Since its creation, Le Fresnoy has developed an intense research activity; not only does it organise numerous international colloquia and seminars, but it continues to develop its relations with university laboratories involving exchanges between artists and scientists. Over the last ten years or so, a number of initiatives have been taken to bring the world of artistic creation closer to that of scientific research and civil society (designers, entrepreneurs, citizens), notably through the work of the L’humain qui vient (Coming Human) research group.
Unlike other art schools, where teaching is usually carried out by a permanent teaching staff, at Le Fresnoy students are supervised by visiting artist-professors and external consultants, who are replaced each year. One of the other specific features of Le Fresnoy, compared with the world of academic research, is its capacity to produce works designed and created by artists.
In 2011, Le Fresnoy also launched a doctoral programme aimed at those who wish to add an intellectually speculative dimension to their artistic activity. This option, which includes theoretical and methodological training leading simultaneously to the creation of a work and a short thesis, is open to students during the first year of the programme.
Research is defined at Le Fresnoy without reference to a precise disciplinary field. So, rather than being part of a predefined programme, the research themes emerge naturally from the individual projects submitted by the doctoral candidates and the proposals put forward by the artists and scientists involved in this activity.
DOCTORATE IN ARTISTIC CREATION
Le Fresnoy offers a doctoral programme titled “Doctorate in Artistic Creation” and aimed solely at students currently studying at Le Fresnoy who wish to combine their artistic activity with a speculative dimension. This doctorate is awarded jointly with the University of Quebec in Montreal (since 2011) or with the University of Lille (since 2018). This theoretical and methodological training leads simultaneously to the creation of an artwork and a short thesis (approx. 150 pages). This option is offered during the first year of the Fresnoy programme and may involve one or two students each year. Candidates can express their interest in this option when they register online. The work that is the subject of the doctorate is produced at Le Fresnoy during the third year (which corresponds to the second year of the traditional curriculum, devoted to digital arts).
List of doctorates awarded
- Isabelle Prim, under the co-supervision of Joanne Lalonde and Jean Narboni (UQAM – Fresnoy): “The archive as the beginning and command of fiction in cinema, how editing re-presents it” (Thesis defended on 8 December 2018.)
- Joachim Olender, co-supervised by Catherine Perret and Jean-François Peyret (Paris 8 – Fresnoy): “Cinema and the test of the fault, or the setting up of a topographic system of the sensitive by the cinema machine” (Thesis defended on 28 March 2019.)
- SMITH, co-supervised by Maude Bonnenfant and Claire Denis: “The ontological status of the subject deconstructed and re-produced through artistic performativity.”
- Marie Lelouche, under the supervision of Anne Bénichou and Patrick Jouin: “Post-digital sculpture.”
- Vir Andrès Hera, under the supervision of Vincent Lavoie and Pascal Convert: “Literary Heterogenesises – Microscopic Cartographies.”
- Marie Sommer, under the direction of Marie Fraser, co-artistic director in progress: “The archive: strategies of artistic rereading.”
Doctorates in progress (University of Lille – Le Fresnoy)
- Anna Biriulina, under the supervision of Valérie Boudier and Géraldine Sfez: “Virtual reality, archival images and collective memory: the presence of ghosts in contemporary digital art.”
- Cindy Coutant, under the supervision of Nathalie Delbard and Julien Prévieux: “Counter-apparatus practices in digital environments.”
- Faye Formisano, under the supervision of Laurent Guido and Bertrand Mandico: “Draping the image: uses and functions of the veil in the manifestation of troubled identities in 20th and 21st–century fantasy cinema.”
- Lucien Bitaux, under the supervision of Nathalie Delbard and Melik Ohanian: “The representation of imperceptible dimensions – critical exploration of artistic and scientific visualisation procedures.”
- Janaina Wagner, under the supervision of Anne Creissels, co-artistic director in progress: “Oral fictions and their confrontation with reality in the era of the Anthropocene: the Curupira.”
