estate, we searched for the right direction for this line.
We finally discovered that a “cut” south/east-north/west direction, running from the river Vienne upward, past meadows and horses, lawns, lakes and prairies through the acacia forest and finally reaching the boundary of the estate, would create a section through the landscape and at the same time a connection between the castle, as the central reference point with its main stairs leading to the large entrance door, and its surroundings – with one clear move.
We then started measuring and finding the physical alignment using our bodies, cords, tapes, sticks, spray paints etc. Drawing a line of more than 600 meters through a varied landscape and overcoming numerous obstacle required coordination, concentration and physical decisiveness.
14 human bodies at work in the landscape, under heavy rain showers, warmed and dried by occasional sun rays.
201 stones of approximately equal size were collected from the property and from the river.
After painting them in bright pink, piece by piece, we carefully placed along the line.
The smell, the sound of the birds and insects, the moist, the movement of the grasses and meadow flowers in the wind, the horses’ presence all around, the reflections in the smooth waters of lakes and the feel of the bumpy soil and crispy vegetation beneath our feet: the constant communication and collaboration with one-another – people acting as vertical elements in the landscape, as measuring tools, as reference point.
It all became an experience in itself, a play, a collective choreography.
Leaves of transparency.
Together with this exciting group project, I felt the need to dedicate some time to develop a small side project that more specifically reflected my personal interest and research and that could be potentially linked with the following workshop “Electro Nature”, in which I expanded the brief idea articulating the project with three-dimensionality and sound.
Fascinated by the thickness, the darkness and the wildness of the forest, I wanted to create physical objects that reflected my interest in basic geometric forms and that could represent a human, both ethereal and tangible, unexpected sign that could dialogue with the inhabited natural environment.
When penetrating the dense wood, I was intrigued by the multiplicity of viewpoints and the diversity of potential visual compositions in that space; I wanted to freeze some of these perspectives, creating vantage points that would allow the sense of discovery and exploration as well as a focus on particular natural details.
The stillness of these wooden, “floating” frames, hung with non-visible wires, together with the movement of the leaves and the undergrowth, the sound of the wind, the thickness of the heavy rain; all these elements were, at the same time, integrated in the nature and totally in contrast with it.
Studio Drift (NL) – July 23rd – 29th, 2017
Brief of this workshop was to reflect on the human systems, technology and electronics as a direct simplified copy of nature; focusing on aspects of nature as key point of the research, we were invited to explore how these elements can be used or combined with our human systems, to develop concepts and create future scenarios/situations, installations and products whereby the boundaries between virtuality and the real-world fade.
My idea was to make a human intervention in the direct natural environment, looking at existing natural systems to optimise them, use them for a different aim than originally or to connect the two systems together, in order to create an extra value that would have evoked the awareness of that context.
Starting from the project I developed during the previous workshop, I wanted to enhance and strengthen the idea of vantage points, that could involve other senses together with the interaction and active participation of the viewer.
I developed this project together with Edgar Hemery, a French artist and researcher in music technology and human-computer interaction.
‘Sounding frames’ was an immersive sonic and visual experience, which aimed at augmenting a natural environment, both visually and aurally.
Visually, the installation guided the subjects on specific elements of the environment, such as the river, the open fields and the forest, through the alignment of geometric shapes.
This alignment is to be found by standing at the right place, which always changes depending on the viewer, and looking at the right direction.
It is a matter of perspective.
Through headphones, the sense of hearing was stimulated. Tracking the specific position of the participants along the walk, the sound aimed to isolate the context and to focus on the selected environment, enhancing the detail and the purity of the sound, as a both visual and aural zoom-in.
The accompanying sounds have been recorded within this environment and progressively modified with digital audio effects.
LISTEN TO THE SOUND PIECE: Sounding Frames By Marco Pantaleoni & Edgar Hemery
Through this experience, we guided, enhanced and warped reality of the Boisbuchet environment; aiming at a reflection on a careful and conscious observation using all the senses, we searched for an experience of pure and deep connection with nature.
I would like to thank all at Domain De Boisbuchet, in particular Mathias Schwartz-Clauss and Natalia Montes; Salomé Corvalan Cornejoand, Flore Fockedey, Mario Russo, Edgar Hemery and Flavio Tondo. Special thanks to Alex Harrison for the amazing work on films.
Special thanks to Professor Lucy Orta, Camilla Palestra and UAL for providing this fantastic opportunity.
- The Art for the Environment International Residency Programme
- UAL Research Centre for Sustainable Fashion
- Lucy Orta UAL Research Profile
- Marco Pantaleoni website
- Boisbuchet Website
- Inside Outside
- Studio Drift
The Art for the Environment International Residency Programme (AER):
In 2015, internationally acclaimed artist, Professor Lucy Orta UAL Chair of Art for the Environment – Centre for Sustainable Fashion, launched the Art for the Environment Residency Programme (AER), in partnership with residency programmes across Europe. Applicants can choose from a 2 to 4 week period at one of the hosting institutions, to explore concerns that define the twenty-first century – biodiversity, environmental sustainability, social economy, human rights – and through their artistic practice, envision a world of tomorrow.
Through personal research, studio production time, critiques and mentoring sessions with Lucy Orta and a selection of Europe’s most exciting cultural institutions, the residency programme provides a platform for creative individuals, working across various disciplines, to imagine and create work that can make an impact on how we interact with the environment and each other.
A distinguished selection panel will assess the applicants for this unique opportunity to partake in the UAL Art for the Environment Residency Programme.
NOTE: Applications accepted from UAL graduates, postgraduates and recent alumni (within 12 months from graduation date).