Art ingénue Samuel Fasse and sound architect Michel Gaubert reflect on the freedoms and failures of the sensory and the Internet. Jacket, shirt, and necklace CELINE In 2017, the young artist Samuel Fasse presented Le Regard Ailleurs , “The Look Elsewhere,” an immersive work at the Palais de Tokyo parallel to Paris’ fall fashion week lineup. The exhibition simultaneously marked the Royal Academy of Fine Art Antwerp graduate’s debut collection and the emergence of his hybrid practice, and Fasse emerged as a wunderkind of performative practices. Since then, he has challenged the very notion of singular autership, immediately dissolving into collectives and collaborations.
Fasse’s exhibition was a Gesamtkunstwerk —what the art world calls a total body of work—a spectacle that moved between the real and the unreal, the physical and immaterial, and the plastic and the virtual. Unlike other immersive art installations, the viewer experienced a punctum—a fracture in space and time—because they could view the performer but not what the performer themself viewed. Both performer and audience shared the same room yet existed in separate realities. The recorded video of the performance moves between the subjects in a 3-D virtual world, with the piece’s musical composition as the one guiding thread that both viewer and performer share. Thus, music is central to Fasse’s collaborative force, which includes dancers, other artists, textile producers, craftsmen, and other luminaries from the Paris underground club and ballroom scene. Paris-based sound designer Michel Gaubert is omnipresent in the fashion world, and has done more to shape the experience of the contemporary runway show than almost anyone else. Since the 1990s, he has created immersive soundscapes for runway shows for visionaries such as Karl Lagerfeld , Raf Simons , and Dries Van Noten . And while most of his mixes are no more than 10 minutes long, many have lingered in the collective memory of fashion and on music playlists for decades. Fasse’s performances have a similar duration, but their force resides in the works’ transformation long after the event itself is over. The experience is a journey, or a trip, for Fasse. And you can never emerge the same. JUSTIN POLERA: Michel has said that sound is a visual experience. What does that mean to you both?
MICHEL GAUBERT: I think that music is the aural companion of a fashion show. The whole show is basically an image that you are constantly creating. The music brings another image. You take one image that is red, and you put the music that makes you think yellow, so maybe the result is going to be orange on blue. It’s a juxtaposition.
SAMUEL FASSE: It’s funny because when I first met you, Michel, one of our first conversations was me explaining my art practice to you. What you just translated—the idea of juxtaposing these different elements so that they become something more—is similar to my vision or art. I want to exhibit the global picture of my practice, but it is nice to have something more physical on top of something that is more abstract.
MG: When you see a movie you remember the soundtrack, and when you remember the soundtrack you see the movie in your mind. Especially for me—there are so many fashion shows that I remember from their music.
SF: Yes, that is true, sound can transport us. When I try to build ecosystems, it is really like the bodies become their own triggers. It is a real time musical composition making on its own. You remember, Michel, I used to work with [musician Jackson Fourgeaud , aka] Jackson and His Computerband. We constituted a lexicon of […]