- Marin Martinie, under the supervision of Laurent Guido, co-artistic director in progress: “Bugs Bunny, his body and his stand-ins, from the 1930s to the 2010s. Integrity of the transmedia graphic character in commercial exploitation: stabilisation, repetition and critical counterfeits.”
- Vadim Dumesh, under the supervision of Viva Paci and Sharon Lockhart (UQAM – Fresnoy): “Situated Gaze: documentary authorship and collective creativity in the digital age”
Le Fresnoy welcomed back Guillaume Vallée and Alice Jarry, Quebec doctoral students in Artistic Studies and Practice at UQAM.
TALKS AND SEMINARS
Le Fresnoy-Studio national regularly commissions specialists to organise colloquia featuring internationally renowned philosophers, theoreticians, art historians, scientists and artists.
- In 1999, the symposium on “Plasticity” ended with a talk by Jacques Derrida.
- In 2002, the symposium “Les figures de l’idiot” (The Figures of the Idiot) was held in collaboration with the University of Lausanne.
The proceedings of these two symposiums were published by Éditions Léo Scheer, and are now considered to be authoritative works of reference.
- In December 2008, as part of the major event “Dans la nuit, des images,” Le Fresnoy organised a symposium in the auditorium of the Grand Palais in Paris titled “Vitesses limites,” the proceedings of which were published by the magazine Le genre humain, published by Editions du Seuil.
- In 2011, a symposium entitled “Lumières des Lumière” was held, the proceedings of which were published by Le Fresnoy.
- As part of Le Fresnoy’s 20th anniversary celebrations, 2017 saw the holding of the “The Dream of Forms – Arts, Sciences & Co” symposium at the Collège de France in Paris in September.
- In 2020, the “The Coming Human” conference took place online and addressed the fundamental question of the future of the human being in the light of contemporary technological and scientific advances.
In November 2022, the symposium “The Coming Human” was held at UNESCO as part of World Philosophy Day.
“ART / SCIENCE / SOCIETY” RESEARCH GROUPS
In autumn 2014, with the support of the Carasso Foundation, Le Fresnoy set up its first research and creation group, whose mission was to catalyse exchanges between artists and scientists by pooling their knowledge and know-how.
Bringing together artists and scientists from different disciplines, this research group met at Le Fresnoy every 3 to 4 months between 2014 and 2017 for sessions lasting several days around a common subject: The uncertainty of forms.
Each meeting was an opportunity to share knowledge in the form of presentations within the group to enable participants to initiate collaborations with a focus on a mix of art and science. Several presentations were given to students at Le Fresnoy. Students in the course of their studies, in particular doctoral candidates in artistic creation, took part in the meetings, also presenting their projects in progress. The group produced a body of theoretical and artistic work, which was presented to the public at various events.
- A first presentation took place during the exhibition “Le rêve des formes, Art, science, et Cie.” at the Palais de Tokyo, on the occasion of Le Fresnoy’s twentieth anniversary, from 14 June to 10 September 2017. The symposium is accompanied by a publication: Les actes du colloque, published by Editions du Seuil.
- The closing symposium was held at the Collège de France on 5, 6 and 7 September 2017.
A new research group was inaugurated in 2019 on the theme of “The Coming Human,” under the scientific coordination of Joseph Cohen (School of Philosophy, University College Dublin), Olivier Perriquet (Le Fresnoy), and Raphael Zagury-Orly (Institut Catholique de Paris and Collège International de Philosophie), in partnership with the CRAL at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), the Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design de Reims, the Fondation pour l’Innovation Politique (Fondapol), the LASCO IdeaLab at the Institut Mines-Télécom, Penn State University (USA), the School of Philosophy, University College Dublin (Ireland).
The group has organised seminars, conferences and interdisciplinary academic meetings on the fundamental question of the future of humankind in the light of contemporary technological and scientific advances. After an initial period, which ended in late 2020 with an exhibition at Le Fresnoy and a symposium, the group is continuing its activities while renewing the way it operates.
