Coralie Ruiz and Anthony Stephinson are living proofs of the impossible equation 1 + 1 = 1. They are two friends with two unique minds, that put together become one. They form this singular creative organism that inhales ideas and exhales palpable art, which absorbs the viewer into a different dimension. A dimension of blurriness, between what is real and what is digital.
What is the story behind your collaboration? How did you get to work together?
Ruiz Stephinson: We met in London in 2009 through mutual friends, and connected immediately. We talked about everything under the sun, till the sun went down, then we talked through the night, until the sun rose again. Coralie had been awarded a residency in the North of France, and she suggested we collaborate on it… We’ve been working together since.
What is the best appreciation you’ve ever got on your work?
Ruiz Stephinson: When we did a show in Brest, we made a large scale sculpture that was activated by the visitors eating fortune cookies to try and find codes to open briefcases full of money. We had 600 cookies on the sculpture, and the whole event was madness, and over in 40 minutes!
Right now you are based in Paris. How do you let the city influence you?
Ruiz Stephinson: The city and the politics of the space always intrude on the work, but it’s not that often that it can be read easily.
Your latest show BABBLE looks like a clash between futuristic and ancient elements, what were the main inspirations for it?
Ruiz Stephinson: With BABBLE we were exploring further this idea of the digital blurring with the real, and our dependance on the two. We asked ourselves what might happen after the internet, i.e. when all of this crashes, and there are no more connections. We imagined ourselves as archaeologists finding pottery and plexiglas in the earth and dusting them off for museum spaces to display them in the future. We made the sculptures, Open Source, POP-UPS and From the Tower of Babble to the Endless Column (Newsfeed) as hagiographical heroic monuments to these things that have gone. Open Source and POP-UPS reference their techno jargon counterparts, and From the Tower of Babble to the Endless Column (Newsfeed) is an hommage to Brancusi’s Endless Column series, whilst visually referring to our vertical newsfeed that we trawl on google, tumblr, Facebook etc. In the future these lost systems could become like saints, or gods.
A quasi religious feeling invaded the space more, as we played with the word BABBLE, the sound of chattering and water moving over stones, with the mythical Biblical city Babel, drawing a parallel between that and the internet. The Tower of Babel was destroyed by God because the people were too unified, with only one language and total focus, so he cast them to different regions and confounded the languages, separating them. The Internet holds a parallel with this, as it holds the potential to bring disparate groups together globally in one virtual place. The world’s governments are terrified of it’s potential; the pentagon installed a fifth war cabinet in 2010, dedicated to cyber warfare, the UK has one too, and China claims it will be winning informationized wars by the mid 21st century.
Where do you get your material for your pieces? (e.g. the fountain parts for the Open Source piece)
Ruiz Stephinson: It’s very important for us to work with easily accessible materials and sources, and for this particular sculpture we were talking about this time after the internet. As we assumed the position of archaeologists finding pottery and ceramics in the earth we used common garden terracotta pots and a fountain system from the local garden center! The terracotta pots have this feeling of old pottery, whilst being completely egalitarian, and the forms when stacked on top of one another reminded us of the Brancusi Endless Columns.
How difficult was to work with screen printing the plexiglass?
Ruiz Stephinson: In fact, it was very difficult! The ink slides on the plexiglas and you need to be very careful when printing it, and also when drying it as it took a long time to dry the pieces. We love the accidental nature of the process, and the surprises it reveals.
What is the balance between digital and offline work? Which one is more exciting to work with?
Ruiz Stephinson: We like to play with the expectations of each domain and turn them upside down, our digital work talks about reality and our offline work talks about the digital in a real way. So, the two are as important as each other to us. We don’t see one as lesser than the other, and this blurring is when it becomes exciting.
In which of the scenes you feel that you have more power and get more attention? Digital or offline?
Ruiz Stephinson: We are still growing in both scenes, our offline scene is viral and our digital scene is concrete.
What’s your “recipe” to stay inspired?
Ruiz Stephinson: Live everywhere, breathe, meet people. The exploration is passionating and infinite.
Photography Alessandra D’Urso