regarding photography -
do not pretend the subject is anything but
fugitive: don’t varnish.
show things as they happen,
almost like random clouds of dust,
in which all is contained
and which could dissolve under the slightest breath,
returning to the wind.
« I created my first blog at the age of thirteen. At the time my parents and I lived in the staff quarters of the prison estate where one of them worked. Prison estates are strange kinds of places, buffer zones, neither really outside, nor in – you live on a strip of land a few dozen meters wide, with the prison wall on one side, and the outside world on the other, protected by a fence running the entire length of the perimeter. you have to show ID to get in or out. You need authorisation. So I created my blog in a kind of borderland, at the edge of the world, or at least, on the other side of the fence to my friends. It was a Skyblog, and I started to take photos to talk about things. Photography is like my native language. I met lots of girls and guys online, we all used pseudonyms and no-one knew who the others were in real life. This gave us a peculiar kind of closeness, as if we had a direct line into each other’s minds, bypassing the frontier of identity. We chatted on MSN and wrote frequent emails. After a while, we met offline, drank coffees, hung out listening to bands. Some of us were admired for an incredible ability to create content – I remember one girl who went on to study philosophy, she would write rivers of text, maybe ten million characters per article, beautifully crafted, which made you feel as if you were directly plugged into her world. I don’t remember what I wrote, what I really loved was refining the visual style of my blog, and later my MySpace – that’s how I truly communicated. I remember you could access the code and completely transform your page’s aesthetic; that was as important to me as anything else. I think for me it was all about experimenting with form. Around 2006 my friends started to leave MySpace for Facebook. On Facebook, you had to display your real identity, just like at the gates of the prison site, and you couldn’t access the code, the style was the same for everyone. I didn’t see the point and lost interest. I just messed around occasionally with an OverBlog where I published my photos on a white background, with wide margins and no other visual elements. I graduated high school in 2008, and it took me another year to come down to earth, landing somewhat randomly. I’d never heard anyone talk about design until I stumbled on a TV documentary explaining how the Aérospatiale/BAC Concorde was created and I thought, here we go. I sent applications to several applied arts schools in Paris and got accepted. The first year we had eight hours of drawing per week, sometimes more, I’d never sketched and was no good at it, it didn’t interest me. What I mean is, drawing is not my way of relating to the world. The only class where I felt at ease, where the material felt natural to work with, was surface composition. You had to arrange visual elements on a surface, usually a piece of paper, in response to a given stimulus. But aside from this one class, I couldn’t see where it was all getting me and I quit the school after a year and a half. I sold shoes, started working on visuals for a band, my first logo, first album cover, first website: that was my real training. I enrolled in university, choosing visual studies and new media, because you have to move with the times. I got back into coding for good and could really reflect on the broader nature of the image, across all genres and eras. I guess that when you create forms you have to recognize and insert yourself within lineages that will last. In 2011, I signed up to Facebook to manage the band’s page – that’s when I created Visions Particulières, it was my pseudonym. Later, in 2015 the guy I was living with (who also used a Facebook pseudonym), got a message saying his account would be deleted if he didn’t use his real name. I closed my account. Abaroa is not my real name, but in this space I’m free to do as I please. I tried Instagram. I couldn’t stand its tightly restrictive format. The rise of social media, the exponential increase in the number of users, is intrinsically linked to the extreme simplification of interfaces, making them easy to access and use – what is easy is welcoming, reassuring. Nothing is more simple than Instagram: you sign up, take a photo and post it. You hardly even have to think about it. A square is a neutral rectangle, able to contain both the vertical and the horizontal. I remember one day my surface composition teacher warning me away from this non-committal shape. This impulse towards neutrality reminds me of the prevalence of extreme thinness in the world of fashion. I don’t believe it’s all about aesthetic criteria, thin isn’t necessarily beautiful, but it’s practical: if no-one has a particular shape, everyone can wear the same clothes. Difference arises from shape, from form. One day, I was working on a presentation for university when I came across these words from William Blake (quoted by Eisenstein at the beginning of his memoires): I must create a system or be enslaved by another man’s. I left Instagram, kept Visions Particulières and decided to keep creating my own forms and spaces: forms and spaces according to their own potential. »
visual design