Research group events:
- 4 February 2019 – Meeting at the Centre Culturel Irlandais – View the programme
- 20 May 2019 – Meeting at Le Fresnoy – View the programme
- 26 June 2019 – Meeting at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature – View the programme
- 20 November 2019 – Meeting at Le Fresnoy – View the programme
- 30 January 2020 – Meeting at the Ecole Supérieure d’Art et de Design de Reims – View the programme
- 8 February to 26 April 2020 – “The Coming Human” exhibition at Le Fresnoy
- 5 and 6 November 2020 – Online symposium at Le Fresnoy “The Coming Human”
- 16, 17 and 18 November 2022 – “The Coming Human” symposium at UNESCO
HOSTING SCIENTIFIC RESEARCHERS
To support Le Fresnoy’s future development, two initiatives were launched at the start of the 2018 academic year:
- The arrival of a young scientific researcher who will participate fully in the teaching activities for student artists.
- The involvement of scientific researchers in the curriculum to support students.
With a view to broadening the spectrum of Le Fresnoy’s activities, these two actions were expected to make it possible to observe the interest that scientists have in Le Fresnoy and to anticipate the practical arrangements for interaction between artists and scientists. The call for applications proposed each year since 2018 is aimed at scientific researchers and doctoral students who would like to develop a project related to their research activity, while immersing themselves in an artistic environment. Applicants are expected to submit a project of a scientific nature, or one whose issues are of interest to science. One or two candidates will be selected. They will take part in the course offered to student artists and will benefit from the same production resources.
List of scientists
Alexandre Suire (2018-19), a doctoral student at the University of Montpellier, whose work focuses on the role of human speech in the choice of a sexual partner, sought to understand how the voice operates within relationships of seduction. He presented a sound installation entitled “La voix sauvage,”in which he put his scientific questions into play.
Jérôme Nika (2019-20), a researcher in human-computer musical interaction at IRCAM, created a musical installation in which he explored meta-improvisation and composition at the level of intentions. The music is broadcast by a spatialised device combining intimate listening and collective listening, and is the result of interaction between computer agents equipped with “musical memories” and the “stimuli” provided by improvising musicians.
Maïa Gattas (2019-20), a doctoral student in urban cultural geography at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne, has made a documentary film based on her research into the place of culture in urban government issues, through a study of the processes of patrimonialisation in the city of Douala in Cameroon. Co-produced with a community of artists, the documentary puts forward a scientific argument to the effect that contemporary art makes it possible to produce a foundation narrative for the population.
Rolando Cruz Marquez (2021-22)
Fernando Campos (2022-23)
Jean-Philippe Uzan (Director of Research at the CNRS, researcher at the Paris Institute of Astrophysics) and Annick Lesne (Director of Research at the CNRS, theoretical physicist and biologist), former members of the “Uncertainty of Forms” research group, have been involved since 2018 as consultants during the year and support students in their projects through personalised appointments. A number of scientists who have participated in the research groups are asked to set up juries and support the students.
Since 2020, Emanuele Coccia (philosopher, lecturer at Columbia University in New York and at EHESS) has also been working with the students.
The aim of the StudioLab International project is to create an institution in the Hauts-de-France region that brings together art, science and society, with a place for work and research, and a high-level creative tool, adapted to these missions and based on the model of what has already made today ‘s Le Fresnoy such a unique force.
Scientists will have student status. They will be treated in the same way as student artists, and together they will form a single, mixed class.
The media library offers a documentary collection specialising in the contemporary arts, with the aim of mixing artistic genres, a conceptual originality of Le Fresnoy – Studio national des arts contemporains.
A resource centre for the research and productions of Fresnoy students and guest artists, the media library is also a consultation area for teachers and researchers from Masters level upwards, during opening hours and by appointment.
Composition of the collection
- Videos of works produced by Le Fresnoy
- Contemporary arts video library
- Essays, monographs, catalogues
- Collections of art magazines
- Computer workstations,
- Internet access, scanner, photocopier
- Readers for audiovisual documents